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.

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.

New Playgrounds Coming to Concord

The Monument Community of Concord is celebrating two new playgrounds with a parade and ribbon cuttings after the Central County Regional Group we sponsor urged the city council to improve parks in their community.

The effort began in 2013 when the CCRG and partners assessed conditions at parks in the Monument neighborhood of Concord. Two parks, Ellis Lake and Meadow Homes, needed the most improvement, lacked bathrooms, and had more crime and safety issues.

After the parents presented their concerns at several city council meetings, council members agreed to allocate $1.1 million to renovate the two parks.

At Ellis Lake Park, the city expanded the playground by 2,900 square feet, and installed benches, lighting, drinking fountains, a safety barrier near a small lake, and new public restrooms which include a tot-sized toilet and sink rarely found in city parks. Meadow Homes Park received a 4,900-square-foot playground with structures for older and younger children.

The parents group is also tackling crime and safety issues by sponsoring community meetings with police and forming neighborhood watch programs. First 5 Contra Costa and the First 5 Center program adjacent to Ellis Lake Park, will also provide free sports classes and other children’s activities to keep the parks filled with families and deter crime.

The new play structures at Meadow Homes

The celebration events will take place on October 7th, starting at Meadow Homes Park at 10:00 a.m. After the ribbon-cutting there, families will form a parade to Ellis Lake Park to enjoy face painting, arts and crafts, a bike rodeo, and more.

The new playground projects were funded by the City of Concord in response to the Monument Parks Assessment conducted by the Central County Regional Group, First 5 Contra Costa, Monument Impact, and Contra Costa Health Services.

First 5 Contra Costa and the three parent advocacy groups it sponsors have partnered with city officials to refurbish eight neglected parks in low-income communities throughout the county.

Learn more: www.first5coco.org.

 

DACA Reversal Harms Children

The Trump administration’s heartless decision to roll back DACA will harm children and families.

About a quarter of DACA recipients, 800,000 young adults whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children, live in California. Since 2012, DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has provided recipients with work permits, the ability to go to college, and most important, protection from deportation.

These young Dreamers contribute to our schools, churches, cities, and communities. They’re our colleagues, neighbors, and friends. About 25% are parents to U.S. born children, and over half have U.S. citizen brothers or sisters.

The Trump administration has placed this successful program, and thousands of futures, in jeopardy.

The anxiety surrounding a family’s immigration status can be detrimental to the health and development of children. A recent study found that when parents received DACA status, it significantly improved their children’s mental health almost immediately. Simply put: children had less stress and anxiety when their parents no longer feared being deported.

The current administration’s immigration crackdown has eroded these gains for children. Reversing DACA will only exacerbate this.

All children deserve to have safe, secure childhoods. They should not live in fear that their parents or siblings will be taken away at any moment, or be further traumatized when a loved one is deported, leaving many in sudden poverty.

DACA is admittedly an imperfect, short-term solution to a much larger need for comprehensive immigration reform. But it is also the most compassionate path for “those who believe in their hearts and in their minds that they are American” as President Obama said when he created DACA in 2012. We hope our leaders will stand up for DACA so that all children are supported in safe, nurturing families and communities.

Sean Casey, Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa

Parents Help Antioch Get New Playground

ECRG members advocating for better parks in Antioch

An Antioch neighborhood is celebrating a brand new playground, thanks to a group of parents who worked with the city to renovate one of Antioch’s most dilapidated parks. To celebrate, the parents and representatives from the City of Antioch are holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 10 to unveil the new and improved Prosserville Park, now one of the largest parks in the city. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and have races, arts and crafts, face painting, and plenty of time for kids to play on the new structures.

The campaign for the new playground began when the East County Regional Group, a parent advocacy group First 5 Contra Costa sponsors, rated every park in Antioch. Their findings revealed that parks located in the city’s lower-income communities had higher crime, graffiti, and unsafe conditions compared to the city’s newer neighborhoods.

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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.

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Standing Up for Our Children

Almost half of all kids in Contra Costa County have immigrant parents. As champions for the most vulnerable among us, we wholeheartedly refute policies that cause harm to immigrant families and our community.

Immigrants move to America to make better lives for themselves, and to contribute to our culture and community. That’s the American Dream. Or at least it always has been.

Today’s political climate – with its unsound Executive Orders and inhumane deportation policies – is putting  more and more families in harm’s way, especially non-citizens, people of color, and Muslim Americans.

Immigration policies that break families apart threaten young children’s safety, stability, and development. Children should not live in constant fear their parents will be taken away at any moment. Children should not be further traumatized when a loving parent is deported or by policies that promote racial hatred.

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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.

Community Effort Leads to Safer Streets in Concord

resident_leadersA street party is taking place to celebrate a community-driven project that led to $2.7 million in pedestrian safety improvements on Detroit Avenue, one of Concord’s most heavily trafficked streets located in the heart of the Monument community.

The celebration culminates a process that began in 2012, when the Central County Regional Group, a parent advocacy group we train and sponsor, conducted an assessment of walking and biking safety on Detroit Avenue with help from local agencies and elected officials. Detroit Avenue lacked safe sidewalks, bike lanes and crossings, which resulted in a number of collisions in recent years.

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