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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.

Supporting grandparents in their role as second-time-around caregivers

​​​​​​​ “Nana, Nana!” Kate and Alexa run in to Cindy’s Fredonia home every morning excited to have breakfast and play with their grandma. Cindy plays a big role in helping raise her granddaughters.

Twelve percent of kids in Arizona live in households headed by a grandparent, and thousands more are cared for by grandparents like Cindy while their parents work or study.

“It sure is nice to be with them all the time. I feel really lucky,” Cindy said. “And they know that Nana loves them, and Papa loves them.”

But, as her own parenting days are years behind her, Cindy has sought support from other grandparents who also find themselves later in life helping to care for their grandchildren. Cindy is one of 32 parents and caregivers who have participated in Growing Up Great, a series of community-based parenting classes funded by the First Things First Coconino Regional Partnership Council. After taking part in the classes, she feels that she is more prepared for the daily ups and downs that two toddlers can bring.

Raising kids, at any age, is rewarding, but challenging, too. First Things First partners with families so that they have the tools they need to support the healthy development and learning of kids birth to 5 years old. Through the Growing Up Great parent education classes, caregivers learn and practice skills with other parents and then practice with their children in the class. For grandparents like Cindy, this was a good refresher.

“So many grandparents have been away from kids or are older and don’t have as much patience,” Cindy said. “This class helped tremendously on how to deal with the little ones, so that you can bond with them. To get down on their level, like talking to them about what’s wrong. I figured it wouldn’t hurt me to learn some of that.”

The skills that Cindy learned help her know that she is providing the best care possible for her granddaughters and helping them build a solid foundation for their future.

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