First Things First envisions a comprehensive early care and education system that addresses quality, accessibility and affordability. High quality is promoted by Quality First, FTF’s signature quality improvement and rating system for regulated early care and education settings. In addition, higher quality programs must be both accessible to all children and affordable for families of every income level. Quality First scholarships and prekindergarten strategies promote affordability of a variety of quality early care and education settings, offering families the ability to choose the setting that best meets their needs.
Additionally, quality early and education must be accessible to children of all abilities and needs. Some regions have addressed the issue of inclusion of children with disabilities and special health care needs directly through consultation and professional development strategies. While regulated care and education is a FTF prioritized role, in Arizona it is estimated that more than 60% of children ages 3 and younger are cared for in family, friend and neighbor (FFN) settings for which there is no public oversight. Some FTF strategies address improving the quality of these settings through education and support groups. It is the intent of FTF to ensure that all early care and education programs actively include children with special needs.