Service organizations play important role in supporting early learning

| September 24, 2018

By First Things First

Sometimes the best way to make a difference in the lives of Arizona’s young kids is to work within organizations that you’re already a part of.

That’s been the case for many service organizations throughout Arizona, who have partnered with First Things First to support early childhood health and development, not just for the young children, but for Arizona’s communities, towns and cities.

Research shows that children exposed to quality early education are more ready for kindergarten, do better in school and are more likely to graduate and go on to college. So local service organizations such as Rotary and Lion’s clubs recognize the value of working to make sure Arizona’s youngest children are healthy and prepared when they enter kindergarten.

For example, the Rotary District 5500 – which includes Rotary Clubs throughout Southern Arizona — has partnered with FTF to sponsor an early childhood speaker to speak at the District’s annual statewide conference. Various Rotary Clubs throughout Arizona have partnered in different ways to provide resources and support for early childhood development and learning in their own communities.

In the FTF Coconino Region, Domestic Violence Advocates at Alice’s Place are trained in FTF’s early childhood messaging and are dedicated to supporting the development of stronger families and communities. Tiffany Brooks said, “We, as advocates, want to encourage our clients to be the best parents they can be so that their children may have a healthy and happy development.”

In Maricopa County, the Peoria Lions Club connected with the local FTF staff to discuss ways to partner. The FTF staff connected club members with the local Peoria Family Resource Center. Now, the Lions Club provides vision screenings in conjunction with oral health screenings that are held at the Family Resource Center. The club also provides glasses for young children when needed.

All these efforts help ensure that children have high-quality experiences during these critical early years, which has tremendous impact on kids and their communities. Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before age 5. Critical skills like motivation, self-discipline, focus and self-esteem begin to take root from birth.

Children who are prepared for kindergarten are more likely to do well in school and graduate from high school. As adults, they tend to be healthier and earn more. They also are less likely to become part of the criminal justice system or the welfare system.

It is crucial young kids receive support from family and their community, so whether you have a child 5 and younger in your life or not – investing time, energy and resources in helping kids arrive at kindergarten prepared to be successful is a smart investment. Here are just a few ways that we can make a difference in their future – and ours.

  • Invite First Things First to speak to members of your club about the importance of the first five years and learn more about the programs and services provided in your community.
  • Visit org/Take-Action to subscribe to FTF’s newsletter and learn more easy ways to get involved.
  • Organize a community fair for families and invite First Things First and our community partners to share information about programs and services available to help their young kids get a strong start.
  • Connect with early childhood or family support programs in need of ongoing volunteer efforts — to read with young children, organize book drives, refurbish classrooms or playgrounds, etc. First Things First staff in your community can help you to connect.
  • Consider partnering with First Things First to learn ways that your club can help to support current early childhood programs and services in order to help them reach more children and families.

About First Things First – First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made by local councils staffed by community volunteers. To learn more, visit



Category: Advocacy, Child Welfare, Education, Programs

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