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.
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.
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.
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:
If your child is under the age of 3, you can contact theArizona 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.
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.
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
A child is eligible for admission to kindergarten if the child is five years of age. A child is deemed five years of age if the child reaches the age of five before September 1 of the current school year. A child is eligible for admission to first grade if the child is six years of age. A child is deemed six years of age if the child reaches the age of six before September 1 of the current school year. The governing board may admit children who have not reached the required age as prescribed by this subsection if it is determined to be in the best interest of the children. For children entering the first grade, such determination shall be based upon one or more consultations with the parent, parents, guardian or guardians, the children, the teacher and the school principal. Such children must reach the required age of five for kindergarten and six for first grade by January 1 of the current school year.
Early Kindergarten Entry
Some districts/charters in AZ offer early kindergarten entry for children whose birthday falls between September 1 - December 31; however, many districts/charters do not offer early kindergarten entry and adhere to the September 1 deadline with no exceptions. There is not a standardized placement exam for early kindergarten entry; therefore, any assessment that may be offered is determined by the local district/charter.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) meal reimbursement program helping Child Care Centers and Family Day Care Homes (FDCHs) provide well balanced, healthy and nutritious meals and snacks served to eligible enrolled children.
A variety of public or private nonprofit child care centers and Head Start programs which are licensed or approved to provide child care services participate in CACFP. For-profie centers that serve lower income children may also be eligible to participate.
According to the position statement from the National Association for the Education of Young Children:
"Assessment is the process of gathering information about children from several forms of evidence, then organizing and interpreting that information [and] the basic process of finding out what the child knows and can do in relation to their optimum development. What that knowledge, an appropriate plan for effective instructional strategies to help them develop and learn can be identified, monitring their progress along the way" (NAEYC).
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Early Childhood Education (ECE) division offers a comprehensive list of professional learning opportunities. All professional learning available through our EMS portal meet requirements for continuing education units (CEUs).