First Things First is an essential leader and partner in creating a family-centered, equitable, high-quality early childhood system that supports the development, well-being, health and education of all Arizona’s children, birth to age 5.
All Arizona’s children are ready to succeed in school and in life.
- Arizona’s children, birth to age 5, and their families are our central focus. We provide the best opportunities to prepare Arizona’s children for success in school and life, while ensuring each child’s well-being.
- Equity-Focused – We acknowledge, address and work to solve the unique challenges facing many children and their families.
- Innovative and Continuously Improving – We are flexible and open and do what is best for children and their families.
- Accountable – We demonstrate that our work truly improves the lives of children and their families.
- Strong Stewards – We demonstrate transparency and sound financial management of public and private funds and we advocate for additional investments in early childhood development and health to address unmet needs.
- Diverse and Inclusive – Our partners, regional council members, staff and Board are essential to the equitable delivery of the mission. We are inclusive and strive to reflect the diversity of our state. We treat everyone with dignity and respect.
- Collaborative and Cooperative – The success of our work depends on others and we maintain a diverse, inclusive and equitable culture of strong collaboration and cooperation both internally and externally.
Read our Equity Vision Statement.
First Things First is Arizona’s only public funding source dedicated to exclusively to early childhood, the beginning of our state’s education continuum.
On November 7, 2006, Arizonans made a historic decision on behalf of our state’s young children. By majority vote, they passed Proposition 203, a citizen’s initiative to fund quality early childhood development and health programs for kids birth to age 5, before kindergarten. Voters backed that commitment with an 80-cent per pack increase on tobacco products, so that funding for early childhood services would not be at the mercy of economic and political winds.
The initiative also created the statewide First Things First Board and regional partnership councils to share the responsibility of ensuring that these funds are spent on strategies that will result in improved education and health outcomes for Arizona’s young children.
Focused on Early Childhood
The early childhood years are when the brain grows and develops the most. In fact, 90% of a child’s brain growth happens by age 5, before they start kindergarten. And scientific research has shown that a child’s experiences in their early years affect how their brain develops.
Research has also proven that kids with quality early childhood experiences do better in school. They are more likely to go to college and have successful careers. They also tend to be healthier and demand less from the public welfare system.
That’s why First Things First partners with families and communities to help kids have the positive, nurturing experiences they need to arrive at school ready to succeed. We do this through quality early care and education programs, preventive health efforts, and supporting parents in their role as their child’s first teachers.