SC

Audit: SC First Steps Has Failed

On the same day lawmakers in the S.C. General Assembly are poised to vote on a state budget which would dramatically expands its funding and operations, a legislative audit has revealed the utter failure of the S.C. First Steps to School Readiness program (a.k.a. “First Steps”). “The percentages of children…

On the same day lawmakers in the S.C. General Assembly are poised to vote on a state budget which would dramatically expands its funding and operations, a legislative audit has revealed the utter failure of the S.C. First Steps to School Readiness program (a.k.a. “First Steps”).

“The percentages of children at-risk for not being ready to succeed in school have not decreased since 2000,” the S.C. Legislative Audit Council (SCLAC) found, referring to the first year of the program’s operation.

In other words First Steps – like the federal government’s failed Head Start initiative – has not accomplished its objective.

Additionally the audit accuses the agency – created in 1999 by former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges (D-Lancaster) – of reporting “questionable statistics” to the public and failing to disclose data that would paint its efforts in a negative light. Annual reports were described as “not consistent or complete,” and its internal expense records were also found to have been “significantly different” than its budget appropriations.

“First Steps did not report the retention rate of students who had participated in early childhood programs versus the retention rate of students who had not,” the audit concluded. “In addition, because there are no statewide criteria for retaining students, the criteria can vary from location to location and across time.”

Want more bad news?

The audit reveals that “trustees of the First Steps board have not adequately attended meetings and have made decisions without a quorum,” and that overhead costs for the program’s forty-six county partnerships have “not been adequately defined or monitored.”

“Each year from FY 07-08 through FY 10-11, First Steps reported expenditure amounts in its annual report that were significantly different than the amounts reported in the Governor’s Detail Base Budget,” the audit revealed. “These variances ranged from $385,914 (1.0 percent) to $6.6 million (19.4 percent).”

Awesome, right? A million here, a million there … it’s all “other people’s money,” isn’t it?

Sadly, this is just the latest in a long line of incompetent state agencies … par for the course in South Carolina’s dysfunctional government.

Despite its abysmal performance, First Steps received a bureaucratic bailout from S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley last year – and several “Republican” State Senators joined Democrats this year in voting to dramatically expand the program, per U.S. President Barack Obama’s suggestion.

FIRST STEPS AUDIT (SUMMARY)

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46 comments

Curious June 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm

So… do we think this report is going to change legislators’ votes re: funding, or have they already made up their minds?

Reply
Doris June 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm

This line item is a good “swap vote” item. Republicans can agree to vote for the future Democrat votes on this item to get one in return that really matters to them in return from a Democrat. I mean, who can criticize someone for voting on throwing money at educating kids? We see it everyday up here in the halls and in the committee rooms.

Reply
Jay Ellington June 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

“I mean, who can criticize someone for voting on throwing money at educating kids?”

I can, especially when it continually fails to produce positive results.

Reply
Curious June 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm

So… do we think this report is going to change legislators’ votes re: funding, or have they already made up their minds?

Reply
Doris June 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm

This line item is a good “swap vote” item. Republicans can agree to vote for the future Democrat votes on this item to get one in return that really matters to them in return from a Democrat. I mean, who can criticize someone for voting on throwing money at educating kids? We see it everyday up here in the halls and in the committee rooms.

Reply
The Ghost of Fat Greg Dulli June 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

“I mean, who can criticize someone for voting on throwing money at educating kids?”

I can, especially when it continually fails to produce positive results.

Reply
shifty henry June 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Total incompetence from Haley on down. Some of the findings are unbelievable. Shocking !!

Reply
shifty henry June 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Total incompetence from Haley on down. Some of the findings are unbelievable. Shocking !!

Reply
Fail! June 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Yeah, what’s up with them, not reducing childhood poverty? No good hippies.

Reply
Fail! June 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Yeah, what’s up with them, not reducing childhood poverty? No good hippies.

Reply
EJB June 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

These programs, Head Start & First Steps, look good on paper but make way too many assumptions. If the kids behave, if the parents do their part, if, if, if, more ifs in these programs than at a stutter’s convention discussing the possibility of world peace. There are a number of studies that show that even under the best of conditions with the best of the students any benefit from these programs disappears by the time the student reaches third grade. Just another way to hand part of our lives over to government and increase our taxes.

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EJB June 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

These programs, Head Start & First Steps, look good on paper but make way too many assumptions. If the kids behave, if the parents do their part, if, if, if, more ifs in these programs than at a stutter’s convention discussing the possibility of world peace. There are a number of studies that show that even under the best of conditions with the best of the students any benefit from these programs disappears by the time the student reaches third grade. Just another way to hand part of our lives over to government and increase our taxes.

Reply
jimlewisowb June 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm

First Steps can’t find $6 or $7 million

Superman’s 3rd cousin over at DPPP, Dunderwoman, can’t find over $4 million

DOR loses several million taxpayer ID’s

DOT can’t fix roads and bridges

DEW is synonymous for Fubar

DHEC sits on their collective white asses while TB runs rampant through school kids

Governor is doing such a goddamn good job she now wants to head up a new Department of Administration

Hell give it to her. Why not. She has fucked up everything else she has wrapped her legs around

Reply
nitrat June 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm

And, why the voters in SC1 didn’t remember any of those debacles and that they could not have gotten in the shape they are in the 28 months Nikki Haley has been governor and realize the mess came about and festered under 8 long years of the tail chasing Sanford is beyond me.

Reply
jimlewisowb June 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm

First Steps can’t find $6 or $7 million

Superman’s 3rd cousin over at DPPP, Dunderwoman, can’t find over $4 million

DOR loses several million taxpayer ID’s

DOT can’t fix roads and bridges

DEW is synonymous for Fubar

DHEC sits on their collective white asses while TB runs rampant through school kids

Governor is doing such a goddamn good job she now wants to head up a new Department of Administration

Hell give it to her. Why not. She has fucked up everything else she has wrapped her legs around

Reply
nitrat June 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm

And, why the voters in SC1 didn’t remember any of those debacles and that they could not have gotten in the shape they are in the 28 months Nikki Haley has been governor and realize the mess came about and festered under 8 long years of the tail chasing Sanford is beyond me.

Reply
Jay Ellington June 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm

It’s sad that derelict “parents” choose to turn their genitalia into baby factories and then expect everybody else to raise them. Programs like this have been failing for years because there is no consistency at home for the demographic they aim to reach. Funding should be pulled immediately.

Reply
The Ghost of Fat Greg Dulli June 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm

It’s sad that derelict “parents” choose to turn their genitalia into baby factories and then expect everybody else to raise them. Programs like this have been failing for years because there is no consistency at home for the demographic they aim to reach. Funding should be pulled immediately.

Reply
Squishy123 June 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

All FirstSteps is is taxpayer funded daycare for lazy parents.

Reply
Squishy123 June 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

All FirstSteps is is taxpayer funded daycare for lazy parents.

Reply
Sarge June 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Have you seen the quality of “teachers” running these places?

Reply
Jay Ellington June 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm

You might as well send your kids to Sunshine House.

Reply
Sarge June 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Have you seen the quality of “teachers” running these places?

Reply
The Ghost of Fat Greg Dulli June 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm

You might as well send your kids to Sunshine House.

Reply
ERK June 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm

First Steps director Susan DeVenny makes more than anyone else in the dept. of education but the audit shows her taking unauthorized vacation and a survey of the local offices shows she is rarely at work. With such a person as a director, the program is doomed. SC kids fail because of this greedy slacker.

Reply
Jay Ellington June 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm

She’ll get a raise and a promotion.

Reply
jimlewisowb June 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

The fact that DeVenny doesn’t have set office hours or fails to comply with standard State policy and procedure is a no brainier

Back when Fatass Templeton was in the news 24/7 it was clear that the new breed of State Executives were not going to have their creative juices dried up with mundane requirements such as time and attendance

The days of expecting to find an Agency Head in their office are long gone. The reality of reaching a human when calling an Agency is also long gone.

Last week I called a State Agency Help Line and when a real honest to God live human answered the phone I was so shocked I hung up the damn phone

However, I betcha one thing in regards to Ms. DeVenny. If the bitches’ paycheck is a day late or a penny short some poor son a bitch will have a cat o’nine tails laid on their backside within 24 hours

Reply
ERK June 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm

First Steps director Susan DeVenny makes more than anyone else in the dept. of education but the audit shows her taking unauthorized vacation and a survey of the local offices shows she is rarely at work. With such a person as a director, the program is doomed. SC kids fail because of this greedy slacker.

Reply
The Ghost of Fat Greg Dulli June 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm

She’ll get a raise and a promotion.

Reply
jimlewisowb June 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

The fact that DeVenny doesn’t have set office hours or fails to comply with standard State policy and procedure is a no brainier

Back when Fatass Templeton was in the news 24/7 it was clear that the new breed of State Executives were not going to have their creative juices dried up with mundane requirements such as time and attendance

The days of expecting to find an Agency Head in their office are long gone. The reality of reaching a human when calling an Agency is also long gone.

Last week I called a State Agency Help Line and when a real honest to God live human answered the phone I was so surprised I hung up the damn phone. Well,truth is I blew a mouthful of beer into the phone and it died

However, I betcha one thing in regards to Ms. DeVenny. If the bitches’ paycheck is a day late or a penny short, some poor son a bitch will have a cat o’nine tails laid on their backside within 24 hours

Reply
Elfego June 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Our Government at work!

Reply
Elfego June 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Our Government at work!

Reply
nitrat June 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm

And, we need MORE state agencies as cabinet agencies or in the Office of the Governor under the executive management of the likes of Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley???

And, the likes of Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley are as good as we are going to get in this state because WHITE REPUBLICAN VOTERS ARE EVEN MORE LAZY AND STUPID THAN THE PEOPLE THEY ELECT.

Reorganization!?! HELL NO!!!

Reply
nitrat June 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm

And, we need MORE state agencies as cabinet agencies or in the Office of the Governor under the executive management of the likes of Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley???

And, the likes of Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley are as good as we are EVER going to get in this state because WHITE REPUBLICAN VOTERS ARE EVEN MORE LAZY AND STUPID THAN THE PEOPLE THEY ELECT.

Reorganization!?! HELL NO!!!

The Cabinet agencies and Office of the Governor have not had any supervision since January 2003 when Mark Sanford took office, people. NONE.

Reply
No Way! June 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Another social experiment that is failing because you can’t raise a child with a village! Ms. Clinton could not have been more inaccurate in her assessments. These parents are too busy with other goals and exploits to care for their children. Should we fund this? No way! It does not work and it should not be funded!

Reply
No Way! June 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Another social experiment that is failing because you can’t raise a child with a village! Ms. Clinton could not have been more inaccurate in her assessments. These parents are too busy with other goals and exploits to care for their children. Should we fund this? No way! It does not work and it should not be funded!

Reply
nitrat June 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

“An average of 45% of state First Steps board members
attended board meetings from January 2009 through
June 2012.”
Yeah, but I bet they all have special First Steps Board license tags.

Reply
nitrat June 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

“An average of 45% of state First Steps board members
attended board meetings from January 2009 through
June 2012.”
Yeah, but I bet they all have special First Steps Board license tags.

Reply
nitrat June 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm

“It does not collect client level data for other programs, such as childcare provider quality enhancement. According to S.C. First Steps staff, the impracticality of collecting client level data from childcare providers participating in quality enhancement training outweighs the benefit.”
Makes a lot of sense not to evaluate the programs they give money to, doesn’t it?

Reply
nitrat June 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm

“It does not collect client level data for other programs, such as childcare provider quality enhancement. According to S.C. First Steps staff, the impracticality of collecting client level data from childcare providers participating in quality enhancement training outweighs the benefit.”
Makes a lot of sense not to evaluate the programs they give money to, doesn’t it?

Reply
nofanodan June 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

The fine citizens responsible for this unmitigated disaster

Nikki R. Haley Governor

Supt. Mick Zais

Sen. Mike Fair

Sen. John Matthews

Rep. Rita Allison

Rep. Jerry N. Govan, Jr.

Lewis Smoak Business Community

Evelyn Patterson Early Childhood Educator

Rev. Reece Yandle Early Childhood Educator

Lisa Van Riper Parent of young child

Judith Aughtry Parent of young child

Linda O’Quinn Med/Childcare provider

Francis Rushton, Jr.Med/Childcare provider

Julia-Ellen Davis Early Childhood Educator

Floyd Creech Early Childhood Educator

Walter Fleming, Jr. Business Community

Julie Hussey Parent of a Young Child

Reply
nofanodan June 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

The fine citizens responsible for this unmitigated disaster

Nikki R. Haley Governor

Supt. Mick Zais

Sen. Mike Fair

Sen. John Matthews

Rep. Rita Allison

Rep. Jerry N. Govan, Jr.

Lewis Smoak Business Community

Evelyn Patterson Early Childhood Educator

Rev. Reece Yandle Early Childhood Educator

Lisa Van Riper Parent of young child

Judith Aughtry Parent of young child

Linda O’Quinn Med/Childcare provider

Francis Rushton, Jr.Med/Childcare provider

Julia-Ellen Davis Early Childhood Educator

Floyd Creech Early Childhood Educator

Walter Fleming, Jr. Business Community

Julie Hussey Parent of a Young Child

Reply
Polyphemos June 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm

First Steps is based on a false premise – that exposure to high-function stimulus a few minutes a day will create an advantage for disadvantaged children. It simply flies in the face of everything that has been learned by the psychiatric community over the past 25 years about children under the age of 7.

If anything is true of children this young, it is that retention is possible only when stimulus is reinforced over long periods of time on a daily basis, usually by parents. It isn’t just knowledge reinforcement at this age, it’s also acceptance reinforcement and the child’s position in the family group. Now, how are you going to get that when there’s no daddy or momma is a crack ho, or the child is in a temporary foster home?

The system might work with children in a classic orphan’s home situation, but what we have in SC is a glorified babysitting service, to begin with.

All of these education problems have solutions, but the people that make these decisions don’t talk to the people who have the answers.

Reply
Slartibartfast June 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm

First Steps is based on a false premise – that exposure to high-function stimulus a few minutes a day will create an advantage for disadvantaged children. It simply flies in the face of everything that has been learned by the psychiatric community over the past 25 years about children under the age of 7.

If anything is true of children this young, it is that retention is possible only when stimulus is reinforced over long periods of time on a daily basis, usually by parents. It isn’t just knowledge reinforcement at this age, it’s also acceptance reinforcement and the child’s position in the family group. Now, how are you going to get that when there’s no daddy or momma is a crack ho, or the child is in a temporary foster home?

The system might work with children in a classic orphan’s home situation, but what we have in SC is a glorified babysitting service, to begin with.

All of these education problems have solutions, but the people that make these decisions don’t talk to the people who have the answers.

Reply
Gvillegal June 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Greenville is bad for little kids. The executive committee of the board is all Greenville people-The First step director in Gville Derek Lewis pays his brother to liquidate child care centers and use the money for Greenville FS office.

Isn’t First Steps supposed to help child care stay solvent?

From the GFS website:

First Steps, in partnership with Lewis Auctions, has been asked to help liquidate a HUGE Childcare Facility. We will be selling the contents of the facility, and the childcare center itself, at an auction on Friday, May 31 beginning at 10:00AM. To learn more visit:http://lewisauctions.com/auction-details/?id=203879

Reply
Gvillegal June 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Greenville is bad for little kids. The executive committee of the board is all Greenville people-The First step director in Gville Derek Lewis pays his brother to liquidate child care centers and use the money for Greenville FS office.

Isn’t First Steps supposed to help child care stay solvent?

From the GFS website:

First Steps, in partnership with Lewis Auctions, has been asked to help liquidate a HUGE Childcare Facility. We will be selling the contents of the facility, and the childcare center itself, at an auction on Friday, May 31 beginning at 10:00AM. To learn more visit:http://lewisauctions.com/auction-details/?id=203879

Reply

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