Here is a quick look at some headlines from this week impacting the lives of kids 0-5 and their families. The purpose of these stories is simply to inform, and they do not necessarily reflect First 5 Kern's areas of support or efforts towards these issues.

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Now for the headlines........

How do you find just the right child care center for your child? For parents in Kern County, that daunting task just got a little easier. The Kern Early Stars program was unveiled on Wednesday.

Although launched publicly only just this week, dozens of local early childcare sites have been building up to this point for up to two years - working with coaches, increasing their professional training and improving their sites in an effort to bolster child care opportunities for kids in our community. Click here to visit the website and review the rated sites throughout the county.

More early childhood education news: Mississippi had a serious problem with school readiness - nearly two-thirds of all kindergartners failed to grasp basics such as early number and letter recognition. So they decided to do something about it. Jackson's Clarion Ledger put together a series of articles focusing on the effectiveness of their local pre-K programs.

Researchers at Ohio State University put some numbers behind the "million-word gap" by analyzing popular kids books for word count. The study put together estimates based on toddlers being read from one to five books per day. " The word gap... between children raised in a literacy-rich environment and those who were never read to is striking,” said the lead author of the study.

Maybe five books a day is too steep for your family's schedule, but you can always start with one book and take it from there. Plus, here are some more ideas to cut down on the word gap, even if it doesn't involve books.

A large study of over 3,000 women throughout several countries - including the U.S. - appears to confirm an increase stillbirth risk with sleeping on your back during pregnancy. The hypothesis is that the weight of the uterus can reduce blood flow to the baby.

An unrelated study found a correlation between "oversleeping" and stillbirths . "Women often worry when they wake up several times during the night when they are pregnant, but it may be protective in this case," said Louise O'Brien, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, who helped oversee the study.

The findings did elicit some criticisms, however, and it should be noted that correlation does not mean causation. It is estimated that stillbirths affect one percent of pregnancies in the United States.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have joined the family leave party by unveiling a plan being referred to as a "free market alternative ." In short, the legislation would allow Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to be utilized for related expenses following a birth, adoption or family member's illness.

Have you ever been nervous going into a serious medical procedure or surgery? Imagine what that feeling must be like for a young child who might not fully comprehend what is happening to them.

Just up the valley in Modesto, this hospital has come up with a fun way to reduce anxiety for kids heading into surgery.

No word on whether they plan to adopt the same idea for grown ups.

It was a busy week for stories on children's issues. Here are some other great reads:

This article in the New York Times addresses how to deal with aggressive behavior in young children.

A professor at George Washington University has analyzed data from anti-vaccination social media posts in the U.S. and found thousands of posts from Russian troll accounts on vaccinations designed to muddy the water on the conversation.

One school in Jackson, Wyoming, had a novel project for young students to keep them thinking about books during their Spring Break.

A principal from a Memphis-area elementary school is finding a way to reach kids at home. Acting on a suggestion from his school's librarian, during Spring Break he began reading bedtime stories on Facebook Live , and it has turned out to be quite popular.

NBC Nightly News recently featured the Head Start program , focusing on improvements to a specific site in Florida. But from coast to coast, the successes of the program have been well-reported, and feds on both sides of the aisle have contributed to raising the budget on the program.

A woman in Bangladesh recently gave birth to three babies in the span of two months, and they weren't triplets. Although this sounds like a puzzle, it's not. Unbeknownst to her, it turns out that she has didelphys .
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...about First 5 Kern
First 5 Kern was established in 1998 when California voters passed Proposition 10, which levied a 50-cent tax on tobacco products. Revenues generated from the tobacco tax are used to fund local programs in the areas of health and wellness, early childcare and education, and parent education and support services that promote early childhood development for children ages zero to five.

For more information on First 5 Kern and the agencies we support, please visit   and follow us on social media.
Special thanks to Vecteezy for assistance on graphics