MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - On Tuesday, parents at Myrtle Beach Primary were bringing necessary paperwork to get their four-year-old children enrolled in the early childhood development program, ahead of Wednesday's deadline for screening.
Educators say children who attend some kind of preschool program or the Horry County School District's early childhood program typically do better in school.
"Often times, those children do well and progress, but for some children that have not had that experience, it puts them behind the 8-ball before they've even started school," said Jeanne Allen, the program coordinator.
Wednesday's screening deadline approaches just as a yearly report ranks South Carolina 45th in the nation for child well-being.
Some of the statistics in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kid's Count Report show 72 percent of fourth-graders in South Carolina aren't reading proficiently.
Nearly 30 percent or 288,000 children live in poverty in South Carolina.
And 57 percent of preschool-aged children are not attending preschool.
Allen says the district's program is one way their working to reverse the state's statistics.
"We really do everything we can with our intervention programs, we have 56 child development programs, we have a parent-child home program where we do child visits with kids in the homes and we have 12 providers. For Horry County Schools we are really are taking that seriously," said Allen.
Children who attend the program or some other preschool program get a leg up. Those who qualify for the program will attend school this fall like all other children but they must come in for a screening.
Low income families are automatically eligible but other students, like those with developmental disabilities, might also qualify.
Every school in the district has a program and as of Tuesday, the programs were half-full so there's plenty of room for students to join.
"The screening is open to everyone and we encourage all parents if your child will be turning 4 on or before September 1, 2014 to sign up and have their child screened and from those screenings we select the children that qualify for the program," said Allen.
With the early childhood developmental program only half full, administrators say they are considering extending the deadline.