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First 5 Contra Costa
December 19, 2023

December 2023 Newsletter

Community Impact Report, Measure X update, and more!

Resources for Approaching Challenges with a Trauma-Informed Lens 

The safety and well-being of our youngest children and their caregivers within their neighborhoods, schools, and communities is critical to their well-being and healthy development. It’s heartbreaking to see the trauma that thousands of young children have to endure around the world as a result of violence and war.

In recent months, we have witnessed the dehumanizing conditions and anguish faced by so many babies and young children around the world due to conflicts in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, and many other places. The extreme violence and trauma brought upon by these conflicts—for both individuals living in those places and those who witness the devastation from afar—presents a threat to children’s long-term ability to learn, overall health, and behavior. Brain research demonstrates that environments and the quality of relationships with adults help shape a child’s brain and prolonged stress and trauma can adversely affect a child’s long-term development. 

As families, the professionals who work with families, and our communities deal with these conflicts either directly with loved ones physically in harm’s way, or indirectly through the stress, fear, and worry related to these conflicts, we encourage everyone to take a trauma-informed approach to our own self-care and how we care for others. 

We do not need to do this alone—there are resources and services to support our personal and professional needs so that in turn we can continue to show-up fully and lovingly for our families and young children. As a united village of caregivers and service professionals who safeguard our babies and most vulnerable children, we must remain in relationship and connected during difficult times. To learn more about trauma-informed approaches, visit our website. To learn more about ways to address conflicts in the world with young children, explore these resources from Zero to Three:

On behalf of First 5 Contra Costa, we wish everyone a joyous and peaceful holiday season, and we look forward to partnering with you and our resilient community to continue supporting our county’s youngest children to thrive.

Ruth Fernandez
Executive Director


Summarizing Our Impact on the Community

Check out First 5 Contra Costa’s Community Impact Report for FY 2023

First 5 Contra Costa’s Community Impact Report looks at the multiple ways we are working to fulfill our mission to foster the development of our community’s children, prenatal through five years of age. The report highlights our work, in partnership with others, to change systems to better meet the needs of young children and their families.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • The programs and services we support served 1,200 more children and 860 more parents in FY 2023 compared to the prior year.
  • More than 88% of the children served and 83% of parents served were people of color, and more than half of the families served speak a language other than English.
  • As a result of intentionally focusing on the needs of African American and Black families, more African American & Black families are participating in programs at our First 5 Centers, in parent education classes, and other services we support 
  • In FY 2023, more than 1,700 children under age 6 were screened to ensure they were on track developmentally, and many of those were connected to services when concerns were identified. 
  • Hundreds of  early childhood educators participated in quality improvement efforts, from trainings to coaching or receiving fiscal incentives to continue their own education. 
  • First 5 Contra Costa led several coalitions focused on advocating for changes to local and state systems so they can help families most in need thrive.  

Click here to download the Community Impact Report 

A Victory for Community Advocates: Measure X Funds To Be Invested in Mental Health

Working together to advocate for families’ needs

First 5 Contra Costa would like to thank the community members, advocates, service providers, and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors for uplifting the urgent needs of our families with young children. Mental health is at the center of early childhood development and creates a foundation for lifelong development. To help young children reach their full potential, they—and the adults in their lives—need access to services and resources that will bolster their mental health. 

During the last several months, First 5 Contra Costa has worked in partnership with the Early Childhood Prevention and Intervention Coalition and the Early Learning Leadership Group to advocate for new Measure X funds, generated by a county sales tax, to be invested in early childhood mental health services. On December 12, 2023, the Board of Supervisors allocated $1.4 million in ongoing funding to address the mental health needs expressed by the community, including the needs of children ages 0 to 5, school-age children,older youth up to age 26, and the needs of LGBTQI+ residents. Details on how and when the funds will be deployed by the county will be discussed at a future Board of Supervisors meeting.  

First 5 Contra Costa appreciates the Board of Supervisors who also allocated Measure X funding for several other community needs prioritized by the Measure X Community Advisory Board, including resources for an African American Holistic Wellness Hub, food insecurity, and capacity building for agencies in East County.

Piloting a New Approach to Quality Improvement for Child Care Providers 

Earn a $650 stipend and public recognition

Given the high turnover in the child care field and the high demand for more infant and toddler child care in our county, we have developed a new specialization program for Family Child Care (FCC) providers participating in Quality Matters who serve infants and toddlers. In addition to enhancing their practice and fostering their own learning, providers can also earn an additional $650 stipend, 3 college credits, and a window decal that demonstrates to families and the public that they have specialized training in infant and toddler care. 

The program includes a 19-week online training led by West Ed and a menu of additional trainings all related to how to operate a high-quality program for infants and toddlers. This new pilot program starts in January, and ends in May.  

Click here to learn more about this opportunity 


New Resource: Children’s Books Focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

As a part of the Family Economic Security Partnership’s (FESP) commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, FESP partners have curated a collection of engaging books for children aged 0-5, young children, and young adults. These thoughtfully selected titles aim to promote understanding, celebrate differences, and inspire a sense of belonging. Dive into the world of literature that embraces diversity and nurtures inclusion. Special thanks to Betty Geishirt-Cantrell, Renee Zeimer, and Rachel Rosekind for their contributions to compiling this list. 

Click here to download the book list

Want to learn more about FESP and join their next quarterly meeting? Check our webpage for more updates or email to join the mailing list


Joyous Kwanzaa Event In East County

First 5 Contra Costa partners with the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation and several other organizations to reform the systems and services available to African American and Black families with children under 5 in East County through an effort called Ready Kids East County. The multi-layered effort to enhance school readiness for Black and African American families includes culturally relevant and responsive programming, specifically through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. On Wednesday, December 20, the East County First 5 Center located in Pittsburg will be hosting  a “Joyous Kwanzaa” celebration event in partnership with Ready Kids East County

The Joyous Kwanzaa event will feature food, activities, and entertainment to celebrate the African diaspora and incorporate elements of school readiness and child development. There will be a read-aloud to promote early literacy, African-inspired arts and crafts stations to practice fine motor skills, and plenty of socialization opportunities for families to interact with one another.

Our First 5 Centers have been hosting culturally relevant events and activities to recognize and celebrate the many holidays during December. Click here to connect with your local First 5 Center, to learn more about upcoming group classes, playgroups, school readiness activities, support groups and one-on-one assistance connecting to community services—all for free for any family interested.

From our family to yours, we wish you a happy holiday season.