Early experiences build the foundation for a lifetime.
From birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops more than any other time in life. Research shows that the quality of a child’s early life experiences shape how their brain develops. First Things First partners with families and communities to help our state’s youngest children prepare for kindergarten and beyond.
“As an educational leader, I have seen firsthand that the trajectory for success in school, career and life starts in early childhood, long before a child enters kindergarten. By giving children the opportunity for a healthy, happy and enriching start in life, we help them build a reliable foundation for continued learning and development throughout their school years and on into adulthood.”
SFY2019 highlights of the proven programs and innovative strategies in the Phoenix South Region:
3,301 Families or caregivers served by receiving referrals or by participating in activities at family resource centers.
8,484 Families of newborns received the Arizona Parent Kit, filled with tips and tools to help support their child’s healthy development.
7,744 Children attended preschools and child care programs participating in Quality First.
1,460 Children birth to age 5 received a Quality First scholarship to attend high quality preschools and child care programs.
3,953 Children monitored to receive appropriate screenings to detect vision, hearing and developmental issues to prevent learning challenges later on.
4,052 Children received fluoride varnishes applied to protect against childhood tooth decay.
586 Families with young children participated in voluntary home visiting programs proven to reduce parental stress levels, increase connections to community supports, and improve children’s cognitive, motor, behavioral and socio-emotional development.
5,573 Children received a screening to detect tooth decay, which left undetected and treated could cause damage to permanent teeth, impaired speech development and failure to thrive.
Phoenix South Family Story
Family Resource Center Helps Phoenix Boy With Quality Early Childhood Experiences
Marta Dardon didn’t know she had parenting resources literally in her backyard.
But she did know her 3-year-old son, David, was timid and struggled to express himself. She was concerned that his lack of social skills and limited vocabulary could negatively impact his kindergarten experience.
On a specialist’s advice, she started looking for a family resource center nearby. She was surprised to learn that she lived right behind the Maricopa Integrated Health System South Central Family Learning Center in Phoenix.
First Things First funds family resource centers, which offer guidance and support for families with young children. The centers provide access to resources, referrals to support services and access to educational programs to ensure healthy growth and development for Phoenix’s youngest learners and their families.
At the Family Learning Center, Dardon learned how to create quality early childhood experiences for her children. Dardon, David and baby daughter Jasmine participated in many parenting classes, including Play & Learn Parenting. The 10-week parenting class is designed for children and parents to bond, play, explore and learn through story time, songs and craft.
“The first day of class, he knew his numbers, ABCs, was reading and most importantly, he was carrying on conversations with others.”
It was during this time that Dardon noticed that David was blossoming into an outgoing child. His vocabulary was increasing and he was becoming more self-assured.
During this time, Dardon helped other adults in her family realize how spending quality time with their young children strengthens their family bond. For example, she has the children help her prepare meals at home.
“It gets them active and helps us spend time as a family,” Dardon said.
Going to the center has also helped Dardon change her family’s cultural views on learning. Her in-laws questioned why children so young were learning sign language when they weren’t hearing impaired. Dardon was able to explain that even though the children might not need sign language, “You never know who they might encounter through life,” she said.
When it came time for David to start kindergarten, Dardon said the transition was smooth.
“He was super ready,” she said. “The first day of class, he knew his numbers, ABCs, was reading and most importantly, he was carrying on conversations with others.”
David is now in second grade and still visits the center with his young sister. “Taking advantage of the programs available at the family resource center for children and parents helped my children be prepared for school,” Dardon said.
FTF Phoenix South Regional Partnership Council
SFY19 Total Regional Program Expenditures
The First Things First Phoenix South Regional Partnership Council is made up of volunteers who study the unique needs of the local community and decide how funds will be used to best support the development, education and health of young children birth to age 5. FTF invests in proven programs and innovative strategies through grants to community organizations that provide services to children and families.
|Quality Child Care and Preschool||$9,535,945||55%|
|Research and Evaluation||$478,271||3%|
|Parent and Community Awareness||$184,007||2%|
The Phoenix South Region is primarily the southern part of the city of Phoenix. Phoenix South Regional Partnership Council provides services in the city of Phoenix, south of Thomas Road, but also including the communities of Maryvale, north of Thomas ( full ZIP code areas of 85031 and 85033 and the city of Phoenix portion of 85037). The region does not include Ahwatukee. The Phoenix South Region includes Legislative Districts 19, 24, 27, 29 and 30. (Legislative districts are not necessarily congruent with regional boundaries.)