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.

Reflections on 2017

2017 brought new challenges for many families in our community. Expanded deportation policies and an intensified anti-immigrant climate left families feeling anxious and afraid. We responded quickly in significant ways to help both families and the agencies that serve them. Many turned to the First 5 Centers for help, where they found immigration workshops, counseling, and trustworthy information.

The three Regional Groups we sponsor took action as well. Together with their partners, they successfully advocated for 6 safe haven/sanctuary policies at city councils and school districts throughout Contra Costa County. We joined them in pressing the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to approve funding for the county’s first rapid response program, which will soon provide legal assistance and reliable information to immigrant residents.

We held a successful forum for 175 local service providers featuring child development experts, attorneys, and advocates who provided the latest information on immigration policies and rights, the detrimental impact mass deportation policies have on children and families, tips for easing children’s fears, and resources to fight discriminatory detention practices in Contra Costa County.

These are issues we never thought we’d be tackling a year ago. But we found new ways to support families and bring light to their needs, as First 5 has done for nearly two decades.

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Proposition 10, the ballot initiative that created First 5 in California. We’ve been responding to the needs of Contra Costa’s vulnerable children and families since then, and will continue to advocate and take action for kids in significant ways in the year ahead.

Look for improved services and outreach for African American families, a new curriculum on early childhood trauma, results from our first countywide kindergarten readiness assessment, expanded First 5 Center services, in addition to the many effective programs we regularly support.

Despite the challenges, or maybe because of them, First 5 is ready to act, and ready to lead. All children deserve to grow up safe, nurtured, ready for school, and able to pursue their dreams.

Sean Casey is the Executive Director at First 5 Contra Costa