All proceeds of the exhibition game between the Tucson Sidewinders and the Arizona baseball team on Tuesday, April 5 will be used to buy books for preschoolers and help fund a UA study of local childcare needs. The game is scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m. at Tucson Electric Park, 2500 E. Ajo Way. Tickets are $3 at the gate. The No. 12-ranked Wildcats (21-10, 5-1 Pac-10) are coming off a series sweep over UCLA last weekend and the Sidewinders will be opening their 2005 season with the contest.
"We're excited to be a part of this game," Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said. "It's for a great cause and hopefully the community will come out and support not only it, but two of our local baseball teams as well."
The University of Arizona's College of Education and the Institute for Children, Youth and Families have joined forces in The Early Childhood Development and Learning (ECDL) initiative to address the needs of young children and families in southern Arizona. In summer 2005, ECDL faculty and students will launch the Southern Arizona Benchmark Study of Early Child Care and Education Use and Quality. Researchers will collect information from 1,000 families in southern Arizona about their experiences and concerns regarding local childcare and early education.
To reward family participation in the study, the UA will donate books to the preschool programs where the families' children attend, creating classroom library resources for thousands of young children to use and enjoy. Fact sheets will also be provided to preschool teachers about how they can use books to help children deal with social/emotional problems, like anger and grief, in positive ways.
The results of the benchmark study will inform policy makers, childcare professionals, early childhood educators and UA faculty. They in turn will train the next generation of early childcare providers and educators about issues regarding family beliefs and attitudes that impact enrollment and ultimately a child's early learning experiences.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has highlighted the need for understanding the quality of existing childcare so that a statewide program for improving the quality of early childhood education can be implemented. The ECDL initiative's benchmark study is one part of a three-pronged plan to begin to address the needs of thousands of Arizona's 3-5 year old population and their families.
A few UA students already are taking courses to qualify for Arizona teacher certification with an early childhood endorsement. Beginning in fall 2006, freshmen will be recruited specifically for teacher education programs emphasizing early childhood development.
The community outreach component of the ECDL initiative kicks off on May 16 at the UA with a special meeting to update key providers of early childhood services and other stakeholders in southern Arizona who are essential partners in this action plan to meet children's developmental and childcare needs.
The goal of the collaborative effort by the UA College of Education and the Institute for Children, Youth and Families is to ensure that parents can be certain their children are safe, well cared for and exposed to the kind of stimulation that will enhance early learning.