From Sonoma County
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, approved contracts recommended by the First 5 Commission totaling nearly $4.28 million to seven local organizations for projects benefitting young children. Board Chairman and Second District Supervisor David Rabbitt stated that “our focus is on funding projects in underserved areas of the County that benefit young children 0 to 5 and their families.”
“We are very excited about the impact these grants will have,” said Alfredo Perez, Executive Director of First 5 Sonoma County. “They address the children’s health and healthy development, ensuring families are supported and nurturing, and ensuring that early care and education is high quality. These are the critical components to assure optimal child development. Without them, children do not have the tools they need to succeed in kindergarten and life.” These programs have long term beneficial impacts and are the essence of the County’s strategic vision to make upstream investments critical to the future of the community.
“Grantees were selected through a rigorous application process. As a result, the Commission is funding quality projects that reach nearly every region of the county and provide services that are vital to our youngest children and their families,” added First District Supervisor Susan Gorin.
Together, two of these community investment grants, will double the county’s capacity for oral health services to children under six who are uninsured or underinsured.
Alliance Medical Center in Healdsburg has been awarded $561,924 to help develop two dental operatories at its Healdsburg site to serve children 0-5 and pregnant women. Alliance will also purchase mobile dental equipment to serve young children and pregnant women in Windsor and Cloverdale. Santa Rosa Community Health Centers will use its $753,382 grant to equip 14 dental operatories and starting salaries for a pediatric dentist and support staff. They estimate that 42% of their clients will be children under six and pregnant women. Fourth District Mike McGuire stated “the impact of oral health in this community is significant and the ability to expand these programs will have major impacts.”
Why is the increase in capacity important? Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood illness in the US. Few dentists have been available in Sonoma County to serve young children who don’t have dental insurance. Forty-six percent of Sonoma County kindergarteners have a history of tooth decay, and 16% have untreated cavities.
Many of the skills a child needs to succeed in school and life can be learned while playing with other children in a quality preschool. Quality preschool has been proven to pay a high return on investment by improving a child’s school readiness.
With an $815,000 grant to the Community Child Care Council, the Commission expands its Value in Preschool Program (VIP) to children and preschools in Petaluma and Cotati. The program provides up to one-year market-rate scholarships to eligible low-income children to attend high-quality preschools. VIP scholarships not only help three- and four-year olds get ready to succeed in kindergarten, they motivate quality improvement in preschools that hope to participate in the program.
First 5 grants will help two family resource centers expand their capacity to provide parent education and support. La Luz Center will receive $171,138 for its Capital Facilities Renovation Project, which will expand the existing family resource center in Boyes Hot Springs. This First 5 funding will leverage another $50,000 for the renovation.
Community Action Partnership will receive $1,378,320 to develop Via Esperanza, an early childhood campus and family resource Center in Southwest Santa Rosa on the campus of Cook Middle School.
In two additional capital projects, Petaluma Health Center will receive $250,000 to help remodel space to accommodate the Department of Health Services’ Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which will make these much needed health and nutrition services more accessible to the families who need them.
California Parenting Institute will receive $350,000 to help renovate its facility and allow it to increase counseling, support, and educational services to children 0-5 and their families.
The First 5 Sonoma County Commission oversees the Sonoma County allocation of funds from the California Children and Families First Act of 1998, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. First 5 Sonoma County invests in programs that support and improve the early development of children from the prenatal stage through age five.