We want to hear from you!

First 5 Contra Costa is hosting focus groups to help us improve services for African American families. We are looking for parents who have participated at First 5 Centers, in home visiting services, or other programs we fund to attend the focus groups. A light meal, child care, and $40 gift card will be provided.

The focus groups, along with a needs assessment currently underway, will help create improved services for African American families. We’re allocating $200,000 to pilot these services later this year.

While we are proud of the services we provide at First 5 Centers, we recognize that not all families have benefited from them.  Only 6% of families served by First 5 Centers are African American. We’re looking to change that, or create new services altogether.

Join us for the focus groups!

Richmond: August 3, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Call to register: (510) 210-5271.

Pittsburg: August 14, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Call to register: (925) 967-4709.

Join Quality Matters!

Licensed child care programs throughout Contra Costa County are invited to join Quality Matters, our quality rating and improvement system which supports and incentivizes child care programs to offer the best early care and education possible. Public and private centers and family child care programs can apply.

Quality Matters rates programs every two years on their level of quality on elements including teacher-child interactions, environment, teacher training and qualifications, use of recommended child assessments, and ratio and class size (centers only). Throughout the process, programs receive training, personalized coaching, and participation grants between $2,000 to $10,000 to prepare for their rating and improve quality. This comprehensive support really works.

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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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Health Bill Threatens Care for Millions of Children

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, which would cut Medicaid considerably and allow insurance companies to charge people with preexisting conditions significantly more for coverage.

Some estimate that Medicaid, called Medi-Cal in California, will experience $800 billion in cuts over 10 years if this bill is enacted. Since children make up the proportion of Medicaid enrollees, it’s likely they will bear the brunt of these cuts.

Medi-Cal is a critical support for young children and their families in California. Half of the state’s children, about 5.8 million children, receive health care from Medi-Cal, and one in four Contra Costa residents receive these benefits.

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Bill Would Improve Subsidized Child Care

The First 5 Contra Costa Board of Commissioners voted to support AB 435 (Thurmond) at our April meeting.

AB 435, the Contra Costa Child Care Subsidy Pilot, would authorize Contra Costa County to develop an individualized child care subsidy plan with flexibility to adjust eligibility guidelines, increase reimbursement rates for providers, and fully utilize subsidized funding the state allocates to Contra Costa County.

This bill is modeled after successful legislation that increased local flexibility of child care subsidy dollars in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco. The bill does not call for new funding from the state. First 5 Contra Costa is co-sponsoring AB 435 with the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

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Program Turns Parents Into Literacy Champions

Twenty-two parents at the West County First 5 Center are on their way to becoming certified “ Tandem® Literacy Champions.”

Tandem Partners in Early Learning®, the organization we fund to provide StoryCycles book-sharing programs throughout the County, trains parents so they can, in turn, help other parents in the community learn how to build their children’s early literacy and language skills.

The first step to becoming a Literacy Champion is for parents to attend four training sessions on early literacy and family engagement. Of the parents and caregivers participating at the West County First 5 Center, one was a father, three were grandparents, and most were bilingual in English and Spanish.

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Resources for Immigrant Children and Families

New immigration and deportation policies have many families worried, and agencies who provide services struggling to keep up. Here are some helpful resources to assist families during these turbulent times. Please note we will update this list periodically.

About the New Immigration Policies:

  • Memo from Department of Homeland Security outlining new policies
  • New ICE Raids – What Immigrants Need to Know (National Immigration Law Center)

Legal Rights and Resources:

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Standing Up for Our Children

Almost half of all kids in Contra Costa County have immigrant parents. As champions for the most vulnerable among us, we wholeheartedly refute policies that cause harm to immigrant families and our community.

Immigrants move to America to make better lives for themselves, and to contribute to our culture and community. That’s the American Dream. Or at least it always has been.

Today’s political climate – with its unsound Executive Orders and inhumane deportation policies – is putting  more and more families in harm’s way, especially non-citizens, people of color, and Muslim Americans.

Immigration policies that break families apart threaten young children’s safety, stability, and development. Children should not live in constant fear their parents will be taken away at any moment. Children should not be further traumatized when a loving parent is deported or by policies that promote racial hatred.

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New Posters Promote Breastfeeding Benefits

We were pleased to join Contra Costa Health Services, Kaiser Permanente and the WIC program to print a new series of posters promoting the benefits of breastfeeding for babies, mothers and families.

Contra Costa County’s WIC department led the project, which features photos of WIC families, to create a set of promotional breastfeeding materials with modern, relatable families and messages, as you can see below:

 
  

The bilingual posters were placed at the County Health Clinics and WIC sites, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, the five First 5 Centers, and all Head Start sites. The image with the mother with tattoos was adopted by California’s WIC program to use for statewide outreach.

Find more information about breastfeeding benefits and support in Contra Costa County.

Help Me Grow…is Growing!

We’ve made great progress in our second year implementing the Help Me Grow (HMG) model, a system to streamline early screening and intervention services for young children and families.

Screening young children for developmental delays and linking them to effective services provides immediate relief to concerned families and reduces the costs for special education or other services down the road. In California, most developmental concerns are not identified or addressed until children start kindergarten – missed opportunities to begin interventions early.

Contra Costa’s Help Me Grow system is working to change this in four effective ways:

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