South Carolina Voters Care about Early Childhood Education

 

• • • • • •    Education, Including Preschool, Is the Leading Issue

Voters rank improving South Carolina’s education system—including preschool—as an
“extremely or very high priority,” EVEN when compared to other popular issues.

 

 

• • • • • •    Voters Agree: The Early Years Are Important

Voters recognize the vital role education can play in the early years of development, saying ages
0 to 5 are important, with a majority of voters recognizing that these years are “extremely important.”

• • • • • •    Voters Support Expanding Preschool

An overwhelming majority of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who said this
about preschool: “Parents have a right to know the child care they use provides a safe, quality
environment for their children. South Carolina has an ABC quality rating system for its child
care providers that needs to be more widely utilized. We should offer a tax credit for childcare
centers that participate in the ABC quality rating system and a different tax credit to childcare
teachers who improve their education credentials. As Governor, I would support tax incentive
programs for both childcare centers and child care teachers to improve the quality of childcare
parents have access to in our state.”

• • • • • •    Reforming Child Care: A Bipartisan Issue

There is strong bipartisan agreement on reforming the way South Carolina provides
childcare assistance. Majorities in both parties want to eliminate the “cliff effect” in which
families who reach a certain income level get cut off from all assistance. Instead, they want a
gradual phase-out of benefits as incomes increase, so we can break the cycle of poverty
and move more families into the middle class.

 

 

The six statements below are powerful messages that resonate with South Carolina voters to support
new investments in early childhood education. At least 74  percent of voters say these statements
are convincing arguments in favor of early childhood care and education.

Below are the top three messages ranked in order of most powerful for each target audience
of voters, color coded to correspond with the message chart.

 

 

• • • • • •   SUMMARY: PRESCHOOL SHOULD BE UNIVERSALLY ACCESSIBLE

A wide majority of South Carolina voters want preschool to be accessible to all
families and not be a needs-based assistance program. 

The proof: 66 percent of South Carolina voters believe public education should start at pre-K
and be offered to all 4-year-olds. Only 6 percent say it should be offered to low-income kids,
and just 25 percent think it should not be part of public schools.

The following are policy proposals that South Carolina voters overwhelmingly support to expand
preschool and invest in early childhood education, ranked in order of popularity. The total
percentage is the sum of voters who are “much more” or “somewhat more likely” to vote for a
candidate who advocates for these policies during his or her campaign.

 

Parents have a right to know the childcare they use provides a safe, quality environment for
their children. South Carolina has an ABC quality rating system for its child care providers
that needs to be more widely utilized. We should offer a tax credit for child care centers that
participate in the ABC quality rating system and a different tax credit to childcare teachers who
improve their education credentials. As Governor, I would support tax incentive programs for
both childcare centers and child care teachers to improve the quality of child care parents have
access to in our state.

Only 44 percent of low-income children are being served by preschool programs in South Carolina.
That means more than 49 thousand low-income kids who could benefit most from high-quality
early education have no access to pre-kindergarten. I want to expand funding so at least the
lowest income 4-year-olds who want to attend preschool have access in our state, and help
ensure more kids have an equal opportunity to succeed.

Less than three percent of vulnerable parents in South Carolina who need help are getting the services they require.
The State of South Carolina can assist families and help parents by providing home visiting programs that strengthen
the skills of vulnerable parents in need, such as the program “Parents as Teachers,” which provides parent education
primarily through home visiting and group meetings. The program targets school readiness, health, and wellness for
the children. I support expanding this to reach more families so our children’s parents can parent better.

In South Carolina it should pay to work hard. I support changing the way child care assistance vouchers
work so that we can end the cycle of poverty. Families that reach a certain income level get cut off from
any child care assistance. Instead of a strict cutoff, I believe we should gradually lower the amount
of assistance families get so they still have help with child care costs, enabling them to get out of poverty
and move into the middle class.

 

 

• • • • • •   DID YOU KNOW?

Voters Want Investments in Early Education, Even if It Means a Slight Tax Increase

Seventy-one percent of voters said they would support investing in high-quality early childhood education programs
and child care, even if it meant a slight tax increase. Among the 71 percent, Republican primary voters are more likely
to support this policy by 51 percent, and Democratic primary voters support it by 90 percent.