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 and government entities and other state-level early childhood leaders. ECAC partner agencies providing services to young children include the Children’s Trust of SC, SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, SC Department of Education, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC Department of Health and Human Services, SC Department of Social Services, SC Head Start Collaboration Office and SC First Steps, which is the connector and convener of all early childhood serving agencies.

The purpose of the ECAC is to carry out the following functions:

  • Conduct a periodic statewide needs assessment concerning the quality and availability of early childhood education and development programs and services for children from birth to the age of school entry, including an assessment of the availability of high-quality prekindergarten services for low-income children in the State;
  • Identify opportunities for, and barriers to, collaboration and coordination among federally funded and state-funded child development, child care, and early childhood education programs and services, including collaboration and coordination among state agencies responsible for administering these programs;
  • Develop recommendations for increasing the overall participation of children in existing federal, state, and local child care and early childhood education programs, including outreach to underrepresented and special populations;
  • Develop recommendations regarding the establishment of a unified data collection system for public early childhood education and development programs and services throughout the State;
  • Develop recommendations regarding statewide professional development and career advancement plans for early childhood educators in the State;
  • Assess the capacity and effectiveness of two-year and four-year public and private institutions of higher education in the State for supporting the development of early childhood educators, including the extent to which these institutions have in place articulation agreements, professional development and career advancement plans, and practice or internships for students to spend time in a Head Start or prekindergarten program;
  • Make recommendations for improvements in state early learning standards and undertake efforts to develop high-quality comprehensive early learning standards, as appropriate;
  • Develop and publish, using available demographic data, an indicators-based measure of school readiness at the state and community level;
  • Incorporate, within the periodic statewide needs assessments required in 42 U.S.C. Section 9837b, any data related to the capacity and efforts of private sector providers, Head Start providers, and local school districts to serve children from birth to age five, including fiscal, enrollment, and capacity data; and
  • Perform all other functions, as permitted under federal and state law, to improve coordination and delivery of early childhood education and development to children in this State.


Early Childhood Advisory Council Members


Julie Hussey, Parent of a Young Child, Acting 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

Dr. Richard Toomey, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, Director

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

Dr. Shelley Canright, Early Childhood Educator

Walter Fleming Jr., Business Community

Timothy Holt, Business Community

Angel Johnson-Brebner, Parent of a Young Child

Alexia Newman, Medical/ Childcare Development Provider

Jennifer McConnell, Childcare Provider

Roger Pryor Jr., Childcare Provider

Dr. Amy Williams, Medical Provider


The Early Childhood Advisory Council at Work

Preschool Development Grant

Recently, South Carolina was awarded a $3.5 million federal Preschool Development Grant to assess all services available to children from birth through age 5 statewide. The grant is led by the SC Department of Social Services and activities are coordinated and administered in partnership with SC Department of Education, SC First Steps and SC Head Start Collaboration Office. With this grant funding, South Carolina’s Early Childhood Education System (ECE) will increase access to quality early childhood programs and services for vulnerable children through:

  • Child-serving agencies and organizations sharing 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 that supports an increase in access for families;
  • Shared recruitment and applications processes;
  • Coordinated efforts to maximize parents’ knowledge of the ECE system and available services;
  • 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, including trauma-informed care;
  • Expanded supports to providers to improve quality; and
  • Improve date-driven decision making

Between now and February 2020, we expected to achieve the following outcomes:

Preschool Development Grant Work Meetings

Development of a Comprehensive Early Childhood Portal - Webinar, June 19, 2019

Palmetto Pre-K Joint Outreach and Enrollment Committee Meeting - Webinar, July 9, 2019

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