“I’ve been looking for services for my son for two years, and I just found them in five minutes.”
The First Five SC portal(First5SC.org) is a way for parents to learn more about the early childhood system in our state and to easily navigate to the more than 60 publicly funded programs and services included on the site, which are funded by 10 state agencies. First Five SC also features a common eligibility screener. Parents can enter a few pieces of information—their address, child’s date of birth, household income, and household circumstances—and see which of more than 40 programs and services they may be eligible for in their community. Through the Find a Provider page, families can also find services near them.
First Five SC makes it simple to learn about the array of early childhood programs by breaking down 60 public programs into five categories:
- Child Care & Early Learning
- Health & Safety
- Special Needs & Early Intervention
- Food & Nutrition
- Parenting & Family Support
Funded by the Preschool Development Grant Birth - Five, First Five SC was first envisioned as a way to coordinate eligibility and enrollment within the early childhood system as well as provide a unified way to share information with families to build knowledge of available supports for their child’s health, well-being, and development. In 2019, stakeholders came together to review the barriers families face in learning about and participating in programs, and First Five SC posed a unique possibility in state agencies and public programs working together to align the way we share information in ways that efficiently allow families to make informed decisions about participating in programs.
To build First Five SC, agencies worked together to share the information with the SC Early Childhood Advisory Council about their eligibility criteria and eligibility screening processes. This information was compiled and reviewed in order to come up with the common elements and build the screener based on the items asked by all agencies, in a way that was quick and asked the fewest questions needed across all programs. Each program was also mapped out by available counties and locations.
Much care was put into the design of First Five SC to create a seamless user-interface that was graphically consistent, visually pleasing and intuitive to navigate, based on the principles of UX(user experience), CX(customer experience), and human-centered design. The site was extensively tested by parents, professionals, and the development team to make sure it worked correctly and returned the correct responses on the eligibility screener. One parent in the test group stated “I’ve been looking for services for my son for two years, and I just found them in five minutes.”
Making it easier to find help is the heart of First Five SC—our joint commitment in creating a system that best supports families and children so they thrive. In 2022, we will be building a common application. Families will then be able to not only discover what programs they may be eligible for, but also be able to take the next step to complete one application for many early childhood programs at once.
Please share information about First Five SC with your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and especially with any families you serve. If you have any feedback or questions about First5SC.org, please contact Rachal Hatton-Moore, Two-Generation Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rachal also welcomes opportunities to speak to any groups who would like more information about First Five SC.