News & Notes:
- Sean’s Letter: DACA Reversal Harms Children
- Register for a Right Start Town Hall
- New Quality Matters Ratings Posted
- Support and Financial Incentives Available for ECE Providers
- First 5 Center Helps Single Father
The Trump administration’s heartless decision to roll back DACA will harm children and families.
About a quarter of DACA recipients, 800,000 young adults whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children, live in California. Since 2012, DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has provided recipients with work permits, the ability to go to college, and most important, protection from deportation.
These young Dreamers contribute to our schools, churches, cities, and communities. They’re our colleagues, neighbors, and friends. About 25% are parents to U.S. born children, and over half have U.S. citizen brothers and sisters.
The administration has placed this successful program, and thousands of futures, in jeopardy.
The anxiety surrounding a family’s immigration status can be detrimental to the health and development of children. A recent study found that when parents received DACA status, it significantly improved their children’s mental health almost immediately. Simply put, children had less stress and anxiety when their parents no longer feared being deported.
The current administration’s immigration crackdown has eroded these gains for children. Reversing DACA will only exacerbate this.
All children deserve to have safe, secure childhoods. They should not live in fear that their parents or siblings will be taken away at any moment, or be further traumatized when a loved one is deported, leaving many in sudden poverty.
DACA is admittedly an imperfect, short-term solution to a much larger need for comprehensive immigration reform. But it is also the most compassionate path for “those who believe in their hearts and in their minds that they are American” as President Obama said when he created DACA. We hope our leaders will stand up for DACA so that all children are supported in safe, nurturing families and communities.
Sean Casey, Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa
Hosted by Common Sense Kids Action, First 5 Contra Costa, and other partners, the gathering will feature several expert speakers, including our Executive Director Sean Casey, former Congressman George Miller, as well as representatives from CocoKids, the California Work and Family Coalition, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education. Panelists will discuss policy solutions identified by the Right Start Commission related to quality child care, health care access, family-friendly workplaces, and how local communities can advocate for kids.
California has the sixth largest economy, and yet it ranks 46th when it comes to kids’ economic well-being. This town hall, like other “Right Start” town halls that have taken place throughout the state, will share findings from the Right Start Commission’s Rebuilding the California Dream report. The report offers a blueprint for creating a child-centered system in California, and for mobilizing communities to take action on behalf of young children.
Contra Costa County’s town hall will take place on October 11th, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lafeyette. Free child care is provided, but space is limited. Register today!
To register, follow this link.
We have new ratings for 40 licensed child care programs participating in Quality Matters, Contra Costa County’s quality rating and improvement system that helps programs offer the best care possible. Combined with last year’s ratings, we now have ratings for 109 licensed child care programs. View the ratings here.
Quality Matters rates child care programs using a scale of one to five on elements including:
- Providing positive, engaging teacher-child interactions
- Providing a safe, healthy and stimulating environment
- Teacher training and qualifications
- Using recommended assessments to check if children are learning new skills and developing on track
- Ratio and class size (centers only)
Family child care programs, private centers and public centers, such as Head Start or state preschool programs, participate in Quality Matters.
Programs are rated every two years and receive intensive coaching, training, financial incentives and support to maintain or improve ratings. Of the 40 programs rated in 2017, 28 were rated for a second time and 12 received their first rating. Ratings of “3” or above mean providers have met quality standards and benchmarks.
Results for the 28 re-rated programs show that:
- Nearly every program is meeting quality standards and benchmarks.
- 11 programs increased their ratings, many moving from a 4 to a 5, a rating rarely achieved in the state.
- 16 programs received the same rating.
- Only one program decreased its rating.
In the five years since we launched Quality Matters, 83 child care programs have been rated twice. Eighty-four percent of these programs earned the highest two ratings, and most are state preschools or publicly funded programs serving low-income children.
First 5 Contra Costa developed Quality Matters with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, Local Planning and Advisory Council for Early Care and Education, CocoKids, and Contra Costa, Diablo Valley, and Los Medanos Community Colleges.
To learn more or apply to participate, visit qualitychildcarematters.org.
The Professional Development Program (PDP) is accepting applications for 2017-18 from early childhood educators working with children birth to age 5 at licensed or licensed-exempt programs in Contra Costa County.
For nearly 20 years, the PDP has helped ECE providers advance their education and training in early childhood education, and rewarded them when they do. This year’s PDP is no exception.
Participants will receive financial incentives ranging from $300 to $1,250 when they earn six units of college coursework, attend reflective practice seminars, complete training hours, or qualify for lost wages reimbursements.
“The PDP has helped thousands of early care professionals in Contra Costa County become better trained teachers,” said First 5 Contra Costa’s Early Childhood Education Program Officer Edirle Menezes. “Children learn best in stimulating environments with well-trained teachers. We are fortunate to have thousands of these dedicated teachers in our county.”
When providers sign up for the PDP, they also receive support. First 5 Contra Costa funds three academic advisors in the child development departments at Contra Costa, Diablo Valley, and Los Medanos Community Colleges to help child care providers map out their college coursework, apply for stipends, textbook loans, or permits, and find tutoring. The three advisors met with over 700 local child care providers last year alone.
We partner with the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the Local Planning & Advisory Council for Early Care and Education (LPC) on this successful program. Combined, our efforts invest over $1.2 million annually to improve ECE teacher quality in Contra Costa County, with funding from local Proposition 10 funds, AB 212, and First 5 California.
To apply for the 2017-18 Professional Development Program, click here.
Benjamin Estrada didn’t have custody of his four-year-old daughter the first time he took a class at the West County First 5 Center.
“For me, I had to start over. I had to build from the bottom up. I had made a decision that I was going to be a better parent, and the First 5 Center gave me a vision for how that could be possible,” said Benjamin.
Benjamin began visiting the center weekly while working to gain full custody of his daughter. Most of the time, he was the only dad in the class. But that never stopped him.
“My favorite class was the Triple P class. It really goes in depth about parenting. You learn about all of your child’s developmental stages, and why the first five years are so important. The First 5 Center maps it out for you and makes it understandable. It helps you be a better parent,” he said.
Benjamin is now a single father with full custody of his daughter, who’s about to turn 10. He’s also an active member of the West County Regional Group and participates in the PTA at his daughter’s school.
“I went to the first Regional Group meeting and haven’t missed one since. We decide what to stand up for on behalf of other parents and children. It’s so fulfilling and empowering,” he said.
Benjamin and his daughter occasionally return to the West County First 5 Center to visit with staff. “They still embrace me when I come. The staff at the center embraces everyone who walks through their door.”