United in support of young children (ages 0-5) and their families, advocates of the Early Childhood Common Agenda propose the following framework for building a smart, comprehensive early childhood system for South Carolina.

Three statewide organizations – Children’s Trust of South Carolina, the Institute for Child Success and United Way Association of South Carolina – along with statewide partners offer the following policy road map for South Carolina to create a brighter future for young children and their families.

The 2017 Early Childhood Common Agenda for South Carolina reflects months of work from a coalition of experts and offers specific recommendations to build a smart, comprehensive early childhood system for children 0-5 years old.

2017 Early Childhood Common Agenda (PDF)

School Readiness Tax Credits

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, 289,000 children live in poverty, limiting their access to environments and opportunities that support optimal development. For children and families of color, the challenges of poverty are often compounded by policies that enforce inequity in school systems, employment opportunities, and community resources. Effective, equity-informed policy can counter adverse circumstances through a two-generation approach, equipping both parents and children with the tools they need to thrive.


  • Endorse state tax credits that empower working families.
  • Promote the use of racial equity impact assessments (PDF) to determine the equity impact of early childhood legislation considered by the General Assembly.
  • Expand existing successful voluntary home visiting programs that support families with children from prenatal to age five.
  • Promote the use of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina (PDF) to assess the human impact of economic legislation considered by the General Assembly.

Increased opportunity

Children who experience high-quality preschool are more likely to enter school prepared for success in academics and throughout their lives. Unfortunately, 70,000 South Carolina 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any preschool program. Many families struggle to afford early care and education, with an average child care cost of $1,181 per month. 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. In South Carolina, 15 percent of these parents report their employment is affected by child care issues.


  • 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 accountability, quality, and impact statewide.
  • Allocate funds for additional training and technical assistance to support quality improvement in Family Child Care Homes.
  • Support and incentivize the inclusion of children with disabilities in high quality early childhood programs.
  • Promote training in pre-suspension and pre-expulsion positive discipline techniques in early childhood programs.

Successes to-date

  • Legislation increasing mandatory training for Family Child Care Home providers from 2 to 10 hours;
  • Expansion of the Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEP) to serve children in school districts with a poverty index of 70 percent or more;
  • South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) policy changes to provide second year funding to all S.C. voucher child care subsidy recipients and develop incentive measures to increase provider participation in the QRIS;
  • Production of the first study in the state examining quality child care access and provider motivations to join South Carolina’s voluntary child care QRIS; and
  • Production of the first Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina.

Supporting Organizations

In addition to the three partner organizations, many organizations from throughout South Carolina have committed their support for the 2017 Early Childhood Common Agenda.

Supporting Organization Logos. Children's Trust of South Carolina, Institute for Child Success and United Way Association of South Carolina.

  • Children’s Hospital, Greenville Health System
  • Communities in Schools
  • Family Connection of South Carolina
  • FamilyCorps
  • First Steps, Darlington County
  • First Steps, Greenville County
  • First Steps, Richland County
  • South Carolina Head Start Association
  • League of Women Voters of South Carolina
  • Mary Black Foundation 1
  • PASOs
  • Save the Children Action Network
  • South Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
  • South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
  • South Carolina Children’s Hospital Collaborative
  • South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs
  • Southern Education Foundation
  • The Riley Institute at Furman 2
  • 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 the Midlands
  • United Way of Pickens County
  • United Way of the Piedmont
  • United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties
  1. The Mary Black Foundation endorses the public policy agenda but does not take a position on specific pieces of legislation.
  2. The Riley Institute supports the Early Childhood Common Agenda items rising from the Business/Economic Committee.