UPSTATE, S.C. (WSPA) – A non-profit is partnering with the South Carolina Department of Social Services to provide scholarships to families in need across the state.
First Steps 4K provides free four-year-old kindergarten to eligible children in more than 200 private child care centers in South Carolina.
This new scholarship program, called “First Steps 4K + Siblings”, will extend free child care and after-school scholarships to any sibling, age 0-12, of an enrolled student.
“This is a transformative opportunity for families,” Georgia Mjartan, executive director of SC First Steps said. “With First Steps 4K + Siblings, parents will be able to fully return to work or school, knowing that all of their children are learning and growing in a safe, nurturing environment.”
According to First Steps officials, the cost of quality child care is unaffordable for most South Carolina families. According to Child Care Aware of America, the average annual cost of center-based care for two children is $18,031 per year. That’s 21% of the state’s median income for married couples and 69% of the median income for single parents.
First Steps 4K currently serves 2,209 children in 211 centers across 40 counties. Based on these enrollment numbers, First Steps estimates that more than 1,300 families will benefit from the new scholarship program during the 2021-2022 academic year. Over half of South Carolina 4 year olds are eligible for the program.
Scholarships will go into effect starting August 16, 2021. Families can still apply for the First Steps 4k+ program.
To apply, click here.