Who We Are

Early Childhood Advisory Council

“We will be successful when all children reach their highest potential.”

~Vision statement for South Carolina’s Birth through Five state system

Adopted by the SC Early Childhood Advisory Council~


About the Early Childhood Advisory Council

The South Carolina Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) includes directors of state agencies, elected officials and government entities and other state-level early childhood leaders. ECAC partner agencies providing services to young children include: SC Department of Health and Human Services, SC Department of Social Services, SC Department of Education,SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC First Steps, SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Children’s Trust of SC, and SC Head Start Collaboration Office. SC First Steps is the connector and convener of all early childhood serving agencies.

Early Childhood Advisory Council Members

David Morley, Governor's Designee, Chair

Dr. Shelley Canright, Early Childhood Educator, Vice Chair

Representative Rita Allison, SC House of Representatives

Representative Jerry N. Govan, SC House of Representatives

Senator Greg Hembree, SC Senate

Senator Gerald Malloy, SC Senate

Joshua Baker, SC Department of Health and Human Services, Director

Mary Lynne Diggs, SC Head Start Collaboration Office, Director

Michael Leach, SC Department of Social Services, Director

Dr. David Mathis, SC Department of Education, Deputy Superintendent - Superintendent's Designee

Mary Poole, SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Director

Marshall Taylor Jr., SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, Acting Director

Sue Williams, Children’s Trust of SC, Chief Executive Officer

Walter Fleming Jr., Business Community

Timothy Holt, Business Community

Julie Hussey, Parent of a Young Child

Angel Johnson-Brebner, Parent of a Young Child

Jennifer McConnell, Childcare Provider

Alexia Newman, Medical/ Childcare Development Provider

Roger Pryor Jr., Childcare Provider

Dr. Amy Williams, Medical Provider

The Flow of Public Funds for Early Childhood
Co-created with input from our partners, the Flow of Funds chart (click to enlarge and print) represents the flow of state and federal dollars in the early childhood system in South Carolina, as well as illustrates the collaborative body that makes up the Early Childhood Advisory Council. As an integrated system, many agencies collaborate and contract with each other to provide services to our children, parents and child care educators. Therefore, the funds represented here are included under the agencies that receive the funds, not necessarily the ones doing work on the ground.

The Early Childhood Advisory Council at work

The Council works collaboratively on initiatives and projects to reach its goal to help children of South Carolina to reach their highest potential. Some important work currently being done is funded through the Preschool Development Grant (PDG) Birth through Five, a federal grant to assist vulnerable children in South Carolina ages birth through five and increase access to quality early childhood programs and services.

Some collaborative ECAC initiatives and projects are:

A $3.5 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Administration for Children and Families was awarded to the SC Department of Social Services in December, 2018. Known as the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through 5 (PDG), this one-year grant required work in five key activity areas over the course of a single year: Needs Assessment; Strategic Planning; Maximizing Parent Knowledge; Sharing Best Practices; and Improving Overall Quality. South Carolina First Steps was a key strategic partner in obtaining and executing the grant, receiving $1.3 million in grant funds and providing more than $1 million in state match. Due to a delay in the receipt of funds a no-cost extension was granted and work on the grant officially concluded on February 29, 2020.

The Preschool Development Birth Through 5 Renewal Grant to build upon the initial work of the PDG grant is a federal grant to support the expansion of early childhood programs and services in South Carolina. The award provides $11 million per year for up to three years. The South Carolina Department of Social Services is executing the grant, and activities are being coordinated and administered by partners SC First Steps, the Department of Education, the SC Head Start Collaboration Office and the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. Funding will allow South Carolina’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) system to continue to work towards its goal to increase access to quality early childhood programs and services for vulnerable children.

Grant activities support the following outcomes:

  • Child-serving agencies and organizations share a common vision, goals, and outcomes for the state’s birth through five system
  • Coordination, collaboration, and alignment across the state’s mixed delivery system support an increase in access for families
  • Shared recruitment and application processes for families
  • Coordinated efforts to maximize parents’ knowledge, choice, and engagement
  • Statewide activities to support transitions for children between various early childhood programs and into elementary school
  • Shared professional development to better meet the complex social and emotional development needs of vulnerable children and families
  • Expanded supports to providers to improve quality
  • Improved data-driven decision making
  • Robust evaluation and continuous quality improvement

Press release- Federal grant renewed to continue SC's strides in early education








Expansion of the Countdown to Kindergarten Program - The Countdown to Kindergarten school transition program was expanded, and a program overview and three supplemental training videos were created using PDG funds in 2019.

Countdown to Kindergarten flyer