January Newsletter: A Year in Review

As we move into 2022, we are taking a quick look back on everything we accomplished and initiated in 2021.

Dear Community Members,

2021 has brought us through some of the hardest parts of the COVID-19 pandemic and light is beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel.

This year has certainly inspired innovation, creativity, and community here in San Mateo County. We are honored that our role has been relevant in San Mateo County’s efforts to support children, families, and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and bolstered by the commitment to this work shown by all of you. Our work is far from done! As everyone has adapted to the health & safety new normal, we have been working to create racial equity and accessibility at the same time.

As families and children continue to manage the traumas and hardships of this pandemic, we were proud to support Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) screenings among San Mateo County child care providers, we brought together leaders in the fight against COVID at the local and county level, and we renewed our commitment and our action in the fight for racial equity.

As always, we are driven to create the most equitable, nurturing, and enriching communities for San Mateo County children and families. Our partnerships teach us so much about leaders in all sectors of our community, the parents who would do anything for their children, and the children who have persevered through such difficult times

You can learn more about what drives our work and approach in our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. As we continue to support parents, get kids back into early care and school, and support our incredible agency partners, we are hopeful for 2022. Thank you for your commitment to children and families.

Kitty Lopez
Executive Director

Taking Action for Kids
It Takes a Village: Ongoing COVID-19 Prevention and Safety Work
First 5 and partners joined together to create the COVID-19 Child Care Response Team. Together, we 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.

As children and teachers started returning to schools and vaccinations became available to different age groups, First 5 led partners in their campaigns to mask up, get vaxxed, and start learning safely. Learn more about our partners here, check out the Childcare Heroes Campaign, and check out the story of the San Mateo County COVID-19 Child Care Response Team. Through so much darkness and complicated new challenges, the last two years have been a whirlwind of collaboration, creativity, and community. Take a look back at everything we accomplished together with this recap.

Become ACEs Aware!
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic early experiences that can damage children’s developing brain and body and affect long-term health. However, screening for ACEs, assessing for toxic stress, and responding with evidence-based interventions can significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and families. As an ACEs Aware grantee, First 5 has launched a video campaign to increase the number of providers trained and offering ACEs screenings. Hear from doctors about why screening for ACEs is so important for doctors to start and families to request!

Racial Equity Work
Racial equity is at the heart of our mission. This year, we have begun and continued through reflection on our program work as well as our internal operations. This year, we hosted the 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge and created a page on our website for up-to-date and fresh resources to advance racial equity in all kinds of child care work. This year, we have renewed our commitment to this important focus area in the face of anti-Black and anti-Asian racism, and we are dedicated to creating a more just and equitable San Mateo County.

Partner Spotlights
One of First 5’s priorities is supporting family strength and vibrancy, which is especially important during challenging times like this year has been. We have many partners who are leading the way in providing meaningful support for families–even when life during COVID-19 looks very different.

Puente de la Costa Sur’s Sueños Unidos-United Dreams Bilingual Parent Co-op
Puente de la Costa Sur’s Sueños Unidos-United Dreams Bilingual Parent Co-op provides developmentally appropriate opportunities for children and adults to experience joy, playfulness, and learning both individually and in groups. Though in-person operations had to cease at the start of COVID-19, the co-op shifted to provide its families with weekly personalized calls to assess needs and assist with any questions or concerns about their children, at-home activities for parents to do with their children, and weekly group conversations for parents to continue peer-sharing. Read more about their work and leadership here.

Family Story Project: Navigating the Peaks & Valleys of COVID-19
Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Family Story Project shed important light on how different families experienced the hardships brought on by the pandemic. From financial and employment struggles to leaning on neighbors for support, these families shared what made the COVID-19 pandemic such a unique time in their lives. By capturing their stories in dynamic video interviews, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation had created a really special artifact of this time, and by partnering with them to advocate for more aligned family services in San Mateo County, families got to share their stories for real change. Check out the rest of their stories now!

Good to Know Network’s Online Community for Childcare Workers
Good to Know Network offers an online community that shares resources with child care providers in San Mateo County. Throughout the pandemic, childcare providers were on the frontlines and were forced to navigate under-resourced, sometimes dangerous conditions.

Now, Good2Know Network shares through its blog, G2K Info Hub, with events, tips and tools, local news, and research updates–all written and selected to be helpful for 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 online. The founder shared her story here and access to these resources is available here.

We are excited to continue our work to support families in 2022. Stay tuned for new resources for families. As always, thank you for your partnership!