Exciting Announcement!

We’re part of the Preschool Development Grant

Cara Smithwick  • 02/02/2021

We have an announcement! After a long process, Beginnings can finally announce that we are part of the SC PDG B-5 initiative. What is that you ask? The Preschool Development Grant is a US Department of Education initiative to  “(1) build or enhance a preschool program infrastructure that would enable the delivery of high-quality preschool services to children, and (2) expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities.” In SC, we call our grant B-5 (Birth to 5.) 

There are four focus areas: 

  1. early learning and development
  2. child health and well-being
  3. family and community engagement and access to supports
  4. collaboration and coordination for aligned and effective policies 

There are partners from all over SC. Just some of the partners are the SC Inclusion Collaborative, First Steps, USC, PASOs, Family Connection, DSS, Department of Education, and yippee–Beginnings

What will we work on? Glad you asked! We have several projects to provide support to families of children ages 0-5 and provide training and resources to school districts, agencies, and other organizations that work with families and children. We also will be doing lots of awareness projects to make deaf and hard of hearing children more visible. If you’ve heard me present to a group before, you’ll hear me say that DHH (deaf/hard of hearing) is not a low incidence disability; it’s a low-identification disability. Based on the population of children in SC, national stats for the incidence of DHH children, and numbers of children with an IFSP/IEP we know there are 9,925 children (and 2,112 of those are between the ages of 0-5!) across SC that have a hearing loss and most likely they are not identified and/or receiving services for their hearing difference. This grant allows us to begin changing that. 

Some of the highlights of our work include:

  • A public awareness campaign to start making hearing differences something all South Carolinians think about 
  • Collaborative work with PASOs at USC to identify the needs of the Spanish-speaking community in SC
  • Hiring a Deaf Parent Education Specialist to be a DHH role model and provide education to Beginnings’ families
  • Offer our free, in-home education and resources to DHH families with children ages 0-5
  • Provide guidance documents to enhance the transition from Early Intervention to preschool 
  • Train and provide a lending library of OAE machines (hearing screening devices) to organizations and school districts to find those children!
  • Hiring a Hearing Screening Program Manager to coordinate screenings and organizations providing screenings across the state
  • Hiring a Hearing Screener to find those children! 
  • Providing support to DHH parent-to-parent groups
  • Mapping the DHH system of professionals, stakeholders, organizations and state agencies that serve DHH children  

Luckily, this is a three-year grant because those are huge goals but we have been waiting for an opportunity like this to arrive. We are here and we are ready! Stay tuned…