SC Early Childhood Advisory Council announces common application to streamline early childhood program access
At first5sc.org, families can now check their child's eligibility for more than 40 programs and, using information they already entered, apply for multiple programs at once.
COLUMBIA, SC – The SC Early Childhood Advisory Council has announced the launch of a common application that streamlines the process of applying for publicly funded early childhood programs. The application is available on the First Five SC website, which already allows families with young children (ages 0-5) to find information and check their eligibility for more than 40 programs. The announcement was made today at the South Carolina State Library.
"This is a game changer for families in South Carolina," said Georgia Mjartan, executive director of South Carolina First Steps and the Early Childhood Advisory Council. "We know that navigating the complex world of public services can be overwhelming, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for parents and caregivers to access the resources they need to support their children's development."
The First Five SC common application is the result of two years of development, collaboration across 16 state agencies and public entities, and coordination with hundreds of local providers. South Carolina is the first state in the nation to create a resource where families can access information about the full spectrum of state- and federally-funded services available to young children, determine which ones they are eligible for, and apply for multiple programs at once – all from their smartphone or computer.
"We believe that this tool will break down the barriers that have historically prevented some families from accessing the services they need to thrive," added Mjartan.
First5sc.org initially launched in February 2022 with information about more than 60 statewide early childhood programs and an interactive form that checks a child’s eligibility for 44 of these programs. In its first year, the website attracted over 100,000 visitors. Of the individuals who completed the eligibility screener, 78% qualified for at least one program.
“When our two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an extremely rare syndrome that impacted her hearing, we didn’t know where to start,” said Katie Hagan, a parent in Columbia. “First Five SC connected us to the resources we needed and coached us through the application process. Having all that information in one centralized place was key to getting the right kind of help – fast.”
First Five SC is an initiative of the SC Early Childhood Advisory Council and is operated by South Carolina First Steps, which coordinates the activities of the council The portal is supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5), a federal grant awarded to the South Carolina Department of Social Services by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
The First Five SC common application is now available. Families across South Carolina can check their eligibility and apply online at first5sc.org.
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About First Five SC
First Five SC is a website that connects South Carolinians with public programs and services for young children (ages 0-5). At first5sc.org, families can check their eligibility for 44 services from across 10 state agencies and public entities, including child care assistance, preschool programs, healthcare, special needs services, food and nutrition assistance, and parenting support. Then, with fields prepopulated using information they already entered, families can easily apply for the programs that best meet their unique needs.
Most young children in South Carolina qualify for one or more of these programs, but many families don’t know what is available or where to look for information. First Five SC makes it easier than ever with a smartphone-friendly application that is available anytime, anywhere.
About the SC Early Childhood Advisory Council
South Carolina’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) is a collaborative body representing the state’s early childhood system. Established in law, the ECAC includes the directors of eight state agencies and government entities that provide state- and federally funded services to young children. South Carolina First Steps coordinates the activities of the council.
Learn more at and EARLYCHILDHOODSC.ORG