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First Things First- Investing in Children and Families

First Things First partners with families and communities through supporting parents in their role as the child’s first teachers, child care organizations, preventive and educational programs. First Things First is an organization truly dedicated to investing in children and families in Santa Cruz County. Their mission is to create family-centered, comprehensive, collaborative and high-quality early childhood systems that supports child’s development in early education children from birth through 5 in Arizona. First Things First vision is to help all children succeed in school and life.

“Our mission is to work with our local partners and support their efforts through funding programs within Santa Cruz County that prepare children for success in kindergarten and beyond,” Francisco Padilla Regional Director of the Santa Cruz Regional Partnership for First Things First.

First Things First headquarters are in Phoenix, Arizona. There are a total of 28 regional councils across the state of Arizona. The Santa Cruz Regional Partnership Council of First Things First is managed by the council members. The council members are: Karen Woodford-Chair, William Kirkpatrick-Vice Chair, Chris Ciruli, Dana Gallardo, Erika Garcia, Karen Guilmette, Dr. Melissa Lunderville, J.Patrick Maitrejean, Veronica Santillo, and David Verdugo. Each of the council members represents a specific sector in our community. The council members are health professionals, leaders of faith based organizations, educators, and parents within county. “Our regional council board members are the individuals who steer our organization’s vision. They decide how our funds will be used to support our region and families,” said Padilla.

Every year First Things First hosts their annual event to “Celebrate the Child.” They will be hosting their 6th Annual First Things First “Celebrates the Child” at Calabasas Middle School in Rio Rico, Arizona on February 11, 2017. This new venue will have more space to include more children’s activities. This is an event where parents have an opportunity to engage with their children and learn about inexpensive activities they can replicate at home. We want to provide the parents with the tools necessary to help their children learn and thrive. Playing is the primary way children learn,” said Francisco Padilla Regional Director of the Santa Cruz Partnership for First Things First.     

For more information on the Santa Cruz Partnership for First Things First please contact their local office at: (520) 761-3012 or website: You can also visit their site at: 1740 N. Mastick Way Ste. C. Nogales, Arizona 85621

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