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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.

Healthy Families program helps Chandler girl develop and thrive

When Chandler’s parents Adrianna and Josh Beach had their fifth child, Ruby, they felt their family was complete and knew they wanted the best for all of their kids. To the Beach family, that included providing each child what they needed to thrive and be healthy and happy. During her hospital stay, mom Adrianna learned about a program to help support her as a parent and the health and development of her new baby.

Beach enrolled in Healthy Families which is a program funded by the First Things First East Maricopa Regional Partnership Council. It’s a free and voluntary program that helps new parents and families meet the challenges of parenting and provides support to parents during the first few years of their child’s life. Even as an experienced mom of five, Beach was open to opportunities to learn more and be the best parent possible.

The Beach family welcomed Healthy Families family support specialist Wendy, into their home to help guide them and understand important milestones to look for as Ruby grew and developed. Around age 2, Beach noticed Ruby was not using words to communicate. 

“She would mainly point at what she wanted and relied on the older children to help interpret her needs,” Beach said. She also felt that the pandemic had affected Ruby by limiting her ability to observe and learn to speak from others around her.

During weekly visits, Wendy provided mom with strategies that encouraged Ruby to learn and use words and express herself more. Young children learn through play, so using a variety of fun, creative activities like matching and color games and paint play for Ruby helped her to progress. Wendy also shared early learning and preventive health information which helped Beach to set and accomplish goals with Ruby around behaviors such as potty training and thumb sucking. The whole family got involved to help support a consistent learning environment for Ruby. They saw Ruby becoming more confident and engaged with those around her.

Wendy was also instrumental in helping Beach find other supportive resources to help Ruby prepare for kindergarten. Ruby began preschool at 3 and a half, where she continued to thrive and develop her speech. Ruby and her family participated in the Healthy Families for five years which provided a foundation for learning, helping Ruby to arrive at kindergarten this year ready and healthy.

“I feel everyone should have a family support specialist as soon as they have a baby,” Beach said. “It was so important to know about developmental milestones and I am so glad we caught Ruby’s speech development issues early. I’m thankful for the program and guidance we received.”

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