News & Notes:
- Sean’s Message
- Our Notable 2017 Accomplishments
- Update on First 5 Center Classes and Site Plans in Antioch
- Parental Leave Law Expands in California
2017 brought new challenges for many families in our community. Expanded deportation policies and an intensified anti-immigrant climate left families feeling anxious and afraid. We responded quickly in significant ways to help both families and the agencies that serve them. Many turned to the First 5 Centers for help, where they found immigration workshops, counseling, and trustworthy information.
The three Regional Groups we sponsor took action as well. Together with their partners, they successfully advocated for 6 safe haven/sanctuary policies at city councils and school districts throughout Contra Costa County. We joined them in pressing the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to approve funding for the county’s first rapid response program, which will soon provide legal assistance and reliable information to immigrant residents.
We held a successful forum for 175 local service providers featuring child development experts, attorneys, and advocates who provided the latest information on immigration policies and rights, the detrimental impact mass deportation policies have on children and families, tips for easing children’s fears, and resources to fight discriminatory detention practices in Contra Costa County.
These are issues we never thought we’d be tackling a year ago. But we found new ways to support families and bring light to their needs, as First 5 has done for nearly two decades.
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Proposition 10, the ballot initiative that created First 5 in California. We’ve been responding to the needs of Contra Costa’s vulnerable children and families since then, and will continue to advocate and take action for kids in significant ways in the year ahead.
Look for improved services and outreach for African American families, a new curriculum on early childhood trauma, results from our first countywide kindergarten readiness assessment, expanded First 5 Center services, in addition to the many effective programs we regularly support.
Despite the challenges, or maybe because of them, First 5 is ready to act, and ready to lead. All children deserve to grow up safe, nurtured, ready for school, and able to pursue their dreams.
2017 was another productive and effective year at First 5 Contra Costa!
Combined, our funded services and activities benefited more than 27,605 children, families, and providers. Here’s a snapshot of some of our notable accomplishments from 2017.
Reaching more families at First 5 Centers.
This resulted in a plan that will increase the number of families who benefit from these valuable services in East County. Over time, we will shift from funding three small sites to funding two large centers in Pittsburg and Antioch. Services will continue in East County throughout the transition. Look for routine updates on new sites and classes in East County here.
The First 5 Centers are a key resource for parents and communities, which is why we’ve committed to funding them long-term. Last year alone, the Centers reached 2,100 parents. Families who took parenting classes made significant improvements in their knowledge of child development, patience with children, and the amount of time they spent with their kids.
Child care quality is improving.
156 child care programs participated in Quality Matters, our Quality Rating & Improvement System. 110 of these programs have been rated, and about half are publicly funded programs serving low-income families. Nearly 90 percent of the rated programs meet or exceed quality benchmarks on criteria including providing positive, engaging teacher-child interactions and safe, healthy and stimulating environments, teacher training and qualifications, and ratio and class size.
Quality Matters programs are rated every two years and receive intensive coaching, training, financial incentives and support to maintain or improve ratings. Last year, 28 programs were re-rated. Thirty-nine percent increased their rating, and 57 percent maintained quality ratings. Only one site’s rating decreased.
In addition, more than 600 early childhood teachers increased their education through the Professional Development Program. The college support, tutoring, and training provided resulted in 26% of teachers earning a degree or higher level on the early childhood teachers’ credentials permit.
Children with developmental delays are getting help earlier.
We continued to expand the Help Me Grow system to support early screening and intervention for children with developmental needs.
More than 3,000 children in our funded programs and via public health nursing received developmental screening services. For children screened in our programs, half were on track with their development. Twenty-five percent of the children had mild to moderate delays and another 25% needed a more formal assessment for serious developmental concerns.
Nearly 300 children with moderate delays participated in Help Me Grow Developmental Playgroups at the First 5 Centers. About 25% of children screened after the eight-week playgroup no longer showed signs of delay.
First 5 Contra Costa had several policy victories.
The three Regional Groups of parent leaders we sponsor continued to rack up major victories. Using their assessments of 75 parks in 5 cities, these parent leaders have secured $2.5 million in funding. Four new playgrounds were installed in neglected parks this year alone. They also offered over 40 sports and exercise classes to improve safety and usage at the new playgrounds.
The Regional Groups fought hard for protections for immigrant families and racial justice. They pressed six school districts and cities to adopt sanctuary policies, and helped sway the County to approve funding for Contra Costa’s first rapid response network to support immigrant residents.
2017 also launched our new strategic information and policy department at First 5 Contra Costa. With new staff capacity, we created a policy protocol for the Commission to engage in advocacy work at the state and federal levels, and successfully co-sponsored legislation for the first time. AB435 will allow for greater local flexibility in the use of state funds for subsidized early learning in Contra Costa County, serve more children, and ensure allocated state funding is fully used.
Thank you to our many partners and contractors for another productive year. Onward to 2018!
The Center is moving to a new location in downtown Antioch. Until then, First 5 Center classes and activities will take place at nearby locations in January and February 2018:
- 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 will still hold 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 already started meeting with a group of Antioch parents to consult us on locations and will have more community input sessions in 2018.
Another change to note is that starting this month, the nonprofit Aspiranet will provide First 5 Center services in Antioch. This agency also runs First 5 Centers in Brentwood, Concord, and Bay Point. We thank Brighter Beginnings for their many years of service operating the Antioch First 5 Center.
See updates about First 5 Centers in East County here on our website.
SB 63, the New Parent Leave Act, requires small businesses with 20 or more employees to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to bond with a new child — leave that must be taken within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement.
Californians employed by larger businesses (at least 50 employees) already had job-protected leave. The New Parent Leave Act focuses on parents working for smaller businesses whose jobs were not covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or the state’s California Family Rights Act. The new law only covers time to bond with babies, not to care for family member’s medical issues.
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), author of the legislation, Senate Bill 63, said: “This is a great victory for working parents and children in California. With more parents struggling to balance work and family responsibilities, no one should have to choose between caring for their newborn and keeping their job.”
SB 63 is progress, but many families cannot afford to take time off without pay and may not be able to benefit from the law. While California and San Francisco have partial paid leave policies, the fact remains the United States is the only developed nation without paid parental leave.
Find more family leave resources: