FAQ for Parents & Caregivers
Resources to help Arizona families choose the right early childhood education program.
Arizona Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R)
- Arizona Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) provides referrals to child care centers, faith-based centers, part-time care programs, family child care homes, and registered homes that are regulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Department of Economic Security and other regulated, but legally operating, early childhood programs may be included.
Explore AZ Schools
- Explore AZ Schools is an interactive tool developed by Read On Arizona to help families learn more about the education options in their community. The tool allows individuals to search for public and charter schools offering Pre-K programs utilizing several filters and search criteria important to individuals and families.
The tuition rates for early childhood education programs are determined by individual centers/locations. Some families may qualify for financial assistance to help offset tuition costs.
DES (Department of Economic Security) Subsidy
- The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Child Care Administration assists eligible families with child care costs, enabling parents to participate in employment and specific education and training activities related to employment or in certain other circumstances when parents are unable to provide care. Funding is limited.
- For more information, visit the DES Child Care Administration’s website at www.azdes.gov/childcare.
Head Start & Early Head Start
- Children who are 3 to 5 years old are eligible for Head Start services. Pregnant women and children from birth to 3 years of age are eligible for Early Head Start services. Children and families who are homeless, in foster care, or receive TANF or SSI are also eligible for services. Head Start program staff determine eligibility. Some families may qualify for services if they are determined to be at or below the federal poverty level. Some grantees enroll a percentage of children from families with incomes above the poverty guidelines as well. Families are encouraged to apply.
- Contact the Head Start or Early Head Start program serving your community. Your local program will provide the required forms, answer your questions, and explain the paperwork you should provide to apply. Use the
- If you are a member of the United States military, you may be eligible for Department of Defense child care fee assistance. Members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corp may receive help paying for child care providers in the community where they live if they are unable to access care on their installation.
- Please visit the Military Child Care Fee Assistance Programs website for additional information.
Quality First Scholarships
- Quality First Scholarships help low-income families afford quality early care and education for their young children. Funded by First Things First, a limited number of these scholarships are available for children birth through age 5 through child care and preschool programs that are enrolled in Quality First.
- Programs distribute available scholarships to eligible families on a first-come, first-serve basis. Scholarships are tied to family income levels and are available for parents who may be working, looking for work or improving their work skills through training or education. Other eligibility requirements apply.
There are key components in a high quality early childhood education (ECE) program.
Key Components of a High Quality ECE Program
- High quality early education programs utilize a comprehensive approach of meeting the needs of both the children and their families. Key components of a comprehensive program include:
- High quality environments
- Developmentally appropriate, standards-based instructional strategies
- Ongoing assessment
- Support for health and nutritional issues and related services
- Providing opportunities for and promoting active family involvement in their child's early education program
Standards and Guidelines
- High quality early childhood education programs use curriculum based on Arizona's standards and guidelines.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
Tracking a child's development is important to ensure healthy growth and to act early if there are concerns. Here are some local and national resources to help track early childhood development.
- Bright by Text
- Free Parenting Tips for AZ Families sent directly to your phone.
- Equips families with essential information to promote their child's healthy development through the most pivotal early stages of life (o-8 years old).
- Available in English and Spanish.
- CDC Learn the Signs. Act Early.
- Zero to Three Early Development & Well-Being Resources
- NAEYC Child Development Resources
Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP)
If your child is under the age of 3, you can contact the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP), which is Arizona's statewide interagency system of services and supports for families of infants and toddlers, birth to 3 years of age, with disabilities or delays. AzEIP is established by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides eligible children and their families access to services to enhance the capacity of families and caregivers to support the child's development.
- Information for Families about AzEIP
- Find your local Early Intervention Program or call 602-532-9960
- For referral inquires in regions that have more than one agency, please contact the AzEIP Central Referral Line: 888-592-0140
- Email: [email protected]
Early Childhood Special Education
If your child is already 3 years old (or close to turning 3), you can contact your local school district or charter to schedule an evaluation. The evaluation is conducted to determine eligibility for special education preschool services. Each district provides a special education preschool program for children and families who qualify. They conduct these evaluations throughout the year as part of the Child Find requirements throughout the state.
We have an Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) team here at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) who can assist with answering questions and provide helpful information.
- ADE Early Childhood Special Education Email: [email protected].
- ECSE Website: Early Childhood Special Education - ADE
Raising Special Kids
Another great resource that may be helpful to you is Raising Special Kids. They provide many resources to parents and families in Arizona. All of their employees are parents of children with special needs themselves, so they are very knowledgeable and understanding of the entire process.
- Raising Special Kids: 602-242-4366 or 800-237-3007
- Email: [email protected]