News & Notes:
- Regional Group Celebrates Another New Playground
- Child Care Programs: Join our Rating and Improvement System
- Find Free Summer Meals for Kids
Antioch is celebrating another new playground, thanks to the East County Regional parents group we sponsor. Prosserville Park is the third park these dedicated parents have worked with city officials to renovate in East County.
The parents, members of the Antioch City Council, and city staff celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Saturday that drew hundreds of families to the new park, now one of the largest playgrounds in the city.
The campaign for the new playground began when the East County Regional Group rated every park in Antioch. Their findings revealed that parks located in the city’s lower-income communities were had more trash, graffiti, and out-of-date playgrounds compared to the city’s newer neighborhoods. These parks also had fewer family-friendly amenities like picnic areas and water fountains.
The parents presented their findings to the Antioch City Council and city staff joined their efforts. To date, the City of Antioch has invested $500,000 and successfully renovated the two Antioch parks ECRG members prioritized for improvement. The third renovated park is in Pittsburg.
Antioch’s new and improved Prosserville Park now covers 6,000 square feet and includes:
- New play structures
- Climbing rocks and ropes
- New picnic area
- LED lighting
- Water fountain
- Newly planted trees
Physical outdoor play is important for children’s health and development, but not all children in Contra Costa County have access to safe, usable parks and playgrounds. Combined, the three Regional Groups have helped raise more than $2.5 million to improve seven of the county’s most dilapidated parks.
Learn more about other ways Regional Groups are taking action for families in Contra Costa County – and join them!
Licensed child care programs throughout Contra Costa County are invited to join Quality Matters, our quality rating and improvement system which supports and incentivizes child care programs to offer the best early care and education possible. Public and private centers and family child care programs can apply.
Quality Matters rates programs every two years on their level of quality on elements including teacher-child interactions, environment, teacher training and qualifications, use of recommended child assessments, and ratio and class size (centers only). Throughout the process, programs receive training, personalized coaching, and participation grants between $2,000 to $10,000 to prepare for their rating and improve quality. This comprehensive support really works.
Benu Chhabra is a family child care provider in Concord who’s been providing care in her home for twenty years. In 2014, she earned a “2”, a score indicating she was approaching quality standards but not yet meeting them. While she had high scores for teacher-child interactions, she was not using recommended tools to track children’s development and learning.
Chhabra worked with a coach, took classes, and received training on tools to assess children’s developmental progress. Two years later, her rating jumped to a “5”, the highest score available and a score only 6% of California’s 3,200 rated programs have achieved.
“After attending each workshop and working with my coach, I felt more confident,” said Chhabra. “And with the assessment tools, I’m now better able to understand each child, offer activities to help them progress to the next level, and communicate better with their parents.”
Support is also available for child care programs not quite ready for the full rating system. Quality Matters offers an improvement-only track to prepare sites for future ratings. Participants receive help assessing the quality of their sites and developing improvement plans. They also can attend professional development trainings and get textbook loans, tutoring, and financial incentives.
While any licensed child care program serving children birth to age five may apply, priority will go to sites located in lower income communities and those serving infants and toddlers and/or children with special needs.
Click here to learn more and to apply.
For families who rely on subsidized school lunch for their kids, summer can be pretty stressful. The good news is that many schools and community agencies provide free lunch (and sometimes breakfast) during the summer to prevent children from going hungry when school’s out. The not so good news is that only about 20 percent of eligible children in California access summer meal programs. Please help get the word out about this vital, yet underutilized service.
Summer meals are typically provided for children ages 2 to 18 at schools, libraries, or community-based organizations located in low-income neighborhoods. Nutritious meals are free to all children and there is no application, sign-up, paperwork, or identification needed. Just show up with your kids.
Click here for site locations, times and important dates for Antioch, Brentwood, Mt. Diablo (Bay Point, Concord, Pleasant Hill), Oakley, Pittsburg, and West Contra Costa (El Sobrante/ Pinole/ Richmond/ San Pablo).
Nine libraries in Contra Costa County have also signed on as summer meal sites, joining a growing movement in California of libraries offering lunch during the summer. The goal is to reach more children by providing healthful meals and fun activities in a familiar place.
Click here for information to find out where and when lunch at the library is served.