by Mary MacKenzie, Senior Fellow, Institute for Child Success Mary MacKenzie (standing) discusses the nuances…
United in support of young children (ages 0 through 5) and their families, advocates of the Early Childhood Common Agenda propose the following pathways for improving outcomes for young children.
Four leading organizations – Children’s Trust of South Carolina, the Institute for Child Success, Save the Children Action Network, and the United Way Association of South Carolina – along with dozens of statewide partners have committed their support for the 2019 Early Childhood Common Agenda.
Children’s prospects of success are largely rooted in the social and economic well-being of their families and communities. In South Carolina, however, 22.8% of our children aged 5 and under live in poverty, limiting their access to environments and opportunities that support optimal development.1 Effective, data-driven and equity-based policy can counter adverse circumstances through a two-generation approach, equipping both parents and children with the tools they need to thrive.
• Expand and improve prevention services for families at risk of entering the child welfare system.
• Focus social service efforts on child protection and family capacity.
• Consolidate and prioritize state level early childhood education, care, and development.
• Expand existing successful voluntary home visiting programs that support families with children from prenatal to age five.
• Promote fiscal policies that empower working families.
Access to Quality Opportunities, Preparing Children for School
Children who experience high-quality preschool are more likely to enter school prepared for success in academics and throughout their lives. Unfortunately in South Carolina, 87% of 3-year-olds and 49% of 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any preschool program.2 Many families struggle to afford early care and education, with an average monthly child care cost, regardless of quality, of $540 for infants and $388 for 4-year-olds.3 This problem is exacerbated for low-income families, who are often forced by limited resources to choose care based on affordability and/or convenience rather than quality.4 Data-driven policies can address these economic challenges in a way that improves access to quality learning opportunities, prepares children for kindergarten, and improve employment prospects for working families.
• Promote policies that increase access to affordable and high quality early care, learning, and preschool opportunities.
• Strengthen capacity and incentives for child care providers to participate in the state’s child care Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).
• Align early childhood services to increase data-driven accountability, quality, and impact statewide.
• Support and incentivize the inclusion of children with disabilities in high quality early childhood programs.
Dozens of organizations comprise the Early Childhood Common Agenda coalition.
- Communities in Schools of South Carolina
- Early Learning Council of Georgetown County
- Family Connection of South Carolina
- First Steps, Darlington County
- First Steps, Greenville County
- First Steps, Richland County
- League of Women Voters of South Carolina
- Mary Black Foundation*
- North Public Relations
- Prisma Health Children’s Hospital
- Riley Institute at Furman**
- South Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children
- South Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
- South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
- South Carolina Children’s Hospital Collaborative
- South Carolina Head Start Association
- Spartanburg Academic Movement
- Trident United Way
- United Way of Aiken County
- United Way of Anderson County
- United Way of Florence County
- United Way of Greenville County
- United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties
- United Way of Pickens County
- United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Count
- United Way of the Midlands
- United Way of the Piedmont
- Women’s Rights Empowerment Network (WREN)
*The Mary Black Foundation endorses the public policy agenda but does not take a position on specific pieces of legislation.
**The Riley Institute supports the Early Childhood Common Agenda items rising from the Business/Economic Committee.
- U.S. Census Bureau, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
https://factfi nder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk. Retrieved on August 20, 2018.
- National Institute for Early Education Research. The State of Preschool 2017, South Carolina. http://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/South-Carolina_YB2017.pdf. Retrieved on August 20, 2018
- Economic Policy Institute. The Cost of Childcare in South Carolina. https://www.epi.org/child-care-costs-in-the-united-states/#/SC. Retrieved on August 20, 2018.
- Washington Kids Count. (2009). The State of Washington’s Children: Poverty and the Future of Children and Families in Washington State. Seattle, WA.
Retrieved from http://www.nccp.org/downloads/SWC08_FINALCOPY.pdf