How We Work

All children need the same opportunities to have a chance for a life of success determined by their own abilities.  First Things First—working at both the state and local level—act to ensure that all children have those opportunities.

The Board

The Board's central focus is to determine polices and approve funding to build on or improve the programs, services, and resources already available to support young children and their families.  By setting and adopting clear goals to support child development and health - based on available data and evidence of likely success and proven practices - the Board increases the chance of success in school and life for all Arizona children.

Shared Governance

Top-down or grass-roots? To ensure effective funding, we bring both styles together.

Helping Arizona’s kids requires a broad, unifying vision and a street-level sense of practicality.

First Things First’s shared governance model gives us the best of us both.

Our nine-member Board of Directors determines statewide child development goals. Then volunteers on our 31 Regional Partnership Councils — teachers, parents, community leaders, development experts and health care professionals — decide the best ways money can used to support the needs of young children in their communities.

The Regional Councils and Local Flexibility

First Things First's 31 Regional Partnership Councils represent the richly diverse communities across Arizona.  Members of each Council are appointed by the Board and have direct responsibility to: collect information on the strengths and desires of their community, prioritize the specific needs, plan how to address those needs, choose who to partner and collaborate with to ensure success for the children in their communities, and identify the funding necessary to carry out their plan.


How do you know a program is effective? When you can see it at work in your community.

At First Things First, getting Arizona’s kids ready for Kindergarten means a statewide commitment: in our programs, in our words – and in our bottom line. Ninety cents of every tobacco tax dollar goes to programs that benefit children, birth to five years old.

Volunteer councils — people familiar with local priorities and needs — decide the best ways to apply those funds for the children in their communities.

Our progress is measured meticulously. And our finances are audited annually to ensure effectiveness, transparency and accountability to our state and our kids.