News & Notes:

Bill Would Improve Subsidized Child Care in Contra Costa

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.

AB 435 would improve subsidized child care in Contra Costa County in the following ways:

  • Increase reimbursement rates to providers. Reimbursement rates paid to child care providers are insufficient in this high-cost county, leaving programs unable to cover programming and operational costs. As a result, these programs close or stop serving eligible children.
  • Increase access to child care for low-income families. The county would be able to adjust eligibility for children for some programs, and ensure that they receive subsidized care for a longer period.
  • Maximize funding allocated by the state. Contra Costa County had to return $3.8 million of subsidy dollars the state allocated in 2015-16 because child care providers could not afford to serve eligible families.

AB 435, which also includes subsidy pilots for Marin and Sonoma Counties, will have its first hearing on April 25 at the Assembly Human Services Committee.


New Pilot Tests Online Developmental Screening

In California, only one in three children receives routine developmental screenings. We’ve been working hard to change this by training hundreds of children’s services providers on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) developmental screening tool. This has significantly increased the number of children in Contra Costa County who receive timely screenings, which are critical for catching developmental delays early and helping parents understand how their child develops.

To reach even more children, we’re testing a new approach at the West County First 5 Center: online screening. The “ASQ Kiosk” is a tablet on a stand with ASQ screening forms queued up in English or Spanish, ready for parents to start the screening process online.

ASQ is a simple questionnaire that parents can complete on their own to see if their child is developing like other children around the same age. The screening covers all areas of a child’s development: social-emotional, gross and fine motor, communication, and problem solving. Screening results are shared with pediatricians or trained staff who link children in need to additional help or assessments. Screening can start when a child is two months old.

As part of the online screening pilot, parents are also providing input about their experience and preference for an online versus paper version, how easy or difficult the online version is to use, and how much help they needed from onsite staff.

So far, nearly 40 parents have used the kiosk at the First 5 Center. Sixty-seven percent completed the online form in Spanish, and for most of the parents, both Spanish and English-speaking, it was their first time completing an ASQ.

The pilot will run through June. We will review the results and determine feasibility for adding more ASQ kiosks in other places parents frequent, such as WIC waiting rooms or libraries.

Learn more about developmental screening.


First 5 Hosting Forum to Take Action for Immigrant Families

We have only 15 spots left for our upcoming forum to take action and support immigrant children and families. Join national and local experts and advocates on April 20 to learn more about:

  • New Immigration policies and their impact on families
  • The impact of trauma on young children’s development
  • Practical resources such as legal services and sample family preparedness plans
  • Local sanctuary policies and rapid response efforts
  • Concrete ways you and your organization can advocate for just immigration policies and serve families more effectively

Speakers include:

Child development experts:

  • Amy Weiss, M.S., LMFT, Director of Refugee and Immigrant Services, Jewish Family & Children’s Services East Bay
  • Vanessa Castillo, Clinician, Behavioral Health, La Clínica de la Raza

Immigration Attorneys:

  • Angie Junck, Supervising Attorney, Immigration Legal Resource Center 
  • Ali Saidi, Public Defender, Contra Costa County

Faith Leaders and Community Organizers:

  • Shawn Kumagai, Organizing for Action
  • David Brazil, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy
  • Reverend Kamal Hassan, Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church
  • Claudia Jimenez, Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition

Click here to register.


Find Resources for Immigrant 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.

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 Assistance:

Making a Family Plan:

Helping Children:

Sanctuary/Safe Haven Policies:


Reliable groups/experts to follow on Twitter:


Meet First 5’s Database Coordinator Sarah Burke

Sarah Burke is the Database Coordinator at First 5 Contra Costa, and supports the implementation and maintenance of data systems. Before coming to First 5 Contra Costa, Sarah worked in the nonprofit sector for 15 years providing crisis intervention services to domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. She studied developmental psychology at UC Berkeley and has a Master’s degree from CSU Hayward in Public Administration with a focus in Organizational Change. In her free time, she enjoys hiking trails in the woods above Berkeley and Oakland, spending time with her teenage god-daughter, and trying new restaurants with friends.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Hugo the Hippo by Thomas Baum. Though, after tracking down a copy for a friend’s three-year-old, I realize it’s not that appropriate for children, which is probably why it’s out of print.

What food did you refuse to eat when you were a kid? 

I didn’t like Brussel sprouts. My mom boiled them. If she had coated them in olive oil and sea salt and roasted them in the oven, like I do now, I probably would have eaten them.

Did you have a favorite place to visit as a child?

Yes, Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. It’s the largest maritime museum in the United States, and is notable for its re-creation of the crafts and fabric of an entire 19th-century seafaring village. It consists of more than 60 original historic buildings, most of them rare commercial structures moved to the 19-acre site and meticulously restored.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Contra Costa County?

I love seeing movies at the Brenden Concord theater. The seats recline and have a tray to hold your food and drink.

What is your motto?

A favorite quote from Mark Twain is “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” It reminds me not to worry about things that might, or might not, happen.

What would make Contra Costa an even better place for children and families?

Providing high-quality preschool for every child.