Not Enrolled? Things You Can Do

Things every provider and caregiver can do to encourage learning

Every child care provider wants to nurture the development of the infants, toddlers and preschoolers in their care. This is true for regulated child care centers and homes and preschool programs, and also for the many individuals that provide informal care for the children of family, friends or neighbors.

While First Things First does not have the capacity to enroll all of the programs interested in participating in Quality First, there are things that every caregiver can do to encourage learning and help children be more prepared for school. The following suggestions are not presented as a prescription for achieving Arizona’s standards for quality or a substitute for participation in Quality First, but things you can do to support the children in your care. Every step matters, no matter how small.

Know Arizona’s expectations for early learning

These detailed documents are a great resource for understanding Arizona’s expectations for early learning programs and about what young children should know and be able to do, across multiple domains of development, during specific age ranges.

Program Guidelines for High Quality Early Education: Birth Through K
Arizona Early Learning Standards
Arizona’s Infant and Toddler Developmental Guidelines

Evaluate yourself

See your program through the eyes of an informed parent. Refer to our quality checklist and look for things you do well and areas that could use improving. And remember that the most important criteria is always: what’s best for the children in your care.

A more formal approach to consider is the Arizona Self-Study Project (ASSP), an exciting statewide project for early care and education programs committed to improving the quality of care for Arizona's children. ASSP assists programs to integrate quality developmentally appropriate practices in a model that meets the needs of all children.

Through the ASSP, each early care and education program evaluates its strengths and areas needing improvement using self-study materials. Each program identifies areas of change and creates specific program goals based on the results of their self-evaluation. Assistance is provided to the programs that choose to pursue national accreditation. The ASSP is funded by the Arizona Department of Economic Security Child Care Administration.

Child & Family Resources, Inc. provides Arizona Self-Study Project services in: Apache, Coconino, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Yavapai, and Yuma Counties. For more information or to participate please contact Connie Espinoza, Senior Program Director, at 1.520.320.4036 or by email at or Melina Montiel, Administrative Assistant at 1.520.321.3826 or

Easter Seals Blake Foundation provides Arizona Self-Study Project services in: Cochise, Gila,Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz Counties. For more information or to participate please contact Renee Hartje, Program Manager, at 1.520.419.7875 or by email at or Lisa Ortiz, Accreditation Specialist, at 1.520.405-1532 or by email to

Tips and resources

There are a number of organizations that provide information for teachers and caregivers to support learning:

Arizona Department of Education Early Childhood Website
Includes teacher training and other professional development opportunities.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice
From the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), an approach to teaching grounded in the research on how young children develop and learn.

Tip Sheets for Child Care Professionals
A wide variety of practical tips and activities any teacher or caregiver can use, covering language and literacy, health and nutrition, child development and more.

Healthy Child Care
Information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on steps you can take to reduce the hazards of potentially harmful contaminants in child care settings.

Powerful Interactions
The quality of interactions between caregivers and children is crucial in early childhood settings.

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