Fundamental Agreements

Equal access to high quality early education is essential for the future of children, families, business, schools, law enforcement, and our community’s development. We must invest in ourselves if we wish anyone else to invest in us.

Access to quality early education in Tucson/Pima County is costly and severely limited:

  • There are 25,020 3 and 4 year olds in Pima County. (U.S. Census, ACS, 1-Year Estimates, 2016)
  • 5,387 3 and 4 year olds in Pima County currently attend a High Quality Early Education Program. (There are 138 3-5 Star Centers, approximately 10 unrated nationally accredited pre-schools, and approximately 1500 Head Start spots in Pima County. data provided by UW, FTF and Head Start; excludes tribal data
  • The average cost for 3 and 4-year- olds to attend a full-day (full parental workday) High Quality Early Education Program is $836 per month. 2018 Research Briefing: Relationship of Economic Independence and Access to Childcare for Single Moms, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona
  • DES defrays a portion of the cost of (high quality and non-high quality) childcare/preschool for approximately 1778 3 and 4 year-olds in Pima County; the average payment is $350 monthly.
  • Arizona is among the most expensive states for families’ relative burden of childcare costs, ranking 39th out of the 50 states and D.C. based on the costs for married families. Childcare Aware: 2017 Parents and the High Cost of Childcare

“Quality Standard” means accreditation from a national organization or a state-approved quality indicator that is recognized by the Department. Section 1. ARS 46-805 (g) (2).

The return on investment in high quality early education is substantial. Research shows that high-quality birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children can deliver a 13% per year return on investment—a rate substantially higher than the 7-10% return previously established for preschool programs serving 3- to 4-year-olds. Significant gains are realized through better outcomes in education, health, social behaviors, and employment. Heckman, James J. "Invest in early childhood development: Reduce deficits, strengthen the economy." The Heckman Equation 7 (2012).

Studies estimate that a $3,000 annual increase in family income between a child’s birth and fifth year is associated with 19% higher earnings in their adulthood; in comparison, a similar family income increase between a child’s 6th and 10th year is associated with a 4% increase in that child’s later earnings. 2018 Research Briefing: Relationship of Economic Independence and Access to Childcare for Single Moms, Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona

Providing access to workforce development for parents and high quality childcare for young children, have strong theoretical underpinnings that support long-term economic gains for families and communities. Rigorous evaluations of two-generation programs are just now underway, but an early assessment of a two-generation program in Minneapolis that incorporates multi-pronged support for career-track education, high quality early childhood education, and safe affordable housing found a return on investment to society of $2.47 for every dollar spent (Dias & Pina, 2013).

Children who attend quality preschool are three times more likely to attend college. Barnett, W. S., and M. Nores. "Investing in Early Childhood Education: A Global Perspective." National Institute for Early Education Research (2012).                                                                                                                   
Children who attend high quality preschool are much less likely to participate in criminal activity. At age 40 they were 46 percent less likely to have served time in jail or prison (28% vs. 52%), and had a 33 percent lower arrest rate for violent crimes (32% vs. 48%) Lawrence J. Schweinhart, PhD. The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40: Summary, Conclusions, and Frequently Asked Questions)