News & Notes:

Sean’s Message

Well, we’re one for one!

Last week, Governor Brown signed  AB435 (Thurmond), which will provide much needed relief to subsidized child care systems in Contra Costa, Marin and Sonoma Counties, where the high-cost of doing business leaves many providers struggling to keep their doors open, and many low-income families without quality child care for their children.

AB435 was our first time co-sponsoring legislation. What a great start as we transition to a more pro-active advocacy organization.

AB-435 will provide Contra Costa, Marin and Sonoma Counties with more flexibility in using state-allocated child care subsidy funds for low-income children. The current system, which undercompensates Bay Area child care providers and underserves low-income children, results in millions of dollars in child care subsidies returned to the state. Combined, the three counties returned $4.5 million in 2015.

Now because of the bill, by 2019, subsidy programs in these counties will have the flexibility to increase income eligibility guidelines and serve more children, offer higher reimbursement rates to providers, and contract with programs that can fully use available subsidies

We were proud to work on AB435 with Assemblymember Thurmond and the Contra Costa County Office of Education. We are also incredibly grateful to our many partners who supported this bill and helped push it over the finish line. We’ll be working hard over the next several months to develop our plan for implementing the bill.

AB435 will be a powerful tool for Bay Area early learning systems to ensure that every dollar allocated is spent and as many children as possible get the high-quality child care experience they deserve.


First 5 Center Contracts Awarded

At our October meeting, First 5 Contra Costa Commissioners approved up to $5.5 million to fund First 5 Center services through June 2020, based on recommendations from a competitive bidding process.

The funding reflects our long-term commitment to funding these centers as well as changes for First 5 Centers in East Contra Costa County. Instead of funding three small First 5 Centers, as we do currently, we will fund two large regional centers in order to serve more families and reach families most in need. The regional sites will be located in Pittsburg and Antioch to address the demographic shifts and growing needs for families with young children in these cities. The Monument and West County First 5 Center locations will not change.

Here’s the new configuration for First 5 Centers:

  • Delta First 5 Center: new site (tbd) in Antioch, serving Antioch and far east county, operated by Aspiranet.
  • East County First 5 Center: new site in Pittsburg, serving Bay Point and Pittsburg, operated by Aspiranet.
  • Monument First 5 Center: same site, serving Concord, operated by Aspiranet.
  • West County First 5 Center: same site, serving San Pablo and Richmond, operated by Bay Area Community Resources.

We recognize that transitioning to the new configuration in East County will take some time. We will continue to serve families during the transition.

The new Pittsburg site. We’re close to purchasing a large center in Pittsburg that will reach significantly more families in East County. We’re hoping that after completing renovations, we can open this spring. Until then, services will still take place at the current Bay Point First 5 Center (3225 Willow Pass Road), and move to the new East County site when it opens.

The new Antioch site. While we work to locate a larger site for the new Delta First 5 Center in Antioch, services will continue at two locations: at or near the current Antioch site and at the current Brentwood location (760 first street). We’ve formed a Parent Advisory Team with East County residents to advise us during the transition and assist with site selection.

Look for routine updates about our progress in our newsletter, and on our website and Facebook page.

First 5 Center calendars will continue to be updated monthly here on our website.

See these links for more information:


Help Build a Playground in Pittsburg

On November 11th, we’re building a brand new playground at Pittsburg’s City Park – in one day! The playground build begins early in the morning with volunteers arriving at an empty site. Within hours, volunteers will transform the space into a vibrant new play space. Join us for this amazing community-building experience.

The East County Regional Group (ECRG), Kaiser Permanente, the city of Pittsburg, and KaBOOM! have joined forces to make over City Park, one of Pittsburg’s largest parks. While City Park is home to expansive ball fields and grass, it lacks a modern playground for younger children. The design is based on children’s drawings created at a special design event in September.

This is the fourth park in East Contra Costa the ECRG has helped renovate. Their successful track record made them an ideal partner for KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that engineers one-day playground build projects around the country.

We’re going to need 200 volunteers to successfully carry out the build on November 11th. There’s a job for everyone, so don’t hesitate to sign up.

The day starts at 8:00 a.m. and concludes at 2:30 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the new playground. Volunteers (adults only) are asked to commit to the whole day.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Call (925) 771-7338 to sign up. Please also share the volunteer recruitment flyer with your networks. 


Join Us at a Help Me Grow Café

Start your morning right at a quarterly Help Grow Café, which offers the right balance of networking, nourishment, and informative guest speakers. If you haven’t signed up for one yet, now’s the time. The next meeting is taking place November 14th, from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and features Kathyrn Burroughs from Contra Costa Alliance to End Abuse.

Kathyrn will speak about vicarious trauma, the emotional reaction service providers can have when helping clients through traumatic events. Kathyrn will help providers to identify when they’re affected by vicarious trauma along with strategies to support personal resilience.

National fatherhood engagement expert Shawn Bryant was the speaker at the last Café Cafe. He shared some important factors to consider when promoting services for dads, such as:

  • Involve mothers and fathers, instead of only “special days” for dads. This can send the message unintentionally that dads are only welcome at certain times.
  • Consider how program environments may exclude fathers without meaning to by, for example: offering classes at times working dads can’t attend, or outreach materials that don’t include images of male parents.
  • Understand that fathers want to engage, but often times we outreach by targeting mothers or female caregivers; programs should consider systematic ways in which policies, grants, and other protocols are often written by females, from a female perspective, and language often excludes fathers.

Participants also met in small groups to discuss strategies for engaging dads and unintentional ways they may be hindering father engagement.

About 40 service providers who support families with young children attend the Help Me Grow Cafes – we hope to see you at the next one.

Register for it here.


Sesame Street Program Helps Kids Cope with Trauma

Sesame Street in Communities has a new initiative to help children overcome traumatic experiences and address difficult feelings like anxiety, grief, and anger. These bilingual resources present universal coping strategies that help children feel safe and become more resilient in a range of situations, and give caring adults the tools they need to foster nurturing connections.

There are a number of turn-key materials to help spread the word about this important initiative.

  • Social media toolkit with suggested messages and images
  • Flyers to hang up in your offices
  • Email graphics to blast out to your networks
  • Activity sheets for children

The new curriculum takes into account the latest science on adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. Research has shown that experiencing ACEs, which include poverty, abuse and neglect, domestic violence, divorce, and mental illness, can lead to health and social problems later in life.  Nearly half of American children have experienced at least one such adversity, and 1 in 5 have had at least two.

The Sesame Street materials are designed to help children recover, which they can, with the help of loving, responsive caregivers.