First 5 Kern strengthens and supports the children of Kern County, prenatal to age five, 
and their families, by empowering our providers through integration of services
with an emphasis on health and wellness, parent education, early child care and education.

Susan Lerude is the newest member of the FIRST 5 KERN Commission, at the invitation of Supervisor Mike Maggard.

Lerude has been in public service nearly three decades, serving 29 years at the Kern County Department of Probation. She retired three years ago in the position of Director of Juvenile Programs. 

When asked why she dedicates her time to FIRST 5 KERN families she replied “My career centered on older youth or young adults; this is a chance to serve  the little ones.” Throughout her work, Lerude often networked with the Superintendent of Schools and FIRST 5 KERN. "I saw firsthand that prevention efforts worked, and the negative impact when services aren’t in place," she added.

In addition to FIRST 5 KERN, Lerude volunteers with Youth Connection serving children at risk of entering the criminal justice system and raises funds for extracurricular activities that they would not otherwise be able to experience. She has volunteered since 2006 for Teen Challenge, a 50-year-old nonprofit, and one of the largest substance abuse recovery and prevention programs of its kind. 

Welcome, First 5 Commissioner Lerude!
Please follow us, like us, share us, join us, link to us, post us, and tweet us!  Share your memes, events, projects and exciting news with us! Let's be part of the action - TOGETHER!
This summer FIRST 5 KERNwill launch a "Talk, Read, Sing" social media campaign to include:
parent ideas, safety tips, learning opportunities, center-based activities, music,
words of encouragement, fun ways to incorporate reading, tools for social interaction,
themed activities and curriculum  (such as the first series: Bath time and water fun) and more!
FIRST 5 KERN STAFF - Expands to a Dozen

FIRST 5 KERN’s staff of ten recently became an even dozen. FIRST 5 KERNExecutive Director Roland Maier introduced two new team members at the June First 5 Kern Commissioner’s meeting "dedicated to the work of wellness and education for 0- to 5-year-olds and their families through funded agencies and relationships with community partners". The full FIRST 5 KERN staff represents more than 200 years of service.

Analy Martinez (top right), brings a decade of experience to the role of Program Officer, having worked hands-on with clients, implementing and administering programs in the areas of health, financial literacy, and education. 

As a Program Officer Martinez monitors and reviews funded programs, and assists with technical support and program development. Analy joins the Program and Evaluation Department of five led by Chief Evaluation and Program Officer Theresa Ortiz, MA. The group supports the funded programs, helping to make sure all are compliant with the guidelines of Proposition 10 funding, and that they are meeting their program goals. Martinez said “I look forward to helping agencies serve children and their families. When challenges come up, we’ll face them together.” 

Christine Lollar (bottom right), serves as Communications and Media Specialist, with 35+ years’ experience in public relations, fund development, administration, and graphic design. Most recently she served as Director of Homelessness Resources for United Way of Kern County and the Kern County Homeless Collaborative. 

At FIRST 5 KERN, Lollar provides community awareness about early childhood and educa tion, focusing initially on the expansion of the agency's social media presence. She had added Instagram LinkedIn Pinterest , and soon SnapChat, to the existing  Facebook  and  Twitter  repertoire. Through social media, FIRST 5 KERN provides resources and tools that help (see social media section above). “These days, parents of children need as much support as possible; along wit h our funded agencies who do incredible work.  They all need to know they are not in this alone,” she said. She will also participate in outreach events and support the funded providers their message sharing to the community.  Lollar and her husband have four children and five grandchildren.

PARENT POINTERS – Tips, Info, and Ideas

Dry Drowning - Four-year-old Frankie Delgado experienced symptoms that mimicked a stomach virus, with vomiting and diarrhea, almost a week after his family had gone swimming. Sadly, Delgado died and "dry drowning" was the cause. His father has committed to sharing their story to educate other parents about the danger.

Parents and care providers should keep an eye on children well after they swim, especially if they inhale water through the mouth or nose. Known also as “second drowning”, symptoms can also include mood swings, lung spasms, coughing, fever, or struggling for breath. Even hours after swimming long-term respiratory problems, brain injury, or death can occur if left untreated. Adults who notice symptoms should take the child to a physician for immediate observation. Related articles and resources:

Recalls and Alerts - More than 20 June recalls and alerts have been posted to the Kern County Department of Public Health website. Families can check out the most current product notices to be informed and safe. Warnings include cashews (with glass in the sea salt), Tyson chicken (for allergens not listed on the package), and children’s clothing (with choking and flammability dangers).

Reading This SummerSchool may be out for summer, yet it’s a perfect time for continued learning opportunities and teachable moments – especially to read out loud together.

  • Wendy Wayne Libraries are in many Kern neighborhoods. Project namesake Wendy Wayne was a First 5 Kern Executive Director prior to her passing June 17, 2012. Best friend Susan Reep created the project to honor Wayne. Library owners build, maintain and fill them for their neighbors. Anyone can "leave a book and take a book". (Click the link to see a map of little libraries for unending reading opportunities.)
  • Born Learning Trails are park site trails with opportunities for interacting and adventure, facilitated and maintained by the United Way of Kern County. 
  • Kern County Library events have much to offer with story time at locations across the county. Check out their calendar. (Click the link to see the schedule.) Consider e-books for kids! Better yet, visit a library near you. (Click the link for a map of libraries.)
  • Barnes and Noble Storytime includes free storytime with a fun list of books preschoolers love! (Click the link for scheduled stories.)
Encouraging parents to read out loud for 15 minutes  – Free parent handouts in English and Spanish are available; designed to encourage parents to read out loud to their children for 15 minutes each day. Click the link for a wide variety of options.

Visit the  First 5 California resource page  for educating your staff and families, writing grants, and more. Topics include the latest information on early brain development research, health and nutrition, early childhood development and quality child care to name a few.
2017 Report Card;  Pending Legislation

The Kern County Network for Children recently released the 19th annual Kern County Report Card which gauges how well the community is caring for children. Data includes child demographics, family economics, education, child/adolescent health, child safety, at-risk youth behavior, and more. Data of Note:
  • 87,441 children are ages 0- to 5-years-old; making up 10% of the total population of Kern (888,994 people; 258,383 children; 2016).
  • 60% of children ages 0- to 5-years-old have working parents (2015).
  • 24% of babies are born to mothers who do not begin prenatal care in the first trimester (2013-15).
  • Substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect: 38% are under 1-year-old; 17% are 1- to 2-years-old; and 15% are 3- to 5-years-old.

Another good Kern County resource for child related statistical information can be found at KidsData.org. For example, 27% of children in Kern live in 'food insecure' households (2014; improved from 31% in 2011).

Legislation: Good News - “First 5 California Executive Director Camille Maben thanked Governor Brown and the California Legislature for keeping their promise to prioritize the most pressing needs of California’s early learning system including updating the child care eligibility threshold and providing a modest increase in per-child funding rates.” Read full press release

Statistical: Not So Good News - 40,000 fewer children are being served today than in 2007. Approximately 1.2 million children lack access to subsidized child care parents need in order to work.
First 5 California Legislation Handout April 27, 2017, meeting

Updates below are in the order they appear in the Legislation Handout:
  • AB 60 – Passed Assembly, in Senate Committee on Human Services (as of 6/14/17)
  • AB 273 – In Senate Committee on Rules (as of June 7, 2017; amended 5/17/17)
  • AB 752 – Committee on Human Services Hearing  (4/25/17); in Senate Committee on Rules (as of 6/7/17)
  • AB 1164 – Passed Assembly, in Senate (as of 6/14/17)
  • SB 63 – Passed Senate, in Assembly Committee on Human Services (as of 6/7/17)
First 5 Kern Program Officer Paula De La Riva (second from left) represented First 5 Kern staff at the Trauma Informed Care workshop, May 25th. She is joined by Supervisor Marycela Tamez (far left), of the Most Vulnerable Infant Program; Family Health Advocate Lizetta Tatum (center), of the Black Infant Health Program; Elida Valdez of Clinica Sierra Vista (second from the right); and High risk Infant Follow Up Coordinator Susan Rasmussen (far right) of Marian Regional Medical Center of Santa Maria.

    Trauma Informed Care
is a person-centered response,
focused on improving
an individual's overall wellness,
not only treating
symptoms of mental illness.

Jane Jonsson, RN, PHN
Jane Jonsson, RN, PHN, MVCCP Coordinator was the workshop's opening speaker. Her presentation was titled "Trauma Informed Care: ACES, Resilience and Action".
Marc Thibault, MA, and Jane Jonsson, RN, PHN, (right)  honored keynote speaker Lisa Conradi, Psy.D., (left) Director of Clinical Operations at Chadwick Center for Children and Families at the Rady Children's Hospital - San Diego.
Medically Vulnerable Care Coordination Project Serves Vulnerable Infants and Families; Pursues Kern as 'Trauma Informed County'

The Kern County Medically Vulnerable Care Coordination Project (MVCCP), funded by FIRST 5 KERN and Kaiser Permanente, is a collaborative effort of more than 50 organizations. The Project helps case managers coordinate health care for Kern's premature and at-risk infants and children, their families, and pediatric providers.

Presenting to the FIRST 5 KERN Commission on June 7th, Project Director, Marc Thibault, MA said “There is an average of 14,000 births each year in Kern. Approximately 10% of those births are premature, and many require our extra level of support. We’ve seen the premature birth rate drop from 13% when the Project began" [in 2008].

Thibault applauded the FIRST 5 KERN Commission’s vision in funding MVCCP, “From this very room the work started by FIRST 5 KERN has had a ripple effect across the state.” A grant from the Lucile Packard Foundation allowed MVCCP to assist Orange, Contra Costa and Monterey counties in establishing similar care projects. He also shared with FIRST 5 KERN Commissioners about the May 25th Trauma Informed Care (TIC) workshop MVCCP hosted at Memorial Hospital, with 83 multi-agency representatives in attendance.

Thibault, who has led the Project since 2008, reported Kern is among the highest ranked percentage of mothers have experienced childhood trauma, according to a Bakersfield Californian article. He told conference attendees “This is a crisis. Our hope is that Kern will become a Trauma Informed County over the next few years.”

Jane Jonsson, RN, PHN, who processes and tracks referrals from the Kern Public Health Department, opened the workshop detailing the long-term health impact of exposure to high stress in childhood. Keynote speaker Lisa Conradi, PsyD, Director of Clinical Operations for the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, cautioned “If we’re going to serve people, we’ve got to have a self-care plan.” She explained, “When you’re seeing person after person and hearing their trauma, the trauma becomes traumatic to the very person providing the care.”

The Project's TIC working group continues to meet, pursuing next steps across medical, mental health, education and social service providers in Kern.

For more information contact Marc Thibault, MA at

FIRST 5 ASSOC. OF CALIFORNIA – Exploring Academic Preschool
The University of California Berkeley recently published a report that indicates that children who attend one year of ‘academic-oriented preschool’ outperform peers who attend less academic-focused preschools (averaging a 2.5 month gain, showing them ahead in literacy and math), by the time they complete kindergarten.

The national study, conducted by interviewing parents of over 6,000 children, appeared in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 

Many child development advocates, who are proponents of play, were mentioned in a New York Times article which summarized the Berkeley report Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschool written by Dana Goldstein. These experts question whether putting all children on a “path to read and do simple math problems by the end of kindergarten - may detract from the socialization value the preschools have been known for.” 

A penny for your thoughts  -  Email us your opinion about academic preschool, socialization, etc. We would love to hear about your experience. (Click the link at left, to email your feedback.)

Purple Ribbon Month: July 2017 – Stay tuned for more information!
Contact Heidi Carter-Escudero, 661.633.7104

First 5 Kern Commission Meetings : August 2, October 4,  and December 6, 2 pm;
Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Bakersfield

World Breastfeeding Week: August - Contact Jason Silvas, RN, 661.637.8830

Cesar Chavez Community Celebration: August 6, 11am-8pm;  Kern County Fairgrounds

Ready Set Back 2 School Health and Wellness Fair:
August 10, 9am-noon;  Kerr-McGee Center, 100 W. California, Ridgecrest
In the July / August FIRST 5 KERN HANDPRINTS newsletter:
Kern County Town Hall Meeting Recap - Strategic Plan Process 2020
Are businesses in Kern offering flexible work hours for parents?
What's happening in California re: family leave?
Visit the FIRST 5 KERN website for more information about
activities,  events,  resources and more!
For newsletter or social media information contact 
Christine Lollar, 661.328.7304 or  clollar@kccfc.org .

Please share HANDPRINTS with staff, colleagues, clients, friends, and family!