President of the Board of Supervisors David J. Canepa announced that applications are being accepted for appointment to the First 5 San Mateo County. There are currently three (3) positions representing: Public Member, each to commence January 1, 2022.
The Public Member includes the following categories: recipients of project services included in First 5 San Mateo County’s Strategic Plan; educators specializing in early childhood development; representatives of a local child care resource or referral agency or a local child care coordinating group; representatives of a local organization for prevention or early intervention for families at risk; representatives of community-based organizations that have the goal of promoting nurturing and early childhood development; representatives of local school districts; and representatives of local medical pediatric or obstetric associations or societies, and parents/caregivers of young children
To be eligible, applicants must be a resident of the County of San Mateo.
“Wow, I don’t know how you do it.” When early learning and care providers talk about work, they often encounter responses like these from their family and friends. The Good2Know Network is a powerful network of people who know exactly how these educators do it. This network of San Mateo County-based early learning and care professionals provides useful information and a forum for idea exchange. Online communities breed innovation, collaboration, and confidence; so Good2Know built one for the childcare professionals who are learning every day!
Karen Alden, Executive Director of the Good2Know Network, started this project because she wanted to create a tool that would meaningfully support the early care and education workforce. “They’re already so busy, and they work so hard,” she says. “I wanted to create something that doesn’t add anything to their plate.” As she started thinking about connecting folks to local information, resources, sources, articles, they pulled together a focus group of 70 people to get a sense of what would make the biggest impact.
“What I found out was that these [educators and daycare professionals] were doing a whole lot of extra work, googling questions about a behavior or looking into a request from a parent after the workday,” and even then they had to discern whether the information they found was valid. Alden started with the idea of a curated resource library, to locate helpful, verified sources. Now, the Good2Know Network puts out weekly articles. They are short reads chock full of verified resources that make information digestible and learning more easy.
Every Friday, Good2Know Network updates its blog, G2K Info Hub, with events, tips and tools, local news, and research updates–all written and selected to be helpful and interesting to local early childhood teachers and care providers. ECE professionals in San Mateo County are invited to add their own observations, ideas, and questions to the Good2Know Network community via Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. This unites the county’s dedicated providers, and ultimately, the children of San Mateo County.
Good 2 Know takes some of the weight of the world off the shoulders of early care professionals, but there is more to do. “To see big changes, it’s going to have to come from the government,” Alden says. Good2Know just implemented a new tool that allows site visitors to send letters to their legislators when childcare is on the session agenda. “I want to help them become advocates.” By building an entirely free community that asks nothing of its members, she has created a reliable support network for the workers who provide the essential services of caring for our county’s children.
“In all my research, I just kept coming back to the fact that it’s all about those first 5 years. It’s hard to stomach that even by kindergarten, some kids are already behind. We have to do something about that.” By supplying providers with high quality, local information, empowering them as policy advocates, and fostering a reliable community, the Good2Know Network hopes to pave the way toward better child care in San Mateo County.
Throughout COVID-19, we had the opportunity to come together with organizations throughout the area to make BIG impacts. When the pandemic struck in March 2020, these leaders joined to create the San Mateo County COVID-19 Child Care Response Team. The Response Team identified three pressing needs for the child care field during the COVID-19 pandemic– emergency childcare for essential workers, economic relief for childcare providers, and childcare supplies, and from there, created initiatives to implement relief. From surveying essential workers, distributing PPE, vaccine distribution, various forms of financial relief, and much more, we found that it really does take a village.
We are still working on establishing a new normal in the wake of all the changes that COVID-19 brought to the childcare industry. While the Response Team has taken decisive action over the past year to address the pressing needs of the child care field during the COVID-19 pandemic, much is still needed to sustain this essential industry.
The Response Team hopes to secure additional funding to continue offering grants to providers, many of whom are still working to eliminate the early-accrued debts and are struggling with sustainability.
Families need continued tuition support to send their children to safe and healthy childcare.
Providers need ongoing technical assistance to access grant and loan programs.
There is still a funding gap that stands between us and universal, high quality, accessible child care in San Mateo County that must be addressed.
Phasing in the CCRT work with established advocacy groups such as the Child Care Partner council to elevate strategy and recommendations for a sustainable who child whole family child care system
However, the pandemic offered us and so many others an opportunity to look long-standing structural problems in the eye and advocate for doing something about them. Across our community, there is a better understanding that the gap between what parents can afford to pay and the cost of providing high quality care has grown wider and the lack of qualified workers and low wages for child care educators have continued to limit the expansion of child care services. The Response Team partners have been advocating for our state and local governments to use federal relief funds to address these long-term structural challenges to make child care more affordable for families and to ensure higher wages for early childhood education workers. We have been leaning on our leadership to change these structural issues with more visible and concrete evidence than ever before.
When faced with a generation-defining challenge, the San Mateo County COVID-19 Child Care Response Team rose to it, and created strong relationships, creative initiatives, and meaningful solutions for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. We are proud of everything we have accomplished, and we will continue to fight for what is important to the healthy and happy development of our youngest San Mateo County Citizens.
To ease the financial burden of COVID-19, the United States government supplemented households across the country with COVID-19 relief checks. But, across San Mateo County (and the rest of the US), there were families that were not able to receive that lifeline. A disproportionate number of people living in the financial shadows are minorities and immigrants. And despite that these families are much more likely to be classified as low income, they are the ones who are not receiving any financial help. When we talk about systemic financial inequity, this is an example of what we mean.
The Mission Asset Fund launched the Immigrant Families Fund to fill in some of those gaps. First 5 San Mateo County was proud to support this funding with the Children’s Health Initiative for families with young children and help connect families to Mission Asset’s Immigrant Relief Funding through community-based organizations. Through the Immigrant Family Fund, eligible immigrants could receive a $500 grant to help cover whatever is most pressing in their lives. Often, other grants and aid come with stipulations that limit how that money can be spent. When Americans received their stimulus checks, no such restrictions were in place. The Mission Asset Fund emphasizes that this freedom is an imperative factor in truly fighting inequity.
Of the 8,259 grant recipients with children in San Mateo County, 3,302 have children under 5 years old. Of those, 45% had no monthly household income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place measures. In addition to balancing children at home with an unprecedented wave of unemployment, COVID-19 took a huge toll on families. 64% of grant recipients lost their jobs as a result of being diagnosed with COVID and 87% of families with COVID-19 diagnoses struggled to take care of their children. Especially as it pertains to early child care, education, and other services, our entire community is healthier and more functional if all children are receiving high-quality care. This additional financial assistance was imperative in maintaining stability for the youngest members of the family.
Financial instability breeds uncertainty, and though parents do everything they can to mitigate the impact on their kids, the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for many, like Claudia, one of MAF’s grantees. “When the coronavirus started, the restaurant where I worked closed leaving me with no job and no income,” she said. “I have three kids that need me. Without a job I can’t afford the basic needs of me and my children. It has been a really stressful situation.”
Through the Immigrant Families Fund, MAF has been able to help 12,432 families throughout San Mateo County. And they are not alone–many community partners across our county have stepped up and stepped in to ensure families have money, food, and essential supplies. At First 5 San Mateo County, our mission is to promote positive outcomes for young children and their families through strategic investments, community leadership, and effective partnerships. We know that thriving communities produce thriving kids. Ensuring financial stability is one of the most impactful ways to help ensure families can thrive, and we recognize the hard work of community partners who are creating pathways to a more equitable future.
As a parent, you are the most important person to your child. So being a parent is a pretty big deal, but it can also be challenging because there is so much to know about parenting. Parents learn and grow along with their children, and that’s okay. Your relationship is the foundation from which your child will learn about the world. What your child sees, hears, and feels in their first years of life shapes their future.
You have probably already realized that sometimes your own childhood experiences can affect how you act and react as a parent. But did you know that there are some childhood experiences that can have an even bigger impact on you?
Adverse Childhood Experiences—also known as ACEs—are events that occur during childhood that can cause high levels of stress in your body and your brain. That stress is considered “toxic.” People who experienced toxic stress as children may have life-long health effects that can also affect the health of their families.
Many of us are likely to have at least one of the 10 ACEs—but having ACEs does not determine your future. Recognizing and treating ACEs can make a big difference in your health and how you handle stress—and it can help you teach your children how to manage stressful experiences as well.
Do you think you might have experienced ACEs as a child? Atnumberstory.org you can learn more about what ACEs are and find information to help you better understand and address ACEs. This information can also help you learn how to prevent and address trauma and toxic stress for your children.
First 5 San Mateo County is a grant recipient of the Office of the California Surgeon General (CA-OSG) and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to participate in the state’s ACEs Aware initiative. As part of this initiative, First 5 is working in partnership with the Health Plan of San Mateo to promote the ACEs Aware among the Medi-Cal provider community in San Mateo County.