First Things First for Arizona’s Children

Dedicated Funding Streams & Financing

  • Taxes


Proposition 203 was approved by 53% of voters on November 7, 2006. It creates a state tax on tobacco products and provides program and grant proposal requirements and procedures for award of regional grants. It simultaneously established the First Things First program, a statewide organization that funds early education and health programs. Local regional councils, staffed by community volunteers, decide how funds are spent to support the healthy development and learning of Arizona’s young children.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Stable, robust funding is essential to expanding and improving early education. Unlike K-12 education, early education has historically been supported through a fragmented – and largely insufficient – set of federal, state, and local funds. Research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality approach to early education across the mixed-delivery system – and for better financial and professional supports for the educators who serve children and families each day; creating dedicated funding streams can therefore help states and cities address these needs and achieve these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
  • Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Arizona

Context matters. Visit the Arizona profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Arizona Profile Here
  • The state population is 7,359,197
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 64%
  • The rural percentage is 10.7%