About First Steps of York County
York County First Steps strives to be the resident expert in early childhood interventions for the communities in which we serve. The facts are that too many children still begin their formal educational journey ill-prepared to succeed. Studies continue to show that the first 5 years or a child’s development creates the foundation for the balance of their life’s learning potential.
A child’s readiness is determined by many critical components such as good health, nurturing and positive parenting interactions, and high-quality learning experiences in and out of the home. The more we invest in interventions designed to prepare our children for success when they enter school, the more we as a community will benefit from such investments.
York County First Steps endeavors to lead our collective efforts to serve preschool children and their families by serving in the following capacities in our community:
As a Convener: We serve to bring together the sister organizations, State and Federal Agencies, and collaborative organizations in our community to coordinate our efforts to effectively serve the children and families in need. We strive to eliminate duplications and fill gaps in services while encouraging an atmosphere of collaboration with our partners.
As a Portal: We work to be the “one stop shop” or “one phone call” resource to the community. Whether we provide the services directly through our various programs or collaborate with a community partner, parents seeking interventions for their child can contact York County First Steps and be directed to the needed resource or service.
To Marshall Community Resources: We work to bring the collective resources and skills available in the community to help prioritize the need to provide high-quality early interventions to our at-risk children. Organizations can become focused on their primary services and priorities and overlook collaborative opportunities that will advance their goals more effectively and create a larger positive impact in our community. York County First Steps helps serve as a facilitator to foster such conversations between like agencies that serve preschool children and their families.
First Steps leverages state, local, and private resources to increase the quality of, and number of, children participating in, developmentally appropriate pre-kindergarten programs in both the public and private sectors. Particular emphasis is placed on fidelity to research-based instructional models and targeting of students at-risk of early school failure. Through early education programs, First Steps seeks to:
- Increase first-grade readiness and pre-literacy skills of children through quality early education intervention
- Increase the number of at-risk children served in quality preschool environments, public and private
- Increase the qualifications, professional development, and access to training for personnel teaching public and private preschool programs
- Increase the evaluation and impact analysis of federal early education spending (Head Start, Early Head Start, Title I monies) in quality early education strategies at all levels
- Increase parent involvement strategies for preschool children that impact involvement in K-12
- Increase documentation and analysis of the state’s school readiness progress
First Steps works collaboratively with its agency partners, the faith community, and private sector to support parents and families in their own efforts to maximize the school readiness, well-being, and long-term academic success of the state’s young children. Through family strengthening programs, First Steps seeks to:
- Increase family literacy and parent education levels
- Improve parental employability and employment
- Increase effectiveness of parenting related to child nurturance, learning and interaction, language, and health and safety
- Increase successful parenting/family literacy program targeting, service integration, and results documentation
- Increase early parent involvement in 4K-12 education settings
Child Care Quality
First Steps recognizes quality child care as a research-based determinant of school readiness. As such, First Steps collaborates with parents, the child care community and its agency and community partners to maximize child care quality throughout the state. Particular emphasis is placed on assisting parents in their efforts to identify those settings most likely to maximize developmental outcomes, and assisting providers in their own efforts to maximize the learning environments they provide for young children. Through child care quality programs, First Steps seeks to:
- Increase availability of quality child care choices for parents, as measured by increasing numbers of child care providers operating at higher levels of quality
- Increase the number of child care vouchers available to S.C. families for quality child care
- Increase school readiness focus in child care settings
- Increase the leverage of federal and private resources to serve the state’s most at-risk children
- Increase the number of child care workers achieving progress toward early education certification and continued professional development
- Improve the quality of the physical and learning environments in child care settings of all types
- Expand public and private partnerships in 4K
First Steps recognizes the importance of a healthy start in maximizing both school readiness and the long-term well being of the state’s children. The initiative partners with families, the medical community, and other stakeholders to leverage resources for – and increase awareness of – the healthcare, nutrition, and early developmental needs of the state’s young children. Through healthy start programs, First Steps seeks to:
- Improve the health, growth, and development of young children so they enter school physically and mentally prepared to succeed;
- Integrate medical provider, school readiness, and early literacy services
- Leverage federal resources for targeted families with young children at greatest risk for school failure, expanding medical anticipatory guidance to parents with special needs and other at-risk children.
First Steps recognizes school entry as a pivotal transition point in each child’s educational career. In an effort to ensure strong collaborative relationships between the state’s families and schools, the initiative develops strategies to maximize parents’ understandings of state and local expectations and ensure a smooth and beneficial school transition for each child. Through school transition programs, First Steps seeks to:
- Maximize parents’ understandings of state and local expectations and ensure a smooth and beneficial school transition for each child
- Introduce children and families to materials and standards to be found in kindergarten or first grade classrooms
- Increase parents’ positive relationship with the school and faculty