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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.

Yuma mom helps build her daughter’s vocabulary by reading to her from day one

girl-by-fenceWhen Amy Crawford gave birth to her baby girl, she felt an overwhelming anxiety.

​​​​​“We felt lost and scared and did not know what to do,” Crawford said. “I asked for advice from my mom and my mom-in-law, who had come out to Arizona to help us as we started our journey from a couple to a trio.”

​​​​​The advice was always well-intended, but Crawford and her husband, who live in Yuma, often found it conflicting and not always up-to-date with the latest research.

​​​​​About this time, Crawford discovered First Things First.

​​​​​“I found they had resources galore,” she said. Soon after, Crawford enrolled in the FTF-funded, Arizona PBS Yuma Early Literacy Project. The program offered parenting education classes, where she learned how babies develop language skills through high-quality interactions with caring adults in their lives.

​​​​​More tips included reading to her baby while she nursed.

​​​​​“We started reading to Katie when she was just days old,” Crawford said. “At first I thought it was weird to talk to her. I shared my concern with the Program Educator and she advised me to tuck Katie’s head up under my chin, or her cheek, and I would sing to her, so she could feel the vibrations from my throat.”

​​​​​Soon, she was talking to baby, explaining everything she was doing, from changing her diaper to putting on her clothes.

​​​​​“I still remember I would say ‘first we do one arm, then two arm and over the toppie (for her head),” Crawford said. “These were just silly little, mommy and daddy made-up rhymes. But you know what? It helped build our child’s vocabulary!”

​​​​​Today, Katie is 6 years old and Crawford credits the Early Literacy Project as helping her establish the foundation so that her daughter was ready for kindergarten and now first grade.

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