What Is The Palmetto Pre-K Portal?

The Palmetto Pre-K Portal is your one-stop shop for finding free or subsidized educational Pre-K programs for 4-year-olds in South Carolina. This portal allows you to search based on zip code and eligibility to see at a glance your available program options.

What Is The Purpose?

The Palmetto Pre-K Portal will serve as a way for families to easily access free and subsidized federal, state, state and local 4-year-old Pre-K programs.

Who Does It Serve?

South Carolina parents, families, and community supporters looking for more information about four-year-old Pre-K programs.


SC First Steps 4K is a state-funded program that provides free, educational Pre-K programs in hundreds of private, non-profit and faith-based childcare centers across South Carolina. Children benefit from small class sizes (1:10 teacher to child ratio) and instructional curriculum (Creative Curriculum by Teaching Strategies Gold® and Conscious Discipline®) that prepares them for school. Families have a variety of schedule options including year-round, summer-only or school-year only programs. Families may choose a traditional school-day program or extended-day program. Some centers offer transportation for no fee.

Eligibility and Enrollment: Children must be 4 years old before September 1, eligible for Medicaid or below 185% poverty and living in one of the 64 approved school districts. To check eligibility, find which centers offer First Steps 4K or enroll, visit Free4KSC.org or contact (877) 621-0865.


Head Start is a federally-funded program that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition and parent-family-community engagement services to low-income children and their families. Head Start centers are operated by non-federal entities across the state. Many Head Start programs offer traditional school-day programs. Extended-day programs may be available in your area. Transportation is not a universal offer, so please check with your local Head Start programs regarding availability of transportation.

Eligibility and Enrollment: Children must be 3 or 4 years old and below 100% poverty. Local programs offer priority enrollment to children with disabilities, children in foster care, children experiencing homelessness or families in emergency situations. Please check with your local Head Start program for specifics about eligibility. For more information, contact the South Carolina Head Start Collaboration Office at (803) 898-2550 or visit sc-headstart.org or scacap.org.


South Carolina Public School 4K is funded from federal, state and local sources with varying eligibility criteria. These educational programs housed in elementary schools as well as early childhood development centers include full-day, half-day and summer options. Public schools offer bus transportation.

Eligibility and Enrollment: Children must be 4 years old before September 1, and other eligibility varies based on the program. The SC Child Early Reading Development and Education Program (CERDEP) is a full-day 4K program for at-risk children based on income (185% poverty), Medicaid eligibility or developmental readiness. Interested applicants should check with their local school or school district office.


SC Vouchers provide financial assistance for child care to eligible parents, so they can work. The program, offered through the Division of Early Care and Education, promotes parental choice of safe, healthy and nurturing child care settings from a broad range of child care providers including center-based, family, group or in-home care arrangements.

Eligibility and Enrollment: SC Vouchers may be provided to families on or transitioning off Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), families that have open Child Protective Services or foster care cases, children with special needs, families experiencing homelessness and dual-language learner families. Families must show proof of need. To check eligibility for vouchers, please contact (800) 476-0199 or scchildcare.org.


For help finding a child care program that meets your family's needs, contact South Carolina Child Care Resource & Referral at (888) 335-1002 or sc-ccrr.org.