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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.

In-home child care puts quality first and helps Buckeye boy test early into kindergarten

boy in graduation cap with family behind him

When Eduardo Jr. and Margarita Lino started looking for child care for their 2-year-old son, Albert, they didn’t know what to expect.

Their neighbors had told them of an in-home child care center that offered scholarships for eligible families.

“My first thought was it would just be another place that watched kids, Margarito Lino said. “I was wrong, it was much more. I soon realized that I wasn’t just leaving my child to be watched, I was putting Albert in an environment where he would be nurtured and exposed to early learning.”

With help from a Quality First scholarship, the Linos enrolled Albert at Deshika Perera’s licensed in-home child care in Buckeye, which serves children ages 1 to 5. Perera’s center participates in First Things First’s signature program, Quality First, which uses research proven methods to create nurturing, educational and social environments so children can be prepared for and succeed in kindergarten.

“In the beginning, Deshika would send us text updates and pictures, this really put our minds at ease and helped in the transition of leaving our first born in a new environment,” Margarita Lino said.

The Linos soon began noticing changes in Albert’s desire to explore and his good manners. He also always wanted to learn more because his mind was being stimulated.

Today, Albert is 4 years old and recently tested early into kindergarten. Albert’s younger brother, Ezekiel, now goes to Perera’s in-home child care. The Linos believe Albert’s ability to test early into kindergarten is due to the partnership shared between them and Perera’s Quality First home child care.

“It has helped the boys so much,” Eduardo Lino said. “They have gained so many tools, and we see the difference. They are so smart. But you also have to do your part. Learning begins at birth and you must continue the positive interactions at home. It is a shared responsibility.”

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