We offer various programs and services to Colleton County families, childcare providers, and partners.  Learn more below about what we do.


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

Colleton County First Steps serves families in greatest need.  Among our PAT families: 

  • 72% …. children live in single parent families
  • 66% …. parents didn’t graduate from high school
  • 100% … children receiving SNAP

Edith Bright-Washington, Parent Educator
Susan Martin, Parent Educator
Lesley Utsey, Parent Educator

Contact Colleton County First Steps at 843-542-9494 to see if you are eligible for our Parents as Teachers Program!


Childcare Training

High-quality child care hinges on high-quality professional development that meets the needs of the local child care workforce.

First Steps-sponsored training is certified through the SC Center for Child Care Career Development and includes topics in the areas of nutrition, health and safety, curriculum, child guidance, professional development and program administration. Best practices in training include not only the training itself, but follow-up in the classroom.

All child care and early childhood staff who attend training receive books and other classroom materials to use in their classrooms. Our participants gave us an excellent rating of 98% for our trainings.

This year, our Training program provided:

  • 221 early childhood staff with high quality training  impacting 30 providers and 435 children
  • 71 hours of certified training for staff to meet annual re-certification requirements
  • 79 follow-up visits with training participants to help put training into practice

Childcare Scholarships

Access to quality child care is essential for children while away from their primary caregivers. Yet, of those families income-eligible for childcare assistance in South Carolina, only a small fraction receive it due to lack of funds. In the absence of nurturing and consistently available family, friends or neighbors, parents are faced with few -or no – affordable care options.

Colleton County First Steps serves families in greatest need. Among our scholarship families:

  • 100% …. receive SNAP
  • 59% ……. single parent households
  • 41% ……. were teen parents
  • 64% ……. had developmental delays.

In addition to regular monitoring of child care providers that receive First Steps scholarships, First Steps conducts at least one developmental screening each year with scholarship children and connects families to needed services within the community.
Our scholarships are integrated with our Parents as Teachers program. Our families must be in our program for a period of three months before they are eligible to apply for a scholarship. We partner with the Department of Social Services and this agency makes the qualification determination and administers the funds to the day care facilities.

Our childcare scholarships offer parents the opportunity to return to school and complete their degrees as well as the peace of mind that their children are attending a quality day care facility.



First Steps 4K

Interested parents with Medicaid-eligible children who live in eligible school districts can contact any participating provider to complete an application for free, full-day 4K. To view a list of participating First Steps 4K providers, visit:


Early Intervention & Referral

First Steps’ Early Identification and Referral (EI&R) programs serve families with young children with suspected delays in development and coordinates public awareness for BabyNet services, acting as a local portal to connect families to community-based services they may need or desire to ensure the school readiness of their children.

Services include:

  1. Screenings (developmental, vision, hearing) for children ages birth to 5 years with suspected delays in development
  2. Referrals, based up the screening results, to appropriate community resources. This could include the local BabyNet System Point of Entry Office, the local school district, and/or support services such as speech therapy, physical therapy, and programs in libraries and other community resources.
  3. Parent information including strategies to monitor growth and development.

Our EI&R program:

  • Provides early detection of developmental delays and health issues
  • Promotes services and activities that promote child development
  • Increases children’s school readiness and school success


Imagination Library

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write Dolly started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county. Today, her program spans four countries and mails over 1 million free books each month to children around the world.

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.  The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

In 1995, Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee, USA. Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month.


Countdown to Kindergarten

Each of the corresponding blocks of services leads ultimately to the goal of transitioning children successfully to school. Programs like Countdown to Kindergarten are ultimately preparing children for school success.