2014 was a productive year at First 5 Contra Costa. Our funded programs served more than 22,500 children and parents. In addition, 1,875 early child care educators from 217 child care sites received training and support on providing higher quality child care. Thanks to our funding partners for their work to help Contra Costa’s children grow up healthy, nurtured and ready to learn.
Take a look at some of our top highlights from 2014:
For the first time in its 15-year history, Contra Costa’s popular Welcome Home Baby program is offering home visiting services to new fathers. Matched with a male home visitor, the program helps fathers to become more involved in their baby’s life, which research shows produces better health and educational outcomes for children.
“Children with involved, stable fathers have fewer behavioral problems, higher educational attainment, and lower levels of emotional stress,” said Odessa Caton, program director at AspiraNet, the nonprofit that runs Welcome Home Baby. “Home visiting is an effective way to reach new parents, reduce child abuse, and improve child health and development, but most programs are only for mothers. We’re out to change that.”
Alex Chavez wasn’t sure what to expect the first time he attended a Central County Regional Group meeting, but with a two-year-old son, he was interested to learn how this Group was making Concord safer and healthier for families. Three years later, he’s the Chair of the Group and its 60 active members.
“I had been looking for a way to become more involved with my community and become a community advocate, and this was it,” he said.
As a member of the Regional Group, Alex has participated on assessments to improve neighborhood streets and parks in the Monument Community, even meeting with city officials to make recommendations. Earlier this year, he advocated in Sacramento for immigrant rights, meeting with Concord’s State Assembly Member, Susan Bonilla. That, he says, is a day he will never forget.
Fathers today are spending more time with their children compared to three decades ago, according to the Families and Work Institute, a leading nonprofit that studies workforce and family issues. They are also taking on more nurturing and caregiving roles.
A relationship with dad can change a child’s life. Research shows that the role a father plays in a young child’s life is extremely important to a child’s healthy development, and there are many positive outcomes for children whose fathers are more involved in their daily lives.
In recognition of Father’s Day, First 5 offers the following tips for dads and other male caregivers:
Get involved early. Taking an active role in caring for a newborn helps dads and babies bond from the start. You might consider taking a few days off from work after the baby is born to spend quality time together. In California, new parents, including dads, are eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to be with their newborn. Continue reading
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.”
For nearly a decade, First 5 Contra Costa has funded Contra Costa ARC’s Care Parent Network, a program that provides training, educational support, peer mentoring, and one on one and group support for parents who have children with special needs. Care provides a monthly support group for dads, and last year, connected half a dozen fathers with peer mentors. Read about two Care dads, Bob and Tim, who share their perspectives about the program as well as their experience raising a child with special needs.
1) How did you become involved with the Care Parent Network?
Bob: I became involved with Care in 1998 shortly after my daughter, Tess, had an intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding on the brain) in utero and was diagnosed at birth with hydrocephalus. My wife & I met Care’s Family Support Coordinator Louise Schneiders. Louise told me about Just for Fathers and I’ve been part of it ever since. It’s a bunch of dads getting together every month to catch up on our lives while sharing a pizza. It’s a great place!
Tim: I was referred by the Regional Center and my wife heard about both the mother’s and father’s group that meets once a month through Care. I decided to check out the dad’s group – pizza and beer didn’t sound so bad. Continue reading