First Things First update for May 20 — New members bring varied perspectives to FTF Board

| May 20, 2019
News and happenings about First Things First
May 2019

New members bring varied perspectives to FTF Board

The First Things First Board proudly welcomed three new members in recent weeks. Judge Richard Weiss of Kingman, Vince Yanez of Mesa and Marcia Klipsch of Tucson have diverse experiences and perspectives that drove them to apply for Board service. The three new members succeed Nadine Mathis Basha, Gayle Burns and Ruth Solomon, whose terms on the Board expired in January. They join an already diverse group that is charged with stewarding Arizona’s early childhood investment and ensuring that FTF programs improve outcomes for children statewide. All three new members were appointed by Governor Doug Ducey and confirmed unanimously by the state Senate.
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Yuma preschool classroom provides inclusive learning opportunities for students and teachers

A new early childhood classroom, where early childhood educators in Yuma County can learn how to work with young children with special needs, has opened on the Arizona Western College campus. First Things First, Yuma School District One and Arizona Western College recently partnered to open an inclusion classroom in the college’s Kathryn Watson Child Development Early Learning Lab. Inclusion classrooms offer opportunities for students with disabilities to learn alongside their non-disabled peers in general education classrooms.
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A new look at advocacy—it’s all about being a problem solver

For many, advocacy seems like confrontational, time-intensive work, or even a contact sport. Kristen Grimm, who has helped hundreds of nonprofits and foundations develop winning social change campaigns through her company Spitfire Strategies, has a different idea of advocacy. Grimm is the opening keynote speaker for the 2019 First Things First Early Childhood Summit in August. She’s sharing her ideas about advocacy and how creating social change can be empowering and rewarding for so many people, including early childhood supporters.
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News Round-Up

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

Want to improve Arizona schools? Don’t ignore what’s happening at home The Arizona Republic, May 5

Family may make as much – if not more – difference in the quality of a student’s education than anything a school can do. And if that’s the case, we can’t ignore what’s happening at home if we’re talking about things that can truly move the needle for Arizona education. Because no matter how much we improve the quality of instruction, it may still take a back seat to things that happen outside of the school day.

Arizona has excellent (though arguably underfunded) prevention programs – such as Healthy Families Arizona, the Nurse-Family Partnership and Parents as Teachers – that help at-risk parents better support their kids from birth. First Things First, the voter-initiated organization that helps fund early childhood programs, also coordinates a range of services for parents, whether they are experiencing hardship or not – everything from a free Birth to Five Helpline and resources to find quality childcare and preschool programs to more intensive training and support.

Why child care is so expensive in America CNBC, May 9
Child care costs vary from state to state, even county to county. But there is one common thread across the country – it’s really expensive. Both parents and child care providers are struggling to make ends meet with the rising cost of child care.
Child care center attracts U.S. Rep. O’Halleran to Tuba City High SchoolThe Navajo-Hopi Observer, April 23
The four-star rating of Tuba City High School’s Child Development Learning Center attracted interest from U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), who personally visited the school March 19 to learn more about what the program does and who they partner with to provide a quality program for children 3 to 5 years of age.

The Child Development Learning Center is operated by Tuba City High School’s CTE program, the career and technical education program that helps high school students increase their knowledge and training in various fields, including early childhood development. Memarie Tsosie, the regional director of First Things First Navajo Nation Region, who organized the visit, said they have partnered with Tuba City High School for several years and they help to improve the overall quality of services through Quality First.

Arizona Preschools Making Progress Despite National Rankings
Public News Service, April 18
A recent national report gives Arizona preschool programs poor marks, based mainly on low enrollment numbers. But an Arizona-based advocacy group, First Things First, says the national report from Rutgers University doesn’t look at all the factors that show where Arizona preschools have improved. 

Liz Barker Alvarez, chief policy adviser with First Things First, said while they find the rankings in the national report helpful, the study did not use the same statistics Arizona preschool programs use to chart progress. “If your ideal, let’s say, is having a ratio of 1-to-10 students, if that is your ideal, does it mean that if you have a ratio of 1-to-11 students, that quality early learning is not taking place? Not necessarily,” Alvarez said. She said the report from the National Institute for Early Education Research ranked states strictly on a statistical abstract, while Arizona preschools are working to develop quality standards based on the development of each individual child. 

World health officials take a hard line on screen time for kids. Will busy parents comply?
The Washington Post, April 24
The World Health Organization recently issued strict new guidelines on one of the most anxiety-producing issues of 21st century family life: How much should parents resort to videos and online games to entertain, educate or simply distract their young children? The answer, according to WHO, is never for children in their first year of life and rarely in their second. Those aged 2 to 4, the international health agency said, should spend no more than an hour a day in front of a screen.
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