Helping Our Youngest Children Continue to Learn at Home

 

Some simple steps you can take to set up a routine at home with children 0-5

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, many schools and childcare locations have been temporarily closed and it has left parents and caregivers wondering how to balance being at home and continuing the development of their children.

Although it can feel overwhelming, it’s helpful to remember that play and interaction is a form of learning. Through play, our youngest children develop social and cognitive skills, and can gain self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments.

Don’t forget to check out the extremely helpful video at the bottom from Dr. Barbara Stroud, or click here to view the original in YouTube.

LET’S START WITH SOME SIMPLE WAYS TO PLAN OUT THE DAY

Planning out a schedule can help to ease some anxiety and allow everyone to feel reassured by routine (adults and children). Remember, if your children have been at child care, or school, they are used to the routine and a simple, flexible schedule will help their day feel structured.

Here is a simple routine that you can use as a reference point for how to set up your day. Feel free to adjust the times and order to suit your needs. Example: if your little one is used to taking a nap after lunch, move an activity earlier, and slide things around. Give yourself the freedom to adjust the day as it develops and find comfort that the routine is flexible.

Looking for activities? Here you’ll find a list of activities that are perfect for each age of early childhood, from the baby years on into the beginnings of grade school.

LISTEN TO HOW THEY EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS

Your children are communicating with you the second they are born. “As children develop, they learn to speak and use language,” says Ruta Rosset, Speech and Language Pathologist. From smiles and coos, to single words and full sentences, stay mindful of how are children are communicating with us. Click here to find a summary of the expressive language skills children age 0-5 generally attain at key milestones in their development.

INCLUDE A VARIETY

Let’s also acknowledge that all children learn and explore in a variety of ways, and have different needs and resources. Homes with multiple children of different ages and abilities also have to consider what is best for the individual child. In creating a daily routine, try and include a mixture of activities: inside, outside, reading and fine motor skills, music and play. Also, include some down time for rest and relaxation and allow children to explore independently—it can be extremely valuable and confidence building.

RELY ON EXISTING RESOURCES AVAILABLE ONLINE
(But be mindful of screen time – spoiler alert, we address this next)

First 5 California has FREE online activities for babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. As well as at-home activity suggestions like how to build an obstacle course, or create your own music. Find the perfect activity for children at all stages from 0-5

PBS also has great FREE online resources, including games that talk about feelings, teamwork, counting, and much more.

BE MINDFUL OF SCREEN TIME

Even with a lot of amazing online resources being available, it is not suggested that children remain in front of screens for long periods of time (especially children under the age of 2). The day should be focused on a healthy balance of activities to keep children occupied. Here is a video from the Washington Post on a healthy balance of screen time.

STICK TO WHAT IS FAMILIAR

It’s always helpful to stick with what feels familiar for yourself, and the children. Having the same wake-up time, snack time, play time, nap time, etc., will help the children feel like it is their typical routine. And remember to ask the children for some input. They are more likely to stay engaged if the activities revolve around their interests.

VIDEO: COVID-19 Tips for Parents from Dr. Barbara Stroud

HERE ARE SOME MORE TIPS AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Parent Leaders to Host Census Family Fair–an Event Focused on a Complete Count of All Children

Two parent advocacy groups—the East County Regional Group and the Central County Regional Group, both sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa— are hosting Census Family Fair events focused on a complete count of all children to secure needed federal funding and accurate representation for children and families across Contra Costa.

An undercount in the 2020 Census could cost Contra Costa County between $500 million and $1.1 billion over 10 years in federal programs, including programs for kids such as education, childcare, medical care, food assistance, housing, and public transportation.

It is critical that everyone in underrepresented neighborhoods are counted for the 2020 Census. Being counted means more money into our communities for needed programs, as well as more equitable political representation for low-income families and families of color”, said Rhea Elina Laughlin, Program Officer with First 5 Contra Costa.

The well-being of all families in Contra Costa County is dependent upon a complete count. These fun, family-friendly events will raise awareness on the impact of an accurate count and address misinformation, fearmongering, and actions targeting underrepresented communities, especially immigrant families and families of color⁠.

With a focus on undercounted communities and to address some of the challenges in responding to the Census (including internet access and privacy concerns), there will be census experts, community resources, and trusted community partners available to answer any questions and to assist with the process.

“A lot of people don’t know about the census or worry how their information will be used. We’re holding this event to help our community understand how important it is we are ALL counted”, said Chipo Washington, Chair of the East County Regional Group.

There will be two events in Contra Costa County and all services are available at no cost—kids activities will include face painting, arts and crafts, as well as music and dance.

Saturday, April 4, 2020 

11am – 1pm
Anuta Park
2485 Willow Pass Rd., Bay Point

TBD

11am – 1pm
Ellis Lake Park
1760 Clayton Rd., Concord

Community partners at both events will include:

  • La Clínica
  • Contra Costa Health Services
  • Family Justice Center
  • CoCoKids
  • First Baptist
  • First 5 Centers
  • 211
  • Center for Human Development
  • All in One

 

Parent Leaders Help Contra Costa County Secure Over $7 Million In Grant Funds To Renovate Local Parks

The children and families in the cities of Richmond and Antioch will get the parks of their dreams.

Through grassroots resident leadership and city/community partnerships, Contra Costa County received over $15 million (40% of the $36 million awarded to the Bay Area) from Proposition 68 grant funds to renovate and create local parks in underserved communities

The City of Richmond was awarded $12.7 million in grant funds for two projects ($8.5 million for the Harbour-8 Park Expansion and $4.2 million for the Boorman Park Revitalization) and the City of Antioch was awarded nearly $3 million for the Contra Loma Estates Park Project. There were 478 applications received and the Statewide Park Program (SPP), designed to create new parks and recreation opportunities in critically underserved communities across California, selected 62 applications statewide with three park locations in Contra Costa County.

The parent advocacy groups—West County Regional Group and East County Regional Group, both sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa—served as the community partner for two of the three projects. The regional groups led participatory community park needs assessments that resulted in the identification of priority parks (Boorman Park and Contra Loma Estates Park) in the highest need of attention. In partnership with First 5 Contra Costa, Healthy & Active Before 5, the City of Richmond, and the City of Antioch, resident leaders organized a series of in-depth community workshops to create the future vision and design of both parks. The funding will make the community’s dream for their local parks a reality.

To promote increased park use among young children and families, a collaborative team of West Contra Costa County residents, early childhood advocates, and community organizations initiated a community-led research project to assess the quality of public parks in the city of Richmond, CA.

The total funding approved for grants throughout the State was $254.9 million, with $36 million awarded to the Bay Area. With SPP embracing meaningful engagement with local residents where park designs represent each community’s unique recreation needs and creativity, the grant applications from Contra Costa County represented parent leadership, an innovative model, and a commitment to a community-driven process.

“Parks are important for our children to grow up healthy. Just because we live in a low-income area, does not mean our children should have less. Our kids and communities deserve quality parks to play in and be active”, said Leydi Maldonado, Chair of the parent advocacy group, West County Regional Group.

Similarly, residents mobilized by the East County Regional Group have worked with the city of Antioch for years to bring needed investments to Contra Loma Estates Park. Residents’ support and advocacy led the City of Antioch to make unprecedented improvements and the partnership played an instrumental role in receiving the grant award.

“This investment will shape childhoods for generations to come. We are thrilled that Richmond and Antioch children will have the innovative, fun, and safe places to play outdoors that they deserve. These park grants represent what we can accomplish together when we partner with residents and bring multiple organizations together to transform neighborhoods”, said Rhea Elina Laughlin with First 5 Contra Costa.

The East County Regional Group leads a workshop for the community to envision the park of their dreams.

 Public parks are essential spaces for promoting community health, and in particular, physical activity, outdoor play, and mental well-being among families with young children. It is well established that early childhood is a critical time in the life course for promoting health and preventing chronic disease. With improved access to quality parks in their own neighborhoods, the youngest children of Contra Costa County are more likely to benefit from opportunities for a healthy start to their lives.

“Promoting and advocating for local policies that increase access to safe and healthy open spaces for children and families to play, connect, and be active is integral to First 5 Contra Costa’s mission to promote optimal development for all children” Ruth Fernandez, Executive Director at First 5 Contra Costa.

Boorman Park Concept

Additional information:

Regional Groups are parent advocacy groups of residents working to make communities healthier, safer, and more equitable for young children and families. Three groups exist in Contra Costa County and work in partnership with the First 5 Contra Costa Community Engagement and Advocacy Program: East County Regional Group (ECRG), West County Regional Group (WCRG), and Central County Regional Group (CCRG).

First 5 Contra Costa helps young children start school healthy, nurtured and ready to learn by investing in programs and activities focused on children during their first five years—the most important time in children’s development.

Click here to learn more about our Regional Groups: http://www.first5coco.org/funded-programs/regional-groupsparent-advocacy/

How the Public Charge Ruling Adversely Affects Our Families and Young Children

As an organization dedicated to the well-being of all families and their young children, we were appalled by the “public charge” ruling that adversely affects immigrant families in our community. We are deeply concerned that this rule expansion will inhibit families from applying for programs and services—or stop receiving them entirely—even if they are eligible or needed.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled (5-4) to allow the Trump administration to move forward with the public charge restriction unveiled last August, which disproportionately targets immigrant families by making it more difficult for immigrants seeking to come or those trying to obtain lawful permanent statuses in the United States.

This decision will have life-altering implications for families needing access to services for themselves, or their children. By depriving immigrants of basic needs such as food and housing, the expansion continues to deepen and amplify the climate of fear and deprivation that has become prevalent within immigrant communities and communities of color. It will continue to threaten the health, nutrition, housing, and well-being of young children everywhere.

“This is yet another inequitable attack on our families. The ramifications of the Supreme Court’s ruling will have a chilling effect on our community’s health and education as families continue to live in fear, and chose to seclude and withdraw from essential health services,” said Dr. Ruth Fernández, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa.

First 5 Contra Costa believes that it is our shared responsibility to ensure the safety and healthy development of all children. We will continue our unwavering commitment to support, advocate, and partner with immigrant families, continue to fight for equitable access to needed services, and strive towards a future in which every family can thrive.

Although the rule is limited to individuals actively applying for lawful permanent status in the United States, not their families or children, we anticipate a continued wave of drop-off in services that has been reported nation-wide since last fall.

“This will continue to have a direct and devastating impact on the lives of our most vulnerable children and their families. It is a dehumanizing act impacting the wellbeing of immigrant families who contribute greatly to our communities,” added Dr. Ruth Fernández. “As leaders in Contra Costa County, and as a community, we must continue to speak up, advocate, and take action against this injustice.” 

In an effort to combat the fear and misinformation, we encourage our communities, our county, and our state to join us in our commitment and movement for united, safe and loving communities.

For more information on First 5 Contra Costa’s efforts towards a safer, healthier, and more equitable Contra Costa County, please reach out to our Community Engagement and Advocacy Program: http://www.first5coco.org/funded-programs/regional-groupsparent-advocacy/

To learn more about how Northern California communities are impacted by the public charge rule, below is a partial list of organizations from the California Immigrant Policy Center that can help answer questions and concerns:

For additional immigration services providers:
bit.ly/immigrationhelp

For additional information and resources:
https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/

Early Childhood Mental Health Community Forum (SOLD OUT)

UPDATE:
The event is at capacity, but will be live-streamed here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vb3ki-b6OE&feature=youtu.be

In partnership with the County’s Behavioral Health Division, First 5 Contra Costa is sponsoring an Early Childhood Mental Health Community Forum on Saturday, November 2 in Pittsburg. Not only will this be a great opportunity to hear about community needs for children with social and emotional challenges, but it marks an important step in our partnership with Behavioral Health in better understanding the prevention benefits of addressing children in the earliest years.

PERFECT FOR FAMILIES (AND PROVIDERS)

We invite you to lend your voice to the conversation on how to support positive mental health in young children and to learn about the importance of acting early to improve future mental health outcomes.  Input gathered will be used in preparation for the Contra Costa County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Three Year Program and Expenditure Plan for fiscal years 2020-2023.

  • Information on local resources
  • Complimentary continental breakfast, light lunch, and refreshments to be provided

* * *

Pittsburg Senior Center
300 Presidio Lane, Pittsburg

Saturday, November 2, 2019
10am to 1pm
On-site registration begins at 9:30am

Live-stream available: https://youtu.be/SJDOykDyl44

* * *

Contact the MHSA Office in advance if you need language translation services, directions on how to access public transportation, or any other reasonable accommodations at (925) 957-2617.

Contact Daryn Nabeta at First 5 Contra Costa, for questions about food at dnabeta@first5coco.org.

Please arrive by 9:30am to allow time for check in and registration. The program will start promptly at 10am.