News and happenings about First Things First

December 2022

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As 2022 comes to a close, First Things First thanks you for your continued dedication to the healthy development and learning of Arizona’s babies, toddlers and preschoolers. In this issue, we reflect on the past year by highlighting some positive examples of Arizona’s communities working to support young children and their families, as well as some of our most popular articles.

Quality First provides ‘comradery among educators’

When Mary Barcena first joined Quality First, she didn’t know what to expect. But she knew she wanted to open the doors to her Montessori center and get feedback from early childhood professionals. What she found was a supportive safety net with a Quality First coach who calls and touches base regularly.
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Ages and Stages: Updated developmental milestones

First Things First has revised the online Ages and Stages content for families with young children to reflect recent updates to developmental milestones from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The updated milestones indicate the ages by which most children — 75% or more — are expected to have met them. This important change is intended to prevent unnecessary concern among parents while also encouraging them to act early if their child is missing one or more milestones or has lost a skill they once had.
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Local business podcast explores the state of child care in Arizona and what businesses can do to help

In a recent episode of the Arizona Good Business podcast, sponsored by Local First Arizona, FTF leaders Melinda Morrison Gulick, CEO and Angela Rabago-Mussi, chief of external affairs, discussed both challenges and opportunities in Arizona’s child care community.
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Expanding child care options in Arizona one center at a time

From helping early childhood partners exchange information about issues impacting child care, to convening individuals and organizations to collaborate on ideas, to providing funds to build or expand child care centers, FTF has found unique ways to support more child care options for children.  
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Q & A with Melinda Morrison Gulick, FTF CEO

Melinda Morrison Gulick joined First Things First as Chief Executive Officer in March. We caught up with Gulick during her early days at FTF to hear about her first impressions and get a glimpse of her future plans.
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News Round-Up

First Things First and our expert staff were in the news in 2022 for a variety of topics ranging from the child care work force shortage to preschool preparation. Take a look at FTF’s year in headlines.

Child care shortage is ‘not just a family issue’
Inside Tucson Business, Dec. 2
“Child care is an important infrastructure — it’s not just a family issue, it’s a business issue,” explained Ofelia Gonzalez, public information officer at First Things First, a voter-initiated, statewide organization that supports Arizona’s child care and preschool providers through funding and training.
New Parent Guide helps AZ parents meet challenges of having a baby
Arizona Public News Service, Nov. 29
The Arizona New Parent Guide is a resource that is intended to help new parents meet the challenges of having a baby and support their baby's health and development within the first year of life. The guide is available fully online and in Spanish, and was put together by Arizona's early childhood agency First Things First, which saw a need for it to be digitized.

Kat Willard, senior director of family support and literacy for First Things First, said parents in Arizona need a centralized place to go for a wide-variety of information that is quick.
First Things First teamed up with City of Phoenix for child care for Sky Harbor employees
Fox 10, Aug. 8
Watch FTF CEO Melinda Morrison Gulick discuss FTF’s partnership with the City of Phoenix on the Airport Worker Child Care Scholarship Program, which gives Phoenix Sky Harbor employees access to quality early learning for their babies, toddlers and preschoolers at Quality First sites throughout Maricopa County.
Efforts aim to provide more early childhood teachers
Eastern Arizona Courier, May 12
A collaboration between Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First (FTF), Eastern Arizona College, Arizona State University and the United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties will create a pipeline of certified early childhood educators in an area of Arizona known for being a child care desert.
Let’s get ready for preschool! Building excitement for your child’s transition to preschool
Arizona Parenting Magazine, January 2022
Parents can help that transition to preschool by talking to their child about where they’ll be going. “Build that excitement and be positive and happy about it,” said Cami Foulks, an early learning program specialist with First Things First, Arizona’s early childhood agency.
First Things First is Arizona's early childhood agency that funds early education and health programs to prepare young children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
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