What We Do

Pickens County First Steps believes parents play the most visible and essential role in ensuring a child starts school feeling healthy and ready to learn. But for many parents in our area, the resources and opportunities to help children get ready aren’t easily accessible—or even available at all.

That’s why Pickens County First Steps works with local businesses and organizations to serve children pre-birth to 5 years old who are at risk of not being ready for school. Our direct programs and partnerships with local schools, state agencies, churches, non-profits, and neighborhoods have created success for thousands in our community.

Partner Projects

Book Flood
Book Flood is a partnership with the four-year-old kindergarten classes in both the School District of Pickens County and private childcare providers. It is a home-to-school book sharing program that exposes families to various genres of literature while engaging them in one-on-one reading time with their child. Children and families at risk for school and life failure are typically language and literacy deficient. Research shows that reading is a key ingredient in the success of a child; reading is the foundation for a child’s ability to become a life-long learner. That is why Book Flood is such an important program.
Children’s Services Council of Pickens County (CSCPC)
Children’s Services Council of Pickens County (CSCPC) is an alliance of 35 plus agencies in the county that serve families and children pre-natal to age 5. It works to disseminate information and educate local community resources about the needs of our county’s youngest learners.

Learn more about CSCPC here.
Early Steps Identification (ESI)
Early Steps Identification (ESI) is a program that screens children for potential developmental delays for early identification and referral to BabyNet (birth to age 3) or the school district (3-5 years). Click here to learn more.
Razor Readers
Razor Readers is a community-based literacy program creating child-friendly reading spaces in local barber shops. Razor Readers is funded by United Way of Pickens County and partners with the Call Me Mister program at Clemson University. The "Misters" visit the barber shops on Saturdays to engage with readers and promote The Palmetto Basics and Ready Rosie, early learning resources for parents. To learn more about this program, click here.
The School District of Pickens County
The School District of Pickens County The School District of Pickens County (SDPC) partners with First Steps to offer the Parents as Teachers program and Family Literacy services.

Parents as Teachers (PAT) is an evidence-based early childhood home visiting framework for families with children prenatal through kindergarten that builds strong communities, thriving families and children who are healthy, safe and ready to learn. Its services include:

  1. Personal visits at least twice monthly in the client’s home
  2. Group connections with other PAT families at least monthly
  3. Screenings and assessments to identify issues early
  4. Access to a resource and referral network that connects families to other needed resources

The Parents as Teachers program:
  • Increases parents’ knowledge of child development and improves parenting practices
  • Provides early detection of developmental delays and health issues
  • Prevents child abuse and neglect
  • Increases children’s school readiness and school success
Our Family Literacy program provides parents and children most in need of improving their literacy skills with intensive, frequent and long-term educational and non-educational services.

Family Literacy services integrate the following:
  • Adult education
  • Child education
  • Parent education
  • Interactive parent/child activities
  • Our Family Literacy program:

    • Helps parents of young children increase their education levels
    • Provides English language instruction for parents
    • Teaches parents how to support their child’s literacy and overall development
    • Provides quality early learning experiences for children 0-5 while their parents attend
    • adult education
Virtual Tours

Thanks to a partnership with Spin(a)tours, you can tour different areas of a typical, high quality child development center and kindergarten; a safe, engaging home environment; and various learning excursions.

Childcare Center Tour

Kindergarten Tour

When visiting a childcare center, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Is the provider Licensed? If they are, they are required to display this license.
  2. Are the staff certified in First Aid/CPR? This is not necessarily a requirement, but is the best way to ensure children are safe.
  3. Does the provider have any licensing violations? DSS lists violations, and the resolution, for all licensed providers on their website. An individual violation may not be a deal breaker (staff sometimes have bad days). The main thing to look for is what type of violation (was it safety related, or paperwork related), and was the violation resolved?
  4. What ratios are in place? Typically, ratios range in infant rooms from 1 adult to 6 children to 1 adult to 4 children (depending on what other certifications the center meets). Ratios for toddlers and preschools are higher. You can check ratio requirements for your age group at www.scchildcare.org
  5. Is the environment welcoming, safe, and nurturing? We encourage families to “test drive” centers. Visit during the day, when children are there. Do they staff seem engaged? Are the children happy?
  6. What sort of curriculum, accreditation, and national models do they follow? While a few centers are NAEYC accredited (the gold star of childcare quality), others follow faith-based curriculum, or built their program around national or international standards. Find the program that suits your needs.

Home Safety Tips

What does a nurturing, engaging home look like? Thanks to a partnership between Greenville First Steps, Safe Kids Upstate and LiveWell Greenville, the following virtual home tours provide safety tips, paired with healthy and engaging activities.

House Tour

Apartment Tour

Learning Excursions

There are all kinds of great learning opportunities throughout the community, but how can your child get the most out of these experiences? The following virtual tours provide tips and insight into what various locations have to offer.

Week of the Young Child

WOYC is held every April. We will have a series of special events in Pickens County that week. We will update our calendar with specifics.

Palmetto Basics
80% OF BRAIN GROWTH HAPPENS DURING THE FIRST THREE YEARS OF LIFE. During these early years of brain growth, infants and toddlers absorb massive amounts of information from interacting with other people. This early learning becomes the foundation for all future learning. The Basics are five fun, simple, and powerful ways to help all our children become he happiest and most successful they can be. Let's seize the opportunity. Learn More
Bright by Text
Bright by Text puts expert tips, games and child development information directly into the hands of parents and caregivers. Messages also provide information and resources specific to each community, such as library resources, food pantries, and preschool / kindergarten open enrollment periods. Subscribe to this free service by texting SCKIDS to 274448.
Raising a Reader
Raising a Reader helps families develop, practice, and maintain home literacy routines. Through partnership with local childcare centers, this evidence-based program helps support young children and families in Pickens County. Learn More.
Other Resources
Kids Count provides high-quality data and trend analysis that is used to enrich discussion and decisions on ways to secure better futures for all children—as well as raise the visibility ofchildren’s issues through a non-partisan, evidence-based lens.

See data for South Carolina here

See data for Pickens County here and as a PDF here.

Check out the 2014 Data Book here, which shows that South Carolina remains 45th in the nationfor child well being.

Children’s Trust of South Carolina is a statewide organization focused on the prevention of child abuse, neglect and injury. The organization trains and educates professionals who work directly with families and also funds, supports and monitors proven prevention programs. It offers a variety of resources to strengthen and support public and private prevention efforts that keep South Carolina’s children safe.

Check out its many resources here.

Early Childhood Common Agenda is a policy road map for South Carolina to create a brighter future for young children and their families. It is the work of three statewide organizations—Children’s Trust of South Carolina, the Institute for Child Success and United Way Association of South Carolina—along with statewide partners.

View the 2015 agenda here.

Family Connection is a statewide nonprofit organization that links families of children with special healthcare needs and disabilities with resources, support and education. We provide support to parents with a child or family member with any special healthcare need, such as an upcoming surgery, developmental delays, premature birth, physical limitations and all diagnoses including autism, asthma, ADHD and cerebral palsy.

Click here to learn more.

Pickens County Resource Guide lists all the local resources available to assist children prenatal to five years old. Download the guide here.


Text4baby is a free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health. Women who text BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411 receive three free text messages a week, timed to their due date or their baby's birth date, through pregnancy and up until the baby’s first birthday. The messages address topics such as labor signs and symptoms, prenatal care, urgent alerts, developmental milestones, immunizations, nutrition, birth defect prevention, safe sleep, safety, and more.

Click here to learn more.


ZERO TO THREE is a national nonprofit organization that provides parents, professionals and policymakers the knowledge and know-how to nurture early development.

Click here to learn more.


Get Involved in Pickens County

There are many ways to engage children in our own community. Pickens County offers a variety of resources and learning opportunities, including: