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S.C. First Steps announces Parenting Expansion Grants | #parenting

NEWBERRY — South Carolina First Steps has awarded Newberry County First Steps $88,310 in grants as part of its initiative with the South Carolina Department of Education to support parents as the first and most important teacher of their young child.

The funding will expand high-intensity, evidence-based parenting programs in Newberry County to address potential learning loss in children due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The award is primarily funded by the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and will be supplemented with Preschool Development Grant Funds. The South Carolina Department of Education received $211 million in total from the fund and has allocated $14.7 million to S.C. First Steps.

“We are incredibly grateful for Superintendent Spearman’s vision to apply these federal resources to programs and services for South Carolina’s youngest children, an investment that will generate an exponential return,” said Georgia Mjartan, executive director of South Carolina First Steps. “Children and families whose lives have been upended by COVID-19 will be able to participate in proven programs. Compared to their peers, children enrolled in First Steps programs are 74% more likely to enter kindergarten ready to succeed.”

Newberry County First Steps has a proven record of effectively addressing the high need for evidence-based parenting programs. These intensive home visiting and group parenting models have demonstrated school readiness outcomes nationally through experimental and quasi-experimental studies.

Each local partnership that was selected for the Parenting Expansion Grant went through a competitive selection process overseen by senior leadership at S.C. First Steps. Newberry County received elevated consideration for being an area of the state that has been negatively impacted by learning loss during the pandemic.

“Newberry County First Steps is excited to receive the grant funding to establish a new parenting program in the county. Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) is a broad-based parenting group program delivered over eight weeks for parents of young children,” said Sarah Eargle, executive director of Newberry First Steps. “The past two years have added an extra layer of stress on parents and children. Triple P will provide positive strategies for parents to promote their child’s development, address behavioral concerns, and learn ways to prevent behavior problems from developing. Supporting and strengthening families leads to stronger, more resilient children who are ready to learn and grow.”

Newberry County First Steps is beginning the training process for Triple P and hopes to implement the first eight-week session by the end of April. Visit Newberry First Steps’ Facebook page or website to keep up with the latest information.

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