News & Notes:

Once Destroyed by Vandals, Pittsburg Park Gets a Makeover

DeAnza_800x534Pittsburg’s De Anza Park hasn’t had a playground since vandals destroyed it in 2010. Thanks to the East County Regional Group we sponsor, the City of Pittsburg recently installed a new playground at De Anza.

The drive to improve the park started when the nearly 60 members of the Regional Group conducted assessments of Pittsburg parks. Their findings revealed that many of the city’s parks were plagued by crime, graffiti or unsafe conditions.

The parents determined that De Anza Park, an empty field located in one of the city’s lowest income and most crime-ridden communities, was the park most in need of rehabilitation. The parents presented their findings to the Pittsburg City Council, who responded with a $50,000 allocation for the new play structure.


To increase usage of the park, the parents and nearby residents have partnered with the Pittsburg Police Department to start a Neighborhood Watch program and will soon offer free baseball and soccer classes for young children. Combined with funding from the City of Antioch, the parents have raised $300,000 and refurbished two new playgrounds.

Hundreds of families, Pittsburg Mayor Ben Johnson, and members of the Regional Group attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony last month to commemorate the new playground and the ambitious community effort to get it built.

Learn more about the effort in this East Bay Times story.


Distribute New Help Me Grow Resources

We’ve produced new Help Me Grow outreach materials to connect parents with information and resources to help their children thrive. Available in English and Spanish, the new brochures are available for your organization to distribute at no charge.

The All parents have questions, Help Me Grow has answers brochure promotes 211 services now available to answer everyday questions parents have about early childhood development, developmental milestones, parenting support and local services. It also includes common developmental milestones for parents to track and discuss with their pediatricians.

Milestones_Chart_English Milestones_Chart_Spanish

The second brochure promotes our developmental playgroups, which give children a  boost in their development when they’re behind or have developmental concerns that have been identified through developmental screening. See the playgroups brochure here.

To order either brochure, please contact Sonia Thompson. We will make every effort to provide quantities requested pending supply.

You can also click here to learn more about Help Me Grow.


Help Families Get CalFresh

Cal_Fresh_800x534May is “CalFresh Awareness Month,” a campaign to raise awareness of this important benefit which many people don’t know they’re eligible to receive. CalFresh, the federally funded program formerly called Food Stamps, helps children, families, and individuals put nutritious food on their tables each day.

In Contra Costa County, half of CalFresh recipients are children. Household hunger hurts children’s intellectual, physical and emotional development and puts them at greater risk for obesity, diabetes and other diseases.

For the last year, First 5 Contra Costa through the Family Economic Security Partnership has joined a group of organizations working to increase CalFresh use in the county. The coalition is led by the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County, and includes the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD),  the Multi-Faith Action Coalition, the Ensuring Opportunity Campaign, and other community organizations.

Some progress made to increase CalFresh enrollment include:

  • Simplifying the application process by eliminating the face-to-face interview process. A telephone interview is acceptable to apply.
  • Strengthening the process between EHSD and the Food Bank to enroll people in CalFresh. Nonprofits can complete a short CalFresh referral form to pre-screen eligibility, then hand off the information for the Food Bank to complete the application.
  • Outreach efforts including a community campaign, sign-up in a day events, and mailings to targeted populations such as families with children receiving free/reduced priced lunches at school.
  • Implementing pilot projects and advocating for policy changes to make CalFresh as accessible as possible.

Data to determine if these efforts increased enrollment is not yet available. One sign of progress though is that enrollment has not declined despite the improved economy.

More Resources and Information: