Due to COVID-19, Florence County First Steps (FCFS) waived their annual educational in-person meeting and held a “drive-by” on December 15, 2020 for 16 families receiving day care scholarships and 9 family day care providers, coordinated by Program Coordinators, Lana Hopkins and Anastasia Spann. Families and providers received toys that stimulate child development as well as gift bags for their participation. Acknowledging the risk of our frontline educators, FCFS provided personal protective equipment such as masks and sanitizer in efforts to assist them to remain safe amidst the pandemic.
Executive Director, Spencer R. Scott stated, “As the pandemic shut down majority of in-person services in March, we had to find innovative ways to keep connected to our families and childcare community. Most of our work involves gathering people, so that has definitely been a major change in or work. “The day we went remote, we really focused on finding the most effective way to service and protect our most vulnerable to the coronavirus.”
Beginning in 1999, the goal of FCFS is to prepare children of Florence County for school and has several initiatives in place to make this goal happen. Childcare Scholarships are distributed to qualified low-income households that are working or going to school. “According to Scott, this helps three-fold: It provides parents an opportunity to work or continue going to school to obtain a two or four year degree, it allows a child to be in an educational environment for 8 hours of the day and gives employers an employee who's working and not concerned about their child not being in a safe or educational environment.”
There are also Technical Assistance (TA) and Quality Enhancement (QE) programs to ensure that providers and child cares facilities are giving the best care to families who attend the facilities. Virtual child care Trainings, which are set to start back in January 2021, allow providers to earn mandatory SC Department of Social Service credit hours.
If you would like to donate to this cause, please visit paypal.me/florencefirststeps to donate. You may also mail a check to 415 South Coit Street, Florence SC 29501. We are also looking for board members who are passionate about our cause and want to be a part of our mission.