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Why We Care About Education For All

When children are not with their families they need...
  • love, nurturing, and growth-enhancing relationships; 

  • caregivers who understand their stages of development and provide activities and learning opportunities appropriate to their ages; 

  • a safe and healthy environment in which to play and learn.


Achievement gaps start before children arrive at school. Children who start behind too often stay behind. The following statistics tell what happens. In South Carolina and across the United States:

  •  88% of children who have problems reading in first grade still have problems reading in 4th grade;

  • 74% of children who have problems reading in third grade still have problems reading in 9th grade;

  • long term (20 years out) projections of the prison population nationally are based on the reading achievement of 3rd graders; 

  • children from lower socio-economic backgrounds enter school with much poorer skills in the major areas of development and learning. Average achievement scores for kindergarten children in the highest socio-economic group are 60% higher than those in the lowest group. 


Source: Fact sheets prepared by the Department of Social Services, ABC System

If families from lower socio-economic situations are going to have a chance, then they are going to need the community’s support. Government cannot do it alone. Many families cannot do it alone.

Many children in the tri-county area are at risk of under-achievement and lower developmental outcomes.  

The tri-county area has many families and children at risk. The number of children age 6 and younger living below poverty levels in the three counties is alarming and on the increase from a decade ago. Increasing numbers of our children are more at risk today of not succeeding in school than they were a decade ago, according to the US Census and 2005 SC Kids Count.


In Oconee County, 16.6 % of children are from below poverty level family situations: 

  • 15% white (increase from a decade ago), 

  • 27% black (decrease), 

  • 32% other (new group from a decade ago). 

In Pickens County, 14% of children are from below poverty level family situations:

  • 12% white (increase), 

  • 34% black (increase), 

  • 13% other (new group from a decade ago). 


In Anderson County, 18.7% of children are from below poverty level family situations:

  • 12.9% white (increase), 

  • 36.5 % black (decrease), 

  • 30.4% other (new group from a decade ago). 


Parents in all three counties indicate that they have trouble locating quality, affordable child care and educational opportunities for their children. The 2005 Kids Count report indicates that, in all three counties, caring for children is a major problem for parents because they are unable to obtain quality, affordable daycare while they are at work 35+ hours per week. All three counties also have fewer licensed child care and educational centers available than needed. Child care and educational centers are severely constrained by the limited ability of parents to pay for actual costs of the program.


But states are seeing the impact of their early childhood education investments. For example, in Oklahoma, participants attending a 4K program had 85% better basic literacy skills, 44% better math skills and 28% better vocabulary skills. The gains were particularly strong for low income children and English language learners (two populations cited in a recent Kansas school finance lawsuit). In Georgia, pre-K participants had significantly better school attendance and significantly better math and reading scores. In Michigan, 38% fewer children who participated in pre-K needed to repeat a grade (saving the state $12 million annually). 

CCDC’s education significantly enhances early childhood development. 

In order to measure the effectiveness of the CCDC’s 4K program, all 4K children received pre- and post-Dial 3 assessments. Dial-3 is an individually administered assessment of children’s motor, concept, and language developmental skills. The Dial-3 assessment was given at the beginning and end of the school year to measure gains in learning. The nationally normed Dial-3 provided valuable data for assessing CCDC children’s achievements. The results showed that, as a whole group, CCDC’s 4K children’s scores increased 33% (from 45% to 78%). The greatest individual increase was 60% (from 18% to 78%). Among the 20 children that were assessed, 25% are above 95% national percentile rank. These scores are but one indicator of the excellence in education that CCDC children receive and the results of that excellence!  

Quality early education programs also help the area’s economic development. Numerous studies reveal that there is a cost to business in NOT responding to its employees’ need for reliable, quality early childhood programs. Employees are likely to miss work when they spend long hours trying to find early childhood programs or when they deal with the often tenuous arrangements they have. When employees with these problems are at work, they have difficulty concentrating and being productive.

Companies have also found that there are business benefits in providing assistance to their employees with early childhood programs, including improved recruitment and retention. Employees with access to family-supportive programs and policies are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, to be loyal, to go the extra mile to help their companies succeed, and to stay at their jobs. Former Governor Jim Hunt of North Carolina states, “our pre-kindergarten programs have resulted in a better work force and have attracted more business into the state.” (Source: Fact Sheets made available to CCDC by the SC Department of Social Services ABC Program) 


“Unlike subsidies to companies, investing in early childhood education is an investment tool that really works!” - Rob Grunewald, Associate Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Image by Markus Spiske
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