News & Notes:
- Governor’s Budget Shows Promise for Kids
- A New Home for the Antioch First 5 Center
- AB11 Would Expand Developmental Screening
- Inform Families About Free Tax Help
- Help Us Identify New Child Care Facilities
Governor Brown issued his budget proposal last month, and it offers early childhood advocates a lot to be excited about.
The Governor’s budget increases funding for subsidized child care programs; increases the number of high-quality preschool slots; and creates a new online community college for early childhood education, which should lead to more qualified child care teachers. Those are big, important moves that will strengthen and grow California’s early childhood system. It’s not clear how many parents, children and providers would be affected in Contra Costa, but with an estimated shortage of 29,000 child care spaces in the county, there’s a lot of room for improvement.
Another exciting proposal in the budget is a new home visiting program for first-time mothers who receive assistance through the CalWORKs program. If passed, this would be an important new program for new parents. Home visiting programs have been shown to promote healthy child development and academic success, improve health outcomes, and support families’ economic security.
Currently, the home visiting programs operating in Contra Costa only reach a tiny fraction of families who could benefit from them. Contra Costa Health Services’ Nurse Family Partnership program has reached over 300 families. Other programs operating in the county, including the Welcome Home Baby program First 5 Contra Costa supports, reach hundreds of other families. Without adequate funding, these programs cannot meet the needs of the 15,000 Contra Costa children under age 6 who live in poverty.
The Governor’s budget makes it clear that early childhood advocates, who have been telling the Administration for years about the need to prioritize children, have made an impression. Given the big needs of our young children, the Governor’s proposals highlighted here are welcome, though they will not suffice. The administration and legislature need to keep their eyes on the many complex and critical needs of our children in this and every budget cycle.
See this analysis from the California Budget & Policy Center to learn more about the Governor’s proposed budget.
We expect to open in a few months after completing some small tenant improvements. In the meantime, First 5 Center classes and activities will occur in Antioch at nearby locations in February and March:
- Find First 5 Center classes and activities happening in Antioch here.
- Antioch families are welcome to sign up for classes at other First 5 Centers as well. Class calendars for each site are here.
- Families who want a developmental screening for their child, or who have questions about Help Me Grow developmental playgroups, should call the Antioch/Delta First 5 Center (925) 516-3880.
- The East County Regional Group is holding its monthly meetings in downtown Antioch. Contact Alejandra Plascencia (925) 771-7338 for location information.
Long-term, First 5 Contra Costa plans to open a much larger regional First 5 Center in Antioch in order to serve more families. We’ve met with a group of Antioch parents to consult us on locations and will have more opportunities for community input throughout the year.
Get the latest information on our First 5 Center site updates webpage.
Seventy percent of children with developmental delays go undetected until kindergarten. Developmental screening can help detect delays much earlier, but too few California children receive them. AB11 will change that.
Introduced by Assembly Members Kevin McCarty and Rob Bonta and co-sponsored by the First 5 Association, AB11 would require pediatricians to provide babies and toddlers with routine developmental screening using a validated screening tool. The requirement would apply to children who receive health coverage through Medi-Cal.
According to Children Now, which graded California’s developmental screening practices a “C-“ in their 2018 California Children‘s Report Card, California ranks near the bottom among states for the rate of young kids who receive screening. Screening rates are even lower for children of color.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children receive developmental screening when they reach 9, 18, and 30 months old. California’s MediCal program has adopted these recommendations, but there is confusion in the medical field about developmental screening practices. Pediatricians often do not use a validated screening tool to identify children at risk for developmental delays, or use screening tools inconsistently.
First 5 Contra Costa has expanded developmental screening services locally in the last few years, screening about 3,000 low-income children every year. We’ve helped community and county health clinics and other pediatricians serving low-income kids adopt screening practices in line with AAP recommendations.
This is a great start, but ensuring all children get the screening and developmental services they need requires policy change. AB11 would provide explicit language requiring how and when pediatricians conduct developmental screening. This will help more young children access timely and effective intervention services and reach their greatest potential.
The United Way’s annual Earn It! Keep It! Save It! campaign is underway to help eligible families receive the tax refunds they’ve earned. Please inform the families you work with about these important opportunities to boost their incomes:
- Families who earned less than $54,000 in 2017 may be eligible for the federal EITC and to have their taxes done for free by IRS-certified volunteers. You can find a complete list of free tax assistance sites in Contra Costa County here or by calling 211. Outreach materials in English and Spanish are also available at www.earnitkeepitsaveit.org.
- Families who earned less than $22,300 in 2017 may be eligible for California’s EITC and up to $2,775 in tax credits. Find eligibility information, social media graphics, and bilingual outreach materials here. Workers who are self-employed and/or have no children are also eligible this year. Even if someone does not owe taxes, they may be eligible to receive a tax refund.
Please share this information in newsletters, on your social media pages, and with your constituents. Both EITC tax credits, along with the Child Tax Credit, lift more children out of poverty than any other policy. Let’s make sure our hard-working families know about it.
Contra Costa County has a shortage of child care slots and facilities, and a new assessment underway will both illuminate the severity of the problem and offer solutions. The Contra Costa County Local Planning and Advisory Council is leading the assessment and we’re proud to be a sponsor.
The data gathering process includes a community stakeholder survey to help identify potential partners and untapped facilities that could potentially house licensed child care programs. The community survey is for business leaders, developers, faith-based organizations, city planning departments, large nonprofit organizations and realtors.
If you know people through your personal or professional networks representing these groups, please share the survey link with them. The more input we receive, the more solutions we can devise to solve this critical issue for kids and our community.
Click here to view the Contra Costa County Early Care and Education Facilities Stakeholder Survey.