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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.

Child care scholarship allows Whiteriver boy to prepare for kindergarten

​​Brianne Endfield was determined to raise her son, Denahii, on her own and the right way.

The 18-year-old, first-time mom was taking online classes for her bachelor’s degree and working full time to make ends meet, but it wasn’t enough.

Soon after the baby was born, Denahii was hospitalized for severe jaundice. The baby’s health problems increased as he got older. Denahii, who the family calls Pockets, was frequently in and out of the hospital with a low oxygen count. Chronic ear infections had caused significant hearing loss. At one of his doctor’s visits, the doctor told Endfield that her son had a submucous cleft palate. Surgeries followed to help correct his hearing and his cleft palate. The costs of Pockets’ medical care quickly began to drain Endfield’s bank account.

As Pockets grew older, Endfield knew she needed to find a quality child care center for him to attend, but she didn’t think she couldn’t afford it on top of his medical costs. Still, she visited at Alchesay Beginnings Child Development Center in Whiteriver, which participates in First Things First’s signature program, Quality First.

The FTF program partners with child care and preschool providers to improve the quality of early learning across Arizona. Quality First funds quality improvements that research proves help children thrive, such as training for teachers to expand their skills and to help create learning environments that nurture the emotional, social and academic development of every child.

The center’s director told Endfield to apply for a Quality First Scholarship, which helps eligible families afford quality early care and education for their young children.

“Pockets is such a social child,” Endfield said. “His time at ABC gave him the opportunity to learn so much and interact with other kids.”

Now in kindergarten at Cradleboard Elementary School, Endfield said her son is thriving.

“The quality care Pockets received at ABC helped him develop the motivation, self-esteem, focus and self-discipline he needed,” she said.

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