Benjamin Estrada didn’t have custody of his four-year-old daughter when he started taking classes at the West County First 5 Center.
“For me, I had to start over. I had to build from the bottom up. I had made a decision that I was going to be a better parent, and the First 5 Center gave me a vision for how that could be possible,” said Benjamin.
Benjamin began visiting the center weekly while working to gain full custody of his daughter. Most of the time, he was the only dad in the class. But that never stopped him.
“My favorite class was the Triple P class. It really goes in depth about parenting. And you learn about all of your child’s developmental stages, and why the first five years are so important. The First 5 Center maps it out for you and makes it understandable. It helps you be a better parent,” he said.
Benjamin is now a single father with full custody of his daughter, who’s about to turn 10, and an active member of the West County Regional Group we sponsor. He also participates on the PTA at his daughter’s school.
“I went to the first Regional Group meeting and haven’t missed one since. We decide what to stand up for, for other parents and children. It’s so fulfilling and empowering,” Benjamin said. “The First 5 Center staff embraces everyone who walks through their door. They still embrace me when I come. I tell all my neighbors to go there.”
First 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.
Meet Greg Harris, a stay-at-home dad in Brentwood. He recently started a father’s group at the Delta First 5 Center for East County dads. Here’s why:
I suddenly became a stay-at-home dad when I lost my job last year. I woke up one Monday morning, my wife went to work, and I looked at my three-year-old daughter and thought, “Now what?”
In those early days, we spent our time at the park, taking classes at the Delta First 5 Center, and going on lots of walks. It wasn’t long before we had formed a new bond. It was amazing.
One morning my wife, daughter, and I were at the farmer’s market and saw a booth for a local parent’s club/playgroup. When I told the organizer I was the stay-at-home parent she said, “Oh, we don’t really want dads in our group.”
Last year our five First 5 Centers served about 1,600 families and provided 260 different classes. This year, families will still find the great variety of services offered, along with some notable additions.
Here’s a list of the top 5 new things coming your way at the First 5 Centers:
1. New Saturday hours! The Centers are open six days a week now that they’ve added Saturday programming. We heard from families, especially working families, about the need for increased weekend programming. It’s here.
2. More classes for dads. In recent years, we’ve seen the participation of dads increase due in part to the recession. In fact, last year there was a 34% increase in men participating compared to the previous year. Recognizing this, Centers are offering classes just for dads and their children as well as father support groups and parenting classes. Continue reading