Arizona Parents Kit

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For the first time in Maricopa County, newborns will leave the hospital with a “baby instruction manual” – the Arizona Parents Kit – which provides expert advice, parenting tips, and national and local resources to help parents through the first critical years. An initiative of The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the recently launched Arizona Parents Kit. Marilee Dal Pra, Senior Program Officer with The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and Davina Garcia from Phoenix Baptist Hospital talk about the project.

Feliciano Vera:
Good evening I'm Feliciano Vera in tonight for José Cárdenas. Governor Janet Napolitano released her state budget proposal for the upcoming year. It focuses on areas such as education and transportation. We'll talk about details of the plan. And, if you're expecting a baby, there is a new tool that may help you get through your baby's first years of life. These stories up next on "Horizonte."

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Feliciano Vera:
Governor Janet Napolitano unveiled her $11.4 billion budget last week. It focuses on key elements to Arizona 's future such as education, economic development, and transportation. Joining us tonight to talk about the budget is George Cunningham, deputy chief of staff of finance and budget for Governor Napolitano. George, it's good to see you. New session, new term. Four years ago, this was a completely different situation than we have here today. Talk about the budget and the themes the governor outlined, the principals behind her "one Arizona " vision.

George Cunningham:
Four years ago, the governor was then looking at a budget deficit of $1.4 billion that we had to find all sorts of different ways to scrape through and balance it. This time, there's some opportunity to invest in Arizona's future, and her principle theme, so to speak, in the budget, includes some new investments in education both at the elementary and high school level as well as the universities, investments in innovation which will help create 21st century technology initiatives for Arizona and allow us to compete in the global economy, as well as some investments in foundation, infrastructure for the state. We're a growing state. We have more needs in terms of roads, more needs in terms of schools, more needs in terms of health care, et cetera. So the governor has some initiatives there. But it's important to understand that, whenever the governor presents a budget, it is a balanced budget. The revenue that comes in minus the expenses that are available are positive. There is an ending balance.

Feliciano Vera:
George, the government started off talking about education as one of the key planks and themes in the "one Arizona " plan. K-12 education and an additional amount for higher education. Can you talk a little bit about what she intends on doing in those areas?

George Cunningham:
I think one of the key areas is teacher pay. The governor has felt very strongly that we need to increase the base pay of all of our teachers so that there is a minimum that is available that will result in recruitment and retention of our teachers. So one large piece of her education package is a 33,000-dollar guaranteed base for teachers. It's a 50 million-dollar investment by the state. Another piece is math and science. We have difficulty recruiting and retaining math and science teachers in our schools. We need to get a little bump for them. There's a 10 million-dollar investment to try to encourage math and science teachers. We have -- the governor also proposed a master teacher program, one that will become system wide, where -- this is where you take older and more senior teachers that have been around for a long time and they mentor many of the younger teachers. There's $4 million invested there. There's also some dollars in the budget for the universities. Universities are really the economic engines of the state. The governor believes that the phoenix biomedical campus, the new medical school, along with the allied health professions that would be associated with that, including pharmacy and hygiene, et cetera, would be also funded as part of her phoenix biomedical campus. And then she has a 30 million-dollar investment in what we call student and faculty retention. This is trying to keep our professors in Arizona and also to expand the number of courses that are available, expand the course availability and reduce some of the class sizes, and there's a student retention program for that.

Feliciano Vera:
George, one of the other planks in the governor's "One Arizona" vision is foundation, and transportation is a key component of that. Shifting -- the governor's proposing to shift the bond maturity rate from 20 years to 30 years and thereby increasing available funding for new highways to $400 million. Do you expect pushbacks from the legislature on that?

George Cunningham:
Oh, I think there will be, but we've got some mixed reaction so far. We actually have some legislators that are in the majority in the republicans as well as democrats that are supporting the whole concept. You know, the way this works is very simply it's the same as a mortgage on a home. Assuming you had a 20-year mortgage on your home and you extended that mortgage out to 30 years, your actual debt service payments or your mortgage payments would actually decrease so you could actually finance a larger amount of dollars. So this capital financing idea has been -- has been promoted by the department of transportation as one in which we can pick up $500 million with a net realization of about 410 with some other adjustments that are made. But this is a really, really capital idea, so to speak, and I think that it will eventually attract a lot of support because it will help to reduce some of the congestion that we currently have on some of our major thoroughfares.

Feliciano Vera:
Does this proposal confront this ongoing dilemma that's been posed by the legislature, this pay-as-you-go versus leverage problem with general capital investments on the part of the state?

George Cunningham:
It does, Feliciano. It does raise the issue with regard to whether we should pay cash for construction or whether we should pay capital financing for buildings, but it's been more focused on school construction than it has on highways. I think they've been accustomed to financing our highways through the fuel tax. But when it comes to schools, they obviously want to pay cash for them, and that's why one of the major issues is going to be during the legislative session, because the governor feels that we should finance our schools over a longer period of time so that those families and children that benefit from that -- over a 30-year period, 'cause the school lasts for at least that -- are also those that are helping to pay for the school. And I hate to bring up something that's so complicated. Finance folks would talk about it, but we have this thing called net present value, and if you look at -- which means basically that you discount the payments that you're making and the interest by amount of inflation. When you do that kind of calculation even under a 30-year scenario, the cost of construction in terms of real cost is actually equal to what you would pay out in cash.

Feliciano Vera:

Now, shifting back to education, you had mentioned that the governor has taken a keen interest in the biomedical collaborative that's taken place in downtown phoenix, as part of her economic development proposal has proposed, I believe, $35 million in funding for science foundation Arizona. Last year, the legislature was lukewarm to the idea. We're past an election cycle. How do you think this is going to be taken and received in the legislature?

George Cunningham:
Well, I think that there's going to be a lot of support for the $25 million that the governor has included for the Phoenix biomedical campus. I think most of us realize that we have an undersupply of physicians and doctors in this state, and we also have an undersupply of nurses in those allied professions. And the investment that we need to make in order to accommodate the tremendous growth that we're seeing -- Arizona 's the fastest-growing state in terms of population, income, the second fastest-growing in terms of job creation, so we've got all these people coming in. We need to be sure that we can provide for -- we can provide the health care for these folks on the basis that -- with an investment in the whole area of phoenix biomedical campus.

Feliciano Vera:
Shifting gears for a minute, last year the governor sent a bill to the secretary of homeland security requesting payment for services and goods that the state of Arizona has been providing for border protection. This year's budget message, this year's state of the state proposal, not a lot of conversation about the border security or immigration in general. What is the governor intending on doing to address those issue?

George Cunningham:
Well, the governor last year had a major border security package, and it was contingent upon eventually having the federal government assume the proper role it should assume in terms of assuring our border security. Something's changed since last year. There's now 600 million more dollars that the federal government is providing at the border for the purposes of border security, and the Governor's initiatives this year are concentrated in areas related to the department of public safety for human smuggling, vehicle and i.d. theft restrictions, and so forth. So it's a whole changed situation relative to the kind of investment that's being made at the border, and we've got to -- Arizona 's obligation financially diminishes as a result of the tremendous input or income from the state, from the federal government.

Feliciano Vera:
Related question. With the change in power in Washington , does that -- how does that affect our prospects at securing increased federal support for those types of initiatives?

George Cunningham:
Well, I think that what this congress is going to try to do is pass comprehensive immigration reform rather than -- you know -- concentrate -- the border security stuff was good, but there is other pieces of this that has to happen if you're going to eventually get to the point where you've addressed the whole immigration issue properly.

Feliciano Vera:
Education, foundation, innovation, border security. Governor's proposed a package that, as you said, is a balanced budget without proposing any additional tax cuts. How do you expect the legislature to react to that proposal? Is there going to be a push for additional tax cuts?

George Cunningham:
I think that there will be. Obviously there are members of the legislature that will -- you know -- put in bills for additional tax cuts. I think what we need to do -- what the governor has said that she has done with this budget is she has ensured that the permanent tax cuts that were enacted are going to continue -- you know -- forward. Let's play those out and see what that does in terms of our overall revenue. And -- you know -- there isn't any hard-and-fast rule as to what can happen -- you know -- in the final negotiations for the budget. So -- you know -- you don't close doors on everything, but right now Arizona is one of the lowest states in terms of tax burden for citizens. We're down there amongst -- 40th on a per capita basis. If you look at our revenues and expenditures overall in terms of the total revenue and expenditures available to the state, including state and federal and so forth, we're, like, 45th. So Arizona is postured really well to present a very positive business climate and to get taxpayers a real fair break in the state.

Feliciano Vera:
George, thank you for joining us.

George Cunningham:
Feliciano, it's been my pleasure.

Feliciano Vera:
For many new parents expecting a baby, the first years of taking care of a child can be a difficult and challenging time, but now there is a new parenting tool that can help answer questions and make things easier. The Virginia g. Piper charitable trust has joined other community resources to develop the " Arizona parent's kit." it's being called a free baby instruction manual being distributed to most of Maricopa County 's birthing hospitals. Here's a sample of what you can see in the kit.

Announcer:
A newborn child, just one day old, the first day of an amazing journey that begins deep within the brain. For nine months, your baby's brain has been growing at an astounding rate. Now in place, a network of more than 100 billion nerve cells, growing and connecting with other cells. Cells that control all her thinking, movement, and senses.

Announcer:
From the moment your baby is born, his brain is incredibly active and growing minute by minute. In fact, over 90% of brain growth happens in the first three years. And the way it grows is through experience.

Bruce Perry:
In the process of making that 100 billion neurons -- and each one those neurons making hundreds of more connections -- nerve cells are activated because there's been some sort of stimulation from the outside world.

Announcer:
And in the beginning, your baby's world is you.

Intervieew:
Smile.

Announcer:
If you provide consistent, predictable, nurturing, and enriched experiences for little infants, little babies, that that has profound impact on how their brain organizes and how they function when they get older.

Announcer: What are those experiences? And what can you do to make sure that your baby's getting what she needs? New science has discovered that your opportunities start a lot earlier than you might think and that healthy brain connections depend on healthy human connections.

Intervieew:
Patty cake --

Feliciano Vera:
Joining us to talk about the Arizona parent kit is Marilee Dal Pra. Marilee is the senior program Officer from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. Also with us from Phoenix Baptist Hospital is Davina Garcia, a lactation consultant. Davina, Marilee, welcome.

Marilee Dal Pra:
Thank you.

Feliciano Vera:
Now, both of you are parents, but both of you are involved a this program in different ways. Now, let's talk a little bit about your experience. Marilee, can you tell us a little about the Virginia g. Piper trust?

Marilee Dal Pra:
The trust is a private foundation. As you said, we're about five years old. Our mission is to really improve the quality of life for the residents of Maricopa County , and we do that through a variety of areas, medical research, education, children, older adults, arts and culture, and religious institutions. And so, over the past since we began our operation in 1999, we have invested about 142 million dollars in our community.

Feliciano Vera:
Davina, you have some experience with a similar program out in California . Can you talk about your experience there and about how the program here in Arizona is working out?

Davina Garcia:
Sure. About two years ago, I lived in San Diego , and they had actually started passing the kits out. When I came here and they started doing the same thing, I was familiar with the program, so it was really nice to see it follow all the way to Arizona where we are having a large growth and so it's greatly needed.

Feliciano Vera:
Marilee, how was the idea developed? We saw in the piece that the germ for the idea was in California .

Marilee Dal Pra:
Right.

Feliciano Vera:
How was it developed here in Arizona ? And where is the trust taking it?

Marileee Dal Pra:
Well, the trust is really committed to looking at how we can help parents overall. We understand that early childhood is such a critical time period in the development and that parents have a unique role in ensuring their children's health and well-being. So in addition to supporting lots of wonderful nonprofits that do excellent work in supporting parents, we also looked at some national models. And California , prior to the trust opening, had developed the kits with a resource for parents, and they invested a lot of money in both the development of the kit as well as researching the kit's impact. They looked at whether parents used the kit, if they gained knowledge of the kit, and most importantly did they change their behavior as a result of that usage. So we modeled the kit here, did a one-year pilot study at two birthing hospitals in the valley, at st. Joseph's as well as Banner Desert Medical Center, and we found that parents very much liked this resource, and the hospitals found it to be a valuable resource for parents. So we're very delighted to be able to provide support for the kit to all parents of newborns over the next two-year period. 21 of the 22 birthing hospitals in the valley are distributing the kit, and we're really excited about that and are actually working with the last hospital to bring them online. And then we'll move on to the birthing centers. So we hope that all parents of the newborns have this very valuable resource to them.

Feliciano Vera:
Davina, babies don't come with instruction kits, and oftentimes the work that you do as a lactation consultant, it ends right when the newborn is taken out of the door with the parents. Where does this kit come in, and how does this help new parents?

Davina Garcia:
Well, it's interesting. When you leave the hospital, you think you've asked all the questions that you've needed to ask, and then you get home and you realize that the baby is going to do things that you probably didn't think to ask. And so it's a nice thing to be able to pull out the videos and challenge or watch certain topics that you actually are interested in or even look up the resources that might be helpful to you. So it's really nice just to be able to fall back on something just in case you have that need to know more about what's actually going on once you do go home.

Feliciano Vera:
Now, what exactly does the kit contain when it's delivered to parents?

Davina Garcia:
You have the video set, and then resource kit, and it comes with a nice gift book for the baby. And so the book would actually have all the video. If a parent wants to tackle something they've actually watched on the video, they can go to the resource book and find web sites or phone numbers that can help them.

Feliciano Vera:
Marilee, the trust is partnering with the birthing hospitals throughout the state. Now, there are also other partner agencies involved with this. Can you talk about their role in the program?

Marilee Dal Pra:
We invited experts throughout the valley to participate in the development of our kit specific for Arizona , and although we can only distribute the kits to folks in Maricopa county, the kit really is designed to be able to provide wonderful resources for parents throughout the state of Arizona . We actually have some other partners that are looking at funding county it to other areas of the state, and we're really excited about that. The governor's office is also looking at the feasibility of providing the kit statewide, and we're really delighted that the medical community has embraced the kit as a very valuable resource to parents.

Feliciano Vera:
21 birthing hospitals in the Metro Phoenix area and not statewide. Davina, how has this helped you in your work coaching and consulting new parents?

Davina Garcia:
Well, I think it gives them a sense of confidence, that they're not going home alone. They have the videos to use as a resource if they're at a level where they can't read, and then they have the resource books. As they get older, babies will have to go into day care centers, and they'll need information about maybe certain disabilities if their child is challenged with something like that. It just gives them something to be able to look back at again. There's no stoppage of parenting. It's continuous. And so that's part of why I promote this, and I think parents accept it and embrace it because it's such a nice thing to have.

Feliciano Vera:
The kits are distributed in English and Spanish. What's been the reaction among the Spanish-speaking clientele that the hospital serves?

Davina Garcia:
For the Spanish community especially, there's not a lot of resources that they feel they can trust, that they can go to and feel comfortable asking certain questions, especially if everything is in English. And so, for them, it's a nice resource for them to see that everything that they need is also in Spanish, and it's easy for them to follow as well. They really appreciate that.

Feliciano Vera:
Marilee, how does one get the kit if they're not at one of the birthing hospitals or a participating hospital?

Marilee Dal Pra:
That's a great question. We've been actually working with the libraries in the valley to ensure that the kits are available for checkout to parents who would not be getting their own kit. Right now we're only able to disperse the kit through the hospitals to parents of newborns, but we hope in the future to be able to expand that distribution. We know that children ages birth to five re the largest and fasest-growing population in the valley, and we know how important it is that we ensure that these children get off to a great start.

Feliciano Vera:
Neonatal care is obviously -- it obviously presents a strong 16 foundation for a child as they grow up. What are the next steps that piper sees happening, and how does the trust see their role evolve to build on the experience with these kits?

Marilee Dal Pra:
We should also mention that in the kit -- 'cause it's a great question. In the kit is also a 1-800 number. The trust has supported the birth to five hotline. Parents will come up with questions that they actually need a live expert for guidance and support. The state actually now has a 1-800 hotline that the parents can contact and use as a resource. We're always looking for opportunities to enhance the support for our parents. We're working with pediatricians and child care providers and whoever else we can bring online to really provide additional support. We realize that raising a child is the most challenging and difficult position that a parent will ever have and obviously the most important role.

Feliciano Vera:
Davina how is this -- I'd asked you specifically about Spanish-speaking parents. What's the general reaction been amongst your patients that you serve at the hospital?

Davina Garcia:
Well, they absolutely embrace it. Again, they're hungry for education. Everyone wants to be on the right track of raising that baby the best that they can. And so, in order to be able to handle the challenges, it's nice to have those resources. And so it's such an important thing to go home feeling confident that "if I don't feel so comfortable, I can call someone and ask about certain situations and not go home feeling like I don't know what to do with this baby or this situation." So I think, for parents, they're just excited about being able to feel confident, have that education at hand, and for us it's nice to see their excitement for it. So it's really something that is going to be valuable to the community. And what a great complement with the governor's plan as well, starting from birth. And so we're looking forward to continuing.

Feliciano Vera:
Marilee, next steps for the program, you want to take it statewide. How is the trust going to be involved with that process?

Marilee Dal Pra:
We're really working with the governor's staff and looking for the opportunities to take it statewide. We're supporting any other funder who's interested in providing the kits to other areas of the valley. The " Arizona Republic ," through the child abuse prevention license plate program, actually this last year began distributing the kit. So we really look for any opportunity to expand the distribution of the kit.

Feliciano Vera:
Hopefully these kits will be coming soon to a hospital near you. Thank you so much.

Marilee Dal Pra:
Thank you. 18

Feliciano Vera:
To see a link for more information on the "Arizona Parents kit" or to find out more information on "Horizonte," go to our web site, azpbs.org, and click on "Horizonte." That's our show for tonight. Thank you for joining us. I'm Feliciano Vera in tonight for José Cárdenas. For all of us tonight, thank you. Good night.

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Eight is a service of Arizona state university, supported by viewers like you. Thank you.

Marilee Dal Pra: Senior program officer, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust;

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