As a community engagement specialist for Save the Children in Barnwell County, I’ve seen first-hand the challenges facing children, families and educators in rural poverty. Fortunately, we are working to help give kids a strong start in life.
Our schools need to focus on early childhood education, school readiness, chronic absenteeism, literacy, science, technology, engineering and mathematics competency, high school graduation rates and other areas of core importance to our children and our workforce. The list is long, but we are making progress.
I am thankful that two years ago, South Carolina agreed to invest in children by providing Save the Children match funding to expand our data-proven programs to more areas of the state. Orangeburg 3 was a part of that expansion, and several of our elementary schools benefited from home-visiting early childhood programs, after-school and in-school literacy programs, summer programs and health and nutrition programming. In the short time since we launched this partnership, the results have been remarkable.
I’ve seen children who were a year behind in reading catch up and begin to thrive in school. During the 2016 school year, literacy growth for participating students was equal to 4.3 months of schooling. That is an investment worth making.
The state-match funds are key to our programs. Please join me in urging the Legislature to continue providing these funds and opening possibilities around our state.