CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Childcare programs around our state will get more than $1 million dollars to support families with young children during this COVID-19 pandemic. South Carolina First Steps has awarded over $850,000 in grants and invested an additional $190,000 in support for an AmeriCorps service program.
The money will be used to expand on several parenting programs, family support services and community outreach efforts.
“This major investment comes at a critical time for young children and families in our state,” SC First Steps Executive Director Georgia Mjartan said. “We know that access to child care is limited, social networks are strained, and parents are overwhelmed.”
Here is a breakdown of where some of the money will go in the Lowcountry:
- Berkeley County First Steps: Nurturing Parenting (new); 2 900-hour AmeriCorps positions; HIPPY program support ($98,967)
- Tri-County First Steps (Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester): 1 1200-hour AmeriCorps position ($9,450)
- Colleton County First Steps: 1 900-hour AmeriCorps positions; and HIPPY program support ($13,750)
- Dorchester County First Steps: Nurturing Parenting (new) ($50,071)
- Williamsburg County First Steps: 1 675-hour AmeriCorps position ($5,143)
The agency also recently put out a survey to parents and caregivers with young children to complete a survey assessing the impact of COVID-19 on child care needs. Of the 2,431 responses, 59 percent of parents and caregivers say they are more stressed and anxious than usual. The same percentage worry that their young children are missing out on important developmental opportunities, like socialization and learning.
“The concerns of families with children in SC is more pressing now more than ever as we are all experiencing dramatic changes because of COVID-19,” added Mjartan.
The goal of the survey was to find out where parents and caregivers need help with it comes to programs and support for their young children. They found COVID-19 has disrupted childcare plans and has forced many parents and caregivers to change their working hours. They also found that more than half of parents say the current situation they are in with their child’s care is not ideal.
Mjartan said she spoke with the governor’s office and they asked how the state can help.
“The answer to that was, rather than any of us who are state directors stepping up and saying that we’re the experts, we need to turn to families with young children and ask them,” she said. “And so the Governor’s office, the state legislature and I know many members of the U.S. Congress have already expressed their interest in hearing these findings.”
You can take a longer look at the results and find care options near you by clicking: here.