To our community of Commissioners, friends, partners, and families,

If you’re anything like me, you’re pinching yourself and wondering: how are we already at the close of yet another year? 

Yet, when we reflect on all that First 5 Contra Costa has accomplished, it’s no surprise. From providing hundreds of families with much needed diapers and PPE to supporting hundreds of hours of parent education and advocacy and launching a trauma-informed, healing-centered Network of Care, the team at First 5 and you all, our partners and community, have shown up in powerful ways to ensure that every child in Contra Costa can make the most of their potential.

This year was not without its challenges. The pandemic remains a pressing health threat, and its economic impact continues to reverberate for low-income families hardest hit by job loss. Those same families are struggling to find jobs that pay enough to cover the cost of increasingly expensive child care. All the while, desperately underpaid early childhood educators are leaving the field for higher paying jobs. Families of color are more likely to feel the impact of these challenges, due to legacies of redlining and discrimination that have put them at an economic disadvantage. 

It’s no surprise to see our communities asking for stronger mental health support, in addition to the concrete support they need to stay healthy and housed. 

In the face of all this challenge, a word that feels present for me as I look to 2022 is believe. Many of us have heard that believing is seeing and seeing is believing. And what I’ve seen this past year are the myriad ways we have come together–agencies, nonprofits, leaders, and families–to support one another in the ever-important work of giving all children what they need to thrive in their first five years of life. The simple reality is, no one of us can do the work of raising our County’s youngest alone. Seeing us come together, I believe we can create an equitable, compassionate, healthy, and love-filled reality for our community. 

Yes, it’s been one heck of a year, and it’s hard to believe it’s over. And, thanks to all of you, we’re one year closer to realizing our vision that all of Contra Costa’s children are healthy and ready to learn in safe, nurturing environments. I invite all of us to continue believing and finding hope in that vision of success and well-being that each of us hold for children. Let us not lose sight of what is possible, for our collective synergy presents endless possibilities!

On behalf of the staff team at First 5 Contra Costa and yours truly,

Ruth Fernández, Ed.D
Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa