News and happenings about First Things First

February 2023

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Home visitor sits on the floor with tribal month and toddler boy

Retaining home visitors is one way to ensure family success

As the largest funder of home visitation programs in Arizona, FTF is working with other state funders to find ways to support the home visitation workforce. When there is high staff turnover, data shows that it has an impact on the family’s willingness to stay in the program.
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New FTF oral health website shows why healthy baby teeth matter

FTF’s latest website,, is designed to help parents in Maricopa County learn how to help their babies, toddlers and preschoolers have healthy teeth. The website is part of a project funded by FTF regions within Maricopa County to increase early oral health awareness.
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News Round-Up

News about early childhood around Arizona and across the U.S.

‘About 48% of the state is in a child care desert’: Arizonans spend 20% of income on child care, study says
12News, Feb. 14
Why Arizonans are having to pay so much is a multi-faceted issue. Ginger Sandweg, senior director for early learning at First Things First said part of it is about the number of child care providers available. “About 48% of the state is a child care desert,” she said. “So just the availability of child care, I think contributes to the cost. If you can’t find child care, you’re going to have to pay more where you are finding it.” Sandweg said the quality of child care also plays a factor in cost. She added that child care providers have to pay competitive wages to attract skilled workers.
Which states offer universal pre-k? It’s more complicated than you might think
Education Week, Jan. 25
At its simplest, universal pre-K is any state-funded preschool program in which age is the only criterion for eligibility. But that doesn’t necessarily mean such programs are universal in practice. Limits on funding and caps on enrollment curb the number of 4-year-olds who can participate.
Why many early childhood educators can’t afford to retire
EdSurge, Feb. 13
“There is a just a stunning lack of retirement savings and retirement benefits, for both those self-employed and employed” by other programs, said Lauren Hogan, managing director of policy and professional advancement at the National Association of the Education of Young Children.
Childbirth is deadlier for Black families even when they’re rich, expansive study finds
The New York Times, Feb. 12
In the United States, the richest mothers and their newborns are the most likely to survive the year after childbirth — except when the family is Black, according to a groundbreaking new study of two million California births. The richest Black mothers and their babies are twice as likely to die as the richest white mothers and their babies.
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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