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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.

Phoenix Quality First center helps children start kindergarten with skills to succeed

When kids get kicked out of preschool, it’s hard on both the kids and parents. That’s what Director/Co-Founder Sue Johnson observed after running The Family School based in the First Things First Phoenix South region for more than 25 years.

“When a child has not been diagnosed with a special need and labels herself as bad, your heart breaks,” said Johnson.

The Family School participates in FTF’s signature program, Quality First, which partners with early childhood providers in Arizona to increase quality improvements that help young children thrive.

Johnson said Quality First provided a way to fund and expand their work, support staff and provide scholarships for families.

“Quality First provided coaches that assist teachers with their education and growth and also a nurse health consultant to give extra support to families,” said Johnson. “Quality First also offered scholarships so diverse families have the ability to receive the highest quality early childhood education at our center.”

This means The Family School can help parents who cannot find any other child care options because of their child’s behavior. The school also serves foster parents for children who do not trust adults. All of these children have found a home at The Family School, year after year.

“When The Family School decided to address the needs of a diverse population, the most important consideration was ratios,” said Johnson. “A one-teacher-to-five-student ratio exists in the preschool and one-to-four ratio in the toddler classroom. Typical children, children in crisis and children from many backgrounds can come together to safely learn while having their social-emotional needs met with our trained staff. ”

Johnson believes Quality First is an important part of improving early childhood care in Arizona.

“The collaboration with Quality First unites our mutual goals to create a partnership that benefits The Family School and the early childhood community in Phoenix,” said Johnson.

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