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.
Ruth Fernández, Ed.D.
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
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice, is fighting for civil rights and empowering Asian Americans to create a more just America for all: https://www.advancingjustice-aajc.org/
- Black Lives Matter, builds power to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe. https://blacklivesmatter.com/
- Change.org, to sign or start a petition: https://www.change.org/
- Color of Change, to help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us: https://colorofchange.org/
- Hollaback!, is on a mission to end harassment—in all its forms: https://www.ihollaback.org/
- Moms Rising, where moms and people who love them go to change the world: https://www.momsrising.org/
- Stand Together Contra Costa, ensures that all immigrant families in Contra Costa are afforded free immigration due-process rights: https://standtogethercontracosta.org/
This is a moment where we, as the adults in their lives, must step up.
On Wednesday, we witnessed an assault on American democracy at the US Capitol. Our democracy is the means by which we uphold our ideals of liberty, justice, prosperity, and community. They are the very ideals that create the conditions for young children and families to thrive. They are integral to who we are and what we do at First 5 Contra Costa.
It is enraging that this attack came alongside blatant displays of racism and white supremacy. Throughout history and up until this current moment, our country’s legacy of racism has put up hurdle after hurdle in giving all Americans a voice through their vote.
And yet, in the face of these challenges, our democracy has grown to include more Americans in its representation. This election is a shining example: voters faced a global pandemic, massive disinformation campaigns, and voter suppression here in California and beyond. But thanks to the tireless work of our local elections officials and community organizers, we turned out in record numbers in Contra Costa to vote.
This week’s events call on us to build on the strength of our growing democracy, while also reckoning with our racist past and present. We must actively work to create a future for ourselves and our children where all belong, are heard, and valued.
As ambassadors and advocates of young children and their families, we at First 5 feel and embrace the weight of our leadership. We are called upon to be the voices and stewards of civility, honor, peace, and love. Our actions and responses today shape our children’s future.
This is why, we must now come together, as a community and as a nation, to defend the democratic values and principles that make possible our visions of liberty and justice for all.”
Ruth Fernández, EdD
First 5 Contra Costa
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For Young Children:
Offering comfort (during tough times), Sesame Street
Exploring Emotions, Sesame Street
“When You Feel So Mad, That You Want to Roar”: Dealing with Angry Feelings Daniel the Tiger, PBS Kids.
For Parents, Caregivers, Teachers, Providers
Talking to Kids About Tragedies and Civil Unrest, First 5 LA
Talking to Kids About the Attack on the Capitol, National Education Association
Struggling To Discuss Tough Topics With A Kid? Here Are Books That Might Help, NPR
Resources for Teachers, Beyond the Spotlight
How to talk to your kids about the chaos at the Capitol, National Geographic
Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News, Child Mind Institute
Two parent advocacy groups—the East County Regional Group and the Central County Regional Group, both sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa— are hosting Census Family Fair events focused on a complete count of all children to secure needed federal funding and accurate representation for children and families across Contra Costa.
An undercount in the 2020 Census could cost Contra Costa County between $500 million and $1.1 billion over 10 years in federal programs, including programs for kids such as education, childcare, medical care, food assistance, housing, and public transportation.
“It is critical that everyone in underrepresented neighborhoods are counted for the 2020 Census. Being counted means more money into our communities for needed programs, as well as more equitable political representation for low-income families and families of color”, said Rhea Elina Laughlin, Program Officer with First 5 Contra Costa.
The well-being of all families in Contra Costa County is dependent upon a complete count. These fun, family-friendly events will raise awareness on the impact of an accurate count and address misinformation, fearmongering, and actions targeting underrepresented communities, especially immigrant families and families of color.
With a focus on undercounted communities and to address some of the challenges in responding to the Census (including internet access and privacy concerns), there will be census experts, community resources, and trusted community partners available to answer any questions and to assist with the process.
“A lot of people don’t know about the census or worry how their information will be used. We’re holding this event to help our community understand how important it is we are ALL counted”, said Chipo Washington, Chair of the East County Regional Group.
There will be two events in Contra Costa County and all services are available at no cost—kids activities will include face painting, arts and crafts, as well as music and dance.
Saturday, April 4, 2020
11am – 1pm
2485 Willow Pass Rd., Bay Point
11am – 1pm
Ellis Lake Park
1760 Clayton Rd., Concord
Community partners at both events will include:
- La Clínica
- Contra Costa Health Services
- Family Justice Center
- First Baptist
- First 5 Centers
- Center for Human Development
- All in One
The children and families in the cities of Richmond and Antioch will get the parks of their dreams.
Through grassroots resident leadership and city/community partnerships, Contra Costa County received over $15 million (40% of the $36 million awarded to the Bay Area) from Proposition 68 grant funds to renovate and create local parks in underserved communities
The City of Richmond was awarded $12.7 million in grant funds for two projects ($8.5 million for the Harbour-8 Park Expansion and $4.2 million for the Boorman Park Revitalization) and the City of Antioch was awarded nearly $3 million for the Contra Loma Estates Park Project. There were 478 applications received and the Statewide Park Program (SPP), designed to create new parks and recreation opportunities in critically underserved communities across California, selected 62 applications statewide with three park locations in Contra Costa County.
The parent advocacy groups—West County Regional Group and East County Regional Group, both sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa—served as the community partner for two of the three projects. The regional groups led participatory community park needs assessments that resulted in the identification of priority parks (Boorman Park and Contra Loma Estates Park) in the highest need of attention. In partnership with First 5 Contra Costa, Healthy & Active Before 5, the City of Richmond, and the City of Antioch, resident leaders organized a series of in-depth community workshops to create the future vision and design of both parks. The funding will make the community’s dream for their local parks a reality.
The total funding approved for grants throughout the State was $254.9 million, with $36 million awarded to the Bay Area. With SPP embracing meaningful engagement with local residents where park designs represent each community’s unique recreation needs and creativity, the grant applications from Contra Costa County represented parent leadership, an innovative model, and a commitment to a community-driven process.
“Parks are important for our children to grow up healthy. Just because we live in a low-income area, does not mean our children should have less. Our kids and communities deserve quality parks to play in and be active”, said Leydi Maldonado, Chair of the parent advocacy group, West County Regional Group.
Similarly, residents mobilized by the East County Regional Group have worked with the city of Antioch for years to bring needed investments to Contra Loma Estates Park. Residents’ support and advocacy led the City of Antioch to make unprecedented improvements and the partnership played an instrumental role in receiving the grant award.
“This investment will shape childhoods for generations to come. We are thrilled that Richmond and Antioch children will have the innovative, fun, and safe places to play outdoors that they deserve. These park grants represent what we can accomplish together when we partner with residents and bring multiple organizations together to transform neighborhoods”, said Rhea Elina Laughlin with First 5 Contra Costa.
Public parks are essential spaces for promoting community health, and in particular, physical activity, outdoor play, and mental well-being among families with young children. It is well established that early childhood is a critical time in the life course for promoting health and preventing chronic disease. With improved access to quality parks in their own neighborhoods, the youngest children of Contra Costa County are more likely to benefit from opportunities for a healthy start to their lives.
“Promoting and advocating for local policies that increase access to safe and healthy open spaces for children and families to play, connect, and be active is integral to First 5 Contra Costa’s mission to promote optimal development for all children” Ruth Fernandez, Executive Director at First 5 Contra Costa.
Regional Groups are parent advocacy groups of residents working to make communities healthier, safer, and more equitable for young children and families. Three groups exist in Contra Costa County and work in partnership with the First 5 Contra Costa Community Engagement and Advocacy Program: East County Regional Group (ECRG), West County Regional Group (WCRG), and Central County Regional Group (CCRG).
First 5 Contra Costa helps young children start school healthy, nurtured and ready to learn by investing in programs and activities focused on children during their first five years—the most important time in children’s development.
Click here to learn more about our Regional Groups: http://www.first5coco.org/funded-programs/regional-groupsparent-advocacy/
As an organization dedicated to the well-being of all families and their young children, we were appalled by the “public charge” ruling that adversely affects immigrant families in our community. We are deeply concerned that this rule expansion will inhibit families from applying for programs and services—or stop receiving them entirely—even if they are eligible or needed.
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled (5-4) to allow the Trump administration to move forward with the public charge restriction unveiled last August, which disproportionately targets immigrant families by making it more difficult for immigrants seeking to come or those trying to obtain lawful permanent statuses in the United States.
This decision will have life-altering implications for families needing access to services for themselves, or their children. By depriving immigrants of basic needs such as food and housing, the expansion continues to deepen and amplify the climate of fear and deprivation that has become prevalent within immigrant communities and communities of color. It will continue to threaten the health, nutrition, housing, and well-being of young children everywhere.
“This is yet another inequitable attack on our families. The ramifications of the Supreme Court’s ruling will have a chilling effect on our community’s health and education as families continue to live in fear, and chose to seclude and withdraw from essential health services,” said Dr. Ruth Fernández, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa.
First 5 Contra Costa believes that it is our shared responsibility to ensure the safety and healthy development of all children. We will continue our unwavering commitment to support, advocate, and partner with immigrant families, continue to fight for equitable access to needed services, and strive towards a future in which every family can thrive.
Although the rule is limited to individuals actively applying for lawful permanent status in the United States, not their families or children, we anticipate a continued wave of drop-off in services that has been reported nation-wide since last fall.
“This will continue to have a direct and devastating impact on the lives of our most vulnerable children and their families. It is a dehumanizing act impacting the wellbeing of immigrant families who contribute greatly to our communities,” added Dr. Ruth Fernández. “As leaders in Contra Costa County, and as a community, we must continue to speak up, advocate, and take action against this injustice.”
In an effort to combat the fear and misinformation, we encourage our communities, our county, and our state to join us in our commitment and movement for united, safe and loving communities.
For more information on First 5 Contra Costa’s efforts towards a safer, healthier, and more equitable Contra Costa County, please reach out to our Community Engagement and Advocacy Program: http://www.first5coco.org/funded-programs/regional-groupsparent-advocacy/
To learn more about how Northern California communities are impacted by the public charge rule, below is a partial list of organizations from the California Immigrant Policy Center that can help answer questions and concerns:
- California Immigrant Policy Center
- Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)
- East Bay Community Law Center
- Immigration Institute of the Bay Area
415 538-8100 ext. 206
- Safe Passages
For additional immigration services providers:
For additional information and resources:
The event is at capacity, but will be live-streamed here:
In partnership with the County’s Behavioral Health Division, First 5 Contra Costa is sponsoring an Early Childhood Mental Health Community Forum on Saturday, November 2 in Pittsburg. Not only will this be a great opportunity to hear about community needs for children with social and emotional challenges, but it marks an important step in our partnership with Behavioral Health in better understanding the prevention benefits of addressing children in the earliest years.
PERFECT FOR FAMILIES (AND PROVIDERS)
We invite you to lend your voice to the conversation on how to support positive mental health in young children and to learn about the importance of acting early to improve future mental health outcomes. Input gathered will be used in preparation for the Contra Costa County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Three Year Program and Expenditure Plan for fiscal years 2020-2023.
- Information on local resources
- Complimentary continental breakfast, light lunch, and refreshments to be provided
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Pittsburg Senior Center
300 Presidio Lane, Pittsburg
Saturday, November 2, 2019
10am to 1pm
On-site registration begins at 9:30am
Live-stream available: https://youtu.be/SJDOykDyl44
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Contact the MHSA Office in advance if you need language translation services, directions on how to access public transportation, or any other reasonable accommodations at (925) 957-2617.
Contact Daryn Nabeta at First 5 Contra Costa, for questions about food at email@example.com.
Please arrive by 9:30am to allow time for check in and registration. The program will start promptly at 10am.