Investment in early childhood development, education and health reduces the need for costly, remedial education. Studies show that education and systemic influence of children educated in their first five years positively affect social welfare programs and yielding long-term savings local, state and federal social services. Prior to the implementation of Proposition 10, the vast majority of childhood development funds went towards children older than five-years-old. First 5 Kern, with guidance from its Strategic Plan implemented by the First 5 Commission, has allocated funds initiatives that focus on the same goal – to give Kern County children the foundation they need to succeed, providing prenatal through age five services.
Community Health Initiative (CHI)
In line with the Commission’s top priority – to reach children early – CHI focuses on providing quality healthcare to children prenatal through age five, who are currently without health services. The goal is to provide health insurance coverage and additionally to connect them to medical and dental homes, further ensuring they receive much needed early healthcare and developmental screenings. An outreach program also assists eligible families to existing programs such as MediCal and the Affordable Care Act.
School readiness in Kern County aims to increase the number of children who enter school healthy and ready to succeed. The Initiative identifies service gaps, expands valuable existing programs, and promotes best practices to prepare and support families in preparing their children for school; especially in communities with the greatest needs.
Parent Education and Support Services
First 5 Kern funded programs offer parents and caregivers access to culturally-appropriate training in child development, brain development, parenting skills, the value of playtime and access to family support services such as a public health nurse, crisis intervention, mental health, substance abuse and health education.
Early Childcare and Education
First 5 Kern supports programs with the primary objective to provide childcare with an education component. The programs offer school readiness activities and resources, developmental assessments, nutrition services and parent education.
A ‘Kit for New Parents’ is available from the California Children and Families Commission. The statewide project offers guidance to new and expecting parents available in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese. Kits are available to both individuals and agencies and contain: guides with advice for new parent, covering a variety of questions relating to children prenatal through age five; a CD covering various topics; brochures; and a book for the new baby.