From the Press

Midlands First Steps program expand parent-educator initiative with $2M from SC First Steps

First Steps of South Carolina is investing $5.5M of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, known as ESSER funds, to expand their Parent-Educator program to reach more families with children five and younger across the state.

The Clarendon County First Steps program will receive $312,800 to expand its Parents as Teachers program; the Fairfield County First Steps will receive $152,632 to expand Parents as Teachers; Lexington County First Steps will receive $529,404 to expand Parents as Teachers, and Sumter County First Steps will receive $164,450 to expand Parents as Teachers.

The program’s goal is to support parents as their child’s first teacher and provide the tools to better prepare kids for school.

“It’s helping me become the best mom I could be, and also teach my kids the best of themselves,” said Lexington County parent Rosa Linda Contreras, who participates in the program through Lexington County First Steps. Contreras said over the last 15 years, the program has supported her five kids.

“I believe all those years of the early care-educator program helped them be really involved in school stuff,” Contreras said.

SC First Steps Executive Director Georgia Mjartan said Midlands counties received $1.9M from the $5.5M grant.

“A lot of parents that I’ve talked to don’t know how to work with their child, to get their three-year-old child ready for math success,” Mjartan said. “So, a Parents as Teachers parent educator can help the family figure that out. They bring great resources to the home.”

With the funds earmarked for Midlands counties, parents like Contreras can become educators themselves—taking their experiences to help other parents in need.

“If I could help them become the best they can be, as I did with my kids, it’s very rewarding,” Contreras said, adding, “I believe I could really teach and help the parents also.”