Fairfield First Steps awarded $152,632 grant

Patti Wilkes, Executive Director of Fairfield County First Steps, accepts a check for $152,632 from South Carolina First Steps to support parents as the first and most important teacher of their young child. | Contributed

WINNBORO – Fairfield County First Steps has been awarded $152,632 in grants by S.C. First Steps as part of its initiative with the South Carolina Department of Education to support parents as the first and most important teacher of their young child.

The funding will expand high-intensity, evidence-based parenting programs in Fairfield County to address potential learning loss in children due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The award is primarily funded by the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and will be supplemented with Preschool Development Grant Funds. The S. C.  Department of Education received $211 million in total from the fund and has allocated $14.7 million to SC First Steps. $4.9 million of that was distributed through these competitive grants.

“Fairfield County First Steps has a proven record of effectively addressing the high need for evidence-based parenting programs,” said Patti Wilkes, executive director of the Fairfield program. “These intensive home visiting and group parenting models have demonstrated school readiness outcomes nationally through experimental and quasi experimental studies.” 

Each local partnership that was selected for the Parenting Expansion Grant went through a competitive selection process overseen by senior leadership at SC First Steps. Fairfield County received elevated consideration for being an area of the state that has been negatively impacted by learning loss during the pandemic.

“This grant allows us to expand our Parents As Teachers program, an evidence-based program, that allows for working directly with the parent and child,” Wilks said. “Fairfield County is fortunate to have received these funds. Our data continues to show that we are making a large contribution to the families we are serving.  In awarding this grant, the state office has shown that they see the positive difference we are making within our county.”

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