First Things First publishes latest Building Bright Futures report

| January 21, 2020

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Message from the CEO

Recently, First Things First published its latest Building Bright Futures report, a summary of the status of young children in our state. Sadly, the data in this report paint a picture for the future of Arizona that is anything but bright:

  • 1 in 4 children in Arizona lives in poverty;
  • Only 1 in 3 children goes to preschool; and,
  • Arizona is second only to Oklahoma in the number of children exposed to adversity at a young age, including neglect, family substance abuse or violence, and homelessness.

We should view these figures – not just as reasons to throw our hands up in despair – but as opportunities to raise our voices to champion change.

For the next several months, our elected leaders will be working with community leaders and organizations to identify our state’s most pressing needs and the investments needed to improve the lives of Arizonans. In order to do that effectively, they need information – from reports like ours and from you!

I encourage each of you to read Building Bright Futures. Learn about how our state – and your county – measures up against the nation and neighboring communities and use that information to engage leaders at all levels in conversations about opportunities to help young children thrive.

The report includes various sections:

  • Issue Essays on timely topics – like early literacy – including a high-level summary of the issue; how major state partners are addressing it; and, suggestions for what families, providers, communities and policymakers can do to improve outcomes for young children in that area.
  • The Big Picture for Little Kids provides state-national comparisons in the three key areas and describes ways in which First Things First, as an early childhood system partner, is working to expand opportunities for children to develop the tools they need to be ready for school and set for life.
  • And, Data Summaries that paint a picture of the overall status of children statewide. Each section describes an area of early childhood development and health that impacts school readiness – family characteristics, economic circumstances, education, and child health and well-being. Information on how Arizona’s children are faring also is included, along with major county-specific differences. All data also are available in our Data Center to make it more accessible, visual and customizable

We know that a child’s earliest experiences lay the foundation for success – in school and in life. But, although they represent our best opportunity for change, young children have no voice. We are their voice. I hope you will use this information to engage in conversations that will expand investments – in your community and throughout our state – to help more Arizona children prepare for success in kindergarten and beyond.


Marilee Dal Pra

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