FIRST FIVE: SC partnership launches new website that helps families of young children access resources
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — For families expecting a new baby or raising young children, accessing helpful resources can prove difficult or at least time consuming.
Now, a first-of its-kind tool is allowing families in South Carolina to access services and programs much more easily.
“There are available resources to help pregnant moms and young children with access to food that are going untapped. In our HeadStart programs, we have slots not filled. We want families to know about these services,” said Georgia Mjartan, director of SC First Steps. “We want to make it as easy as possible because 90 percent of a child’s brain develops in the first 5 years.”
South Carolina has more than 40 programs and services available for families with young children. However, many people do not know about them.
“We have families who find themselves having to go from government office to government office,” Mjartan said. “There might be a phone number but someone only answers during business hours.”
Through a partnership of different state agencies, a new website has launched called First Five SC that allows families to easily check their eligibility for resources.
“Through that common application, families can apply in one stroke instead of having to complete the application again and again,” Mjartan said. “That can be time consuming and frustrating for families with young children.”
First Five SC allows you to easily apply for food assistance, special needs services, preschool programs, child care assistance and more.
“Scholarships for childcare. I haven’t utilized that yet but I’m learning more about the resources out there,” said South Carolina mother Ashley Berendzen.
With three children at home, she has already accessed many programs that have been made available through SC First Steps.
“Once a week, we have a playgroup. I have a COVID baby who is not well-socialized and not in daycare right now,” Berendzen said. “There is also a classroom kids can go to once a week. It’s set up like how preschool would be so when he goes to preschool… he’ll be ready.”
First Steps has a local program in every county in South Carolina. Check out the local First Steps in your area here.