Failure to fund affordable, accessible health care for children and continual cuts to public school education are ready examples of Arizona’s abandonment of her children.

A year ago, tens of thous1ands of educators, parents and concerned citizens donned red shirts and took to the streets and the Capitol to voice the need for change. Unfortunately, the majority of our elected officials at the state level continue to ignore the voices of their constituents and refuse to prioritize a budget that ends the abandonment and begins to invest in our children and the future of our state.

Now Pima County has an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children in our part of the state. So I was further disheartened to learn that only one member of our county Board of Supervisors, Richard Elias from District 5, is supporting the Pima County Preschool Investment Plan (PCPIP). I applaud Elias’s leadership and recognition that if we cannot get our state to prioritize our children as a top investment then we must do ourselves at the county level.

The Strong Start initiative (Proposition 204), which was put forward two years ago, did not garner the necessary support to institute an investment into early childhood education. But it was the beginning of a necessary conversation about the issue at hand: a lack of funding for high quality early childhood education. Fortunately, the preeminent supporters of the cause took to heart the criticisms and reservations of the initiative, and, working with past opponents, have crafted a new proposal which addressed the concerns and broadened the program to include children, not just in the city limits, but in the county as well.

And for all the talk we hear about the importance of investing in our children — which in turn is an investment in our community — it seems that the people who hold the power to put this investment in place are reluctant to champion the cause. Parents and community members have spoken and secured additional sources of public and private funding for this new effort. I am baffled as to why our elected officials, those people we voted into office, won’t see this as an opportunity to create a pathway of investment in our children.

We can do something at the local level that the state refuses to do. We can chart a different course for our children that will strengthen the future of our community. We can be a leader in the state by providing access to high quality early childhood education.

It will take three out of five votes on the Board of Supervisors to move forward with this initiative. And I would like to believe that the people elected to represent us want to do what’s in the best interest of their constituents. However, it would seem that is a tall ask right now.

It is our responsibility to provide for our children. If we don’t, who will?

Now is the time to put in place those things which will provide a better future for our families and our community. Now is the time to help our children become the best they can be. Now is the time for all of us to reach out to our Board of Supervisors and insist that they do right by the youngest in our midst.

Email or call your representative. Join us at the Supervisors’ meetings on April 16. Five people hold the power to determine the investment of our children with their vote for this initiative. A whole county of people have the voices to tell our representatives how to vote.

Stephanie Hamilton is a parent, wife of an educator, co-chair of the Tucson Unified Parent Advocacy Council and former regional lead of Save Our Schools AZ.