Rachel Huante greets her son Zeddicus Atherton as he trots out the door ahead of Lanee Pender carrying his sister Xena Atherton, part of the the new procedure of no parents inside the building at Kids First Preschool, April 15, 2020, Tucson, Ariz.

Scholarships are now available for more than 1,000 children from income-qualifying families to attend high-quality preschools throughout Pima County. 

The county-funded Pima Early Education Program scholarships (PEEPs), is a brand new program to provide full or partial financial assistance for children from low-income families to attend preschool at 170 locations throughout the county. 

The Pima County Board of Supervisors approved the $10 million allocation for the program in May and it was finalized when the board adopted the fiscal year 2022 budget at the end of June. The county expects to serve 1,245 children in the first year of the program and hopes to increase funding in future years. 

Scholarships are available for children who are 3 to 5 years old and not yet enrolled in kindergarten and whose family's household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. 

Families who are interested in the scholarships can call Child Care Resource & Referral’s Child Care Information Line at 1-800-308-9000, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, or search for a provider at www.azccrr.com.

"They help families find the right preschool center that fits them," says Nicole Fyffe, executive assistant to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. "If someone calls them, they found out where they live, what hours they're looking for, what's their income and what other financial assistance they may apply for." 

Once a family has identified preschools they are interested in, they then have to contact the sites directly to inquire about the scholarships, Fyffe says. 

The county has partnered with First Things First, which already provides some scholarships to high-quality preschools, to offer 560 additional scholarships to those sites. They've also partnered with Child-Parent Centers to fund full-day Head Start preschool programs at 11 locations serving 205 children and with eight area school districts and Pima Community College which will add new classes and programs to serve about 480 children.

Some of those partners and locations, like Tucson Unified School District, are also sharing information about applying for the scholarships available at their sites on their websites and through social media. 

For more information about PEEPs go here

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