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New Report Gets Attention of AZ Coalition

dana on horizon 11-4-2013 with captionA new report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The First Eight Years: Building a Foundation for Lifetime Success, points the way for Arizona and other states to help more children flourish with quality learning, literacy, and health opportunities. 

For example:

  • 55 percent of Arizona children, birth to age 8, live in low-income households.
  • More than 69 percent of Arizona low-income children are not enrolled in preschool.

A coalition of Arizona leaders has come together to build a stronger early childhood system to help students meet our state’s rising educational expectations. This coalition, called BUILD Arizona, is made up of business leaders, philanthropic leaders, non-profit executives, public sector representatives, educators, health practitioners and early childhood experts.

“Arizona can do better,” said Merl Waschler, President and CEO, Valley of the Sun United Way and Chair of BUILD Arizona. “Ensuring our youngest learners have the language and literacy skills they need for success in school, career and life is critical to Arizona’s future.”

BUILD’s coalition of leaders has identified a few targeted approaches to prepare more Arizona children for college and careers:

  • Incrementally expand access to high quality, voluntary preschool for three and four year old children, beginning with the most vulnerable children
  • Expand research – based home visiting programs to mentor parents with young children in best practices such as early literacy and language development
  • Extend school days in elementary school – providing more instructional time

This new report — and decades of research from economics, criminal justice, education, and prevention– show that such key strategies for young children can reap large benefits. We know that early access to structured high quality learning environments can place children on a positive trajectory to do well in the early grades. 

Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance and BUILD Member, said there is reason to be optimistic. “There are no mysteries here; we know how to make real differences in the lives and outlook for success for Arizona’s young children.”

Business leaders and citizens across Arizona agree. According to Todd Sanders, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and BUILD member, “we have the opportunity and responsibility to work together to advocate for high quality learning opportunities for every child in Arizona.”

Click here to read the entire report.

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