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

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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2016 Highlights

coverphotoLast year was another productive one at First 5 Contra Costa. Our funded programs and activities continued to improve the lives of our county’s most vulnerable children, and reached over 30,000 parents, children and providers.

2015-16 Highlights:

1,830 families participated in First 5 Center classes and activities. Over the course of services, parents reported an increase in parenting knowledge, child development, and where to find help for their family. Parents also read to their children more, and for longer periods of time, after participating.

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New Program Gets Pittsburg Neighbors Moving

ECRG_800x532Improving the playground at De Anza Park in Pittsburg was just the beginning for the East County Regional Group.

Newly funded with a $20,000 from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Program, this dedicated group of parent advocates we sponsor are launching Pittsburg PACE (Parks, Activities, & Community Engagement) with a series of activities designed to increase physical activity among young children and families in Pittsburg’s Trident/De Anza Park neighborhood. Continue reading

Our Impact in 2015

2015 was another productive year at First 5 Contra Costa, as our funded programs continued to improve the lives of our county’s most vulnerable children and families. Take a look at some highlights accomplished by our funded programs in 2015:

Programs and activities funded by First 5 Contra Costa reached 5,100 children, 18,725 parents, and 1550 early care and education providers. 

385 expecting and new parents received home visiting services, with 6,700 visits provided. We changed our home visiting model three years ago to provide more intensive and longer services. Since then, families are now getting more than twice the number of home visits and being served twice as long.

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First 5 Centers Bring Families Together

b-dayEach year the five First 5 Centers serve about 1,900 families, providing 400 different types of classes for them to take. These classes are designed to improve parenting skills, help parents feel more confident, and help children develop to their full potential. Parents also report that the Centers help increase their social support – which this short vignette perfectly captures.

When a mother at the Bay Point First 5 Center told other parents at the Center she wasn’t throwing her daughter a third birthday party, they wanted to know why. She said the little girl, who has special needs, did not have any friends. Moved by the response, the other parents at the Center immediately started planning a party for the little girl, which took place the following week with 15 kids attending the pink princess bash.

Building community is a big part of supporting parents. Thanks Bay Point First 5 Center and Care Parent Network for facilitating engagement like this!

See the latest free classes and programs at a First 5 Center near you.

First 5 Advocates Partner with Police to Improve Parks

CCRGThe Regional Groups are continuing their efforts to help all Contra Costa children gain access to safe, usable parks and playgrounds. Their latest activities include co-hosting meetings with police representatives to improve safety in and around parks.

The Regional Groups, three parent advocacy groups First 5 Contra Costa trains, supports, and sponsors, began their park improvement work a few years ago by assessing conditions at 75 parks in the Monument community of Concord, East County and San Pablo. Results from these assessments have been presented to local city councils and park and recreation commissions, and so far, have generated $1.6 million in funds and grants from cities to pay for recommended improvements. But that was just the beginning.

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Regional Groups Net $1.3 Million for Park Improvements

Regional_Group_CCRG_SlideCity councils in Concord and San Pablo recently approved a total of $1.3 million to fund park improvement projects – and we have a dedicated group of parent leaders to thank for it.

For more than two years, members of the three Regional Groups we sponsor have been working to improve parks in Contra Costa County’s lowest income communities. Along with partners like Monument Impact, Healthy and Active Before 5, and Contra Costa Health Services, the Regional Groups began this effort by assessing 75 parks in cities including Antioch, Bay Point, Concord, Pittsburg, and San Pablo.

Findings and recommendations from these assessments then went to each city’s park and recreation commissions and/or city councils to secure funding to implement the Group’s priorities for park improvements. Continue reading

Parent Volunteers Rate 75 Local Parks

CE_slideParent volunteers participating on the three Regional Groups we sponsor have assessed a total of 75 local parks for safety, accessibility and fun.

The park assessments, which have taken place in Antioch, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Concord’s Monument Community, and San Pablo, represent the Groups’ focus on urban planning and how it can present barriers or opportunities for children’s health. Safe, accessible, and age-appropriate parks are critical to promoting physical activity and outdoor play for children, particularly families living in Contra Costa’s lower income communities.

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