Oconee First Steps partners with organizations and/or programs that specialize in six core areas—School Transition, Quality Child Care, Early Education, Healthy Start, Family Strengthening and Early Intervention—to accomplish our overall goal of SCHOOL READINESS.
We believe parents play the most visible and essential role in ensuring a child starts school feeling healthy and ready to learn. But for many parents in our area, the resources and opportunities to help children get ready aren’t easily accessible—or even available at all.
That’s why Oconee First Steps partners to promote school readiness initiatives by enhancing the work that worthwhile agencies like local schools, state agencies, churches, non-profits, and neighborhoods are already doing in our community.
A ready family embraces their role as their child’s first and MOST IMPORTANT teacher. We support families by nurturing steady and supportive relationships that ensure safe home environments, promote good health, and foster curiosity and excitement about learning.
Feature resources for families:
Ready educators provide children and families with high quality instruction and surroundings that address the child’s learning and development needs. Staff are trained and proficient in early care and education standards, and programs are sensitive to individual differences and cultural values.
Feature resources for educators:
A ready community accepts school readiness as a priority and supports families in their role as their child’s first and most important teacher. Businesses, faith-based organizations, health care entities, social services, community groups and local governments all work together to support children’s long-term success.
Feature resources for communities:
OCFS provides free, high-quality training that meets the needs of the local childcare workforce in order to improve the quality of child care. First Steps –sponsored training is certified through the SC Center for Child Care Career Development and includes topics in nutrition, health and safety, curriculum, child guidance, professional development, and program administration. It includes not only training but also follow-up with participants in their classrooms.
One of the biggest challenges for new parents is finding affordable quality child care so their family can return to school or work. Oconee County First Steps provides resources to help families overcome this barrier, reducing the number of those who resort to low cost, often unsafe, options for child care. Oconee County First Steps provides a limited number of child care scholarship to income eligible families who attend school or are employed for at least 20 hours per week or currently enrolled in the Oconee Nurse/Family Partnership Program. The scholarships are provided through agreements with B and above licensed centers, and scholarship families are required to attend monthly health-related training provided in collaboration with Heath’s Haven.
POPS is a voluntary holistic, long-term, in-home parenting education prevention program geared toward assisting “high risk” families with children prenatal through age five in preparing their children to arrive at first grade healthy and ready to learn.
The program uses two evidenced–based curriculums: Parents as Teachers (PAT), and Systematic Training for Effective parenting (STEPS).
POPS is a PAT Affiliate, and services provided include:
BabyNet is South Carolina’s interagency early intervention system for infants and toddlers under three years of age with developmental delays, or who have conditions associated with developmental delays. According to recent federal evaluations, outcomes for clients participating in BabyNet early intervention programs are above national averages. BabyNet matches the special needs of infants and toddlers who have developmental delays with the professional resources available within the community. Services are provided in everyday routines, activities and places relevant to the life of the family. BabyNet is funded and regulated through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and managed through South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness.
Anyone (a parent, doctor, caregiver, teacher or friend) can make a referral by the number listed below. The earlier a baby or toddler receives help, the better!
To make a referral or to get more information call 1-877-621-0865 or send an email to [email protected] for assistance.
BabyNet for Oconee County is provided by State First Steps: (864) 225-6465 or click here for more information.
Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). WOYC 2019 is scheduled for April 8-12.
OCFS will have a series of special events that week, so please check our FB page in 2019 for specifics.
For more information visit the Week of the Young Child website here.
Pinwheels for Prevention is a collaborative project to help promote the little things every family can do to help keep children safe and secure. Pinwheels are a symbol of happy childhoods. This uplifting image draws the attention away from the problem of abuse and neglect to the solution of effective prevention. Pinwheel gardens are a reminder of the work our community is doing to support children and families. Pinwheels for Prevention runs each year during the month of April. If you would like to be a pinwheels garden site, please contact us here.
For more information visit the Pinwheels for Prevention website here.
Healthy Families America (HFA) is a program of Prevent Child Abuse America designed to support parents who may be experiencing a range of current or past challenges, including single parenthood, low income, a history of maltreatment, substance abuse, mental health concerns, or domestic violence. HFA is designed as a prevention program; thus, visits begin prenatally or within the first three months after a child's birth and continue until children are between 3 and 5 years old. .
For more information, visit the HFA website here.