Promoting Advocacy Within Family Child Care


On Saturday, March 4, the First Annual Forum of the Bay Area Professional Family Child Care Network was held at First 5 Contra Costa. The event titled “Promoting Advocacy Within Family Child Care” was well attended by family child care providers, early childhood leaders, and several elected city officials.

The morning began with a Keynote presentation from Ruth Fernández, Ed.D., Executive Director at First 5 Contra Costa titled Finding Your Voice: Igniting the Advocate Within You! “It is so inspiring to see so many home grown child care leaders leading the way for other Family Child Care professionals in the Bay Area and in the State,” shared Ruth. “Family Child Care providers remained open during the pandemic to care for children of many essential workers when so many programs were closing; yet, they are often the unsung heroes in our communities.”



Presentations and discussions throughout the day included The Lasting Legacy of Black Women Child Caregiving, Housing Protections fro Family Child Care Providers, Storytelling Regarding Diversity and Inclusion, Building Power for Change, and Building Emotional Fitness.

Organizations and agencies in attendance and represented included the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network, California Department of Social Services, Child Care Law Center, National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), Diablo Valley College, Coco Kids, City of Concord, Tandem, Sonia Singh International, and many more.

For more than 20 years, First 5 Contra Costa has invested in the development of Contra Costa’s child care providers to support and advance their education and growth as experts and leaders in early childhood. We look forward to continuing our advocacy in partnership with the Bay Area Professional Family Child Care Network, our partners across Contra Costa County, and sharing future events to strengthen the early childhood community. 

About the Bay Area Professional Family Child Care Network:
The Bay Area Professional Family Child Care Network is a non-profit corporation dedicated to supporting family child care providers of Contra Costa County reach higher standards consistent with current research in the early care and education field by providing resources, information and training to enhance a safe and healthy home environment for children and families. Our organization is also a vehicle for developing a sense of community among family child care providers by promoting peer support and camaraderie through various programs and activities.


Put money back in your pockets (and file your taxes for free).


The California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) are state tax credits for working Californians and you may be eligible to receive a cash refund or reduce the amount of tax you owe.

These tax credits, along with the state Foster Youth Tax Credit (FYTC) and the federal EITC, can combine to put hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in your pocket. That’s money you can use for rent, school tuition, utilities, groceries and other important expenses.

What is the CalEITC?

The California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) is a cash-back refund and California’s supplemental boost to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. Research suggests the credit leads to long-term positive outcomes in health, financial stability, and education for working Californians.

Click here to learn more about CalEITC.

File your taxes for free!

United Way Bay Area is providing free, secure, high-quality tax help for low- and middle-income residents across the Bay Area.

  • In-person tax preparation and drop off may be available in your area—please be sure to contact sites directly to verify days and hours of operation as they may change without notice.
  • Online tax preparation is also available through a partnership with Code for America.

Click here for free tax help in the Contra Costa (and the Bay Area).

First 5 Contra Costa Welcomes Sandra Naughton as the New Policy, Strategy and Evaluation Director

First 5 Contra Costa is pleased to announce that Sandra Naughton has accepted the position of Policy, Strategy and Evaluation Director, officially joining the team on January 9, 2023. 

With more than 20 years of experience in the early childhood, youth, and family services fields, Sandra brings an exceptional combination of knowledge in policy, strategy, evaluation, communications, and operations.

“I am pleased to welcome Sandra to the First 5 team in this new and important role for First 5 Contra Costa.” said Ruth Fernández, First 5 Contra Costa Executive Director. “Her diverse and comprehensive experience in community services, policy, evaluation, and communications are a complement to First 5’s strengths. Sandra possesses a strong commitment to equity and her role is important in furthering our systems change work on behalf of young children and families.” 

Sandra’s professional path has been motivated by a deep commitment to improving opportunities for children and families, particularly those most impacted by disparities. Most recently, she worked for the City & County of San Francisco in various departments focused on eliminating disparities and creating opportunities for children, youth and their families with access to early care and education, expanded learning, youth leadership and workforce development programs. Prior to her work in San Francisco, Sandra worked for Children Now with a focus on state-level advocacy for early childhood and youth services, and spent two years working on a national advocacy campaign for afterschool programs. 

Raised in the Bay Area as a daughter of immigrants, Sandra earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, served as an AmeriCorps member working with youth in alternative schools and juvenile hall, and earned her Master’s in Public Policy from U.C. Berkeley.First 5 Contra Costa is confident that Sandra’s commitment and advocacy for systems change will contribute to the organization’s success and its vision that all Contra Costa’s young children will be healthy, ready to learn, and supported in safe, nurturing families and communities. 

Please join First 5 Contra Costa in welcoming Sandra and sharing in our excitement as we enter into a new chapter of our continued support of parents and families and strengthening systems that give our youngest children the best start in life.

Click her to download the Press Release

First 5 Contra Costa Welcomes Pankti Clerk as the New Finance and Operations Director

First 5 Contra Costa is pleased to announce that Pankti Clerk has accepted the position of Finance and Operations Director and will officially join the team on December 30, 2022.

Pankti brings an abundance of knowledge to the role and has almost two decades of local government experience. She has worked in operations, finance, change management, IT, city planning, public works, business/economic and community development, and organization development.

“I am pleased  to welcome Pankti into the First 5 team and statewide First 5 Network of leaders.” said Ruth Fernández, First 5 Contra Costa Executive Director. “Her broad understanding of local government, and her strong leadership and management skills are a complement to First 5’s strengths. Pankti will be an important part of furthering our important work on behalf of young children and families.” 

Most recently Pankti was an Administrative & Fiscal Services Manager with the City of Berkley. Prior to that, she served as a management and organization development consultant. Pankti grew up in the South Bay before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in organization development from Sonoma State University. 

First 5 Contra Costa is confident that Pankti’s passion for finance and operations will continue the organization’s success and contribute to its vision that all of Contra Costa’s young children will be healthy, ready to learn, and supported in safe, nurturing  families and communities. 

Please join First 5 Contra Costa in welcoming Pankti and share in the excitement as we enter into a new chapter of our continual support of parents and families and strengthening systems that give our youngest children the best start in life.

Click here to download the official press release.

Self Care Awareness


For SelfCare Awareness month, we want to come together to share our collective wisdom and knowledge in how we practice taking care of ourselves. We at First 5 believe that selfcare is a critical component in ensuring quality, trauma-informed, healing-centered services to young children and their families. 

When we launched the Contra Costa Network of Care online hub in 2021, we envisioned it as a place for practitioners to communicate, connect, and collaborate with one another. With our shared responsibility in supporting young children, making sure that we are taking care of ourselves in order to take care of others, is an essential step in our journey.

From September 26-30, we encourage you to join us in conversation on the hub and engage with one another in how we can continue to practice selfcare in our lives. With daily themes ranging from Mindfulness Monday to Thankful Thursday, special guests sharing their selfcare knowledge and practices, and a line-up of webinar events, we look forward to being in connection with each and every one of you.

Continuing to build our network of care


In order to continue to build our network of care, we created a video to encourage others to join us in strengthening our connections. Here is a 1-min teaser video we would love for you all to enjoy. At the end of our SelfCare Awareness week, we’ll launch the FULL 3-MINUTE VERSION for everyone to distribute across our shared networks to build a healthy tomorrow for Contra Costa families.

Click here to learn more about the Contra Costa Network of Care


Are you already a member of the online hub?

If not, we would love for you to join and begin actively participating – you can share, like, and comment on posts, plus make connections with like-minded individuals! Here is a brief two-pager with instructions on how to join and create your profile – start by visiting and click “JOIN THE NETWORK” in the top right corner!

Celebrating Latino Heritage

We are proud to celebrate Latino Heritage Month through recognizing the many achievements, diverse cultures, and histories of the Latino community. 

In California, Latino communities represent the majority of the population at 39% and make up almost 70% of families served through our work at First 5 Contra Costa. Each year from September 15 to October 15, we honor Latino heritage and the many voices that have greatly contributed to and enriched our shared communities.

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

“Being an immigrant and a proud Latino Executive are two important social identities in my life. Having navigated the complexities of being a newcomer in another country, I find drive and inspiration in helping others accomplish their dreams. When I arrived from El Salvador at the age of 17, many people said ‘no’ to my dreams. I didn’t give up. I found people who said ‘yes’ and opened a door. There are always helpers around us, there is always an opening.

My parents taught me not only to dream, but about hope and courage through their own sacrifices. I feel privileged to serve and give back through my work at First 5 Contra Costa; it’s an opportunity to support families in achieving the dreams and hopes for their children.”

Throughout the month, we will continue to proudly shine the light on the gifts shared by our diverse team and the Latino community. At First 5, we want to reaffirm that our community is made stronger through the many cultures, traditions, and values that help our collaborative efforts to realize a more equitable and inclusive Contra Costa County. 

For more, follow us on social:

Twitter: @First5CoCo
Instagram: @First5CoCo
Facebook: /First5CoCo
LinkedIn: /First5CoCo


A New Home for First 5 Contra Costa’s Administrative Office

We are excited to announce that First 5 Contra Costa’s administrative office has a new home at:

First 5 Contra Costa
4005 Port Chicago Hwy.
Ste. 120
Concord, CA 94520

First 5 Contra Costa’s new home represents the hope we hold for the future. In the midst of the isolation and uncertainty of the past two years, we are holding close to a vision where we once again can gather and see each other as more than just the little boxes virtual meetings put us in. 

Beyond giving our staff ample room to conduct First 5 Contra Costa’s daily functioning, our new administrative office will also support our work as facilitator and convener of providers, parents, and residents.

To rally around our youngest children and their families, each of us–as individuals, teams, agencies, and organizations–need to be in community with each other and the families we serve. Our new home reflects our relentless commitment to nurture community so that we can be the system of support and connection that all families and children deserve.

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.

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.