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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Bernie Kniffin is the 2019 San Carlos Apache Region’s Champion

Bernie Kniffen

Bernie Kniffin has been selected as the 2019 San Carlos Apache Region’s First Things First Champion for Young Children.

The award is given to local champions who actively volunteer their time to raise public awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health. Champions spend a significant amount of time volunteering with FTF and building public awareness about the importance of early childhood issues.

Kniffin has helped raise awareness about the importance of early childhood by distributing family guides at the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in San Carlos, as well as through Transit Vans so families are aware of what types of early childhood services are available to them. Kniffin has also invited FTF to speak at the annual TANF conference where employees and past and present clients attended.

We recently caught up with Kniffin, who is the director of TANF/Transit San Carlos Apache Tribe Nnee Bich’o Nii “Helping the People” Services.

Question: Why do you feel early childhood development and health is important? Answer: Early childhood development and health is important as this involves the success of our children into adulthood. Educating our parents on good healthy habits can increase the benefits of our children to experience a higher platform of good health in relation to a good life. The promotion of Positive experience in early childhood supports the overall being of our children in becoming healthy adults.

Question: How do you suggest other people in your community get involved?
Answer: I suggest that the community needs to step up to the plate! Our program participated as an outreach agency for First Things First by becoming an ambassador for the program and making sure outreach was happening from our TANF office. We created a children’s corner with FTF materials in our TANF lobby to educate our community. We also were able to distribute information on our public transit buses, while on local routes. Also, we handed out FTF parent information during our San Carlos Apache Veterans Parade in November. This is how we actively involved our community.

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