First Things First
First Things First is Arizona’s early childhood agency, committed to the healthy development and learning of young children from birth to age 5.
What We Do
From birth to age 5, children’s brains develop faster than any other time in their lives and set the foundation for future learning. That’s why Arizonans created First Things First—a voter-initiated, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to prepare young children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Local regional councils, staffed by community volunteers, decide how funds are spent to support the healthy development and learning of Arizona’s young children.
Why Early Childhood Matters
90% of a child’s brain develops before they start kindergarten. And research shows that the quality of a child’s experiences in their first five years helps shape how their brain develops.
Kids with positive, stable relationships with parents and caregivers, as well as quality child care and preschool experiences, go on to do better in school and in life. They’re more likely to read at grade level and graduate from high school. They are more prepared for college and career. They also tend to be healthier and demand less from the public welfare system.
These are better outcomes for kids that also save taxpayers money.
• Brain Development
• Investing in Early Childhood
• Early Literacy
• Data Tools
First Things First is one of the critical partners in creating a family-centered, comprehensive, collaborative and high-quality early childhood system that supports the development, health and early education of all Arizona’s children birth through age 5.
All Arizona’s children are ready to succeed in school and in life.
First Things First is Arizona’s only public funding source dedicated to exclusively to early childhood, the beginning of our state’s education continuum.
Focused on Early Childhood
The early childhood years are when the brain grows and develops the most. In fact, 90% of a child’s brain develops by age 5, before they start kindergarten. And scientific research has shown that a child’s experiences in their early years affect how their brain develops.
Research has also proven that kids with quality early childhood experiences do better in school. They are more likely to go to college and have successful careers. They also tend to be healthier and demand less from the public welfare system.
That’s why First Things First partners with families and communities to help kids have the positive, nurturing experiences they need to arrive at school ready to succeed. We do this through quality early care and education programs, preventive health efforts, and supporting parents in their role as their child’s first teachers.
Marilee Dal Pra
Marilee Dal Pra is Chief Executive Officer for First Things First. Prior to joining FTF, Marilee was Vice President for Programs at Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, where she led the foundation’s community initiatives and strategic program development. She was a driving force behind efforts such as Read On Arizona, the state’s third grade reading initiative; BUILD, a multi-state partnership that supports early childhood systems building (now the work of the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance); The Kindergarten Experience, which offers professional development opportunities to kindergarten teachers statewide; and Maricopa Family Support Alliance, a collective of 70 independent agencies that work together to best serve families in need.
- 602.771.5100 or 877.803.7234
- 4000 N Central Avenue, Suite 800
Phoenix, AZ 85012