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With the help of a committed group of partners, South Carolina completed an economic impact study of their child care sector that was released in the summer of 2006. The report includes broad recommendations for action on behalf of children and families. The economic impact report provides a vehicle for talking about the importance of ECE. More people are now aware of these linkages even among the child advocacy field. The economic message offers a platform for increasing outreach across the state. It also ensures that the issue of quality remains central to the ECE discussion. The completion of the report coincided with a statewide quality rating system survey conducted with over 1,200 parents.
Using Economic Messages
South Carolina has experienced state and local investments in ECE in recent years. Local efforts that bring business partners and community leaders to the table help push forward state action on behalf of children and families. United Way agencies, along with local businesses and other community based organizations are lead partners in achieving these accomplishments. The economic impact message has educated state and local leaders and provided a new framework to consider how best to implement ECE programs. It has also helped to think more strategically about proposed policy recommendations and creating an ECE system. Action items that local government, cities and business can take hold of give new partners a concrete means of making an impact. The City of Greenville is one place where this approach has taken hold.
Boosting the Economic Power of Early Care and Education: Key Highlights
South Carolina’s release of the state economic impact report in 2006 afforded an opportunity for Rob Grunewald of the Federal Reserve to speak about ECE investments. The United Way, which helped sponsor the event, also hosted a business dinner to talk about the result of the report and the economic impact message.
State and Legislative Actions
The Governor of South Carolina, with funding from the National Governors Association, hosted a summit on early education in 2007. The focus of the summit was on the development of an ECE system. The summit was an opportunity to assess what the various children services sectors need to help children get ready for school. Next steps are to host 7 regional meetings across the state to see how communities are doing in efforts to complete their own local ECE planning.