DACA Reversal Harms Children

The Trump administration’s heartless decision to roll back DACA will harm children and families.

About a quarter of DACA recipients, 800,000 young adults whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children, live in California. Since 2012, DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has provided recipients with work permits, the ability to go to college, and most important, protection from deportation.

These young Dreamers contribute to our schools, churches, cities, and communities. They’re our colleagues, neighbors, and friends. About 25% are parents to U.S. born children, and over half have U.S. citizen brothers or sisters.

The Trump administration has placed this successful program, and thousands of futures, in jeopardy.

The anxiety surrounding a family’s immigration status can be detrimental to the health and development of children. A recent study found that when parents received DACA status, it significantly improved their children’s mental health almost immediately. Simply put: children had less stress and anxiety when their parents no longer feared being deported.

The current administration’s immigration crackdown has eroded these gains for children. Reversing DACA will only exacerbate this.

All children deserve to have safe, secure childhoods. They should not live in fear that their parents or siblings will be taken away at any moment, or be further traumatized when a loved one is deported, leaving many in sudden poverty.

DACA is admittedly an imperfect, short-term solution to a much larger need for comprehensive immigration reform. But it is also the most compassionate path for “those who believe in their hearts and in their minds that they are American” as President Obama said when he created DACA in 2012. We hope our leaders will stand up for DACA so that all children are supported in safe, nurturing families and communities.

Sean Casey, Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa

Support Available for ECE Providers

Early care and education providers spend every day helping children learn and grow. Now it’s their turn.

The Professional Development Program (PDP) is accepting applications for 2017-18 from early childhood educators working with children birth to age 5 at licensed or licensed-exempt programs in Contra Costa County.

For nearly 20 years, the PDP has helped ECE providers advance their education and training in early childhood education, and rewarded them when they do. This year’s PDP is no exception.

Participants will receive financial incentives ranging from $300 to $1,250 when they earn six units of college coursework, attend reflective practice seminars, complete training hours, or qualify for lost wages reimbursements.

“The PDP has helped thousands of early care professionals in Contra Costa County become better trained teachers,” said First 5 Contra Costa’s Early Childhood Education Program Officer Edirle Menezes. “Children learn best in stimulating environments with well-trained teachers. We are fortunate to have thousands of these dedicated teachers in our county.”

First 5 funds Academic Advisors for ECE providers at the county’s three community colleges.

When providers sign up for the PDP, they also receive support. First 5 Contra Costa funds three academic advisors in the child development departments at Contra Costa, Diablo Valley, and Los Medanos Community Colleges to help child care providers map out their college coursework, apply for stipends, textbook loans, or permits, and find tutoring. The three advisors met with over 700 local child care providers last year alone.

We partner with the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the Local Planning & Advisory Council for Early Care and Education (LPC) on this successful program. Combined, our efforts invest over $1.2 million annually to improve ECE teacher quality in Contra Costa County, with funding from local Proposition 10 funds, AB 212, and First 5 California.

FTo apply for the 2017-18 Professional Development Program, click here.

Meet Benjamin

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.”

Learn more about the First 5 Centers and the West County Regional Group.

Getting Ready for the First Day of Kindergarten

Summers winding down and the first day of school is around the corner. Here are some tips for making that first day as smooth and enjoyable as possible for kindergartners new to school:

Get immunized: Make sure your child is ready to start the school year by visiting your pediatrician and getting the required vaccinations for school enrollment.

Set your clocks for school schedules: A good night’s sleep helps young students to succeed in the classroom. Put children on a schedule before school starts and have them go to bed and wake up earlier. Let your child become involved with picking clothes – lay them out the night before. Continue reading

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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