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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.

Growing up great in Page

​​​​​​​Foster mother Sandra Guzman* is rediscovering what it is like to raise an infant, now that her family is fostering baby Isaac*.

With a 14- and 11-year-old at home, Sandra knew she could use the help with Isaac from the Growing Up Great parent education classes offered at the Page Library in northern Arizona.

“When I heard about the program, I knew it would be good to be reminded about parenting skills,” said Sandra, who is a Parent Advocate at the Page Head Start. “It’s always good to be reminded about the importance of brain development and what I can do.”

First Things First funds the parent education program through a grant to the Association for Supportive Child Care (ASCC), which provides education and support to parents to help their children ages birth to 5 grow up socially, emotionally and cognitively ready to achieve in school and in life.

Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed during the first five years of life. Parents in the Growing Up Great program are learning that the higher the quality of care and positive experiences that infants and toddlers have, the stronger their brain connections, making them more likely to find success in school.

The seven-week program meets once a week at the library. The program includes on-site child care and interaction with the children during the second part of the class. Program topics include:

  • Attachment and Bonding
  • Caring for Your Family
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Cues and Communication
  • Physical and Brain Development

Sandra, who participated in the class during the fall, said the program was extremely helpful.

“This is about quality time and understanding what the baby’s feelings are, and being able to reiterate that and put a label on his feelings,” Sandra said.

​Sandra began fostering Isaac when he was three months old, and he recently celebrated his first birthday.

Sandra and her family have seen Isaac learn and grow.

“He’s begun repeating. He says momma and papa,” she said. “He loves to dance and is into exploring everything now.”

*Names have been changed

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