Tri-County Organizations Launch Partnership to Improve Early Childhood Education and Care in Berkeley County

Charleston, S.C. – Six Charleston-area organizations, a mental health professional, a doula, and a data expert have come together to form a coalition designed to improve the wellbeing and potential of children affected by adverse circumstances in Berkeley County, South Carolina.

Called the Berkeley County Early Education and Care Collective (BEE&CC), the coalition was one of 139 groups that applied to take part in the Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW) Learning Community program of Boston Medical Center’s Vital Village Network, an initiative funded through a $2.2 million grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. BEE&CC was one of ten groups selected across the United States to take part in the program.

Led by backbone organization Berkeley County First Steps, BEE&CC member organizations include Charleston Area Justice Ministry, Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, South Carolina First Steps, South Carolina PASOs, YWCA Greater Charleston, and three individuals: Stacy Albarran, a mental health professional, Simone Richie Lee, a Berkeley County doula, and Alexa Stephens, a data expert and independent consultant who will serve as BEE&CC’s project coordinator.

Under the NOW program, BEE&CC will improve its members’ ability to provide all Lowcountry families with resources to build a strong foundation and nurture healthy children by forming a supportive community of practice and sharing knowledge and data among its member organizations and NOW Learning Communities across the nation. Vital Village will provide the group with a robust set of knowledge, skills, and tools to scale and sustain equitable transformation of early childhood care, education, and health systems in their individual communities.

“We’re grateful to NOW and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for this funding, which has tremendous potential to change maternal and child health outcomes in South Carolina’s largest county,” said Adrienne Troy-Frazier, executive director of BEE&CC’s lead organization, Berkeley County First Steps. “Through this grant we hope to use the expertise, knowledge, and local relationships nurtured by our member organizations and fellow Learning Communities to expand on ways to reduce the effects of adverse experiences in childhood.”

The need for this program in South Carolina, even as early as the time a woman conceives, is significant. According to America’s Health Rankings, black mothers are more than four times more likely to die in childbirth than white mothers in South Carolina, and according to the March of Dimes, in 2015 nearly 20% of infants were birthed by women in the state receiving inadequate prenatal care. South Carolina’s black infant mortality rate is more than double that of white infants, at 11.2% for black infants versus 4.8% for white infants in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.

Participating NOW Learning Communities, which include coalitions in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington in addition to BEE&CC, will kick off the 18-month initiative with a one-day action lab, attend semi-annual learning symposiums, and participate in monthly check-ins and webinars in which the coalitions will learn from each other. They will also have access to resources in the NOW Online Forum, focus groups and surveys that multiple members can co-design, and technical assistance and training.

“It is clear that adverse social environments and experiences in early childhood are key drivers of inequities in health and development and have a durable impact on wellbeing and life chances,” said Renee Boynton-Jarett, MD, ScD, founder of Vital Village and a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center. “Communities across the country are responding by identifying how systemic inequities, institutional racism, and historical and community trauma harm health, but also cultivating community-based solutions and developing sustainable neighborhood opportunity structures to promote child wellbeing, which is transformative.”

Launched in 2016, NOW builds on Vital Village’s network approach to build the capacity of other local communities and coalitions across the country working to promote child wellbeing, align systems of care and education in early childhood, and improve neighborhood opportunity structures that promote optimal wellbeing and reduce inequities in child health and education—all through a trauma-informed lens.


The Vital Village Network is committed to maximizing child, family, and community wellbeing. Since 2010, Vital Village has fostered partnerships between residents and organizations aimed at improving the capacity of three Boston communities to promote child wellbeing and prevent early life adversities. The Network uses a trauma-informed lens to support systems alignment and collaboration across community-based early childhood health and education efforts. Its focus areas include promoting family strengths and social connections during the preconception and prenatal period, peer-to-peer advocacy aimed at addressing social and material hardships, and innovations in early childhood education. For more information about Vital Village, visit


Berkeley County First Steps is part of a statewide initiative to prepare young children for school and a lifetime of learning. Serving the hardest-to-reach children and families first, its vision is to see that every child in Berkeley County enters kindergarten safe, healthy, ready to succeed, and eager to learn. It seeks to fulfill this vision by providing families with improved childcare and early education opportunities, striving for an early childhood system that is transparent and easily navigated by families, ensuring that family engagement and partnership is embedded in this system, expanding and improving healthcare, and strengthening families through a parenting skills program. For more information about Berkeley County First Steps, visit



Free Four-Year-Old Kindergarten!

Free Four-Year-Old Kindergarten

PASOs Health Fair

PASOs Health FairPASOs Health Fair

Early Childhood Educator Excellence Award

Do you know someone who is making a difference in the lives of young children and is dedicated to Early Childhood Education?  We want to hear from you!!

Berkeley County First Steps wants to recognize an outstanding Early Childhood Educator who demonstrates exemplary early childhood education practices, and a commitment to giving children the best possible start in life.

Birthing With Purpose Doula Program

Birthing With Purpose Doula Program

Board Elections January 30, 2018

On January 30, 2018, members of the Berkeley County First Steps Partnership Board Nominating Committee will meet to consider nominations for new members of the Berkeley County First Steps Board.   The purpose of this memo and attachments is to solicit nominations from the board and the public to be considered by the committee so that a pool of qualified nominees can be presented to the full board.

Keep in mind that the board is looking for members to meet certain membership categories and who are willing to make the necessary time commitment to Berkeley County First Steps Partnership Board.

Attached is a nomination form that should be completed and returned to Elmire Raven, Nominating Chair, by January 15, 2018 at Berkeley County First Steps, 6215 Murray Avenue, Room 113 Hanahan, SC 29410.   We have also enclosed the responsibilities of board members and the categories of individuals as defined in the First Steps legislation that must be elected to the board.

Please call Adrienne Troy Frazier, at 843-863-3030 if you have any questions.

Nomination Form

Board Member Responsibilities

Elected Board Member Categories

STEAM Early Childhood Leadership Cohort in partnership with the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

January 10, 2018-Berkeley County First Steps has launched a year-long partnership with the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, a non-profit located in downtown Charleston, to train early childhood teachers to provide high-quality instruction in science, math and the arts.

Through this collaboration, educators have created the Berkeley County STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Leadership Cohort with $56,000 that Berkeley First Steps receives from annual appropriations from the South Carolina Legislature and a $1,000 grant from the Magnolia Plantation Foundation, the non-profit arm of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Adrienne Troy-Frazier, Berkeley County First Steps’ executive director, said, “The project will support early childhood educators in creating hands-on, interactive classroom activities that encourage young children to develop and use scientific inquiry processes to explore and better understand their environments.” Berkeley County First Steps is an early childhood organization with a mission to ensure that young children are prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

The leadership cohort will help five early childhood teachers understand early STEAM in a new way, improve their quality of teaching, and use more and higher-quality math and science talk, Troy-Frazier explained. In its first year, the program is expected to reach 50 to 60 children ages three to five, she added.

Nichole Myles, executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, said, “We believe this partnership is tremendously important for the tri-county area. The Children’s Museum wants to build collective impact in the community and, by helping teachers, we’re ensuring they pass down the same hands-on, play-based learning to all students that we support and teach at the Children’s Museum.”

Berkeley County First Steps has contracted the Children’s Museum to provide professional development and coaching to teachers. Teachers will receive classroom coaching to facilitate positive changes in children, including increased understanding of math and science concepts, the use of math and science language to stimulate interest and engagement in STEAM.

Troy-Frazier said that research shows that giving children exposure to quality, hands-on STEAM learning opportunities is an important predictor of a child’s school success.

Denise M. Stanley Baker operates one of the top-rated family child care homes in Berkeley County. Her facilities is one of the programs participating in the STEAM cohort. “I think the cohort is needed because we can cultivate our preschool children’s interest in STEAM.  STEAM is the future. The United States is behind other countries, so we need to catch our children now and give them a STEAM foundation. One of my 3 year olds is making drones using Legos!  As a family home provider I am excited that my children have the opportunity to such as awesome program.”

For more information about Berkeley County First Steps please visit

About the Children’s Musuem of the Lowcountry:

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization with a mission to engage young children’s potential by inviting families of all backgrounds to explore environments and experiences that spark imagination and stimulate curiosity through the power of play.   Open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is $12 per person, $10 for SC Residents and free for children less than 12 months of age.  For more information, please visit our website,

Berkeley County First Steps Annual Report 2016/2017

Please click to read/download report.

Berkeley County First Steps Winter/Spring Trainings 2018

Berkeley County First Steps will be hosting the following trainings through the winter and spring of  2018. Attached is our registration form.  A slot cannot be reserved without payment.  Feel free to contact Stephanie at  843-863-3030, if you have any questions.

Saturday, February  10th   

Dual Language Learners –  10:00 – 12:00 – The basics of developmentally appropriate teaching practices for young children who are dual language learners.  Learn how to prepare for a diverse group of children, how first and second languages develop, and why supporting the home language is so important.     2 hours in Curriculum                 $6

Berkeley County School District Board Room, Moncks Corner

Saturday, March 10th

Teaching in Inclusive Settings – 9:00-11:00 – Teachers will learn how to incorporate the principles of a balanced curriculum to offer children multiple ways of acquiring knowledge and skills and to provide a variety of formats for instruction, learning, and assessment in ways that will help all children communicate what they know and can do. 2 hours in Special Needs      $6

Promoting Positive Peer Play in Inclusive Settings:  The Vision of Inclusive Early Childhood Education! – 12:00 – 2:00 – Inclusive preschool classrooms are natural environments designed to provide educational and developmental services for all children.  Learn how to support children with disabilities as they develop social skills and cooperative play skills.

2 hours in Special Needs                 $6

Berkeley County School District Board Room, Moncks Corner           

Saturday,  April 21st  

Babbles and Coos – 9 – 11:30 –  An exploration of early language development and how  babies begin recognizing sounds and speech patterns at an early age   –  2.5 hours in Growth & Development              $7.50

Respecting Their Needs to Move –  12:00 – 2:30 – How to implement thoughtful, respectful, and well-planned transition practices, that are supportive of a child’s strengths and needs –

2.5 hours in Growth & Development                    $7.50

Berkeley County School District Board Room, Moncks Corner

Saturday, May 19th    –

 Developing a Curriculum to Provide Maximum Opportunities in an Early Childhood Education Setting   – How to develop a well-rounded curriculum that supports all areas of development, offers a clear statement of goals and philosophies, and engages children in purposeful learning and play –

Part I   – 9 – 11:30   – 2.5 hours in Curriculum                                     $7.50

Part II – 12:00 – 2:30 – 2.5 hours in Curriculum                                   $7.50

Berkeley County School District Board Room, Moncks Corner