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Pima Early Education Program Scholarships, a free pre-K program that has enrolled more than 700 kids in its first year, is still in need of a long-term funding source to replace the COVID relief that will support it for the next two years. Read more»

The Pima Early Education Program Scholarships — or PEEPS — have struggled to reach low-income families midway through the program's first year as the COVID pandemic and teacher shortages keep the county from filling pre-K classrooms. Read more»

Familias de bajos ingresos ahora pueden recibir assitencia del condado para inscribir sus hijos en preescolar

La Junta de Supervisores del Condado Pima aprobó un programa de becas para las familias de bajos ingresos que hace gratis la preescolar. Read more»

Low-income families can now receive assistance from the county to enroll their children in pre-K schools.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors approved support for free pre-K education for low-income Pima County families Tuesday, adopting a budget that funds most of the $13 million pilot project. Read more»

Arizona has about 70,000 more kids who need child care than it has spaces available to accommodate them, a gap that was fairly typical for the 25 states studied in a recent report. Advocates, who fear the gap will widen as a result of COVID-19, say the report has only strengthened their resolve to address the problem.

Arizona has 304,180 infants and toddlers who need child care but only 234,270 slots to accommodate them, with poor and rural families most likely to be left out, a recent study said. Read more»

Students at a full-day kindergarten class in Phoenix, 2016.

Voters had good reason to reject a plan for early childhood education a couple years ago. Faced with a similar decision on the Pima County Preschool Investment Program, our county supervisors have a lot less reason to say no. Read more»

Arizona won praise in a recent report for its program linking preschool teachers with training and scholarships, even as the report said low teacher wages could make such systems an exercise in futility.

Arizona won praise in a recent report for its program linking preschool teachers with training and scholarships, even as the report said low wages for those teachers could make such systems an exercise in futility. Read more»

In this map, Child Care Aware of America provides tiers of states according to the affordability of infant care as a percentage of a married couple’s median income.

Arizona is the seventh-least-affordable state for before-school/after-school child care, according to a study by a national advocacy group. Read more»

Liz Barker Alvarez, First Things First’s senior director of communications, said the Quality First website is designed to help parents make informed decisions about preschools and child care providers.

Calling the choice of a child care provider or preschool an overwhelming but vital decision, First Things First has launched a website guiding Arizona parents toward the right option for them. Read more»

Arizona ranked in the bottom fourth of states on economic well-being of its children in 2011, according to a report released this week. Most states saw a decline in the economic welfare of their children from 2010, acccording to the KidsCount report.

Arizona slipped from 46th to 47th place among states in 2011 for the well-being of its children on a variety of measures, including poverty, education, health, and family and community factors, according to a new report. KidsCount 2013, released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked Arizona ahead of only Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico for 2011. Read more»

Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, said Arizona’s cuts to preschool education funding last year were 'particularly disturbing.' The institute released a report on all 50 states’ early education funding.

Arizona has “shut the door” on preschool programs by making funding cuts that leave a bleak educational future for the state’s children, according to a report released Tuesday. Read more» 1

Arizona State Capitol

Analysis: The Senate's budget proposal lacks balance, looking to bring fiscal stability through disproportionate impact to those Arizonans struggling most during this recession. Also disconcerting is that the proposal looks to simply survive the current crisis, and not take into account the long-term prosperity of Arizona. Read more»

Voters rejected two ballot propositions Tuesday that would have transferred almost $450 million from two voter-approved funds to address the state budget deficit. Read more»

Retired Mesa police chief Dennis Donna, left, and former Paradise Valley police chief John Wintersteen read to children at Phoenix Day, a child develpment center in Phoenix. The center participates in Arizona’s First Things First early childhood programs. The officers oppose Proposition 302, the ballot initiative that would terminate funding for the program.

Helping at-risk children develop social skills and the ability to learn before they enter school prevents crime in the long run, retired Mesa Police Chief Dennis Donna said Monday. Proposition 302 would transfer $325 million from First Things First to help address the budget deficit. Read more»

Rhian Evans Allvin, executive director of First Things First, says leaders of the early childhood development program and its supporters understand that the state faces unprecedented financial difficulties. But she notes that voters created First Things First in 2006 to help a specific population that will suffer if those funds are swept to shore up the state budget, as Proposition 302 would do.

But families could lose access to services offered by First Things First when voters decide in November whether to eliminate the program and funnel its $325 million to help address the state budget deficit. Read more» 2