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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.

A safe haven for children in need

​​​​​​Walking into a haven like UMOM Hobbs Child Development Center immediately fills you with a sense of comfort and safety. The quiet as tiny babies sleep in a cozy room with soft classical music playing is punctuated with happy sounds of activity floating from the classrooms.

​The Center is a shining light of hope for dozens of children, all of whom have faced homelessness with their families. The Center is part of the UMOM New Day Center Shelter Program that provides emergency (120 days) and transitional (up to 24 months) shelter for homeless men, women and children. It houses approximately 450 men, women and children nightly, more than 60 percent of whom are children ages birth to 15. The UMOM mission is to provide homeless families and individuals with safe shelter, housing and supportive services to assist them in reaching their greatest potential.

The Center cares for the children of 90 families enrolled in UMOM emergency or transitional programs in Phoenix. In order to provide the best quality care for these children, including about 60 who are under 5 years old, the Center enrolled in the First Things First signature program, Quality First.

Olivia Salinas, the Center’s program manager, said, “The support we receive from FTF allows us to advocate for the children. Teachers feel more prepared and important.”

Most of the resources for the child care center come from donations, so funding from FTF through Quality First helps make quality improvements such as purchasing age-appropriate equipment and materials to enhance the children’s learning environment. A Quality First coach has been an excellent resource and support to all the staff by providing training to the teachers, assisting with curriculum effectiveness and preparing for classroom assessments. Quality First scholarships for children are a great relief to families that need to cover other expenses as they try to work their way out of homelessness.

“Quality First has given us a foundation to keep building on and it has opened a lot of doors for other programs,” said Olivia Salinas. “I’m proud of where we are.”

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