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Quality First: Working to make children thrive by age 5


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  • United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona

United Way Of Tucson And Southern Arizona (UWTSA) Is Working To Provide Quality Child Care To More Children From Birth To Age 5. Photo Courtesy United Way Of Tucson And Southern Arizona

United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona (UWTSA) is working to provide quality child care to more children from birth to age 5.
In partnership with Southwest Human Development, UWTSA has begun work on the Quality First Redesign program.

Quality First is a quality improvement and rating system (QIRS) that is funded by First Things First. It is a voluntary program, with about 1,000 of the 3,000 child care and preschool programs across the state currently participating. The mission of the program is to improve the quality of child care in licensed or certified facilities throughout the state, and to increase the access of high quality programs to families with children from birth to age 5.

This program has been operating in Arizona since 2010. In an effort to determine the effectiveness and to further improve the program, First Things First invested in a three-year validation study. The data collected from these efforts resulted in the Quality First Redesign. This two-year field test will be used to determine if this refined model will more efficiently move child care and preschool programs towards meeting specific quality indicators.

Four new staff members have been hired for the Redesign: Director, Lela Messick, and three specialists who will be working directly with child care and preschool settings, Denisse Hernandez de Ortiz, Andrea Dekker and John Elliott.

If successful, the Quality First Redesign will mean that the number of participating sites will increase from 1,000 to about 2,250, making high quality care accessible to even more families.