Bill Would Improve Subsidized Child Care

The First 5 Contra Costa Board of Commissioners voted to support AB 435 (Thurmond) at our April meeting.

AB 435, the Contra Costa Child Care Subsidy Pilot, would authorize Contra Costa County to develop an individualized child care subsidy plan with flexibility to adjust eligibility guidelines, increase reimbursement rates for providers, and fully utilize subsidized funding the state allocates to Contra Costa County.

This bill is modeled after successful legislation that increased local flexibility of child care subsidy dollars in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco. The bill does not call for new funding from the state. First 5 Contra Costa is co-sponsoring AB 435 with the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

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Resources for Immigrant Children and Families

New immigration and deportation policies have many families worried, and agencies who provide services struggling to keep up. Here are some helpful resources to assist families during these turbulent times. Please note we will update this list periodically.

About the New Immigration Policies:

  • Memo from Department of Homeland Security outlining new policies
  • New ICE Raids – What Immigrants Need to Know (National Immigration Law Center)

Legal Rights and Resources:

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Three-Year Home Visiting Contract Awarded

HV2First 5 Contra Costa recenlty awarded Aspiranet a contract up to $3.6 million to conduct home visiting services for expecting or new moms and dads. Funding was allocated through June 30, 2019, and Aspiranet will receive up to $1.3 million each year starting July 1.

First 5 Contra Costa has allocated funding for home visiting services for more than a decade. Every three years or so, we engage in a competitive funding process to re-allocate our funds. The bidding process for this contract drew four applicants.

Home visiting services will be provided to families living in Antioch, Bay Point, Concord, Martinez, Richmond and San Pablo. Research shows home visiting is an effective way to reach new parents, reduce child abuse, and improve child health and development. Well-designed, voluntary home visiting programs can also lead to substantial savings for taxpayers with fewer children in social welfare, mental health, and juvenile corrections systems.

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Help Families Get CalFresh

Cal_FreshMay is “CalFresh Awareness Month,” a campaign to raise awareness of this important benefit which many people don’t know they’re eligible to receive. CalFresh, the federally funded program formerly called Food Stamps, helps children, families, and individuals put nutritious food on their tables each day.

In Contra Costa County, half of CalFresh recipients are children. Household hunger hurts children’s intellectual, physical and emotional development and puts them at greater risk for obesity, diabetes and other diseases.

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All Parents Have Questions, Help Me Grow Has Answers!

HMG_brochure_proof_r4-1It’s normal for parents to have questions about how their children are growing and developing. Some may wonder if they’re developing on track, are worried about children’s behavior, or might just need information about the best way to help their child develop and prepare for school.

For answers, parents can call 2-1-1 and ask for a Help Me Grow specialist. 2-1-1 child development specialists can answer everyday questions about early childhood development, provide tips and resources, help parents get free developmental screening for their children, and link them to services if their child has developmental concerns.

First 5 Contra Costa, with a grant from the Thomas J. Long Foundation, is implementing Help Me Grow in our county. HMG is a system based on a national model to streamline early identification and referral to help young children thrive, particularly those with developmental delays or concerns. Having a designated phone line, like 2-1-1, is an important component of the system.

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It’s Week of the Young Child!

WOYC_BOS_1168x590This week marks the thirty-fifth annual Week of the Young Child, an event organized by the National Association for Education of Young Children to raise awareness about the importance of quality early care and education for young children, families, and communities.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors delivered a resolution about the WOYC to county early care and education leaders today. This group included representatives from Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department, Community Services Bureau’s Head Start and Child Development Program, Contra Costa County Local Planning and Advisory Council for Early Care and Education, Contra Costa Child Care Council, The Contra Costa County Office of Education and First 5 Contra Costa.

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Seven Elements of Quality Child Care

Signs_of_qualitySelecting the right early care and education setting for their family is one of the most challenging and important decisions parents face. What exactly does quality child care look like?

Using the Quality Matters rating criteria and framework, here are the top seven elements of quality to look for or ask child care providers about when selecting quality child care for your child:

  1. Teacher-Child Interactions: Providers that interact positively with the kids in their care.
  2. Ratio and Group Size: Small group sizes and a small number of kids to every adult.
  3. Learning Activities: A mix of creative, fun and educational activities that are right for a child’s age and help them learn new skills.
  4. Staff: Warm and knowledgeable staff who have a lot of training and rarely quit. Providers have taken classes or earned degrees in Early Childhood Education.
  5. Environment: A rich learning environment with varied materials, activities and routines. Areas are healthy, clean and safe.
  6. Program (or Curriculum): Providers use a curriculum to meet learning needs and may hold parent-teacher conferences.
  7. Child Health & Development: Providers make sure children receive health screenings and that children are developing on track.

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Preschool Made a Difference

PMD2015 marked the end of our $6 million grant from the Thomas J. Long Foundation to provide scholarships for low-income children to attend high-quality preschool. The program provided scholarships for 650 children and improved child care quality for another 5,000 kids.

Even more, our early work assessing participating PMD preschools paved the way for the important work we’re leading now: the creation of comprehensive child care Quality Rating & Improvement System (QRIS) in Contra Costa County.

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First 5 Centers Offer Car Seat Inspections

Car-Seat_1Installing a child car seat is no easy task. Research shows most seats are installed incorrectly and many children are improperly restrained. On top of that, selecting the right car seat, and knowing when to transition to the next type, is often confusing for parents. The First 5 Centers are working to ease this confusion and ensure safe travel for young children.

Car_SeatThe five Centers began offering free car seat inspections three years ago through a small grant from the California Department of Public Health. These were short, one-day events in which families had their car seats inspected, and in some cases, received brand new car seats if their current one had been recalled or was deemed unusable.

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Find Free Summer Meal Programs

summer lunch_FLYER 10 FINALSchools, agencies and libraries in Contra Costa are providing free meals this summer for children under age 18. Find out where!

A Vital, Yet Underutilized Service

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. Continue reading