Corner Office: Collective Effort to Support Children from Cradle to Career

The Sorry State of Children in Pima County

In previous blogs, we’ve highlighted some of the challenges facing our county. One of the issues we’ve discussed is the idea about when children should start school. In Pima County, only 16.5% of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in a quality early education program. That’s approximately 20,400 preschoolers who are at risk for not being ready for kindergarten. And, as is so painfully well known, the chances of graduating high school and succeeding in life decline dramatically for children who enter kindergarten unprepared.

Another larger issue at play is poverty. Poverty is one of the biggest obstacles to academic success children in Pima County are facing: 28.7% of children, youth and young adults (0-24 years old) are living in poverty. Health problems, poor nutrition, residential instability, stress, and lack of access to educational activities and materials all contribute to difficulties in school. Children and youth from low-income families have lower test scores in core subjects and are likely to complete fewer years of schooling. If these students are not effectively supported, they risk experiencing life-long poor outcomes.

Turning the Tide in Pima County

In 2015, a broad coalition of Pima County organizations came together to form the Cradle to Career (C2C) partnership, a project aimed at creating better outcomes for children. Child & Family Resources is proud member of C2C, and there is shared vision that meaningful change will require collective action, and shared responsibility; no one agency or entity is capable of achieving real change alone.

The goals of C2C are as follows:

  • Every child is prepared for school.
  • Every child succeeds in school.
  • Every youth graduates from high school ready for college and career.
  • Every youth who is not in school or work reconnects to education and career pathways.
  • Every youth can attain a post-secondary credential leading to a career that can sustain a family.
  • Every youth is prepared for a career

The biggest return on investment comes from strategies targeting the first 2,000 days of life, so while the goals above span all of childhood and adolescence, the primary focus should be on the early years. As C2C matures, and strategic decisions are made as to where to put finite resources, we will have to figure out a way to ensure that more young children, particularly those from low income families, are able to attend high quality preschool.

Learn more at Cradle to Career.


Eric Schinder, Ph.D.
President and CEO

Since 2005, Dr. Eric Schindler has been the President and Chief Executive Officer  for Child & Family Resources, Inc.  Dr. Schindler received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona in 1982. After internship training in child and family psychology at U.C. Davis, and postdoctoral training in pediatric psychology in Chicago, he has spent over 30 years working in Tucson community settings as an administrator, director, teacher and practitioner.  A licensed psychologist since 1984, he also served as an adjunct instructor in Family Studies at the University of Arizona for many years. 

Previously, Dr. Schindler served for nine years as the Director of Clinical Services for La Frontera Center, Inc., a comprehensive community behavioral healthcare organization, where he was also the Director of Training for the APA approved Southern Arizona Psychology Internship Consortium. He maintained a  private practice in psychotherapy for 20 years prior to assuming the leadership of Child & Family Resources.

Corner Office: Critical Years for Childhood Education

A letter from Eric Schindler, President and CEO 

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We all know, and much scientific research confirms, the fact that early childhood education is one of the most important experiences to ensure that children enter kindergarten ready to succeed.  This is particularly true for children who grow up in poverty or in other traumatic environments.  Yet, fewer than one in three Arizona children attend preschool, and only around 16% are in settings that have been found to be of high quality!

We have to shift our thinking about when to start schooling children.

If 90% of critical brain development occurs in the first five years of a child’s life, then providing high-quality education during those formative years can have a dramatic, long-term positive effect. 

Right now, in Arizona there is public funding to support K-12 public educations systems. We need to make those investments sooner in a child’s life.  Other developed countries in the world are ahead of the United States on this issue. These countries have realized that funding early childhood education leads to better outcomes for society, and actually saves money, when prison, welfare, and other downstream costs are reduced.  Their children’s test scores and academic performance are better than ours. 

Tulsa, Oklahoma invested over 10 years ago in pre-k education, and while full results are pending, early indicators are promising.  In other parts of the U.S., that awareness is dawning.  New York City is now offering universal preschool.  Several other cities, including Phoenix are working on proposals to raise taxes in different ways to pay for preschool for more children.

Here in Tucson, Child & Family Resources is joining forces with members from Children’s Action Alliance, Outer Limits Preschool, United Way of Southern Arizona, Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, the IDEA School, and Easter Seals Blake Foundation as Strong Start Tucson.  With our pooled expertise in early childhood we will work on advocacy issues and seek ways to raise more funds for early childhood education. 

As we as a community are able to ensure that more children, particularly those at risk, are able to attend preschool, we will move the needle on high school graduation rates and poverty reduction. 

Please, stay tuned for future opportunities to affect legislation and direct support to children.  

If you are interested in finding high-quality care and education for your child, you can visit our Child Care Resource & Referral – ARIZONA page.  


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Eric Schinder, Ph.D.
President and CEO

Since 2005, Dr. Eric Schindler has been the President and Chief Executive Officer  for Child & Family Resources, Inc.  Dr. Schindler received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona in 1982. After internship training in child and family psychology at U.C. Davis, and postdoctoral training in pediatric psychology in Chicago, he has spent over 30 years working in Tucson community settings as an administrator, director, teacher and practitioner.  A licensed psychologist since 1984, he also served as an adjunct instructor in Family Studies at the University of Arizona for many years. 

Previously, Dr. Schindler served for nine years as the Director of Clinical Services for La Frontera Center, Inc., a comprehensive community behavioral healthcare organization, where he was also the Director of Training for the APA approved Southern Arizona Psychology Internship Consortium. He maintained a  private practice in psychotherapy for 20 years prior to assuming the leadership of Child & Family Resources.

Congratulations to our 2015 MCAP Graduates

On Thursday, September 17th, 2015 a group of young mothers proudly moved the tassels on their graduation caps, marking a huge milestone on their lives: earning GEDs! In 2015, 15 young women passed their GEDs after working with us at Maricopa Center for Adolescent Parents. While not all of the graduates were able to attend the ceremony, the intimate event was a special occasion, full of flowers, tears of joy, cake, and pride. 

Open to young mothers ages 16-21,  MCAP is a comprehensive program providing GED preparation, Parenting Education, and Life Skills program. While students earn their degrees and plan for your future success, MCAP provides free, on-site child care in our licensed, nationally accredited childcare center.

MCAP is the reason many these moms can earn the education they deserve. As one participant put it: "Not many of us have the income or resources to go to an ordinary GED prep class and pay for it. The fact that we’re given free classes and free child care on-site makes me forever grateful. It gives us more of a chance at becoming something great in life. Without free classes and free child care, we would probably be the typical teen mom statistic who is a high school dropout with no job. What MCAP provides makes us want to make everyone proud. It also motivates us to become successful for our children."

Congratulations to the young women who worked so hard this year to graduate! Anna, Jennifer, Gabriella, Melissa, Shavon, Desirae, Naomi, Jennifer, Madison, Shannon, Maria, Marisol, Michelle, Grace, and Olivia!

Maricopa Center for Adolescent Parents is made possible by the generous support of: Arizona Child Abuse Prevention License Plate FundFirst Things First Quality First Child Care Scholarships, Helena Harvey Endowment, Maine Foundation, Rio Salado CollegeThunderbirds CharitiesTJX FoundationValley Anesthesiology Foundation, and WalMart. We would like to thank our generous sponsors who helped make it a special day for our graduates: Wal-Mart - Richard Mart and Phil Barber; Fry’s - Alan King, Dennis Nathan, David Lee, and Charles Shepard; and Safeway - Rick Albers and Marcia Beck. 

Teen Institute 2015

Students gather to plan, to celebrate, to empower, and learn at our annual Teen Institute. Representing Canyon Del Oro, Cienega, Desert View, Flowing Wells, Palo Verde, Pueblo, Sunnyside, and Tucson High, as well as Apollo Middle School, youth spent six days at the University of Arizona, with ten caring and dedicated adults, mapping out projects for the coming year, learning about themselves, learning about others, making friends, and making memories.

That's 83 students consuming 2,500 snacks, walking 8.2 miles each day, climbing 16 flights of stairs, 86 hours of work in a week, and building immeasurable power and connections in life. 

Photos and video by Cristine Dalton Photography

YES is an initiative in Pima County over the past twelve yearsthat mobilizes the power of youth to create conditions for success in schools and communities. YES involves teams from area high schools in a leadership effort that benefits schools and neighborhoods by raising youth voices in messages about community, healthy living, achievement and striving for an alcohol and drug free teen life. 

Teams returning in the new school year 2015-2016 to put their new knowledge and skills into practice by working to increase the sense of connectedness among students and staff at their schools and integrating a youth voice into community efforts with established area coalitions. 

Learn more about YES, visit YES on our Teen Page. 

Collaborating partners: Civil Operations Army National Guard, CODAC Behavioral Health Services, Dairy Queen, Tucson, Midvale location, University of Arizona, Beat 33- DJ Carlos Zeta

Participatinglocal coalitions: LPKNC, Amistades Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, 4R Community Alliance

Funding by: Community Partnership of Southern Arizona under a grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Tucson Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition Awarded $4.3 Million to Build Sex Education Programming in Sunnyside School District

With some of the highest teen birth rates and sexually transmitted infections in the United States, Arizona is facing a public health and educational crisis. Four local nonprofits—Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services, Planned Parenthood Arizona, Sunnyside Unified School District, and Child & Family Resources—mobilized as the Tucson Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition (TTPPC) to implement effective, evidence-based, medically accurate, responsible relationships and sexuality education to middle and high school students in the Sunnyside district.

“We are thrilled to be able to work with our partners at the TTPPC to finally be able to bring much needed sex education resources to the Sunnyside community,” said Daniel Hernandez, President of the Sunnyside School District Governing Board. “We hope that this success will lead to other districts following our lead to ensure that the students of Arizona have the information they need to make informed choices.”

This July, the US DHHS, Office of Adolescent Health awarded the coalition $4.3 million, over five years, to train Sunnyside staff, primarily health and science teachers, to teach abstinence-based sexuality education. By the spring of 2016, parents in the Sunnyside district will have the option of allowing their children to receive this important health information. The middle school Making a Difference and high school Reducing the Risk curricula are both evidence-based and age-appropriate curricula that encourage abstinence as a first choice while also providing information about methods of protection. Pregnant or parenting teens will be able to participate in a teen-parent focused program Be Proud, Be Responsible, Be Protective. By 2020, all programs will be self-sustaining within the district. The funding also supports an independent outcomes evaluation of the program by Tucson based LeCroy & Milligan Associates, Inc.

Over 100 studies have shown that high-quality sexuality education helps young people delay the initiation of sex, and use condoms and contraception when they do become sexually active. These are the very behaviors that are necessary to preventing pregnancy. In 2010, public spending on teen childbearing in the United States totaled an estimated $9.4 billion. Investments in effective teen pregnancy prevention programs are not only providing young people with the information and skills they need to make healthy decisions; they are also good for taxpayers.