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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.

Quality First scholarship helps Phoenix siblings thrive at Spanish immersion preschool

When Meagan Marmon returned to work after her maternity leave ended, she felt confident her infant son would be in good hands at the child care center his sister attends. 

“I’ve seen a huge growth in her development in the time she’s been going there,” the Phoenix mother said of 3-year-old Mila. 

This year, both Mila and 6-month-old Santana attend Little Giants Spanish Immersion Preschool in Phoenix on a Quality First scholarship, which Marmon said she is thankful for because it has helped provide financial relief for the family. Quality First scholarships are available based on income eligibility. 

“I’m extremely happy,” she said. “The teachers are amazing and the center really aligns with our values. My husband is Hispanic, so it was really important that we brought in Spanish language to their everyday learning.”

The First Things First Phoenix North Regional Partnership Council funds Quality First to help early care and education providers in our state improve the quality of their programs in ways that help young children learn, grow and thrive. Being a part of the Quality First program and rated a 3-star and above, child care providers can offer a limited number of Quality First scholarships for children birth to age 5 to attend quality early care and education programs. 

At Little Giants, parents get news from center staff of their children’s learning targets every week, which Marmon said she likes. “They also post a lot of pictures throughout the day of the activities that they’re participating in. And they all have an academic focus and emotional focus as well.”

Marmon said knowing that her children are receiving quality care at Little Giants gives her peace of mind. Santana just began attending the center, but Marmon said Mila’s growth has been remarkable. 

“She used to be kind of reserved and really only wanted to play independently,” she said. “But I’ve seen her lately really gravitate toward the other kids and making friends and coming home and talking about those friends. And I love that she’s building a relationship with her teachers as well.”

Mila also has been quick to pick up Spanish words, which Marmon said she practices at home with her mother and father, Mathew Simental. “She’s 3, so she likes to boss us around,” Marmon said, and laughed. “So she’ll tell us, ‘espera, no comemos,’” which means, wait, don’t eat.

Santana seems as comfortable as his sister at Little Giants, where he is mingling with other infants for the first time and developing his motor skills rapidly, Marmon said. “All of his cousins are older than him, so it’s been really cool to see him interacting and playing with other babies as well.”

Marmon said she feels that Santana’s development will continue to flourish – as will his big sister’s. The siblings are still some years away from entering kindergarten, but when they do, their mother has no doubt they will be prepared to tackle it.

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