“I am shocked and disappointed with First Things First’s refusal to help mitigate skyrocketing childcare licensing costs,” said Sen. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale, in a news release today. Allen, chair of the Senate’s healthcare committee, urges them to review their mission and role in helping Arizona’s children, and provide some relief.
“It is disgraceful and shameful that they have been watching this situation unfold and don’t help,” Allen said. “We’re talking about $2 million. If they have that kind of money and are still willing to sit on their hands and say this is not their role, then what is their role?”
Allen is referring to Interim Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble’s request to the First Things First Board for funding on Oct. 27. Humble was on the formal agenda and presented three options for assistance: grants, scholarships or incentive programs; a system of loans to be repaid by centers unable to pay for licensing costs; or other funding on a statewide level, appealing to local business or philanthropic communities. The board denied his request.
“Not only is First Things First missing out on an opportunity to take action that is pretty clearly outlined in their mission and whole purpose for existence, but they are really putting their future in jeopardy.” Allen said. “They should be cautious about leaving these families and childcare centers out to dry or I could see this going back to the ballot and letting the voters decide.”
“Last time I looked, this agency was supposed to be all about children and giving them access to ‘high-quality early care’ in a system that is ‘coordinated, integrated and comprehensive.’ Their denial at this point to even acknowledge how relevant they are in this situation could start a very dangerous domino effect where they absolutely and completely fail the very people – the children – they are here to help.”