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New Federal Planning Grant Awarded to SCDSS to Continue State’s Strides in Early Childhood Care and Education

Contact: Will Batchelor

New Federal Planning Grant Awarded to SCDSS to Continue State’s Strides in Early Childhood Care and Education

January 5, 2023 -The SC Department of Social Services recently received approval of a new federal planning grant award to help the state’s continued expansion of the state’s Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) infrastructure. This work aligns with and furthers SCDSS’ commitment to strengthen the state’s integrated early childhood system, prepare low-income and disadvantaged children to enter kindergarten, invest in the early childhood workforce, and expand access to high-quality ECCE programs in a mixed delivery system.

The grant provides an additional $3.7 million in federal funds through the new Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) Planning Grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.

“We know South Carolina’s young people are our greatest asset,” Governor Henry McMaster said. “This new planning grant award allows our state to continue coordinated efforts to give them the best possible start for a bright future, and that means a bright future for the state as a whole.”

“We appreciate the continued support from Governor McMaster to pursue the federal funding support our state needs to keep building on the strong foundation we’ve laid to maximize and expand early learning opportunities for our state’s children,” said SCDSS State Director Michael Leach. “Collaboration among early childhood stakeholders and advocates, providers, parents, the business community and elected officials is absolutely key to accomplishing the great outcomes we desire for children.”

The Early Childhood Advisory Council, consisting of SCDSS, South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness, the SC Department of Education, and other child-serving agencies and stakeholders, was able to engage in several important projects through the previous three-year PDG renewal grant awarded in 2020, totaling $33 million.  This new PDG Planning Grant will allow work to continue by strengthening the quality of programs that serve the state’s most vulnerable or underserved populations of children, particularly those in rural areas.

Grant objectives for the next year include:

  • Supporting professional learning opportunities for the ECCE workforce include an emphasis on child development and learning, early childhood mental health, engaging families, inclusion, and health and wellness as well as recruitment and retention strategies. 
  • Increasing the number of providers trained in trauma informed and true responsive care.
  • Expanding the existing Palmetto Pre-K portal, launch and market First Five South Carolina common application interfaces in 2023.
  • Increasing supply and access to quality ECCE programs and services for underserved children.
  • Continuing the development of the SC Early Childhood Integrated Data System (SCECIDS) and the Drive to Five Data Dashboards.
  • Continuing work to strengthen parent and family knowledge, choice, and engagement, improving early learning transitions, and community outreach services.


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