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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.

On-campus child care center helps Safford girl be ready for kindergarten

Daughter and mother playing with blocks

As a teen mom, Ariella Garcia wanted to find excellent care for her baby, Jaidah, and continue her education.

Family and friends encouraged Garcia to enroll at Mt. Graham High School in Safford, specifically because it is an alternative high school with an on-campus child care center.

The center participates in First Things First’s signature program, Quality First. This program helps centers make quality improvements that research proves help children thrive, such as creating learning environments that nurture the emotional, social and academic development of every child. The centers also engage parents about literacy and caring for their child at home.

Jaida progressed from the infant room to the toddler room where she enjoys arts and crafts, water play, dolls, blocks and a multitude of other activities. She knows all the colors, and is learning shapes.

“She loves playing with the other children and has become very social,” Garcia said.

One of the things that Ariella loves most about the center is that she can stop in and check on Jaidah any time during the day and spend a few minutes with her. It also allows her to feel more independent as a teen mom. Thanks to a Quality First scholarship, Jaida is enrolled at the center at no cost. A limited number of scholarships are available to eligible families.

Today, Jaidah is a bubbly, curious, easy-going 3-year-old who loves Legos, dolls and snacks. Knowing her daughter was in a quality learning environment helped Garcia stay motivated in reaching her own goals. Garcia graduated high school in the top 10 percent of her class and has continued her studies at Eastern Arizona College.

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