Hualapai children covered in grant

PEACH SPRINGS - Young children in the Hualapai Tribe's community will continue to get the tools they need to have a fair start in life thanks to a contract for more than $116,000 recommended by the First Things First Hualapai Tribe Regional Partnership Council for fiscal year 2011.

The contract was approved by the statewide First Things First Board and was effective July 1.

The grant provides funding to the Hualapai Tribe Health Department to support the tribe's maternal child health program.

"Because of First Things First's grants, we are addressing the gap that's been created by the lack of resources," said Sandra Irwin, the vice chair of the Hualapai Tribe Regional Partnership Council. Irwin expressed concern that funding for this vital program may evaporate if Proposition 302 is approved by voters in November. The ballot issue would eliminate First Things First and sweep all the funds set aside for early childhood education and health into the state general fund.

First Things First was created in 2006 when Arizona voters - through a ballot initiative - decided to raise taxes 80 cents from each pack of cigarettes sold in order to fund the expansion of education and health programs for children from birth through age 5. Decisions about how to best use the funds are made on a per‐region basis by 31 councils made up of local leaders.

The Hualapai Tribe, which is located in a remote area of Northern Arizona, formed its Regional Partnership Council in 2008.

"This gap between the needs of our community and the resources to resolve them won't be fully addressed in just one year." Irwin adds, "If these revenues all go away, we will not be able to sustain the gains we are making in our children's health, wellness and future."