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Expanding Capacity for Early Care and Education

This strategy provides access to high-quality, culturally responsive early care and education.  It supports new or existing early care and education programs to begin to serve or expand services to children birth to age 5, not yet in kindergarten and/or early childhood education practicum students.

Regions funding this strategy

Featured Stories

Funding Plan Highlights


LAUNCH Flagstaff was able to secure $290,000 in funding from the City of Flagstaff, Coconino County and the Wharton Foundation which marks a significant step toward their preschool expansion project being fully funded. The funding served as a milestone for the expansion project, allowing it to move forward into the next stage of its implementation, to establish and operate a program model. The vision is that “preschool-aged children and their families in the FUSD boundary area can attain high-quality, full-day, year round preschool education that prepares them for school and for life. Arizona cities are working together to achieve universal access to high-quality preschool.” To support this next stage, LAUNCH Flagstaff also secured an in-kind donation through a partnership with Association for Supportive Child Care to create a regional lead supervisor position. This position will be responsible for the coordination and implementation of the expansion project, including working to ensure each classroom of the expansion provides high-quality care and education through participation in the Quality First Coaching and Incentives Strategy.


Colorado River Indian Tribes 

In the Colorado River Indian Tribes Region, collaboration with the Colorado River Indian Tribes Tribal Council has been essential in establishing a new child care center in the community of Parker and the Colorado River Indian Tribes Region. In the summer of 2019, the region lost its only child care center outside of Head Start. The child care center served about 32 children within the age range of six weeks to 5 years. The Colorado River Indian Tribes Regional Council, in partnership with a new child care provider and the Colorado River Indian Tribal Council, will support the start-up of a new child care center in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2020 and SFY21. This collaboration is supporting the Colorado River Indian Tribes Region and town of Parker not only to re-establish a child care center, but also to provide access to quality early care and education through participation in Quality First and capacity of children served, which will support families and help young children achieve academic and life-skills success. The new child care center will serve about 75 children in the age range six weeks to 5 years.


East Maricopa

An exciting and developing system-building initiative occurring in the East Maricopa Region is a collaboration with the PHX East Valley Partnership. The PHX East Valley Partnership is a coalition of civic, business and political leaders dedicated to the economic development and promotion of the East Valley of Greater Phoenix. They actively advocate in areas such as economic development, education, transportation and infrastructure, the arts, behavioral health and other important areas. Since its inception nearly 40 years ago, PHX East Valley Partnership has played a critical role in issues of importance in our community.

The East Maricopa regional director has represented First Things First on the PHX East Valley Partnership since May 2017 and serves on the Education/Business/Workforce Development Committee. Membership in the PHX East Valley Partnership has had a valuable impact in the region by bringing awareness of early childhood to civic, business, education and political leaders. Membership has also offered an opportunity to further support the East Maricopa Regional Partnership Council’s system-building work. This work includes Tempe PRE (Preschool Resource Expansion Program), the City of Chandler’s Education Coalition, and Read On Chandler and Read On Tempe Acceleration Zone initiatives. As a result of this partnership, the PHX East Valley Partnership has provided endorsements to efforts such as Tempe PRE. Furthermore, business, education and civic organizations/city governments were identified by the East Maricopa Regional Partnership Council as regional priority audiences to target for community awareness efforts.  


East Maricopa and Southeast Maricopa

In April 2018, the East and Southeast Maricopa regional directors presented on First Things First at an education/business/workforce development committee meeting. The regional directors utilized this opportunity to provide members with an overview of First Things First, presented committee members with regional impact reports and shared information about specific early care and education initiatives targeting the East Valley. Additionally, the regional directors invited committee members to attend a site tour and to serve on a First Things First regional partnership council.

In May 2019, the East and Southeast Maricopa Regional Partnership Councils sponsored the PHX East Valley Partnership Annual Meeting. “The Importance of Early Childhood Development” was included as a meeting agenda item and the East Maricopa regional director was invited to share about the work First Things First is accomplishing in Arizona and the impact of regional efforts. The PHX East Valley Partnership’s annual meeting was a high-profile event attended by approximately 150 of the region’s top leaders. The annual meeting sponsorship provided an opportunity to underscore First Things First’s work and core messages in front of community, business and education leaders. The sponsorship also included the mention of First Things First in the event promotional materials and on social media.


Maricopa Regions 

Under the Public Awareness Strategy, regional representatives are working closely with First Things First’s public affairs team to develop a comprehensive approach to building policymakers’ awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health. This includes building regional council members’ capacity to engage with policymakers, including training; participating in events like site tours and the Early Childhood Day at the Capitol; and attending one-on-one meetings with policymakers (school boards; city, county and state leaders).


Pascua Yaqui Tribe 

The regional partnership council has continued conversations with the tribal government about the need to create a child care facility on the reservation. In SFY21, the regional council will fund a Capacity Building Strategy that will align with the tribal strategic plan and community input. With this strategy, the regional council will join the tribal system-building efforts to enhance the tribal early care and education system to help address severely limited child care availability for children on the reservation, particularly for children with parents working in the evening and early morning hours due to jobs with the casinos or in public service such as working for the police or fire department as well as for children attending the tribal Head Start who are in need of after-hours child care. The tribal government and regional council will work with a consultant to do an assessment of the current capacity of the early care and education system and opportunities to expand services and facilitate meetings among tribal leaders, stakeholders, families and staff from the tribal government and the casinos. In addition, funds may help secure a consultant with grant writing expertise to bring external financial resources to build the child care center on the reservation.


White Mountain Apache Tribe 

In a meeting among the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council, FTF and Head Start staff, tribal council members expressed the need to increase awareness of the importance of early childhood with Apache parents. They also indicated their desire to reconvene early learning providers including the tribal Head Starts and other child care sites in the region. It was shared that in past years, an early childhood coalition was formed and met regularly. (This was prior to the work of FTF in the region.) The tribal council requested FTF staff take a leadership role and convene an early childhood coalition that would focus on helping families in the region obtain more knowledge of community resources. The regional director plans to identify, recruit and convene new members for this coalition. The tribal council and regional council are fully supportive of this coalition and are interested in members working together to coordinate awareness, outreach, recruitment and enrollment efforts for all of White Mountain Apache Tribe’s early learning programs. They also recognize there are likely many other opportunities to be identified for this coalition. FTF staff will move ahead with forming the coalition beginning in winter of 2020. (Postponed due to COVID-19 Pandemic). 



 Yuma has invested in three start-up sites that are self-sufficient and braid funds to improve access to quality early care and education in the region. The regional council makes a one-time investment and works with local school districts that commit to a self-sustaining model. The Yuma Regional Partnership Council has three site tours a year. These site tours provide the opportunity for local and state elected officials to learn about the strategies the regional council funds and the successful work being implemented in the region.

Find more details about strategies related to Early Care and Education in the FTF Strategy Toolkit.

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