Contra Costa’s New Rapid Response Hotline

In the midst of immigration recent raids that swept the Bay Area, Contra Costa County launched a new hotline and rapid-response initiative to provide free, trustworthy information and legal support to immigrant families.

Called Stand Together Contra Costa, the initiative includes a 24-hour hotline, a new multi-lingual website, rapid response for local deportation activities, legal consultations and deportation defense services, and immigrant rights education and training.

The mission of Stand Together Contra Costa is to ensure that all people in Contra Costa County, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, are afforded the due-process rights established by the Constitution. The initiative is modeled after similar programs in most Bay Area counties.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and local foundations are funding this public-private initiative. The Office of the Public Defender and a coalition of nonprofit organizations led by Catholic Charities of the East Bay are managing the program.

Immigrant families First 5-funded programs serve have expressed increasing fear and anxiety regarding misinformation, discrimination, and deportation threats they’ve experienced since the Trump Administration’s immigration crackdowns started last year. Just last week, a national survey of educators showed that these crackdowns are significantly harming children’s academic performance, attendance, and behavior.

Stand Together Contra Costa will allay some of these fears and support our Contra Costa neighbors and families.  Please share this new resource widely.

Stand Together’s 24-hour, staffed hotline can be reached at (925) 900-5151, or visit standtogethercontracosta.org.

AB11 Would Expand Developmental Screening

Seventy percent of children with developmental delays go undetected until kindergarten. Developmental screening can help detect delays much earlier, but too few California children receive them. AB11 will change that.

Introduced by Assembly Members Kevin McCarty and Rob Bonta and co-sponsored by the First 5 Association, AB11 would require pediatricians to provide babies and toddlers with routine developmental screening using a validated screening tool. The requirement would apply to children who receive health coverage through Medi-Cal.

According to Children Now, which graded California’s developmental screening practices a “C-“ in their 2018 California Children‘s Report Card, California ranks near the bottom among states for the rate of young kids who receive screening. Screening rates are even lower for children of color.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children receive developmental screening when they reach 9, 18, and 30 months old. California’s MediCal program has adopted these recommendations, but there is confusion in the medical field about developmental screening practices. Pediatricians often do not use a validated screening tool to identify children at risk for developmental delays, or use screening tools inconsistently.

First 5 Contra Costa has expanded developmental screening services locally in the last few years, screening about 3,000 low-income children every year. We’ve helped community and county health clinics and other pediatricians serving low-income kids adopt screening practices in line with AAP recommendations.

This is a great start, but ensuring all children get the screening and developmental services they need requires policy change. AB11 would provide explicit language requiring how and when pediatricians conduct developmental screening. This will help more young children access timely and effective intervention services and reach their greatest potential.

Help Solve Child Care Facility Shortage

Contra Costa County has a shortage of child care slots and facilities, and a new assessment underway will both illuminate the severity of the problem and offer solutions. The Contra Costa County Local Planning and Advisory Council is leading the assessment and we’re proud to be a sponsor.

The data gathering process includes a community stakeholder survey to help identify potential partners and untapped facilities that could potentially house licensed child care programs. The community survey is for business leaders, developers, faith-based organizations, city planning departments, large nonprofit organizations and realtors.

If you know people through your personal or professional networks representing these groups, please share the survey link with them. The more input we receive, the more solutions we can devise to solve this critical issue for kids and our community.

Click here to view the Contra Costa County Early Care and Education Facilities Stakeholder Survey.

A New Home for the Antioch First 5 Center!

The Antioch First 5 Center will soon have a new home! Located at 300 H Street in downtown Antioch, the new site is about 2700 square feet and just around the corner from the former First 5 Center location.

We expect to open in a few months after completing some minor tenant improvements. In the meantime, First 5 Center classes and activities will occur in Antioch at nearby locations in February and March:

  • 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 is holding its monthly meetings in downtown Antioch. Contact Alejandra Plascencia (925) 771-7338 for location information.

Get the latest information on our First 5 Center site updates webpage.

Antioch Getting New First 5 Center

Exciting changes are underway for First 5 Center services in Antioch!

The Center is moving to a new location in downtown Antioch, and will open soon. 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 January 1, 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.

Meet our New Deputy Director!

We are pleased to introduce First 5 Contra Costa’s new Deputy Director – Ruth Fernández!

Many of you already know and have worked with Ruth in her role managing the Local Child Care Planning Council at the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Ruth and the CCCOE have been longtime partners with First 5 on our early learning quality improvement work, and we are thrilled that she has joined our team.

Ruth brings over 20 years of experience working with diverse communities in project management, strategic planning and system services coordination in the education and social services sectors. For the last 12 years, Ruth has helped identify and coordinate educational services for educators working in early childhood education throughout the county. Earlier in her career, Ruth managed state contracts for KQED in San Francisco as the Early Learning Project Supervisor in KQED’s Education Network.

She is committed to community service and volunteers her time and expertise supporting educational projects in the Latino community and the community at large. Ruth earned a B.A. in Political Economies of Industrialized Societies from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master’s Degree in Leadership from St. Mary’s College of California. She takes pride in being a lifelong learner and is currently pursuing her Doctorate Degree from Mills College of Oakland in Educational Leadership, with a concentration in Early Childhood Education.

What was your favorite book as a child?  The Little Prince

What food did you refuse to eat when you were a kid? As a young child I didn’t like spinach, but I happen to love it now.

What do you do in your free time?  I love to paint, read for leisure, love spending time in the outdoors, walking and hiking.

Did you have a favorite place to visit as a child?  As a child there were two places that I loved to visit: the beach and my grandmother’s house.  I was very close to my maternal grandma and loved visiting her to cook, help in the garden or make paper flowers with her.

What is your motto? Perspective matters. This Wayne Dyer quote is one of my favorites:If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

What would make Contra Costa an even better place for children and families? Access to health care, high quality care and education, clean and outdoor spaces, and free access to the arts. These services would support physical and socio-emotional development for children and benefit all families.

 

Support Available for ECE Providers

Early care and education providers spend every day helping children learn and grow. Now it’s their turn.

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.”

First 5 funds Academic Advisors for ECE providers at the county’s three community colleges.

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.

FTo apply for the 2017-18 Professional Development Program, click here.

Getting Ready for the First Day of Kindergarten

Summers winding down and the first day of school is around the corner. Here are some tips for making that first day as smooth and enjoyable as possible for kindergartners new to school:

Get immunized: Make sure your child is ready to start the school year by visiting your pediatrician and getting the required vaccinations for school enrollment.

Set your clocks for school schedules: A good night’s sleep helps young students to succeed in the classroom. Put children on a schedule before school starts and have them go to bed and wake up earlier. Let your child become involved with picking clothes – lay them out the night before. Continue reading

We want to hear from you!

First 5 Contra Costa is hosting focus groups to help us improve services for African American families. We are looking for parents who have participated at First 5 Centers, in home visiting services, or other programs we fund to attend the focus groups. A light meal, child care, and $40 gift card will be provided.

The focus groups, along with a needs assessment currently underway, will help create improved services for African American families. We’re allocating $200,000 to pilot these services later this year.

While we are proud of the services we provide at First 5 Centers, we recognize that not all families have benefited from them.  Only 6% of families served by First 5 Centers are African American. We’re looking to change that, or create new services altogether.

Join us for the focus groups!

Richmond: August 3, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Call to register: (510) 210-5271.

Pittsburg: August 14, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Call to register: (925) 967-4709.

Health Bill Threatens Care for Millions of Children

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, which would cut Medicaid considerably and allow insurance companies to charge people with preexisting conditions significantly more for coverage.

Some estimate that Medicaid, called Medi-Cal in California, will experience $800 billion in cuts over 10 years if this bill is enacted. Since children make up the proportion of Medicaid enrollees, it’s likely they will bear the brunt of these cuts.

Medi-Cal is a critical support for young children and their families in California. Half of the state’s children, about 5.8 million children, receive health care from Medi-Cal, and one in four Contra Costa residents receive these benefits.

Continue reading