Arizona PBS dedication to lifelong learning has manifested itself into a brand new 24/7 kids channel launching on Jan. 16, 2017.

Channel 8.4 will feature Arizona PBS Kids programs that include the iconic “Sesame Street,” “Odd Squad,” “Peg + Cat,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Arthur,” “Splash and Bubbles,” “Super Why,” “Nature Cat,” “Wild Kratts” and “Ready Jet Go.”

In 2014, Smarty Pants said that parents ranked PBS KIDS as the most trusted and reliable media brand for school readiness. Children’s educational content has always been a major part of PBS commitment in educating its viewers.

“There’s a need for PBS educational content for all preschool age children particularly in Arizona,” said Christopher Callahan, CEO of Arizona PBS and dean of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. “Arizona is 48th of the 50 states in preschool enrollment. About two-thirds of Arizona children ages 2-5 years are not enrolled in a preschool program.”

Recent data shows that young children view the most TV on weeknights and weekend afternoon and evenings, when general audience programs are being aired.

Christopher Callahan, Arizona PBS CEO and Dean at the Cronkite School introduces the Arizona PBS KIDS Kickoff panel on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. The panel included Carole Basile, Dean of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Keith Kennebeck, Arizona PBS KIDS director of Children’s Programming and Linda Simensky, PBS’s head of children’s programming. (Photo by Ryan Santistevan)

The station commits more than 10 hours to children’s programs on weekdays. The addition of a 24/7 channel with exclusive PBS Kids content ensures that kids will have access to the best educational content at the times they are watching television.

“Our goal is not to have them watch more TV,” said Linda Simensky, vice president of children’s programming at PBS. “Our thinking is when they are going to watch TV that they have programming that is beneficial, age-appropriate and fun to watch.”

In January, Survey Sampling International named PBS Kids the No. 1 educational media brand for children. Forty percent of people said that they believed PBS Kids was the most educational, 24 percent believing Discovery Family and eight percent believing it was Sprouts.

Research shows that PBS Kids cross-platform content helps increase children’s math and literacy scores, improves their school readiness and fosters an interest in learning. PBS Kids also increases parent and teacher engagement in supporting their children’s learning.

“We have a responsibility; these children have a right and a privilege to have access to this education at a young age,” said Carole G. Basile, dean of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “I’m thrilled to be supporting this. I’m thrilled that PBS is taking a stand up and filling this critical need.”

The new channel is the latest addition to the 55-year-old station, which has the seventh-largest public television audience, reaching 1.9 million Arizona households.

On Jan. 16, 2017, Arizona PBS and ASU’s Cronkite School will hold an Arizona PBS KIDS Festival in celebration of the kids channel launch. There will be green screen activities and other games, screenings of Arizona PBS KIDS programs and more.

“Kids come in to school and explore as characters of ‘Wild Kratts’ or solve mysteries like the characters of ‘Odd Squad,’” said preschool teacher Stacey Mannan. “These shows make such a difference to my kids.”