Family Strengthening

Family Strengthening

Our home visitation strategies, such as Parents as Teachers, Parent-Child Home and Early Steps to School Success, are helping parents understand their responsibilities to care for and be positive models for their children. As a result of First Steps’ intervention and parenting support, 66% of clients initially assessed at “low” levels of parenting have achieved moderate or high levels of parenting skill.

Parents as Teachers (PAT) is an evidence-based home visiting program designed to build strong communities, thriving families and children who are healthy, safe and ready to succeed. PAT services include:

  1. Personal Visits at least twice monthly
  2. Monthly Group Connections with other PAT families
  3. Screenings and Assessments to identify developmental concerns
  4. Connections to Outside Resources that families may need to succeed

Newberry First Steps serves families in greatest need.   Among our 2015-2016 PAT families:                                     

100% … live in poverty
100% … didn’t graduate from high school
75% … were teen parents

School Transition

 School Transition

Each of the First Steps services leads ultimately to the goal of transitioning children successfully to school. Programs like Countdown to Kindergarten and From Day One to Grade One are ultimately preparing children for school success.

Countdown to Kindergarten (CTK) is a summer home visitation model connecting rising kindergartners and their families with their future teachers. The program is designed:

  •      to forge strong and lasting home-school relationships,
  •      to acquaint children and families with the state and classroom expectations to increase the likelihood of school success,
  •      to increase parent involvement in the early grades (particularly in hard-to-reach communities), when children’s learning is foundational for life success; and
  •      to increase public awareness of the importance of school readiness and provide ways for parents and communities to impact children’s early school success.

Countdown to Kindergarten integrates all of the following:

Home Visitation. Teachers make six visits over the summer to the homes of participating students and families. Children and families are introduced to actual materials used in kindergarten and are given a Kindergarten Transition Toolkit to keep.

Learning Celebration. The last visit is a “field trip” to the school where the child will attend class in the fall.

Public Awareness. Throughout the summer, First Steps releases tips to media to help parents and caregivers get children ready for kindergarten.

Early Education

  Early Education

Private-public partnerships through First Steps 4K have led to significant cost efficiencies in the delivery of publicly funded 4K. One recent analysis suggests First Steps is achieving comparable results, without the need for costly capital construction, for 80 cents on the dollar.

The Newberry County First Steps Library-Based Program is designed to provide literacy activities for 3-4-year-olds enrolled in a certified preschool program.  These programs include child care centers, private preschools, faith-based preschools, and public schools.  We are especially targeting children who have been identified as at-risk.

One main goal is to instill in children a love of reading and of books.  Another goal is to place in the homes of these children quality children’s literature to encourage reading and together time for the children and adults in the home. 

Each class receives visits twice a month by the Outreach Librarian.  Each child receives eight (8) books to take home to add to his or her personal library.  Children are taught the proper care and handling of books.  Through the reading sessions every two weeks, teachers are trained in storytelling techniques to use in their own reading times.  Books are also given to the classroom to build up their classroom library. 


The Library-Based Program by the Numbers, 2015-2016

Children Served 565
Books Given to Children 3-5 years 4,524

Quality Childcare

  Quality Childcare

The quality of care received by young children is crucial to their healthy development and school readiness. Child care providers strive to provide high quality care, but may lack the resources that are commonly available to publicly-funded early childhood programs, such as educational materials, on-site professional development, and other support.

First Steps’ Child Care Quality Enhancement (QE) is intended to produce measurable improvements in the quality of care provided to young children. Participating child care providers must serve a high percentage of at-risk children, and are selected through a competitive process that requires a strong level of commitment to the QE process.

Program Components

  1. On-site Technical Assistance (TA) at least twice monthly
  2. Equipment and materials funding
  3. Integration with locally available training, provided by First Steps and other partners
  4. Workforce Development
  5. Coordination with community partners
  6. Pre/post assessments of the classroom environment and teacher-child interaction, using nationally-recognized observational tools for infant/toddler and preschool settings (ITERS,ECERS,FCCERS)        


The federal Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships initiative was created to expand Early Head Start services within infant-toddler child care settings.  Newberry County First Steps has contracted with one local child care center to provide Early Headstart-Child Care Partnership services for 16 children.