Juneteenth Observed by First 5 Contra Costa

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved black people in the State of Texas finally learned of their emancipation – a full two months after the end of the Civil War.  The following year, Texas’ emancipated slaves marked this day as one of freedom. On June 16, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, and Congress passed legislation declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday. 

Today, Juneteenth stands as a moment to amplify the unique experiences of African American/Black families, and contributions made by their ancestors.

At First 5 Contra Costa, we are committed to our organizational values of Cultural Humility, Equity, Inclusion, and Community Partnership; and embody our pledge to Anti-Racism. On November 10, 2020, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution No. 2020/306 declaring Racism as a Public Health Crisis and earlier this month, the First 5 Contra Costa Children and Families Commission declared Juneteenth as an observed staff holiday. 

We recognize that the last few years have been a heightened period of trauma for African American families. Now more than ever, it is vital for our actions to repel the legacy of racism and elevate our First 5 values to honor the lives and sacrifices Black people have made to achieve freedom in this country.  As an established and trusted public leader in the County, First 5’s actions have the power to catalyze change for our community partners and other First 5 agencies. 

Looking ahead, our focus is to continue to expand the resources and improve the opportunities available to our youngest residents and the individuals that care for them. Marking Juneteenth is a chance to pause, reflect, and honor the impact of every ancestor that has preceded us and to plant the seeds of equity for generations to come.  

The First 5 Contra Costa administrative offices will be closed on Monday, June 20th in observance and celebration of the Juneteenth Holiday.  We also invite you to join us in reflection and celebration of Juneteenth – we’ve listed resources for learning and events happening in the Bay Area this weekend.

In Solidarity,

The First 5 Contra Costa Team

Below is a list from KQED of Juneteenth events going on in the Bay Area:

Bay Area Juneteenth Events

Afrocentric Oakland’s Juneteenth WeekendThis two-part weekend celebration at Lake Merritt will kick off Saturday with the 10th annual Pan-African Wellness Fest, featuring guided meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, self-defense, spoken word performances, interactive art installations, a youth zone, keynote speakers, Black excellence awards and vendors. Lake Merritt Amphitheater. June 18, 12-8pm, $5. Details here.

Sunday, Afrocentric Oakland will host its annual Fam Bam celebration, also in its 10th year. “Fam Bam X” boasts live performances from DJs, art displays, a youth zone, PanAfrican vendors, and a Black Father’s Day tribute. Lake Merritt Amphitheater. June 19, 12pm-8pm, $20. Details here.

Juneteenth With MoADSan Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora will host an slate of in-person and virtual events to celebrate Freedom Day. Virtual offerings include a panel of artists discussing representation and equality paired with revolutionary music. There will also be a presentation from Dr. Daina Ramey Berry, chair of the history department at the University of Texas at Austin, on the history of the Transatlantic slave trade through to the emancipation of enslaved people in America. In person, the museum will host St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band as they lead a second-line procession and perform in the salon room.  Admission to MoAD’s current exhibitions will also be free all day. June 18, 11am-6pm. Details here.

‘The Joy Protocol’ at the Bayview Opera HouseThe Bayview Opera House will host the premiere of “The Joy Protocol,” a collaboration between San Francisco choreographer Gregory Dawson and jazz musician and composer Richard Howell. The multidisciplinary performance explores finding joy in the time of COVID protocols. June 16-18, 8pm, $15-$50. Details here.

East Bay Regional Parks Juneteenth EventsIf you’d like to get out and celebrate Juneteenth in nature this year, the East Bay Regional Parks have you covered. There’s a Juneteenth Celebration Hike at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont that will celebrate Black contributions and achievements throughout history and in the fields of science, conservation, and art. Ardenwood Historic Farm, also in Fremont, will host an all-ages baseball game. At the Father’s Day and Juneteenth Celebration at Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda, there will be a story circle at the top of every hour and craft-making throughout the day at the Crab Cove Visitor Center. June 19. Details here.

52nd Annual Sonoma County MLK Juneteenth Community FestivalThis festival will feature live music, food, a basketball tournament, arts and crafts, dominoes, spoken word performances and Zumba. There will also be a march from Julliard Park to Martin Luther King Park to honor Sonoma County activist Vince Harper. Martin Luther King Park. June 18, 10am–6pm. Details here.

Hayward Juneteenth Outdoor Fitness & Wellness FestivalThis event will feature trap yoga, dance workout and twerk-out sessions for the adults; and rock-climbing instruction, arts and crafts and the Hayward Public Library’s bookmobile for the kids. Hayward Heritage Plaza. June 18, 10am–1pm. Details here.

‘BLACK AS U R’ screening at the Castro TheatreIn this documentary, filmmaker Micheal Rice explores racism and homophobia within Black communities and the unique challenges faced by those who hold both queer and Black identities. June 19, 6:15 pm, $17.50. Details here.

“Straight Outta Hunters Point” 20th anniversary screening at the Bayview Opera HouseThis 2003 documentary takes viewers on an insider’s tour of the public housing project Hunters Point, where director Kevin Epps grew up. There is also a pre-show performance by Pat Wilder and San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin. This event is a fundraiser in support of the SF BayView Black National Newspaper. June 19, 7pm. Details here.

Elements Juneteenth Party with Timmy RegisfordDance legend Timmy Regisford leads ELEMENTS’ panel about the Black and queer roots of house music, followed by a 21+ after party at a secret location in Oakland. June 18, 9pm. Details here.

East Oakland Futures FestivalThis block party along the Scraper Bike Way will celebrate East Oakland’s food, arts, tech and culture with an Afrocentric tilt. A community bike ride will kick off the event. June 18, 11am–6pm. Details here.

Parent Advocates Celebrate Huge Win in Passing of Anti-Harassment Ordinance in Concord

Central County Regional Group, parent advocates, and residents, gather ahead of the Concord City Council meeting on June 14, 2022.

After 14 months of unrelenting advocacy and courage by parent advocates, the Concord City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday, June 14 to adopt an anti-harassment ordinance to protect renters and families from landlord harassment. The Central County Regional Group (CCRG) members and residents have been calling on Concord City Council to hold abusive landlords accountable to intimidation, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, invasion of privacy, and refusal to make repairs.

This ordinance means Concord’s renting families with young children will have more stable, healthy, and secure housing and gets ALL families one step closer to having dignity, respect, and peace of mind in their own homes.  A stable and safe home is critical to young children’s well-being and overall physical and socio-emotional development.

The victory is a result of the tireless efforts of CCRG members and residents along with the strategic community organizing by the First 5 Contra Costa Community Engagement team, the support by Executive Director Ruth Fernández in reinforcing the message and focus on young children with Council, and the collaborative efforts with Raise the Roof, Monument Impact, Todos Santos Tenants’ Union and many partners who made this possible. 

This win is ALL of ours.

To learn more:

Click here to learn more about the Central County Regional Group.

In solidarity, a call for change, and a community gathering

Hands giving and receiving colorful hearts. Concept of love and care. friendship, charity and volunteering. Acrylic and Mixed media.

It’s impossible to find the words to express our heartbreak. Yesterday’s tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas claimed the precious lives of 19 children and 2 teachers – all taken from their families and communities too soon. Sadly, this is the third time in one week that we find ourselves devastated and frustrated by the continued scourge of gun violence in our country. And here we are again—demanding action from state and federal elected officials. We’ve been here before, but it only becomes more painful. 

We at First 5 Contra Costa County stand in solidarity with the families, teachers, administrators, and staff affected by this horrific act of violence. As an organization that serves children ages 0-5 and their families, the youngest residents of our community are top of mind today. Discussing these events with children is difficult, and there are resources available to families to help. We encourage parents to utilize local support through our Contra Costa Crisis Center by dialing 211 or texting ‘HOPE’ to 20121 as well as: 

We call on our local, state, and federal leaders to invest in mental health supports and resources for young children and their families to help decrease violence in our communities, help mitigate trauma, and promote resilience. It is long overdue and this inaction and under-funding continues to claim lives and impact our local communities. 

We also encourage members of our community, providers, and partners to join us on Friday, May 27, from 3-4:30pm. First 5 Contra Costa in partnership with La Krisha S. Dillard M.S., is hosting a facilitated virtual community gathering space and conversation about utilizing trauma-informed care and practices to manage fears, feelings, and emotions generated by these traumatic experiences, how to support parents and children during this time, and what we as an early childcare network can do. Please join us for this very important conversation and RSVP here.

We cannot continue to do this work alone.

Ruth Fernández, Ed.D
Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa

Día de los Libros Celebration 2022

Join First 5 California, in partnership with the California State Library, in celebration of Día de los Libros on Friday morning, April 29.

First 5 Contra Costa (that’s us), in partnership with the Contra Costa County Library, will also be hosting an additional event that morning! Come celebrate with us!

Just because we’re doing the good work of social distancing to safeguard our loved ones and community from COVID-19, doesn’t mean we can’t come together (virtually)!

Friday, April 29, 2022

10:00 am – 10:45 am
Featuring CA’s First Partner Jennifer Seibel Newsom, and other notable Californians.

  • To access the event on 4/29 at 10 am, log on to Facebook and go to the First 5 California Page, which will broadcast the event Live.
  • Check out the Facebook event page here.

11:00 am
With special guest readers Lucia Flores from Contra Costa County Library, Cecilia Valdez from Tandem, and Alexondra Assemi from First 5 Contra Costa. 

It’s Kindergarten Registration season!

It’s springtime, which means districts across Contra Costa County have opened up registration for Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten. If you have a child who turns five on or before September 1, then they are eligible to register for kindergarten. If your child turns five between September 2 and December 2 of this year, they are eligible for transitional kindergarten. (Our friends over at First 5 California break down the difference between kindergarten and transitional kindergarten).

Step one: Find your school

Contra Costa County is home to 18 different school districts. The one your child will attend depends on where you live. To find the schools in your area, enter your zip code into the California Schools Directory.

Step two: Get registered

Each school district has slightly different processes to register for kindergarten or transitional kindergarten. Learn about each district’s process from our friends at the County Office of Education. Together with them, we’ve compiled all the different registration dates and important information you should know for each district. It’s important to enroll sooner rather than later, as space may be limited in certain districts.

TK/KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION BY DISTRICT

Step three: Prepare for the transition

For many children (and parents!), attending kindergarten or transitional kindergarten for the first time can be a big transition, so it is never too early to start preparing. 

A few ideas:

Our First 5 Centers host ongoing class series focused on Kindergarten Readiness. Check out their calendars, register at the Center, and sign up for a class!

Start reading books about what it’s like to attend school. Here’s Terry Crews with Storyline Online reading the King of Kindergarten.

Whenever you drive past your child’s future school, talk about what it might be like to go there everyday, build friendships, and connect with teachers.

Be sure to create space for children to express big feelings like fear or anxiety, which are natural feelings in anticipating a big transition like starting kindergarten. One way to do this is to talk about how it’s okay to feel nervous or scared about something new. Another strategy is to read books, sing songs, or watch short videos on what to do when we have tough feelings [more examples?]. 

Dig into more resources! Our friends at PBSKids have several articles to help you and your child prepare for this transition:

You’ve got this! Remember, we are on this journey together and in order to make the most of early childhood, it takes a village of community support, with families at the center.

Black Leaders in Early Childhood Education

This Black History Month, join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of Black leaders in early education. These leaders and their groundbreaking work at local, state, and national levels have been integral to creating systems for quality early learning that all children deserve and need. Their contributions serve not just as inspiration, but also as blueprints for how equitable and just access to quality early education supports the growth and development of young children and ultimately strengthens communities and society as a result.

We hope this page serves as a launch point for your own conversations about the important contributions of Black leaders in early childhood education, and we encourage you to learn more about each leader in the links provided.


Anna Evans Murray

Anna Evans Murray was an American educator and advocate who played a critical role in building the movement for public kindergartens in Washington, D.C., and in turn, laid the groundwork for federal funding for early care and education.

  • As an active member of the Colored Women’s League (CWL), and hailing from activist roots, Murray is responsible for establishing the first private kindergartens for Black families in Washington D.C. Access to education, regardless of income, seemed to be a core priority for Murray: her early kindergartens, in collaboration with the CWL, offered sessions for poor, working class families, as well as families who had access to more resources.
  • Murray’s vision for kindergartens would not be possible without recruiting and training Black kindergarten teachers. Murray established a kindergarten training school that, in 1899, graduated 28 young Black women to become kindergarten teachers.
  • Her model became the foundation for her work advocating for dedicated city, state, and federal funding for early childhood education.
  • Murray viewed kindergarten as a powerful educational project, and to this date, her vision, drive, and optimism are prominent in the early education sector.

To learn more about Murray’s contributions, please see her profile on the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment’s (CSCCE) website: Anna Evans Murray: Visionary Leadership in Public Kindergartens and Teacher Training.


Haydee B. Campbell

Haydee B. Campbell was an American educator and advocate for kindergarten for African-American children, particularly in leading the establishment of public kindergartens in St. Louis.

  • After several years as a kindergarten teacher, Campbell went before the school board of St. Louis to apply for a “principal or instructress” position for the kindergarten department, where she achieved the highest score ever recorded in St. Louis on the examination administered to applicants. This great achievement launched her career, from teacher to trainer to national leader.
  • In 1889, she became the Superintendent of Black Kindergartens, where she was responsible for training Black kindergarten teachers, assistants, and volunteers. Her training made a huge impact on the kindergarten movement, as many of the Black women she trained went on to lead Black kindergartens throughout the country.
  • Campbell’s lifelong commitment to social justice helped to expand early childhood education opportunities for Black children and educational training and employment opportunities for Black women. Her legacy has and will continue to inspire ECE professionals and advocates for years to come.

To learn more about Haydee B. Campbell, please see her profile on the CSCCE website: Haydee B. Campbell: Expanding Education for Black Children and Opportunities for Black Women.


Dr. Evelyn Moore

Throughout her career, Dr. Evelyn Moore has been an advocate for young children and worked to elevate the important role of quality, enriching educational environments in children’s development—particularly for Black children, who were (and in many cases still are) prevented from accessing quality early learning opportunities. 

  • Dr. Evelyn Moore began her career in the 1960s as an educator, working with children with disabilities and special needs. During that time, it was recognized that there was a disproportionate amount of Black children living in poverty, which put them on a trajectory to struggle in school. To counter this, the groundbreaking Perry Preschool Project was launched, which provided high quality preschool education for three- and four-year-old African American children living in low-income and poverty-stricken environments. She made significant contributions to our understanding of the affect on high quality early childhood education thanks to her role as an educator in the Perry Preschool Project. 
  • Dr. Moore became involved in creating greater preschool opportunities for Black children in the South during a time when many southern states would not accept federal dollars dedicated to funding preschool for Black children. From that work, she founded the National Black Child Development Institute in response to the growing need for an organization dedicated to advocating for Black children when it came to preschool. 
  • Through her work, Dr. Moore has become an advocate for universal childcare, literacy and cognitive development in the early years, and the allocation of federal funds for the sector. She approaches teaching children from a strengths-based perspective, as opposed to framing children by their deficits.

To learn more about Dr. Moore, watch her interview with the National Institute for Early Education Research as part of series titled: Legacy 2030.


Dr. Edmund W. Gordon

Dr. Edmund W. Gordon is a respected scholar, psychologist, author, and educator, with one of his biggest achievements being the founding director of research and evaluation for Project Head Start in 1965.

  • In founding Project Head Start, Dr. Gordon’s intention was to break the cycle of poverty that existed predominantly in Black communities. His participation in the design and implementation of the program helped to conceive, materialize and deliver a much needed early education program to the nation.
  • Starting as an 8-week summer program to address the needs of preschool children from low socioeconomic families, the Head Start program has been running and servicing families throughout the United States for 57 years.
  • Project Head Start has turned out to be one of the most successful and effective federal government experiments in our nation’s history, and Dr. Gordon’s work to establish Head Start as a child development, early education, and community improvement initiative continues to have a positive impact on million of young children, their families, and their communities.

To learn more about Dr. Edmund W. Gordon, click here to read an article written in the Washington Post titled “At 100 years old, Edmund Gordon thinks the key to schooling starts at home.”


We’re grateful to the the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, National Institute for Early Education Research, and the Washington Post for these resources.

A Letter of Reflection and Hope from Our Executive Director

 

To our community of Commissioners, friends, partners, and families,

If you’re anything like me, you’re pinching yourself and wondering: how are we already at the close of yet another year? 

Yet, when we reflect on all that First 5 Contra Costa has accomplished, it’s no surprise. From providing hundreds of families with much needed diapers and PPE to supporting hundreds of hours of parent education and advocacy and launching a trauma-informed, healing-centered Network of Care, the team at First 5 and you all, our partners and community, have shown up in powerful ways to ensure that every child in Contra Costa can make the most of their potential.

This year was not without its challenges. The pandemic remains a pressing health threat, and its economic impact continues to reverberate for low-income families hardest hit by job loss. Those same families are struggling to find jobs that pay enough to cover the cost of increasingly expensive child care. All the while, desperately underpaid early childhood educators are leaving the field for higher paying jobs. Families of color are more likely to feel the impact of these challenges, due to legacies of redlining and discrimination that have put them at an economic disadvantage. 

It’s no surprise to see our communities asking for stronger mental health support, in addition to the concrete support they need to stay healthy and housed. 

In the face of all this challenge, a word that feels present for me as I look to 2022 is believe. Many of us have heard that believing is seeing and seeing is believing. And what I’ve seen this past year are the myriad ways we have come together–agencies, nonprofits, leaders, and families–to support one another in the ever-important work of giving all children what they need to thrive in their first five years of life. The simple reality is, no one of us can do the work of raising our County’s youngest alone. Seeing us come together, I believe we can create an equitable, compassionate, healthy, and love-filled reality for our community. 

Yes, it’s been one heck of a year, and it’s hard to believe it’s over. And, thanks to all of you, we’re one year closer to realizing our vision that all of Contra Costa’s children are healthy and ready to learn in safe, nurturing environments. I invite all of us to continue believing and finding hope in that vision of success and well-being that each of us hold for children. Let us not lose sight of what is possible, for our collective synergy presents endless possibilities!

On behalf of the staff team at First 5 Contra Costa and yours truly,

Ruth Fernández, Ed.D
Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa

Update On Our West County First 5 Center Sites

The Richmond satellite site of the West County First 5 Center, closed since 2018, will not reopen. Initially closed in July 2018 for a seismic retrofit, the satellite site’s closure extended for over two years due to COVID-19. Increasing costs of operating and staffing the site coupled with family attendance were the primary factors that led to the decision to close the site permanently.

First  5 Contra Costa remains committed to serving Richmond families at the West County First 5 Center located in San Pablo, where any family with a child ages 0-5 can attend classes and connect to community resource specialists. For families where travel to San Pablo is not possible or ideal, the West County First 5 Center will continue to provide remote and online programs. Additionally, we will utilize our long standing  partnership with agencies and organizations that serve families and young children to  broaden our reach in Richmond and West County.

Visit the West County First 5 Center today! You can find a calendar of current opportunities available here. As always, we want to hear from you. If you have questions, concerns, or thoughts you’d like to share, please reach out to the Director of the West County First 5 Center, Alexina Rojas: arojas@bacr.org.

Need to reach us? Send us an email.

Need to reach us? Send us an email.

 

Dear community members and partners:

Please be advised that we are temporarily unable to access our office telephone lines. If you need to contact or speak with First 5 staff, please direct all communications via email, which you can find here—we will respond as quickly as possible.

If you’d like to reach one of our First 5 Centers, you can still contact them via email or phone, here. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your patience!

The First 5 Contra Costa Team

We Come Together as One to Create Loving and Safe Communities

Two mom and daughter pairs, each pair of a different race and skin tone, sit on the floor and dance in front of a table of blocks.

Statement from First 5 Contra Costa Executive Director  

To our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander friends, neighbors and families: we stand with you in your grief, rage, and calls for justice in response to the anti-Asian violence we’ve recently witnessed, from Atlanta to closer to home in San Francisco and Oakland. Many of us and the families we serve see ourselves and the people we love in the lives that racism and white supremacy have stolen. On behalf of First 5 Contra Costa, I extend our support and solidarity to all those who have experienced loss and trauma as a result of the ongoing attacks on communities of color in this country.

It takes only looking at the past few weeks to recognize the pervasive systemic racism we’re up against, whether it is the shootings of six Asian American women in Atlanta and the mounting violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, the 1-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s murder, or the deplorable outlook thousands of migrant children and families currently face at the southern border.

These events are all part of a system of white supremacy and oppression, whose chief aim is to strip us of our humanity, divide us, and designate some of us as less worthy of safety, a home, dignity, and care. This aim is 1) morally wrong and 2) a threat to our vision that all of Contra Costa’s children are healthy, ready to learn, and supported in safe, nurturing families and communities.

This moment calls on us to heighten our efforts to root out systems of oppression and dismantle them, and to join, shoulder to shoulder with families and our partners, in working toward policies, systems, and services rooted in justice and a celebration of our common humanity. Only by acknowledging our shared struggles and working together will we build a world where all children thrive.

In solidarity,

Ruth Fernández, Ed.D.
Executive Director
First 5 Contra Costa

 

 

How to Talk to Children About Racism

  • The Conscious Kid, an education, research, and policy organization dedicated to equity and promoting healthy racial identity development in youth: https://www.theconsciouskid.org/
  • Embrace Race, raising a generation of children who are thoughtful, informed, and brave about race: https://www.embracerace.org/
  • Raising Race Conscious Children, a resource for talking about race with young children: http://www.raceconscious.org/
  • Teaching Tolerance, to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy: https://www.tolerance.org/

 

How to Find Support with Trauma and Mental Health

  • BEAM, to remove the barriers that Black people experience getting access to or staying connected with emotional health care and healing. https://www.beam.community
  • Contra Costa Crisis Center, if you are in need of someone to speak with or listen, dial 2-1-1 to access the Contra Costa Crisis Center, available 24-7 to help people through crisis, and provide or connect them with culturally relevant resources in the community. https://www.crisis-center.org/
  • RYSE Center, a safe space building youth power for young people to love, heal, and lead. https://rysecenter.org/

 

Additional Ways to Support Our Community