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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CA Budget Postpones Child Care Funding Increase

“We are in very uncertain times,” said Governor Jerry Brown when he released his 2017-18 State Budget proposal last week. The Governor is anticipating a $1.6 billion deficit, the first deficit projected after four years of growth, due to lower revenues collected. The anticipation of major policy shifts from the incoming Trump administration and the Republican Congress only adds to the uncertainty. The impact of reduced (or eliminated) federal funding flowing to California will likely be reflected in the May Budget Revise, if known.

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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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Reflections on the Election

votePost election, emotions are running high. Some people are disappointed; others are jubilant. Our concern lies in the fact that many of the families we support are afraid. And rightly so.

In the last week, hate crimes and rhetoric against people of color, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, women and the LGBTQ community have increased. Children are afraid their parents will be deported. Young Americans who have spent nearly their entire lives in the U.S. fear the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will be repealed, separating them from the only home they know. Families who rely on health insurance through MediCaid or Covered California (via the Affordable Care Act) may lose their coverage. Keep in mind half of all children in California have publicly funded health care.

As we wait to learn how the new administration’s policies will affect the families we serve, I can say this: At First 5 Contra Costa, equity will remain our guiding principle in all the work we do. The vulnerable families we support need us more than ever. We will fight for and with them. We will call out policies that harm them. We will double down on our efforts to help all children thrive.

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