Over the past weeks, national media attention has reminded us about the importance of investing in early childhood education, in fact, recent media coverage highlighted President-elect Obama’s strategic focus aimed at early childhood education.
Research has confirmed the most important period in a child’s development is from birth to age 5. Teaching and supporting children during this amazing developmental period of a child’s life is top priority.
Teaching and supporting children is the right direction for our country and our state. We need to get back to the fundamentals. This begins with providing a solid educational foundation for children which must start at birth.
Arizona is on track and is ahead of the game. The citizens of Arizona in 2006 approved Proposition 203, now First Things First, which provided an 80-cent tax on tobacco products for early childhood development and health. Through locally driven Regional Partnership Councils, First Things First is investing in children so that all children have equal opportunities for quality early childhood education.
Locally, this effort gave life to the Gila and San Carlos Apache Regional Partnership Councils. Both councils are comprised of 11 individuals who live or work in their regions and are appointed by First Things First.
Gila Regional Partnership Council members are Alexis Rivera, Roger Kortman, Audrey Opitz, Sue Yale, Sharri Moody, Dr. Diane Bricker, Paula Horn, Hubert Nanty and Ann Tolman. The council has two vacant positions.
San Carlos Apache Regional Partnership Council members are Catherine Steele, David Reede, Sylvia Gomez, Vernon Poncho, Sara Kotler-Pinson, Fred Ferreira, and Robert Olivar. Three seats are currently vacant.
The Regional Partnership Councils promote a common vision, serve as the voice for children in their regions and commit to the development of an integrated system that connects services to children. They are family-centered, community-based partnerships linking state and local government, communities and families. To learn more about First Things First, please contact Eva Cook, Gila regional coordinator or Beverly Russell, San Carlos Apache regional coordinator at (928) 425-8172.
As citizens and appointed officials, we must not make choices that negatively impact our children’s future. We support investing in our children, and we encourage other members of our community to join us in voicing this support.
Alexis Rivera, chair,
Gila Regional Partnership Council
Catherine Steele, chair, San Carlos Apache regional Partnership Council