history

First Steps to School Readiness was created in 1999 by the South Carolina General Assembly, as the state’s only entity focused exclusively on increasing school readiness for children birth to five.


  • County Partnerships represent First Steps on the local level.
  • First Steps Partnership is governed by a Board representing business, faith and nonprofit community leaders, early education professionals, parents, and agency partners.
  • Each Partnership’s nonprofit, 501(c)(3) status allows them to mobilize resources beyond state-allocated dollars.
  • All partnerships, including Dorchester County First Steps, are required to cap administrate costs at less than 7 percent and provide a minimum match of 15 percent in local funds, grants and in-kind donations to maintain state funding.

“There is established South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness, a comprehensive, results-oriented initiative for improving early childhood development by providing, through county partnerships, public and private funds and support for high-quality early childhood development and education services for children, by providing support for their families’ efforts toward enabling their children to reach school ready to learn.” – SECTION 59-152-10 (June 1999): Click here for the full First Steps enabling legislation.