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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Early Care Providers: Join Quality Matters!

qris_blog_800x534Licensed child care programs throughout Contra Costa County are invited to join Quality Matters, our quality improvement system which supports and incentivizes child care programs to offer the best early learning experiences possible. Currently, 108 licensed child care programs are participating in the system, and we have room for 30 more.

This year, Quality Matters is expanding in two new ways.

First, any licensed child care program located in Contra Costa County may now apply. While priority for participation will still be sites located in lower income communities and those serving infants and toddlers and/or children with special needs, space may be available for other programs to participate.

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School readiness gap narrowing

childrennowWe’ve been working to improve early childhood experiences for nearly 20 years – and new research shows it’s paying off.

Last month, researchers from Stanford University released new data comparing 40,000 children who started kindergarten in 1998, 2006, and 2010. They found that children from the poorest and wealthiest families improved in early literacy and math assessments. Despite the Great Recession and growing inequality in the country, children in poverty made the largest gains.

The lead researcher said the achievement gap is closing “not because schools are getting more equal, but because something in early childhood is becoming more equal.”  According to researchers, the leveling force may be parents.

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Community Effort Leads to Safer Streets in Concord

resident_leadersA street party is taking place to celebrate a community-driven project that led to $2.7 million in pedestrian safety improvements on Detroit Avenue, one of Concord’s most heavily trafficked streets located in the heart of the Monument community.

The celebration culminates a process that began in 2012, when the Central County Regional Group, a parent advocacy group we train and sponsor, conducted an assessment of walking and biking safety on Detroit Avenue with help from local agencies and elected officials. Detroit Avenue lacked safe sidewalks, bike lanes and crossings, which resulted in a number of collisions in recent years.

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Find Child Care Quality Ratings

Example I of QM Site ReportRatings for the 95 programs participating in our new quality child care rating and improvement system (QRIS) called Quality Matters are now posted. These 95 programs include both center-based care and family child care programs and provide care for about 3,500 children. Most are located in low-income communities.

Quality Matters programs are rated using a scale of one to five on elements including:

  • Providing positive, engaging teacher-child interactions
  • Providing a safe, healthy and stimulating environment
  • Teacher training and qualifications
  • Using recommended assessments to check if children are learning new skills and developing on track
  • Ratio and class size (Centers only)

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