First Things First — Early childhood mental health resources and nutrition program help local families

| November 23, 2021
News and happenings about First Things First

November 2021

Pilot program helps young children living in food deserts access fresh, locally farmed foods in Phoenix

In the span of three months, the Fresh Connection nutrition program in the FTF Phoenix South Region helped about 360 families each month receive bags filled with produce from local farmers. Of those families, 95% reported the produce bags helped their family eat more fruits and vegetables for the week. The pilot will be extended for five more months.
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Efforts expand to support the social and emotional health of young children during challenging times

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed renewed focus on the mental health of young children, including new federal funding to expand services that help early educators better support children in their care. In addition, the FTF Navajo Nation Region has partnered with local organizations to increase understanding about mental well-being for young children.
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Partnering with faith communities to support families and young children

A partnership between the early childhood community and communities of faith can seem unexpected, but the important shared work of nurturing the health, learning and well-being of babies, toddlers and preschoolers shows that it is a natural fit. 
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News Round-Up

News about early childhood around Arizona and across the U.S.

State leaders’ decade of neglect imperiled fragile child care system. The pandemic nearly made it collapse.
Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, Nov. 4
A $1.2 billion infusion of federal relief funding has helped soften the financial blow to Arizona child care operators, staving off a sector-wide collapse. But industry experts say even that sizable amount alone isn’t enough to reverse the decade of neglect the child care system endured at state leaders’ hands before the pandemic took hold. “In child care, the people who need your service the most can’t afford you to raise your fees. You’ll actually lose families, because they just won’t be able to afford it,” said Liz Barker Alvarez, chief policy advisor at early childhood agency First Things First.
 
We know how to help young kids cope with the trauma of the last year —but will we do it? Mental health services and other support can help, if they reach children and their caregivers quickly
The Hechinger Report, Oct. 25
Across the country, parents and educators are struggling to assess and alleviate the pandemic’s toll on young children. COVID-19 exacerbated inequality, plunging families on the brink into poverty, not to mention subject to emotional distress from family members’ illness or death.
 
After years of neglect, Arizona’s child care system barely survived the pandemic
KJZZ’s The Show, Nov. 8
Since the Great Recession, state lawmakers slashed funding for child care in Arizona for a decade, leading to rising costs for the families who needed care at the same time as operators couldn’t pay workers enough to keep them on staff.  Investigative reporter Maria Polleta spent months digging into the state’s child care system.
 
How public preschool can help, and how to make sure it doesn’t hurt
The New York Times, Nov. 8
Congress is considering -universal pre-k and subsidies for child care. Research shows how these policies can benefit children and when they can backfire. The bulk of the research shows that high-quality preschool tends to benefit children into adulthood, especially children from low-income families.
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Category: Child Welfare, Programs, Resources

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