What Does Lancaster County First Steps Do?
First Steps works to accomplish its mission through a state coordinating office and a network of 46 county partnerships, each a private non-profit organization led by a board of early childhood champions. With a modest recurring appropriation of state funding, First Steps leverages cash and in-kind resources at the federal, state and local level to improve services for young children in six (6) strategy areas:
: Children’s development and ability to learn are profoundly impacted by their health.
Family Strengthening: A parent is a child’s first and best teacher.
Early Intervention: Early identification of developmental issues is critical to the well-being of children.
Quality Child Care : Access to high-quality care is a critical component of a child’s healthy development.
Early Education : Quality preschool opportunities set the stage for success in school.
School Transition: Preparing children and parents for a successful transition into kindergarten.
Lancaster County First Steps determines how to spend its funds based on an annual needs and resources assessment and collaboration with community partners to fill gaps in local services for young children and their families. First Steps has proven its impact through strong program and fiscal accountability and independent evaluations – a requirement of its enabling legislation.
All programs that receive funding from First Steps – whether they are operated by a county partnership or a collaborating partner, such as a school district – must adhere to program standards that require programs to be research-based and operated with fidelity; staff who have appropriate qualifications, training, and supervision; services that are comprehensive and coordinated with available community resources; standard assessment instruments that document client outcomes; and programs that target services to children most at risk for not being developmentally ready for school.