Educare Arizona Serves 1,000th Student and Trains 400th Teacher Since Opening Five Years Ago
High Quality Early Education and Experiences Make Huge, Lasting Impact on Lives
PHOENIX (July 28, 2016) — Think about 1,000 young people from an economically disadvantaged part of the community getting ahead in life instead of falling behind early – a feat that resets their futures and stays with them for decades.
Educare Arizona marks some key milestones that highlight its impact on children, families, educators and the community. Today, July 28, Educare Arizona welcomes its sixth class of children. In that class of 191 will be the 1,000th student Educare has served since opening its doors five years ago.
The impact of Educare Arizona doesn’t end with children. Also this month, Educare Arizona will welcome a group of new educators seeking their Child Development Assistant designation. In that group will be the 400th teacher that Educare Arizona has trained in its five-year history, establishing it as a local hub for training educators in early childhood education.
“The milestones we are celebrating this summer demonstrate that high quality early childhood experiences like Educare Arizona can make a permanent difference in the life of a child who might otherwise find his or her potential limited by life circumstances,” said Lisa Fernandez, Chief Development Officer for Educare Arizona. “And Educare Arizona isn’t just about changing the paths of children. Our teacher training programs have been so successful that they are being shared with other Educare facilities across the country.”
One of the ways Educare Arizona is able to meet its staffing and teaching needs is by training professionals ready to enter the early care and education workforce and help them receive their Child Development Associate (CDA) certification through the Live and Learn Career Training Program. This training and certification creates a career path in early childhood education for these individuals. The Live and Learn CDA Career Training Program is run in collaborative partnership with Southwest Human Development at Educare Arizona. The program is funded by non-profit Live and Learn with support from training partner Southwest Human Development. The course is equivalent to a program that would take two years at the community college level.
Our earliest experiences carry lifelong effects. Studies say that our first years are the most active period for establishing the neural connections that comprise our brain architecture. By age 3, children with college-educated parents or primary caregivers had vocabularies two to three times larger than those whose parents had not completed high school. Those children, from low-income environments, start school far behind their more advantaged peers – from having smaller vocabularies and being less likely to know their letters and numbers – a gap that persists to high school and is linked to high dropout rates, illiteracy, teen pregnancy and unemployment.
World-renowned economists have demonstrated that when parents and caregivers provide enriching environments for our youngest learners, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Without a high-quality early education, underserved children who are most at risk for academic failure are also:
• 50% more likely to be placed in special education
• 25% more likely to drop out of school
• 40% more likely to become a teen parent
• 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime
Educare Arizona’s mission is to provide the highest quality early childhood education to children and families in need — with almost 1,000 Phoenix children served over the past five years.
Children who experience Educare for a full five years arrive at elementary school performing on par with average kindergarteners, regardless of socio-economic standing, research shows and Educare children have more extensive vocabularies and are better able to recognize letters, numbers and colors than their peers. And early findings indicate the gains Educare children make hold as they move through elementary school.
“Child Development Assistant” Certification Opens Doors for Families in Need
PHOENIX, Arizona (April 5, 2016) — They came to Educare Arizona looking for the best childcare for their young children. But they ended up with so much more.
Educare Arizona’s mission is to provide the highest quality early childhood education to children and families in need — with almost 1,000 Phoenix children served over the past five years. With its emphasis on the best care possible for children ranging from six months to five years, the impact it is having is extraordinary.
But it’s one of the benefits of the program that is making such a difference in the lives of families in central Phoenix. Educare Arizona is also a hub for training educators in early childhood education — its small class sizes and high teacher-to-student ratios means that each class has at least three teachers in the classroom, and sometimes up to five including the teaching candidates and interns. That’s almost unheard of in childcare facilities.
One of the ways Educare Arizona is able to meet its staffing and teaching needs is by training eager individuals for the Child Development Assistant certification, which creates a career path in early childhood education for teachers. To date, 149 people have gone through CDA training at Educare Arizona, and 129 of those are now working in early childhood education.
And perhaps the best part? Of those 149 teachers, 38 were parents of students at Educare Arizona, who found not only the best child care for their kids, but a pathway to a new career that would not have existed for them otherwise.
“There is truly nothing like the CDA program at Educare Arizona, which is already having an extraordinarily positive impact on the community it serves,” said Lisa Fernandez, Chief Development Officer for Educare Arizona. “It’s a 30-week program guided by an experienced mentor, and it’s the equivalent to a program that would take two years at the community college level. We’ve had a 99 percent success rate in helping teachers earn their CDA certification, which is remarkable.”
Nine of the 38 CDA recipients who are parents of Educare Arizona students are currently working within the walls of the facility. Twenty-one of those CDA recipients are working at other early childhood centers throughout the community.
One of the CDA recipients working at Educare Arizona is Esmeralda Retana. She said the training she received changed her life.
“Not only did I gain experience, but I am working toward my Associates in Elementary Education,” she said. “Thanks to the patience and dedication of those involved with this program, my family is getting a better life. They helped me find a passion in teaching and an opportunity to go back and get a degree that will provide a better future.”
The teachers at Educare Arizona are offered tuition assistance if they want to pursue their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Both ASU and Phoenix College have programs through Educare Arizona where their students can gain valuable experience in early childhood education.
Educare Arizona’s teacher training programs have been so successful that they are being shared with other Educare facilities across the country, something that comes as no surprise to Retana.
“Just the fact of thinking about going back to school scared me, not only because it had been so long since I had been in school, but because I have two children that take up my time,” she said. “But the people at Educare Arizona believed I could do it. I am more than thankful for this program. I wish I could have known about this before, but now is the time – MY TIME – to shine, to show the world that I can do better, because I am better.”
The programmatic training at Educare Arizona is provided by Southwest Human Development, one of the leading providers of early childhood education in the country.
“It’s gratifying to be here every day and see how these professionals are growing and developing into their careers,” Fernandez said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for people in the community to brighten their future and enter into a truly rewarding field.”
Those interested in learning more about the CDA program may contact Lisa Fernandez at Educare Arizona at 602.845.4150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Educare Arizona Selects Prominent Fundraiser, Campaign Manager for Top Development Role
Lisa Fernandez Named Chief Development Officer for Early Childhood Education Center
Educare Arizona, a Valley non-profit known for its transformational work in early childhood education, today announced Lisa Fernandez will assume the role of Chief Development Officer.A leading fundraising professional and campaign consultant, Fernandez brings a critical skill set to Educare Arizona. With Fernandez at the helm, Educare Arizona will further strengthen its mission to provide the highest quality early childhood education to children and families in need.
Fernandez’s experience includes serving as Campaign Manager for Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s successful 2015 re-election campaign and for Phoenix Councilwoman Kate Gallego’s campaign in 2013. She also served as a fundraiser and consultant for Congressman Ruben Gallego and for the Arizona Democratic Party.
In her role as Chief Development Officer, Fernandez will continue to move the needle for Educare Arizona, helping to refine and expand its impact and influence. She will be responsible for supporting the Arizona non-profit’s fundraising and private philanthropic outreach, as well as marketing and communications efforts.
“We are very excited to welcome Lisa to Educare Arizona and believe she will be a tremendous asset to the organization,” said Christine Nowaczyk, Chair of Educare Arizona Board of Directors. “Her unique experience in fundraising and her extensive knowledge of the local community will help Educare Arizona expand its contribution to the families it serves.”
Educare Arizona is part of the Educare Learning Network, a collaboration between the Ounce of Prevention and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. It is the only Educare facility in Arizona, but is one of over 20 facilities nationwide. Educare Arizona supports high-quality early childhood education programming for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, as well as integrated family support. An onsite healthcare facility, the Balsz Educare Arizona Center for Health, provides neighborhood dental, general, and mental health services.
“My search for a chance to challenge myself while having a positive impact on our community landed me at Educare,” Fernandez said. “After meeting the families and seeing the programs in action I can’t imagine a more meaningful opportunity to accomplish these goals. Educare Arizona is a life-changer for so many – I am thrilled to support its work.”
It was a day to say thank you. And at the end of the day, it was another example of a legendary basketball figure making an assist.
On Friday, October 30, more than 125 people came to Educare Arizona to welcome Steve Nash at “Assisting Our Kids: A Special Thank You To Steve Nash.” The event was in recognition to the Steve Nash Foundation’s extraordinary contribution to early childhood education and to Educare Arizona itself.
It was all part of what ended up officially being “Steve Nash Day” in the City of Phoenix and State of Arizona, as declared by Mayor Greg Stanton and Governor Doug Ducey in proclamations presented to Nash at the Educare Arizona event.
Nash visited Arizona to be inducted into the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor at halftime of the Suns-Trail Blazers game that night.
“It was a truly extraordinary day for all of us who have not only supported Educare Arizona over the years but have admired Steve for all he has done to help kids,” said Christine Nowaczyk, Board President of Educare Arizona. “We were thrilled to have so many people come to our thank-you event — and even more thrilled that Steve provided one more assist to Educare Arizona. On behalf of the Board of Directors of Educare Arizona, we would like to thank Steve for his support.”
“Assisting Our Kids” featured remarks from Nowaczyk as well as other leaders in early childhood education, including Dr. Jeff Smith, Superintendent of the Balsz School District, Jessie Rasmussen of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and Charlie Joughin of Invest In US. Nash was introduced and presented with the proclamations by good friend LZ Granderson of ABC News.
During his remarks, Nash talked about the value of early childhood education in front of a kindergarten class full of children who benefitted from Educare Arizona.
“To see all these kids that are impacted in such an incredible and meaningful way, it’s something I couldn’t say anything could make us more proud to be a part of for our foundation,” Nash said.
Nash encouraged those in the audience and in the community to support Educare Arizona and early childhood education. Those interested in making a contribution to Educare Arizona may do so at this link.
The event received media coverage from azcentral.com, nba.com and several other local media outlets. It also included a video tribute from Senator John McCain, who thanked Nash for his contributions to the community on and off the court.
Educare Arizona would like to thank those who attended the event on Friday. We hope you enjoyed this special opportunity to pay tribute to someone whose assists are truly making a difference for children and families.
If you were not able to attend and would like to support Educare Arizona, click here to make a contribution.