For the final week of Self–Care 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 self–care 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 self–care in our lives. With daily themes ranging from Mindfulness Monday to Thankful Thursday, special guests sharing their self–care 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 Self–Care 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.
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 contracostanetworkofcare.org and click “JOIN THE NETWORK” in the top right corner!
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:
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.
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.
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:
- Concord Passes Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance Over Landlords’ objections, Mercury News
- More California Cities Are Outlawing Harassment by Landlords, KQED
- Concord City Council Passes Ordinance Protecting Tenants From Landlord Harassment, CBS News
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.
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 WeekendDetails here.This 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.
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 MoADDetails here.San 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.
‘The Joy Protocol’ at the Bayview Opera HouseDetails here.The 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.
East Bay Regional Parks Juneteenth EventsJuneteenth 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.If you’d like to get out and celebrate Juneteenth in nature this year, the East Bay Regional Parks have you covered. There’s a
52nd Annual Sonoma County MLK Juneteenth Community FestivalDetails here.This 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.
Hayward Juneteenth Outdoor Fitness & Wellness FestivalDetails here.This 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.
‘BLACK AS U R’ screening at the Castro TheatreDetails here.In 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.
“Straight Outta Hunters Point” 20th anniversary screening at the Bayview Opera HouseDetails here.This 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.
Elements Juneteenth Party with Timmy RegisfordDetails here.Dance 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.
East Oakland Futures FestivalDetails here.This 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.
It’s impossible to find the words to express our heartbreak. Yesterday’s tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas claimed the precious lives of 19 children and 2 teachers – all taken from their families and communities too soon. Sadly, this is the third time in one week that we find ourselves devastated and frustrated by the continued scourge of gun violence in our country. And here we are again—demanding action from state and federal elected officials. We’ve been here before, but it only becomes more painful.
We at First 5 Contra Costa County stand in solidarity with the families, teachers, administrators, and staff affected by this horrific act of violence. As an organization that serves children ages 0-5 and their families, the youngest residents of our community are top of mind today. Discussing these events with children is difficult, and there are resources available to families to help. We encourage parents to utilize local support through our Contra Costa Crisis Center by dialing 211 or texting ‘HOPE’ to 20121 as well as:
- Talking to kids in the wake of mass violence from EmbraceRace
- Helping Kids Navigate Scary News Stories from PBS Kids
- Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting from the American Psychological Association
- APA resources for coping with mass shootings, understanding gun violence from the American Psychological Association
We call on our local, state, and federal leaders to invest in mental health supports and resources for young children and their families to help decrease violence in our communities, help mitigate trauma, and promote resilience. It is long overdue and this inaction and under-funding continues to claim lives and impact our local communities.
We also encourage members of our community, providers, and partners to join us on Friday, May 27, from 3-4:30pm. First 5 Contra Costa in partnership with La Krisha S. Dillard M.S., is hosting a facilitated virtual community gathering space and conversation about utilizing trauma-informed care and practices to manage fears, feelings, and emotions generated by these traumatic experiences, how to support parents and children during this time, and what we as an early childcare network can do. Please join us for this very important conversation and RSVP here.
We cannot continue to do this work alone.
Ruth Fernández, Ed.D
Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa
First 5 Contra Costa (that’s us), in partnership with the Contra Costa County Library, will also be hosting an additional event that morning! Come celebrate with us!
Just because we’re doing the good work of social distancing to safeguard our loved ones and community from COVID-19, doesn’t mean we can’t come together (virtually)!
Friday, April 29, 2022
10:00 am – 10:45 am
Featuring CA’s First Partner Jennifer Seibel Newsom, and other notable Californians.
- To access the event on 4/29 at 10 am, log on to Facebook and go to the First 5 California Page, which will broadcast the event Live.
- Check out the Facebook event page here.
- To access the event on 4/29 at 11 am, RSVP at http://bit.ly/tandemevent, which will broadcast the Zoom event.
It’s springtime, which means districts across Contra Costa County have opened up registration for Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten. If you have a child who turns five on or before September 1, then they are eligible to register for kindergarten. If your child turns five between September 2 and December 2 of this year, they are eligible for transitional kindergarten. (Our friends over at First 5 California break down the difference between kindergarten and transitional kindergarten).
Step one: Find your school
Contra Costa County is home to 18 different school districts. The one your child will attend depends on where you live. To find the schools in your area, enter your zip code into the California Schools Directory.
Step two: Get registered
Each school district has slightly different processes to register for kindergarten or transitional kindergarten. Learn about each district’s process from our friends at the County Office of Education. Together with them, we’ve compiled all the different registration dates and important information you should know for each district. It’s important to enroll sooner rather than later, as space may be limited in certain districts.
Step three: Prepare for the transition
For many children (and parents!), attending kindergarten or transitional kindergarten for the first time can be a big transition, so it is never too early to start preparing.
A few ideas:
Our First 5 Centers host ongoing class series focused on Kindergarten Readiness. Check out their calendars, register at the Center, and sign up for a class!
Start reading books about what it’s like to attend school. Here’s Terry Crews with Storyline Online reading the King of Kindergarten.
Whenever you drive past your child’s future school, talk about what it might be like to go there everyday, build friendships, and connect with teachers.
Be sure to create space for children to express big feelings like fear or anxiety, which are natural feelings in anticipating a big transition like starting kindergarten. One way to do this is to talk about how it’s okay to feel nervous or scared about something new. Another strategy is to read books, sing songs, or watch short videos on what to do when we have tough feelings [more examples?].
Dig into more resources! Our friends at PBSKids have several articles to help you and your child prepare for this transition:
- It’s Going to be Okay: The Transition from Play-Based Preschool to Kindergarten
- Help your child be courageous when facing something new
- How to Handle a Tough First Day of School
You’ve got this! Remember, we are on this journey together and in order to make the most of early childhood, it takes a village of community support, with families at the center.
This Black History Month, join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of Black leaders in early education. These leaders and their groundbreaking work at local, state, and national levels have been integral to creating systems for quality early learning that all children deserve and need. Their contributions serve not just as inspiration, but also as blueprints for how equitable and just access to quality early education supports the growth and development of young children and ultimately strengthens communities and society as a result.
We hope this page serves as a launch point for your own conversations about the important contributions of Black leaders in early childhood education, and we encourage you to learn more about each leader in the links provided.
Anna Evans Murray
Anna Evans Murray was an American educator and advocate who played a critical role in building the movement for public kindergartens in Washington, D.C., and in turn, laid the groundwork for federal funding for early care and education.
- As an active member of the Colored Women’s League (CWL), and hailing from activist roots, Murray is responsible for establishing the first private kindergartens for Black families in Washington D.C. Access to education, regardless of income, seemed to be a core priority for Murray: her early kindergartens, in collaboration with the CWL, offered sessions for poor, working class families, as well as families who had access to more resources.
- Murray’s vision for kindergartens would not be possible without recruiting and training Black kindergarten teachers. Murray established a kindergarten training school that, in 1899, graduated 28 young Black women to become kindergarten teachers.
- Her model became the foundation for her work advocating for dedicated city, state, and federal funding for early childhood education.
- Murray viewed kindergarten as a powerful educational project, and to this date, her vision, drive, and optimism are prominent in the early education sector.
To learn more about Murray’s contributions, please see her profile on the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment’s (CSCCE) website: Anna Evans Murray: Visionary Leadership in Public Kindergartens and Teacher Training.
Haydee B. Campbell
Haydee B. Campbell was an American educator and advocate for kindergarten for African-American children, particularly in leading the establishment of public kindergartens in St. Louis.
- After several years as a kindergarten teacher, Campbell went before the school board of St. Louis to apply for a “principal or instructress” position for the kindergarten department, where she achieved the highest score ever recorded in St. Louis on the examination administered to applicants. This great achievement launched her career, from teacher to trainer to national leader.
- In 1889, she became the Superintendent of Black Kindergartens, where she was responsible for training Black kindergarten teachers, assistants, and volunteers. Her training made a huge impact on the kindergarten movement, as many of the Black women she trained went on to lead Black kindergartens throughout the country.
- Campbell’s lifelong commitment to social justice helped to expand early childhood education opportunities for Black children and educational training and employment opportunities for Black women. Her legacy has and will continue to inspire ECE professionals and advocates for years to come.
To learn more about Haydee B. Campbell, please see her profile on the CSCCE website: Haydee B. Campbell: Expanding Education for Black Children and Opportunities for Black Women.
Dr. Evelyn Moore
Throughout her career, Dr. Evelyn Moore has been an advocate for young children and worked to elevate the important role of quality, enriching educational environments in children’s development—particularly for Black children, who were (and in many cases still are) prevented from accessing quality early learning opportunities.
- Dr. Evelyn Moore began her career in the 1960s as an educator, working with children with disabilities and special needs. During that time, it was recognized that there was a disproportionate amount of Black children living in poverty, which put them on a trajectory to struggle in school. To counter this, the groundbreaking Perry Preschool Project was launched, which provided high quality preschool education for three- and four-year-old African American children living in low-income and poverty-stricken environments. She made significant contributions to our understanding of the affect on high quality early childhood education thanks to her role as an educator in the Perry Preschool Project.
- Dr. Moore became involved in creating greater preschool opportunities for Black children in the South during a time when many southern states would not accept federal dollars dedicated to funding preschool for Black children. From that work, she founded the National Black Child Development Institute in response to the growing need for an organization dedicated to advocating for Black children when it came to preschool.
- Through her work, Dr. Moore has become an advocate for universal childcare, literacy and cognitive development in the early years, and the allocation of federal funds for the sector. She approaches teaching children from a strengths-based perspective, as opposed to framing children by their deficits.
To learn more about Dr. Moore, watch her interview with the National Institute for Early Education Research as part of series titled: Legacy 2030.
Dr. Edmund W. Gordon
Dr. Edmund W. Gordon is a respected scholar, psychologist, author, and educator, with one of his biggest achievements being the founding director of research and evaluation for Project Head Start in 1965.
- In founding Project Head Start, Dr. Gordon’s intention was to break the cycle of poverty that existed predominantly in Black communities. His participation in the design and implementation of the program helped to conceive, materialize and deliver a much needed early education program to the nation.
- Starting as an 8-week summer program to address the needs of preschool children from low socioeconomic families, the Head Start program has been running and servicing families throughout the United States for 57 years.
- Project Head Start has turned out to be one of the most successful and effective federal government experiments in our nation’s history, and Dr. Gordon’s work to establish Head Start as a child development, early education, and community improvement initiative continues to have a positive impact on million of young children, their families, and their communities.
To learn more about Dr. Edmund W. Gordon, click here to read an article written in the Washington Post titled “At 100 years old, Edmund Gordon thinks the key to schooling starts at home.”
We’re grateful to the the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, National Institute for Early Education Research, and the Washington Post for these resources.
To our community of Commissioners, friends, partners, and families,
If you’re anything like me, you’re pinching yourself and wondering: how are we already at the close of yet another year?
Yet, when we reflect on all that First 5 Contra Costa has accomplished, it’s no surprise. From providing hundreds of families with much needed diapers and PPE to supporting hundreds of hours of parent education and advocacy and launching a trauma-informed, healing-centered Network of Care, the team at First 5 and you all, our partners and community, have shown up in powerful ways to ensure that every child in Contra Costa can make the most of their potential.
This year was not without its challenges. The pandemic remains a pressing health threat, and its economic impact continues to reverberate for low-income families hardest hit by job loss. Those same families are struggling to find jobs that pay enough to cover the cost of increasingly expensive child care. All the while, desperately underpaid early childhood educators are leaving the field for higher paying jobs. Families of color are more likely to feel the impact of these challenges, due to legacies of redlining and discrimination that have put them at an economic disadvantage.
It’s no surprise to see our communities asking for stronger mental health support, in addition to the concrete support they need to stay healthy and housed.
In the face of all this challenge, a word that feels present for me as I look to 2022 is believe. Many of us have heard that believing is seeing and seeing is believing. And what I’ve seen this past year are the myriad ways we have come together–agencies, nonprofits, leaders, and families–to support one another in the ever-important work of giving all children what they need to thrive in their first five years of life. The simple reality is, no one of us can do the work of raising our County’s youngest alone. Seeing us come together, I believe we can create an equitable, compassionate, healthy, and love-filled reality for our community.
Yes, it’s been one heck of a year, and it’s hard to believe it’s over. And, thanks to all of you, we’re one year closer to realizing our vision that all of Contra Costa’s children are healthy and ready to learn in safe, nurturing environments. I invite all of us to continue believing and finding hope in that vision of success and well-being that each of us hold for children. Let us not lose sight of what is possible, for our collective synergy presents endless possibilities!
On behalf of the staff team at First 5 Contra Costa and yours truly,
Ruth Fernández, Ed.D
Executive Director, First 5 Contra Costa