NEWBERRY — The Newberry County First Steps heard from Sen. Ronnie Cromer at its first meeting of the year Monday at the DSS office.
While Cromer did not have a large agenda to present to the Newberry First Steps board members, he did take questions and talk about early childhood education and literacy. South Carolina’s Legislature is currently not in a new session.
One of the questions brought up was regarding the First Steps pre-authorization bill which is the First Steps to School Readiness bill that funds the program available in counties across the state.
Cromer did say that he didn’t think it would not get passed. However, the question is how much funding will be allowed for the program. He said public education and Medicaid could use up a lot of the money allotted in the state’s budget.
One thing Cromer said he is a big advocate of is the use of technology with children and in the classroom. If more money could be used for technology, he said children and students could be better off.
He also said that technology could be a tool to introduce children to different cultures and different successes around the nation and world which could help children with higher achievement levels.
Cromer did point out that when he visits schools, one major issue is the lack of parental involvement overall which the board members echoed.
Newberry County First Steps Director Pat Caldwell said, “We want to work with children early on … to break the cycle (regarding illiteracy.)”
One program that Caldwell pointed to is the Parent as Teacher program, which is a national program. The evidence-based home visiting model is designed to ensure young children are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. Services to highly challenged families in South Carolina are delivered by certified parent educators who emphasize parent-child interaction, development-centered parenting and family well-being.
Caldwell also informed the members that they are going to start back with their newsletter and they will also be branding books with the First Steps logo on books given out to children.
Caldwell presented the fund income and expense summary for Newberry First Steps from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013. The total ending balance for Newberry is $46,696.18. Their total revenues equaled $83,097.44 and expenses equalled $41,938.13.
The programs that Newberry First Steps has include Parents as Teachers, Library based programs, Countdown to Kindergarten, childcare quality enhancement, childcare training and professional development and other administrative and program functions.
First Steps prepares children for kindergarten and has existed in South Carolina since 1999. For more information about First Steps and how it benefits children under age 4, visit www.scfirststeps.org.