Southern Arizona Association for The Education of Young Children (SAzAEYC)

Yesterday’s SAZAEYC:

The Tucson Association for the Education of Young Children (TAEYC) was founded in 1965. TAEYC joined more than 50 other groups from around the United States when they were chartered into the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The core group of members networked, supported each other and provided professional development. In the 1980’s, membership increased, the organization became more financially viable, public policy and advocacy became more important and local members of the organization increased their advocacy efforts for children by joining the state affiliate board as well as the national governing board, panels and committees.

In 2004, TAEYC, changed its name to Southern Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children (SAZAEYC). The name change was done to be more inclusive of its members in the southern and eastern parts of the state. SAZAEYC is now one of five local affiliates of Arizona with more than 350 members.

Today’s SAZAEYC:

When a child receives a high quality early childhood education, everyone benefits. Quality education means improved health and less reliance on social services. Quality education means less crime, drug use and jail time which results in less money being spent on social services. According to Art Rolnick with the Federal Reserve Board and James Heckman, a Nobel Laureate Economist, for every dollar spent on early childhood education, there is a $16 savings in the long-term. SAZAEYC continually works to provide its members with services that translate into better quality education for young children.

The purpose of SAZAEYC is to serve and act on behalf of the needs, rights and well-being of all young children with primary focus on the provision of educational and developmental services and resources. Local activities that support early childhood experiences benefit our local communities. Advocacy on behalf of children’s issues and service on public policy committees extend and enhance our ability to improve the lives of all young children and families. Talking to legislators, encouraging our members to participate in the political process, training our members how to advocate for children, and keeping our membership aware of current issues are an important focus. Finally, SAZAEYC has reached out to families, in-home care providers, primary (K-3) school teachers and other organizations in the community that are also interested in the well-being of children and families.

To meet the goals of the organization, SAZAEYC employs a part-time association manager to communicate with members, support the board of directors, maintain all of the records, be a presence in the community and be the main contact for the organization. The SAZAEYC office has been generously donated by the Community Extension Programs of Tucson and is housed at the CEP office.

Some annual and ongoing activities of SAZAEYC are:

SAZAEYC maintains a strong electronic presence through our web page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a professional listserv. These multiple venues facilitate communication among and between our members and provide continuing information, updates and research on early childhood development and education.

SAZAEYC sponsors an annual conference and works with other community partners to present seminars and workshops throughout the year. More than 500 early childhood professionals each year are better prepared to teach and care for young children because they attend these high-quality educational experiences.

SAZAEYC has recently begun a scholarship program for early childhood professionals. A goal of the organization is to increase the number of highly educated professionals by making more scholarships available. These scholarships will be for advanced education as well as to allow more professionals to attend our conference, workshops and seminars. Each year SAZAEYC awards many mini-grants, funding intended to help teachers and early childhood service providers carry out special projects with the children and families they serve.

Each spring, SAZAEYC holds an awards brunch to honor people in the community who have been leaders on behalf of children, families and early childhood educators. There is also an annual poster contest for Month of the Young Child supported by the Mayor’s office.

Board meetings, usually held on the first Wednesday of the month, are open to the public. For information about the dates and location of Board meetings, or how to subscribe to the listserv, please contact our Executive Director, Kelly Ann Larkin.

SAZAEYC would not be possible without the many, many, hours that volunteers donate to the organization; from the Board of Directors, to the volunteers that help organize, set-up and run all of our training events. In addition, our community partners, such as United Way of Tucson and the University of Arizona College of Education allow the organization to be viable. TUSD, the Blake Foundation, Child and Family Resources and Child Parent Centers are just some of the agencies that align with our mission and support the trainings we sponsor as well as encourage membership in the organization.

As we continue the work on behalf of young children and families that was begun in 1965, SAZAEYC will continue to stand for quality education and developmental experiences for children, teachers and families and be at the forefront of change in the early childhood education field.