What We Do

Greenville 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 Greenville First Steps partners to promote school readiness initiatives by enhancing the work that worthwhile agencies like local schools, state agencies, churches, non-profits, and neighborhoods are already doing in our community.

Partner Projects


This 7-week summer enrichment program is a partnership between Greenville First Steps and Little Steps. It provides educational, social, and community resources to teens during the summer who are either pregnant or new mothers. Program participants rotate through classes focusing on educational tutoring, labor and delivery, infant care, nutrition, peer group counseling, and parenting.

Through partnerships with Greenville Health System, Greenville County Library System, and Greenville County School District, BABYSTEPS provides these classes along with transportation, and childcare for the children of these new mothers.

Childcare Scholarships

One of the biggest challenges for new parents is finding affordable quality child care so their family can return to school or work. Greenville First Steps and the United Way of Greenville County provide resources to help families overcome this barrier, reducing the number of those who resort to low cost, often unsafe, options for their children.

The scholarship program provides childcare vouchers to teenage parents and young working families so that they can enroll their child in a safe, nurturing environment. Since 2010, over 500 families have participated in the program and nearly $2.7 million in scholarship funds have been awarded.

Funding priorities include teen parents who are currently enrolled in Greenville County Public Schools, participants in the Greenville Nurse Family Partnership program, and low-income families who plan to return to work.

Center Locations More than 20 providers have been approved as centers for the Greenville First Steps’ childcare scholarships. At this time there is a waiting list, but we encourage families to apply both to be part of a center and for a scholarship. For the instructions to apply and a full list and a map of the centers, please CLICK HERE.
Countdown to Kindergarten
Countdown to Kindergarten is a school transition program that assists low-income rising K5 students and their families with a smoother transition to kindergarten. It uses weekly home-based curriculum led by the child’s K5 teacher or teacher assistant. Visits are conducted during summer months before the child officially begins school; teachers visit families 5 times during the summer, each time providing a new lesson/activity/game. Teachers leave materials and suggestions with parents to do with the student that will reinforce already taught skills and activities until the next visit. At the conclusion of the program, the family accompanies the teacher on a tour of the school and experiences elements of a typical day in the classroom with other Countdown to Kindergarten families. Schools served include St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School, Welcome Elementary, and Westcliffe Elementary.
Nurse Family Partnership

Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) is a nurse home visitation program, with 30 years of longitudinal research, that is designed to improve the health, well-being and self sufficiency of low-income, first time parents and their children. Home visits span a 2 ½ year timeframe and begin prenatally and continue through the second year of the child’s life. Visits range from weekly to every other week but can be altered if the nurse feels there is a need for more visits. Bachelor’s degree-level nurses utilize guidelines, clinical consultation, and intervention resources to implement the programs in a way that is adaptable to each family.

Locally, NFP is a partnership between the Greenville Health System and Greenville First Steps. In 2010, it expanded to serve 125 families and in 2011, an additional 50 families were added to the program. Funding is provided by the Duke Endowment (7 year commitment), Greenville First Steps, the United Way of Greenville County (3 year commitment) and the Children’s Trust of South Carolina. Additional funding was provided through Hollingsworth Funds, the Community Foundation of Greenville and Greenville Women Giving.

To learn more about this proven program, visit the Nurse Family Partnership National Service Office website here.

Project Pinwheel

Project Pinwheel is a collaborative project to help spread the good news of the work being done in our community and to promote the little things every family can do to help keep children safe and secure. Project Pinwheel is made up of over 200 partners, including childcare providers, the YMCA of Greenville, A Child’s Haven, Greenville Health System, the United Way of Greenville County, Pendleton Place for Children and Families, Greenville County School District, and our incredibly engaged faith community. The county-wide campaign is sponsored by our generous business community and local individual donors.

Did you know?
Pinwheels are a symbol of healthy, happy childhoods. This uplifting image draws the attention away from the problem of abuse and neglect to the solution of effective prevention. Pinwheel gardens are a visible reminder of the work our community is doing to support children and families. In 2014, over 35,000 pinwheels were planted by children, families, and community members. That’s one pinwheel for every child under the age of six in Greenville County.

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.

Other Resources

For great ideas for family-friendly activities, visit MacaroniKid.com

View our latest School Readiness Resource Guide

View the 2014 Project Pinwheel Resource Guide

View the 2013 School Readiness Resource Guide

View the 2013 Project Pinwheel Resource Guide

Read Greenville

Read Greenville is a community wide awareness program designed to help spread the word about the importance of reading daily. Through a collaborative partnership with local organizations, Read Greenville educates the community about the importance of literacy, provides strategies and ideas for engaging children and adults, and gives the tools necessary to create a literacy filled world for our residents. Greenville First Steps encourages all families to read to their children daily. Whether it is a child's favorite book that you've read 300 times or a magazine that came in the mail, find time every day to sit together and explore the world of reading.

Tips for Reading to Your Children


  • SNUGGLE UP WITH A BOOK - When you hold your baby close and look at a book together, your baby will enjoy the snuggling and hearing your voice as well as the story. Feeling safe and secure with you while looking at a book builds your baby's confidence and love of reading
  • CHOOSE BABY-FRIENDLY BOOKS - Books with bright and bold or high-contrast illustrations are easier for young babies to see, and will grab their attention. Books made of cloth or soft plastic (for the bathtub) or "board books" with sturdy cardboard pages are easier for a baby to handle
  • KEEP BOOKS WHERE YOUR BABY CAN REACH THEM - Make sure books are as easy to reach, hold, and look at as toys. Remember, a baby will do with a book what he does with everything else — put it in his mouth. And that's exactly what he's supposed to do, so you may only want to put chewable books within reach


  • DON'T EXPECT YOUR TODDLER TO SIT STILL FOR A BOOK - Toddlers need to move, so don't worry if they act out stories or just skip, romp, or tumble as you read to them. They may be moving, but they are listening
  • RECITE RHYMES, SING SONGS, AND MAKE MISTAKES! - Pause to let your toddler finish a phrase or chant a refrain. Once your toddler is familiar with the rhyme or pattern, make mistakes on purpose and get caught
  • CHOOSE ENGAGING BOOKS - Books featuring animals or machines invite movement and making sounds. Books with flaps or different textures to touch keep hands busy. Books with detailed illustrations or recurring items hidden in the pictures are great for exploring and discussing
  • KEEP READING SHORT, SIMPLE, AND OFTEN - Toddlers frequently have shorter attention spans than babies. Look for text that is short and simple. Read a little bit, several times a day


  • READ TOGETHER EVERY DAY - Read to your child every day. Make this a warm and loving time when the two of you can cuddle close
  • SAY HOW MUCH YOU ENJOY READING - Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Talk about "story time" as the favorite part of your day
  • READ WITH FUN IN YOUR VOICE - Read to your child with humor and expression. Use different voices. Ham it up!
  • KNOW WHEN TO STOP - Put the book away for awhile if your child loses interest or is having trouble paying attention
  • BE INTERACTIVE - Discuss what's happening in the book, point out things on the page, and ask questions
  • READ IT AGAIN AND AGAIN - Go ahead and read your child's favorite book for the 100th time!