Christian School Awarded Early Childhood Funds

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

The Payson Community Christian School is the first recipient of the scholarship money given to Gila County families. From left to right are; Teresa Purtee, Emma Whelan, Gabe Hillgendorf, Cyndi Peters, Brooke Lamb, Hailey Mendoza, and Sue Yale, and Diane Bricker of the Gila Regional Partnership Council.

The Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board recently voted to approve $23.3 million in emergency child care scholarships statewide to immediately shore up the stability of working families and their children.

A portion of that money — $111,161 is coming to Gila County and Payson. The funds are allocated for children from birth through age 5. The Payson Community Christian School is the first recipient of the scholarship money given to Gila County families.

Scholarships provide for four months of child care to working parents, whose incomes are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

“The emergency scholarship grant has already helped more than nine families in the Payson area and scholarships are still available,” said Teresa Purtee, administrator of Payson Community Christian School.

“The emergency scholarship fund has helped families to get on their feet financially while their children are being prepared to succeed with their emotional, academic and developmental learning. This program was a Godsend. Thank you First Things First!”

First Things First funds are derived from a tax on tobacco products that was approved through a ballot initiative in 2006. Funds are voter protected and dedicated for the express purpose of preparing all Arizona children, from birth through age 5, to arrive at school ready to succeed.

More than 300 First Things First Regional Council volunteers from throughout the state of Arizona determine how to invest in programs and services for children and families in their communities.

At least 81 cents of every First Things First dollar is invested locally. The Gila Regional Partnership Council consists of residents from across Gila County. Members who reside in the Payson community are Roger Kortman, Hubert Nanty, Sue Yale and Dr. Diane Bricker.

For more information, contact the Gila Regional First Things First Office at (928) 415-8172.

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