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

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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Regional Group Hosts Park Clean Up

WCRG3Last weekend, 135 residents joined members of the West County Regional Group and the City of San Pablo to clean up Davis Park in San Pablo. Participants collected 56 bags of garbage and disposed of several large dumped items including television sets, doors, and broken strollers.

Davis Park was deemed the park most in need of improvements in San Pablo after the Regional Group reviewed conditions at each of the city’s parks. One of the main concerns at Davis was the excessive dumping and trash that make the park feel unsafe and unattractive for families to use.

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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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Books are Just the Beginning

IMG_1943Laura Rodriguez, a Community Literacy Specialist for Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, recently visited Stoneman preschool in Pittsburg. She was there to provide a storytelling demonstration for teachers and an engaging early learning experience for the kids.

As she read the Busy Body Book, Laura encouraged the kids to stomp their feet, feel their bones, and talk about their muscles.

“I can carry pillows with my muscles,” one child shared.

“You can! You are very strong,” Laura replied. The demonstration included many open-ended questions, silly sounds, and opportunities for kids to move, act things out, and relate concepts from the story to their lives – all important elements for interactive early learning experiences that spark joy in children.

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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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