Our Mission

To represent private, licensed child care centers statewide and to promote affordable, quality early care and education that meets the needs of Arizona’s families and children.

AECEA History

Private child care centers in Arizona have been working together as professionals for almost 30 years. Child care operators and directors became active in the late 70’s and became formally established as the Arizona Association for Child Development and Education in 1980 and later the Arizona Association for Child Care Management.


In the early 1990’s, private child care providers became increasingly organized and involved. Three entities were established in response to regional and statewide concerns. The Arizona Child Care Association, Southern Chapter and the Arizona Child Care Association, Northern Chapter were incorporated with local Boards. The Association for Licensed Child Care of Arizona was established with a stateside Board to provide a forum for coordinated action on statewide issues and address the problem of finding liability insurance.

In July 2003, providers were facing serious challenges and new opportunities. The State was considering significant budget cuts while interest in the quality of care grew. Yet there were also opportunities for partnerships and the possibility of new revenue streams. The Southern and Northern Chapters voted to merge into ACCA as the single professional statewide non-profit association.


ACCA began to expand and diversify its membership. In 2003 and 2005, ACCA received private foundation funding for quality improvement projects to assist members.


In 2017, ACCA became AECEA – Arizona Early Childhood Education Association. Though we retain the same mission and goals, this new name better represents the important work that member centers do for Arizona’s Children and Families and communicates the importance of ECE in the education continuum.


Today, Arizona Early Childhood Education Association is recognized as the single most active and effective voice representing the interests of child care providers with local, State and Federal elected officials, government agencies, the media, and the general public.

Over the years, AECEA has impacted all major public policies and priorities and has had numerous successes. Some of the association’s major achievements include:

  • Establishing property taxes for child care facilities at a lower rate; same as residential property (ARS 42-12004).
  • Advocating for national child care programs and federal funding that encouraged the participation of private child care facilities.
  • Ensuring that public school and other government operated child care programs meet the same health and safety standards and licensure requirements.
  • Actively participating in the development and expansion of the State subsidy program and increases in payment rates.
  • Preventing major cuts to public funding and narrowing of eligibility for assistance. Obtaining private funding to develop a Quality Assessment tool, with ratings, and an Essential Orientation training package for new employees.

Board Members

James Emch

President of AECEA, Valley Child Care and Learning Center (Greater Phoenix)

Bill Berk

Vice President of AECEA, Outer Limits (Tucson)

Dana Vela

Sunrise Preschools (Greater Phoenix)

Bonnie Taylor

Bright Horizons (Greater Phoenix)

Robin Kottabi

The Sandbox and The Clubhouse (Tucson)

Jeannie Chao

Creative Beginnings, Desert Skies, Kids’ Village, and Small World (Tucson)

Danielle Alexander

Learning Care Group (Tutor Time, La Petite Academy, Childtime – Greater Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff)

Jacob Vigil

KinderCare (Greater Phoenix and Tucson Area)

Chris Soto

Kid’s Corner (Mesa and Gilbert)

Angel Hesseltine

Phoenix Children’s Academy (Greater Phoenix and Tucson Area)

Mary Sue Watson

Premier and Children’s Campus (Phoenix)

Mark Werber

Tots Unlimited (Glendale)

Larry Cochran

Small Miracles (Greater Phoenix and Tucson Area)


Erin Raden
Erin Raden
Executive Director
Barbie Prinster
Barbie Prinster
Program Manager