South Carolina Early Childhood Common Agenda

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.

Strong Families

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.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.

3 and 4 year olds not enrolled in pre-school


• 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.

View pdf of 2019-20 Early Childhood Common Agenda

Statewide Partners

Dozens of organizations comprise the Early Childhood Common Agenda coalition.

  • Beginnings, SC
  • Communities in Schools of South Carolina
  • Early Learning Council of Georgetown County
  • Family Connection of South Carolina
  • FamilyCorps
  • 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
  • PASOs
  • 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.

  1. U.S. Census Bureau, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
    https://factfi  Retrieved on August 20, 2018.
  2. National Institute for Early Education Research. The State of Preschool 2017, South Carolina.  Retrieved on August 20, 2018
  3. Economic Policy Institute. The Cost of Childcare in South Carolina.   Retrieved on August 20, 2018.
  4. 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
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