Author Archives: Admin

In the media: First 5 Orange County partners with Orange County United Way on income tax credits

Orange County United Way is working with First 5 Orange County to reach out to families, especially those with young children, and make them aware of tax credits that could help put money back into their pockets.

For households earning less than $30,000 in 2020, the expanded California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) may qualify them for hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in their refund. In addition to CalEITC, they may also be eligible for the Federal EITC if they earn less than $57,000, increasing their refund even more.

If anyone who qualifies for CalEITC has children younger than 6 years of age they may also be eligible for the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC).

Tax experts can help file for free by visiting OCFreeTaxPrep.com.

Several media outlets have published stories about the partnership and the tax credits, including:

 

 

Orange County employers, we need your help with a short Employer Survey

Orange County employers, we need your help!

First 5 Orange County is requesting that Orange County employers of all sizes/industries participate in a short Employer Survey.

As the COVID pandemic has highlighted, child care is crucial for working parents. We will use the survey to understand the extent of the pandemic’s impact on employers and to inform us about what needs to be done to address the problems. Responses can be submitted anonymously.

The Employer Survey is offered in English and Spanish and will be open until February 19, 2021.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Tustin: Persevering Through the Pandemic

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Tustin initially closed at the start of the pandemic, but since has safely opened at reduced capacity and increased hours to accommodate children who are enrolled in distance learning.

“The impact to our revenue was huge,” CEO Jamie Serrano said. “The longer this goes on the further and further that deficit will stretch.”

“Grants like this — it’s huge. Every single dollar of lifeline that comes through is huge for us and gives us the ability to stretch the pandemic a little further,” she said.

In addition, applying for and receiving the CARES Act emergency funding was simple.

“That was the most easy and streamlined process of any funding we’ve received,” Serrano said. “That’s so important.”

The center is now operating at about 80 percent of its typical staffing, electing to reallocate staff to different positions to fill the need rather than furlough or lay off staff.

“We had to make significant adjustments to the way we operate and think outside the box,” Serrano said.

Sanitizing and cleaning happens now at the top of every hour when the kids rotate to different rooms. Employees use gloves, cleaning spray and wipes, and throwing away gloves and wipes after cleaning each room.

“We are going through PPE at an enormous volume we had never worried about (before),” she said. “It’s not easy to find some of these supplies, let alone the cost of it.”

In addition to not being able to hold annual fundraisers, grants the program relies on were funneled elsewhere to aid with other needs during the pandemic.

“We’re just one of the many that also need it more than ever,” Serrano said.

The CARES Act emergency funding is being used to pay salaries, as well as the cost of PPE and cleaning supplies.

“Not having to lose people and save jobs for them right now is huge,” Serrano said. “There are no words to say how grateful we are for the funds and the community-based organizations that are helping to distribute and monitor. We would be lost without it.” 

Learn more about the Boys & Girls Club of Tustin here.

County Supervisor re-appointed to First 5 Orange County, Children and Families Commission

Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee has been appointed to the First 5 Orange County Children and Families Commission.

Supervisor Chaffee has been instrumental in securing CARES Act funds to assist child care providers, resulting in $10.1 million in grants that benefit child care providers and the families they serve. As a founding member of the nonprofit Western Youth Services, he has worked to provide comprehensive and collaborative mental health services to children, youth and families since 1972.

Learn more about Supervisor Chaffee and other Children and Families Commissioners here.

The Youth Center: Keeping Kids on Track

The Youth Center provides child care services for families who live and work in the Los Alamitos area. This year has been the hardest in the nonprofit’s 68-year history.

The Youth Center re-opened shortly after the shutdown in March to serve the children of first responders, medical staff, and other essential workers. The Center currently serves (as of January 2021) 1,000 children at three locations in Los Alamitos. The kids come from 26 different cities, though their parents either work or live in Los Alamitos.

To stay open and make ends meet — and continue their streak of never having declined a scholarship for a single child — the Youth Center had to lay off some employees. Without its regular fundraisers, and with the pandemic struggles in addition, the Youth Center was in an unfortunate position.

“We’ve never seen such a high demand for scholarships as this year, and no funding coming in for registration fees” The Youth Center Executive Director Lina Lumme said.

The Center underwrites the scholarships for families that lost jobs or took jobs that paid less. The families needed to keep their home and keep working, and the kids needed to be somewhere.

Without the CARES Act funds, The Youth Center would have had to cut staff further, or reduce the hours they provide child care.

“We lost over $200,000 in registration fees that would have come in that we had to underwrite as a scholarship,” Lumme said. “The (CARES Act) grant keeps our doors open. It allows us to keep going.”

“We had to cut off all the expenses we could possibly cut off,” Lumme said, starting with office supplies. The Center stopped buying paper and held a donation drive for paper and other supplies for students to use to print out their homework.

“We buy a lot of books for our kids,” Lumme said. “Literacy is important for us.”

The Center also held a book drive so they can continue providing free books for the children. They also held shoe drives and took donations from parents cleaning out their house so that other children could benefit from the outgrown shoes.

With remote and hybrid learning, many of the kids at the Youth Center are behind on their projects, so the staff at the Youth Center are trying to keep the kids on task in school and help the kids avoid overwhelm.

“Having enough staff members is crucial for us. We didn’t have enough funding coming in. We were looking at anywhere we could apply (for funds) to help us survive,” The Youth Center Executive Director Lina Lumme said.

They separated their staff and kids into smaller teams. When anyone arrives at the Center, a staff member takes their temperature. They are using hand sanitizer by the gallon, Lumme said, and a large supply of sanitizing wipes. Every 30 minutes, staff members clean equipment such as computers, and anything the children may have touched.

So far, they have not had any cases of COVID-19 at the Youth Center.

“So we know we can provide the program safely and keep the kids safe while parents are working. That’s a big expense too,” she said.

Learn more about The Youth Center here.