Studies show that educational achievement gaps already exist at Kindergarten entry.  Children from low-income families are more likely to start school with limited language skills, health problems and social and emotional problems that interfere with learning.  The larger the gap at school entry, the harder it is to close.

Language proficiency is a key predictor of school success. Early literacy skills (size of vocabulary, recognizing letters, understanding letter and sound relationships) at kindergarten entry are good predictors of children's reading abilities throughout their educational careers. Language and literacy skills enable children to develop cognitive skills and knowledge and to interact effectively with peers and adults.



Highlights of the State

  * Early Childhood Block Grant - state funds support preschool programs for economically disadvantaged children.

  * Healthy Families - offers home visits to struggling families including: practical help for employment and child care, emotional support, and training in parenting and coping skills to prevent child abuse and neglect and improve the stability of the family.  The budget for Healthy Families was doubled in fiscal year 2005 to reach more than 4,400 families.

  * K-3 Reading legislation - expands the requirements for school districts and charter schools to provide quality reading instruction.  The law requires districts to assess student progress in reading and plan effective interventions. Districts must also conduct curriculum evaluations and teacher training. Any pupil in third grade who does not meet or exceed reading standards shall be provided with intensive reading instruction.

  * Arizona Learns Initiative - establishes four accountability classificatons for schools and requires the Arizona Department of Education to define them using specific measures: excelling, highly performing, performing or underperforming. The designations will be publicized. Governing boards are required to implement school improvement plans for underperforming and the state department of education provides teams to assist.

* Child Care Subsidies-Since March 2003 thousands of families have been turned away from child care due to funding shortfalls.  Without help for child care, parents are forced to quit their jobs, turn to welfare or leave their children in unsafe situations.  The budget adopted for 2005 adds $51 million for child care, reaches more working families and reduces the waiting list.  A waiting list of approximately 6,200 children will remain. 
Click here to view Arizona's Child Care Subsidies Brochure of Family Stories.
View Arizona's I-film on Ending the Child Care Subsidy Waiting List by clicking here.
Click here to view the Children's Action Alliance's most recent Child Care subsidies article, "State Budget Shortfall Turns Children Away".

* Full-Day Kindergarten- The legislative voted to adopt Governor Napolitano's proposal to expand access to voluntary full-day kindergarten.  Starting in August 2004, $25 million in state funding will support full-day kindergarten in schools that have at least 90% of the students eligible for the federal school lunch program.  By Decmeber 2004, a study committee will recommend how to fund and expand the program statewide by 2010.

The Arizona Board on School Readiness
The State Board on School Readiness was created by Executive Order in August 2002 to reduce duplication and fragmentation, leverage public and private investment and advise the Governor and legislature on effective strategies so that more Arizona children start school ready to succeed.

The board consists of members appointed by the Governor, including state agency directors, members of the legislature, early care and education professionals and community/business leaders.  The State School Readiness Board priority recommendations were used to develop Governor Napolitano's 5-year school readiness action plan.
Click here to link to Governor Napolitano's School Readiness Plan.
Click here to link to Governor Napolitano's School Readiness Website.
Click here to read I am Ready to Succeed, Arizona's School Readiness Action Plan.

Policy Issues
  * Provide sufficient funding to serve all eligible applicants for child care subsidies with no waiting list

  * Increase child care subsidy rates to the most current market rate survey

  * Include preschools, Head Start and Full-day K students in the funding formula for facilities and capital improvements of public schools

  * Increase availability of voluntary access to Pre-K programs

  * Expand availability of Full-day K

Statutory Children's Cabinet
Governor's Division for Children
The Governor's Division for Children is a government entity with a staff appointed by the Governor's office. The office acts as a clearinghouse for information relating to children, in addition to coordinating funding for a variety of research projects and direct services such as Head Start and afterschool programs. The staff has individual areas of expertise (e.g. juvenile justice). Staff of this office also participates in other government commissions; many of these commissions have private sector partners. Due to federal funding requirements, the Division for Children is currently focusing on issues of juvenile justice.

Arizona School Readiness Report
Access Measuring School Readiness: How do we know when we're on track? by clicking on the following link:


© 2005, School Readiness Indicators Initiative
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The School Readiness Indicators Initiative is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
The 17-state initiative is managed by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT