New Campaign Helps East Bay Babies Reach Full Potential

First 5 Contra Costa is pleased to announce our new campaign to help parents meet the everyday challenges of raising babies and toddlers and help more kids achieve healthy development. Called Help Me Grow, the campaign directs parents to a new website and 211 phone line where they can find answers to parenting questions and concerns, no matter how big or small. Services are free and confidential.

The campaign includes bilingual ads in English and Spanish and is sponsored by First 5 Alameda County, First 5 Contra Costa, and the Thomas J. Long Foundation.

“From the day they are born, babies are constantly changing. It’s exciting, and it can also be challenging for families to figure out what their baby or toddler needs next,” said Sean Casey, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa. “Help Me Grow support families through every stage of their baby’s development, from first smiles to the first day of school.”

Through its phone and texting services and website, Help Me Grow offers parents information about developmental milestones, what to do if they have concerns about their baby’s development, and where to find local services such as parenting classes, health clinics, or food banks. Help Me Grow also helps families find free developmental screening to check how babies are growing and developing; referrals for children to get evaluated if there are developmental concerns; and services for children who need to catch up on their development.

The advertising campaign will run through the summer and includes online ads, brochures and posters distributed through pediatric offices in the East Bay, and outdoor ads in Contra Costa County communities.

New bilingual brochures, postcards, and posters are available for Contra Costa organizations to distribute. Email us at helpmegrow@first5coco.org to order a supply.

Connect to Help Me Grow:

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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.

Contra Costa Kids Drinking Less Sugary Drinks

Together with Healthy and Active Before 5, we launched our hard-hitting and award-winning Sugar Bites campaign in 2013 urging parents to protect their toddlers and preschoolers from sugary drinks and serve them water instead. New data show local parents are heeding the message.

Analysis of children’s sugary beverage consumption among families new to First 5 services shows a steady decline over the last four years. The data come from First 5 Contra Costa’s annual family survey, a detailed list of questions hundreds of families complete when they start participating in services we fund.

The survey asks parents if their child had a sugary drink yesterday. Back in 2012/13, 80% of respondents answered yes. Last year, the response had dropped to 63%.

Juice Drinks

Sugar Bites is a unique campaign for many reasons, one being its focus on sugary juice drinks. Three of the four print ads we’ve run feature drinks like Sunny D or Capri Sun to challenge deceptive marketing tactics used to trick parents into thinking juice drinks are healthy beverages for young children. We also ran a TV commercial with this message.

Juice contains as much sugar as soda, sometimes more. Sugar Bites has provided a much-needed counter message for parents barraged by misleading claims from the beverage industry.

Since 2012/13, children’s consumption of juice in Contra Costa County is down 26%.

Decline mirrors state health data

Data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation’s largest state health survey, show a decrease in juice consumption among young children in Contra Costa County as well.

Families with children age two to six were asked if they served their children juice yesterday. In 2011, 22% of respondents said their child did not drink juice the day before. By 2015, this percentage had tripled, with 66% of children not drinking juice.

We continue to run the Sugar Bites campaign each year. For the last two, we’ve had a smaller campaign targeting Concord and San Pablo via bus ads, grocery carts, convenience stores, and window clings on sugary drinks cases in small shops. The last campaign had about 24 million media impressions (the number of times people saw the ads). First 5 Sacramento also runs the ads in the Sacramento region.

Learn more about Sugar Bites at www.cutsugarydrinks.org.

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.

Program Turns Parents Into Literacy Champions

Twenty-two parents at the West County First 5 Center are on their way to becoming certified “ Tandem® Literacy Champions.”

Tandem Partners in Early Learning®, the organization we fund to provide StoryCycles book-sharing programs throughout the County, trains parents so they can, in turn, help other parents in the community learn how to build their children’s early literacy and language skills.

The first step to becoming a Literacy Champion is for parents to attend four training sessions on early literacy and family engagement. Of the parents and caregivers participating at the West County First 5 Center, one was a father, three were grandparents, and most were bilingual in English and Spanish.

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New Posters Promote Breastfeeding Benefits

We were pleased to join Contra Costa Health Services, Kaiser Permanente and the WIC program to print a new series of posters promoting the benefits of breastfeeding for babies, mothers and families.

Contra Costa County’s WIC department led the project, which features photos of WIC families, to create a set of promotional breastfeeding materials with modern, relatable families and messages, as you can see below:

 
  

The bilingual posters were placed at the County Health Clinics and WIC sites, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, the five First 5 Centers, and all Head Start sites. The image with the mother with tattoos was adopted by California’s WIC program to use for statewide outreach.

Find more information about breastfeeding benefits and support in Contra Costa County.

Help Me Grow…is Growing!

We’ve made great progress in our second year implementing the Help Me Grow (HMG) model, a system to streamline early screening and intervention services for young children and families.

Screening young children for developmental delays and linking them to effective services provides immediate relief to concerned families and reduces the costs for special education or other services down the road. In California, most developmental concerns are not identified or addressed until children start kindergarten – missed opportunities to begin interventions early.

Contra Costa’s Help Me Grow system is working to change this in four effective ways:

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Early Care Providers: Join Quality Matters!

qris_blog_800x534Licensed child care programs throughout Contra Costa County are invited to join Quality Matters, our quality improvement system which supports and incentivizes child care programs to offer the best early learning experiences possible. Currently, 108 licensed child care programs are participating in the system, and we have room for 30 more.

This year, Quality Matters is expanding in two new ways.

First, any licensed child care program located in Contra Costa County may now apply. While priority for participation will still be sites located in lower income communities and those serving infants and toddlers and/or children with special needs, space may be available for other programs to participate.

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New Program Gets Pittsburg Neighbors Moving

ECRG_800x532Improving the playground at De Anza Park in Pittsburg was just the beginning for the East County Regional Group.

Newly funded with a $20,000 from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Program, this dedicated group of parent advocates we sponsor are launching Pittsburg PACE (Parks, Activities, & Community Engagement) with a series of activities designed to increase physical activity among young children and families in Pittsburg’s Trident/De Anza Park neighborhood. Continue reading