A letter from First 5 Orange County President/CEO Kimberly Goll

Happy New Year!

With 2020 firmly in the rearview mirror, I look ahead to 2021 with clear eyes and great optimism. Last year we learned much about the needs of young children and families in Orange County. We learned where we could step up and do more. Most importantly, we learned just how much we have yet to learn.

And so, in 2021, First 5 Orange County resolves to learn more and to swiftly turn those lessons into action. We will get involved earlier in families’ lives, elevate equity, empower champions and align systems of care.

Getting Involved Early means working with our community partners, physicians, educators and parents to identify prenatal and early childhood needs and link children and families to resources and services, especially support for mental and developmental health issues.

In 2021, we will pilot programs to increase access to prenatal-to-3 services, including working with clinics to implement the Healthy Steps program, engaging fathers, coordinating home visiting services across platforms and providers and increasing access to maternal mental health resources and support for families that struggle with substance use disorder.

Elevating Equity involves codifying our growing understanding of equity, into investments and actions that directly impact Orange County.

In 2021, we will establish programs in partnership with stakeholders in Anaheim, Garden Grove, La Habra and Santa Ana to set young children in those communities on the path to reach their full potential. We will bolster our training efforts in 2021, educating our staff and consultants, with the goal of addressing racism, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Elevating equity also means listening to and elevating the voices of parents in our work, acknowledging parents are their child’s first teacher.

Empowering Champions is our way of strengthening and supporting parents, community leaders, public agencies and community organizations, encouraging them to co-create and advocate for solutions to pressing issues facing young children and families.

For example, some of the struggles of 2020 brought to light the challenges many families face in finding access to affordable, quality childcare, especially for infants and toddlers. We are using those lessons to Intensify our work and find likeminded advocates to help draw attention to the issue and work with us to find solutions.

Aligning Systems of Care has always been at the heart of what we do – building as many bridges as we can and removing as many barriers as possible to ensure every child in Orange County can reach their full potential. The past 12 months proved just how valuable those integrated systems of care can be for early childhood. Individually, each group or organization can do its small part, but together, we can weave a safety net through which no child is allowed to fall.

Among the bridges we will build in 2021, will be to support developmental and ACE screenings for all young children. We will work with partner agencies across Orange County to coordinate, integrate and align home visiting services to provide seamless and efficient interventions as early as possible for children and comprehensive support for families. We will work with our partners so that vulnerable families are more easily able to connect with health, housing, food and job support such as MediCal, CalWORKs, CalFresh, WIC, and free tax preparation and earned income tax credits.

My greatest hope is that you will join us. Just as the past year exposed the fissures in our society that need mending, this new year offers us the opportunity to make those repairs. But none of us can do this work alone. As we embark on a new year, I ask that you, my colleagues and community partners join in taking the lessons of 2020 and transforming them into the actions of 2021.

I wish you health, inspiration and the courage to take risks as we enter the new year together!

Kimberly Goll

First 5 Orange County President/CEO Kim Goll.
Photo by Steven Georges

Webinars available to help child care providers apply for COVID-19 relief funds

Applications are now being accepted for funding from the state of California for small businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19, including $500 million in grants.

The Orange County Department of Education is hosting two webinars to give information and help child care providers apply for funding. Spanish translation will be available.

The dates for the webinars are:

The deadline to apply for funding is Jan. 8, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Grant amounts range from $5,000 to $25,000. Depending on funding availability, there may be a second round of funding. Applicants who submitted their application and submitted all documentation in the first round do not need to reapply; qualified applications will be automatically rolled over into the next funding round for consideration.

For any further questions, please call the state of California’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255 or the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development at (877) 345-4633.

Click here to attend. 

The First 5 Orange County 2019/2020 Annual Report is now available

First 5 Orange County has released an annual report documenting our collective achievements throughout the 2019/2020 fiscal year.

We began our year focused on our core programs of hospital screenings at birth, home visiting to support children’s healthy development and caregivers’ parenting skills, and other activities that advance Orange County children’s school readiness. But as COVID-19 began to impact families we used our resources to bolster support for child care facilities, frontline nonprofits and providers addressing family homelessness.

As more families and child care facilities were impacted by the pandemic, it became clear that the child care system – while a critical underpinning to the local economy – is fragile and ripe for systemwide improvements. The first phase of the Orange County Child Care Landscape Analysis examines the supply and utilization of child care; the flow of public funding for child care; and the bright spots, challenges, and system barriers facing Orange County’s child care. Phase II is already underway to assess the impact of child care issues in Orange County on the economy, employers and working parents and caregivers. Read the report here.

The experiences we’ve had during the 2019/20 fiscal year have opened up additional lines of communication, toppled silos, and forged new coalitions bringing more people together for a common goal. These actions – and the results they are producing on behalf of children and families – leave no doubt that even in challenging times we can create positive and lasting change when we pull together.

This year, we and our community partners have strengthened our shared commitment to the vision that all children should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Learn more about First 5 Orange County’s 2019/2020 accomplishments in our annual report or visit our website at http://occhildrenandfamilies.com.

You can also take and share our parent and employer survey about child are here, in English and Spanish: http://occhildrenandfamilies.com/childcare/.

First 5 Orange County, City of Garden Grove approve $125,000 agreement to boost early childhood learning

First 5 Orange County and the City of Garden Grove are entering into a partnership to help the city improve its early childhood development strategies.

Earlier this month, First 5 Orange County approved $125,000 to be used over the next 2 ½ years to fund programs and resources that improve the lives of young children in Garden Grove and give them the tools necessary to be ready for kindergarten.

The Garden Grove City Council voted this week to approve the partnership and accept programs and support for children ages 0 to 5 through First 5 Orange County’s Engaged Neighborhoods initiative.

“While we recognize that not everyone gets the same opportunities, all children in our local communities deserve to have the chance to grow up healthy, happy and successful,” said Kim Goll, President and CEO of First 5 Orange County. “We look forward to working with the City of Garden Grove’s families to identify the needs of their young children and help them reach their full potential.”

As part of its Engaged Neighborhoods strategy, First 5 Orange County looks to strengthen local early childhood systems, expand access to resources, and increase engagement with parent and community leaders.

First 5 Orange County relies heavily on Early Development Index (EDI) data that measures children’s readiness for school and can alert communities to potential development problems and learning gaps for children. The index measures five areas: physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language/cognitive skills and communication skills/general knowledge.

Initial plans for the City of Garden Grove include working with two family resource centers, Buena Clinton and Magnolia Park, that engage with families from its most at-risk communities. By collecting more data around what is happening in those communities, the city can better understand what is lacking and what gaps need to be filled to give children the early learning opportunities they require.

“With the support from First 5 Orange County, we’re able to further the goals of enhancing the lives of our youth,” said Garden Grove Community Services Director John Montanchez. “Buena Clinton and Magnolia Park serve Garden Grove’s most ethnically-diverse and youth-populated neighborhoods, and the City is committed to providing families with vital resources.”

Before approving funding, First 5 Orange County worked separately with Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC) and the Garden Grove Community Collaborative to discuss the city’s young children and the creation of an early childhood task force.

In addition to Garden Grove, First 5 Orange County also currently employs its Engaged Neighborhoods strategies in the cities of Santa Ana, La Habra and Anaheim to great success. The “Santa Ana Early Learning Initiative,” or SAELI, was established in that city to help drive system-wide, sustainable changes for early childhood and significantly improve outcomes for young children.

In La Habra, one of the ways that city helped prepare its young children was through its Readiness Building Blocks program, which gave them the opportunity to visit places such as banks, a farm, police and fire departments to learn more and connect with their community.

In Anaheim, community leaders used EDI as a guidepost to engage stakeholders in policy development focusing on early childhood, implementing a citywide plan and collaborating with partner agencies to create systems change.

To learn more about Engaged Neighborhoods and EDI, visit occhildrenandfamilies.com/edi.

About First 5 Orange County, Children and Families Commission

First 5 Orange County, Children and Families Commission oversees the allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. In fiscal year 2019/20, First 5 Orange County provided children ages 0 to 5 years and their families more than 2.1 million services. Funds help pay for early education, pediatric primary and specialty health care, children’s dental care, homeless prevention, and child development programs for children from the prenatal stage to age 5 and their families. First 5 Orange County’s vision is that all children reach their full potential. For more information, visit occhildrenandfamilies.com.

New Videos Available for Improving Care in Perinatal Substance Use

First 5 Orange County is excited to share four compelling videos created by colleagues in Florida and adapted for broader use by First 5 Orange County.

The videos contain important information and messages on supporting pregnant and postpartum women with substance use behaviors. Please promote and share these resources widely!

For Providers

With rising rates of pregnant and postpartum women struggling with substance use, many providers struggle with ways to reach mothers and connect them to timely services.

Motivational Techniques and Plans of Safe Care (9 minutes, 33 seconds)
Learn how Plans of Safe Care are crucial to supporting mothers and babies who have been exposed to substances during pregnancy. Practice motivational techniques when working to connect women to services.

From Judgement to Healing (2 minutes, 26 seconds)
Learn how word choices can impact a woman’s decision to seek treatment and heal from substance use disorder.

SBIRT Role Play (8 minutes, 18 seconds)
Learn how to integrate Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) into your practice.

Consider including them in a staff meeting or as a training resource, and visit the resource listed at the end of each video (the Mother and Babies Substance Exposure Toolkit) for evidence-based practices, tools and information for further exploration.

For Women with Substance Use Behaviors

The following video was created for women with substance use behaviors and shares the stories of two women who have taken the journey to recovery. All are welcome to share it in waiting rooms and on social media.

Getting Real about Substance Use Disorder (4 minutes, 3 seconds)
Hear how two mothers made the brave decision to seek treatment and recovery.

All four videos can be viewed at http://occhildrenandfamilies.com/partnership-resources/.

Please provide feedback by completing this short survey: Perinatal SUD Video Survey. Contact us through this survey if you are interested in customizing this video for your area.

Substance use screening tools and local recovery resources can also be found on page 15 of the Orange County Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit.