First 5 Monterey County Childhood doesn't last forever but the experience lasts a lifetime. First 5 Monterey County Childhood doesn't last forever but the experience lasts a lifetime.
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April 2010

In This Issue

Letter from the Executive Director

Top Stories

Where's Wheelie? and Other Week of the Young Child Events

PhotoVoice Illustrates the Personal Impact of Programs on Families

First 5 Monterey County Welcomes New Commissioners

Funded Partner Profile: Childhood Matters & Nuestros Niños

New Contracts Awarded to Support Local Early Learning Opportunities

Building Healthy Communities—East Salinas


Healthy City Gives Community Organizations Online Planning Tools


California Embarks on Early Learning and Child Care Quality Improvement System

Early Learning Challenge Fund Dropped from Federal Health Care Reform

First 5 Monterey County Commision Updates

Commission and Committee Meetings

Funding Opportunities

Button - Click Here
…to learn more about First 5 Monterey County Funded Programs and Services.



Photo of mom with 3 boys

Photo of 2 girls writing with chalk

Photo of childcare staff with toddler
From the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Spring is a time of exciting beginnings, a season when each day seems full of possibility and potential. The warmer temperatures and longer days mean more opportunities for children and families to be outside and active together. “Family time” builds strong relationships and creates lasting memories for both parents and children.

Every spring, communities across the country come together to celebrate the Week of the Young Child, April 11 to 17, with a series of events. This year’s theme is the Early Years Are Learning Years. To emphasize the importance of learning through play, we are excited to announce a partnership with the MY Museum to bring their Wheelie Mobilee to locations throughout Monterey County during the Week of the Young Child. In addition, many other organizations will be hosting activities and events for families throughout the month of April. To learn more about these events, click here.

The Week of the Young Child is a reminder of the importance of First 5 in communities throughout the state. First 5 Monterey County provides the only local source of funding dedicated to children ages 0 to 5 and their families. Last fiscal year, we invested $6.2 million in 26 local programs and community events reaching approximately 44,000 children, parents, and child care providers. We encourage you to learn more about the difference First 5 Monterey County and our Funded Partners have made by reading our 2008-2009 Community Annual Report.

The Week of the Young Child raises awareness of how important early experiences are to a young child’s future. Thanks to research, we know that children grow fastest in the first 5 years of life. During this time, parents and community play a critical role in children’s early learning. We also know that for every dollar invested in quality programs for young children, society reaps up to $17 in benefits. First 5 Monterey County remains Childrens colored hand printscommitted as a champion for our young children and families through community investments that last a lifetime.

Executive Director Francine Rodd's signature
Francine Rodd
Executive Director

Top Stories - Where's Wheelie? and Other Week of the Young Child Events

In celebration of the Week of the Young Child, First 5 Monterey County is partnering with the MY Museum to bring the Museum’s Wheelie Mobilee to different locations in Monterey County from April 11 to 17, 2010.

The partnership with the MY Museum supports research that young children learn through play. It helps them develop the skills necessary for critical thinking and social interaction. Through play children also learn to solve problems and build self-confidence.

Photo of Wheelie Mobilee

The Wheelie Mobilee, an interactive museum on wheels, is designed specifically for young children and provides a variety of hands-on activities where curiosity and creativity flourish. With Wheelie, both children and adults will learn together through play using arts and crafts, magnets, moon sand, bubbles, and building blocks. Children’s inspiration can be endless through these open-ended activities, most of which can be replicated at home.

In addition to the Wheelie Mobilee, many organizations are hosting the Week of the Young Child activities throughout the month of April that are open to the public. These events include activities for families as well as information on local services available to young children and their families.

We are also excited to announce that the Wheelie Mobilee will be available to attend community events throughout the year focusing on young children and their families. This is made available through First 5 Monterey County’s Community Event Sponsorship Program. The application process is simple. If the sponsorship is approved, the Wheelie Mobilee will attend your community event at no cost! To read the sponsorship guidelines and download an application form, click here.

Button - Click Here …to find out Where’s Wheelie? or learn about other community events during the Week of the Young Child.

PhotoVoice Illustrates the Personal Impact of Programs on Families
Every family has a story. These stories help our community learn about the opportunities, strengths, and challenges of families with young children.

For six weeks, seven local families used digital cameras to document their experiences, providing in-depth and personal insight about programs funded by First 5 Monterey County through a unique project called PhotoVoice. The personal photos and accompanying stories offer a window into the lives of the families. Through them, we see the challenges families face and the direct impact of programs funded by First 5 Monterey County on children, parents, and families as a whole. A few key findings include:

  • Families are strongly motivated to provide for the well-being of their children.
  • Services help families build stronger bonds.
  • Serving the family and child together works the best for families.
  • Parents feel joy when they can play and communicate with their children.

This understanding, along with the insights gained in other evaluation efforts, helps us respond to the needs of young children throughout Monterey County.

On January 29, the community came together to see the photos and hear the stories of the participating families during a one-night exhibit at the National Steinbeck Center. The event illustrated the difference these programs made in the lives of families with young children and why our community can't afford to lose the only dedicated local source of funding that supports them. It also provided the families an opportunity to acknowledge and share their deep appreciation to service providers who have made a positive difference in their lives. Our evaluator, Harder+Company, played an integral role in bringing the participating families together and documenting the project.

Button - Click Here …to experience the PhotoVoice Exhibit: Valuing and Respecting Children and Families online gallery.

First 5 Monterey County Welcomes New Commissioners

It is with both great appreciation and sadness that First 5 Monterey County will be saying goodbye to Len Foster and Noemy Burnside-Loveless in their roles as First 5 Monterey County Commissioners. After nearly 10 years, Commissioner Foster has retired from the Commission as he also retired from his position as the director of the Monterey County Health Department. Commissioner Burnside-Loveless, director of Student & Family Services at North Monterey County Unified School District, has served six years on the Commission, a maximum term for the community position she holds. Both Commissioners Foster and Burnside-Loveless have brought tremendous expertise, knowledge, and passion to the Commission. Their dedication to young children and their families will be sorely missed.

In March, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the appointment of Wayne Clark, Ph.D., division chief of the Behavioral Health Division, to serve as the Monterey County Health Department representative on the Commission, replacing Commissioner Foster. Esther Rubio, director of Head Start for the Monterey County Office of Education, was also approved by the BOS as a Community Commissioner. She was recommended to the BOS by the Community Commissioner Selection Committee, a group comprised of representatives of the Children's Council, early care and education providers/trainers, and a family services provider. Both Commissioners Clark and Rubio have a long standing commitment to early childhood and have worked on countless community projects focusing on prevention and early intervention. Their expertise will be invaluable to our efforts to ensure, “All children reach their full potential in a family and community that values and respects childhood.”


Photo of Rona Renner

Rona Renner, founder and host of Childhood Matters

Nuestros Niños logo

Photo of Marisol Muñoz-Kiehne

Marisol Muñoz-Kiehne,
host of Nuestros Niños

Funded Partner Profile: Childhood Matters and Nuestros Ninos

Childhood Matters and Nuestros Niños, two radio programs produced by Interactive Parenting Media, provide a wealth of valuable information on raising happy and healthy children to parents and care providers over the airwaves. Both programs take calls from parents and answer their questions on topics such as discipline, safety, nutrition, and many more.

Rona Renner, the organization’s founder and host of Childhood Matters, spent years working as a nurse and parent educator, interacting with parents who wanted the best for their children, but often needed more support and resources. After hearing the heartfelt words of a father in a parenting class she was teaching, Renner was determined to bring parents a forum to discuss parenting issues so that their children could thrive. Later, she discovered radio could provide the right medium for her message. Shortly after Childhood Matters launched, a Spanish language show, Nuestros Niños, debuted with host Marisol Muñoz-Kiehne, Ph.D. As a licensed clinical psychologist for over 20 years, Dr. Muñoz-Kiehne has dedicated her career to fostering the well being of children and families, with special attention to the Latino community. Listeners appreciate her child development and parenting expertise.

Childhood Matters Logo

Childhood Matters airs from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. on K-Ocean 105.1 FM in Monterey and Santa Cruz. Nuestros Niños can be heard from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. on Tricolor KLOK 99.5 FM, Jose KSES 107.1 FM, and KMBX-AM 700 in Monterey and Santa Cruz. Parents can call in at 1-877-372-KIDS or 1-866-99-NINOS. Please share this community resource with families.

First 5 Monterey County is proud to partner with Interactive Parenting Media to make these programs available.

Button - Click Here …to learn more about Childhood Matters or listen to previous episodes.

Button - Click Here …to learn more about Nuestros Niños or listen to previous episodes.

Childcare provider helping a boy read a book

Photo of 2 boys playing at a childcare center

Photo of child using a walking device

New Contracts Awarded to Support Local Early Learning Opportunities

First 5 Monterey County continues to rollout new programming supporting early learning opportunities throughout the county. Recently, we awarded several new contracts for local programs reaching children with special needs and offering technical assistance for playgroups; child care providers; and family, friend, and neighbor providers. A brief description of each program follows. Future newsletters will provide an update on progress.


The Technical Assistance Pilot Project for FFN Child Care Providers began in East Salinas in March 2010 and will run through June 2011. The selected contractor, Go Kids, Inc. will build upon research findings and local expertise to provide educational opportunities and materials related to child care and child development to license-exempt FFN child care providers. Go Kids, Inc. will also facilitate Play N’ Learn playgroups to demonstrate developmentally appropriate activities and adult-child interactions to providers and the children in their care. The activities will emphasize techniques that can be easily replicated in the home.


Social Entrepreneurs, Inc. will provide Playgroup Technical Assistance to support and expand the quality of First 5 Monterey County’s funded playgroups. Funding for this
8-month project is through a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Six of our Funded Partners currently implement playgroups including Castroville, Seaside, Alisal, and King City Family Resource Centers and Salinas and Soledad Adult Schools. Pajaro Family Resource Center will be adding playgroup services and will also receive coaching and technical assistance through this project. Research has shown playgroups are a valuable opportunity for parents to connect with their peers while learning ways to support their child from the playgroup leader and other participants.

Tools will also be developed and made available to any organization or group in the county that wants to increase the quality of their playgroups.


First 5 Monterey County’s Technical Assistance (TA) Projects are part of a comprehensive Workforce Development Initiative that also includes an incentive program (CARES), a Professional Development Seminar Series, and Leadership Development.

The TA Project is designed to improve program quality and increase professional development of providers and staff through on-site, collaborative technical assistance from early education consultants.

The initial round of funding was awarded to three organizations: the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation for the Tanimura & Antle Migrant Child Development Center, Hartnell Community College Child Development Center/Alisal Campus, and the Monterey Peninsula College Child Development Center. Awards for the second round of funding were made to Early Development Services, Inc. for the Peninsula Center for Infant and Toddler Development and Alegria Child Development Center as well as the North Monterey County Unified School District for the Castroville State Preschool.


Go Kids, Inc. will serve as the Special Needs Initiative Administrative Hub in East Salinas from July 2010 through June 2015. The Hub will provide comprehensive screening, improve utilization of services, support the inclusion of children with special needs in early learning programs, and build an infrastructure of coordinated services for children with special needs. Additionally, First 5 Monterey County will work with community partners to advocate for local, state, and national policies and systems change related to children with special needs and their families.

Selection of a Hub was the first step in building the framework of our Special Needs Initiative.


Dad playing at home with his 3 children

Building Healthy Communities -- East Salinas

A Steering Committee has been working collaboratively with the community to identify priority areas for The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities grant. The Endowment’s long-range goal is to foster communities where children and youth are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. The committee, comprised of adults and youth living in East Salinas and service organizations working in the area, has been coming together since June 2009. The community selected the following priority areas:

  • All children have health coverage.
  • Families have improved access to a “health home” that supports healthy homes and healthy behaviors.
  • Health and family-focused human services shift toward prevention.
  • Children and families are safe from violence in their homes and neighborhoods.
  • Communities support healthy youth development.

During recent gatherings to receive input from the community for the plan, families in several separate groups raised the need for quality affordable child care.

East Salinas was selected by The Endowment because it is viewed as a "community poised for change” where the opportunities far outweigh the challenges. It is one of 14 communities that will receive funds from The Endowment as part of this 10-year statewide initiative. Through Building Healthy Communities, The Endowment hopes to forge new partnerships and tap the local wisdom of community members to deliver the essentials of a healthy place to live.

The Community Foundation for Monterey County has managed the planning process, which will culminate with the submission of the plan in April 2010. The next steps are selecting an organization(s) to serve as the administrative hub and identifying service providers to implement the activities.

Button - Click Here learn more about East Salinas’ Building Healthy Communities.




Healthy City Gives Community Organizations Online Planning Tools
The Healthy City website helps organizations plan service outreach, develop program strategies, and create fund development activities. Using community resource information and local demographic, economic, and health statistics, users can access research data, maps, and service referrals through an easy to use online platform. Monterey County data is available on the site as well as information throughout the state. Healthy City has also partnered with our local 2-1-1 to include service information specific to Monterey County.

Button - Click Here …to learn more about Healthy City or signup for upcoming training webinars on how to use the site.

State and National Policy  

California Embarks on Early Learning and Child Care Quality Improvement System

For the first time in its history, the State of California has committed resources to help improve quality in early learning and child care programs through a new rating system and technical assistance to providers.

The process began in 2008, when the California State Legislature established a 13-member Advisory Committee to develop a plan to improve outcomes for children and promote school readiness through early learning and care programs for children ages 0 to 5. With funding from First 5 California and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the California Early Learning Quality Improvement System (CAEL) Advisory Committee is charged with developing a quality rating and improvement system for early learning and child care settings. Ultimately the development of the rating system will connect programs to technical assistance that will help improve quality.

Last year, the Advisory Committee focused the majority of its work assessing the current status of early learning programs throughout the state and examining rating models used nationally and in other countries. This year they will focus on specific recommendations for the implementation of an early learning quality improvement system for California.

More recently, in November 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger established the California State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care as a first step in making California eligible for the federal funds that are available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support improvements in early learning and care. This 18-member Advisory Council includes the CAEL Advisory Committee members.

Button - Click Here …for more information on the CAEL.

Early Learning Challenge Fund Dropped from Federal Health Care Reform
Despite a strong effort by the Obama administration, members of Congress, and the early childhood field, the final health care/student loan reconciliation bill did not include the Early Learning Challenge Fund. It was slated to offer $8 billion in funding over eight years to challenge states to strengthen early learning programs. The Fund was initially part of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) which relates to student loans. Most of SAFRA was incorporated in H.R. 4872: Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, which the president recently enacted as law. Unfortunately, the Fund, along with other important K-12 and higher education needs, were excluded from the bill due to budgetary issues.

Education Week says the administration is looking for other ways to finance early education initiatives. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan notes that early learning has huge bipartisan support stating, "This is something as a country we want to invest in.” Early education advocates are now regrouping to determine how to proceed.

Fortunately, the new Health Care Reform law includes several components that support young children’s health including:

  • Health insurers cannot deny children health coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
  • Chain restaurants will be required to provide a "nutrient content disclosure statement." Calorie information will soon be listed both on in-store and drive-through menus of fast-food restaurants.

First 5 Monterey County Commission Updates  

Commission and Committee Meetings
First 5 Monterey County Commission and Committee meetings are open to the public in accordance with the requirements of the Brown Act. The Commission and Committees gather for regular meetings 10 months out of the year (no meetings are held in August or November). The Commission also meets for special sessions as needs arise. The public is encouraged to attend.

Button - Click Here …to view the meeting schedule.

Funding Opportunities
Make sure to watch First 5 Monterey County’s website for upcoming funding opportunities for organizations serving children ages 0 to 5. We also have event sponsorship opportunities available for community-based events.

Button - Click Here …to bookmark First 5 Monterey County’s funding opportunities webpage.

Button - Click Here …to learn more about First 5 Monterey County’s event sponsorship opportunities and how to request the Wheelie Mobilee for your next event.