May eNews
Being a mom is hard and we definitely need each other to learn from and lean on. With our Safe Babies program, we bring together foster mothers and birth mothers so that they can help each other care for their babies. Here is one story of how these relationships are changing lives. 

At a young age, Michelle and her siblings were turned over to Child Protective Services. Michelle started using drugs as a teenager to cope with the pain in her life. Previously, she had children of her own removed from her care as she had never been in a healthy enough place to care for them the way they needed. When her next child was born and came into foster care, Michelle was introduced to Safe Babies. Because of her past, she did not trust anyone in the system and could not see why anyone would care about her. The first time Michelle met her baby's foster mother, Jill, she experienced something different. In the parent-child visit, both mothers bonded over their love for the baby and the relationship took off from there. Through the Safe Babies program, Jill offers encouragement throughout the visits by pointing out what Michelle is doing well to build on her strengths as a mother. The mothers also started communicating outside of the visit and sharing pictures via text message. Michelle has since reached out to the foster mother who is caring for her other children, and they have begun a relationship. Now with the support of these other moms, Michelle is beginning to turn things around for herself and for her children.
Happy Mother's Day!

Donor Spotlight
We are excited to introduce our newest eNews feature, our Donor Spotlight! Each month we will feature one of our generous donors and, for this month's Spotlight, we sat down with Bret Helmer, President and CEO of R4 Foundation.

 Keep reading to learn more about R4 Foundation and to hear what Bret had to say about First3Years.  

R4 Foundation is a private charitable foundation created by a Fort Worth family seeking to help its community find what is possible. In its fourth year of providing local grants, R4 gives within four pillars of purpose - wellness, education, arts, and community. R4's general vision is to inspire people to live compassionate lives of substance and value. 

To learn more about R4 Foundation, please visit:

First3Years: What attracted you to the organization/Why did you get involved?

Bret Helmer: Our Board of Directors is passionate about the early learning space. First3Years came very well recommended from other organizations in town. I found Sadie to be a delightful person and a strong leader, so it was a natural fit. We appreciate good leadership and Sadie is an added bonus to the mission of First3Years.

F3Y: In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does?

Helmer: We value the Safe Babies program, which was piloted in Tarrant County last year. The program works to ensure that the transition between foster parents and natural parents is productive for both the children and adults. Trust is built, parenting skills are learned, and the child is put first.
F3Y: How does First3Years uniquely contribute to the community?

Helmer: The Safe Babies program has already helped many local families. Stable and healthy parenting leads to healthier children. Healthier children become emotionally intelligent adults who give back to our community.

F3Y: What do you hope the organization will achieve in the near future? In the long term?

Helmer: We are delighted that First3Years won a $100,000 prize through the United Way GroundFloor program last year. As a result, Safe Babies was able to scale its program to include Dallas County, and serving more families is their ultimate goal.

F3Y: Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting your involvement? In providing inspiration?

Helmer: I learn from my two children every day. It is children who teach, if adults would just listen and watch. It is easy to be inspired by children.

F3Y: Do you have an anecdote about this organization that really moved you? Or is there anything else you would like to share?

Helmer: We are so fortunate to have an organization in our community solely committed to the 0-3 year old space. Their goal is to be champions for children at the very beginning of their lives. What could be more important?

Austin Regional Conference Recap
Thank you to our sponsors!
Mary Jamison
Steve and Mary Knight

On May 11th, First3Years hosted the Annual Regional Conference in Austin, TX. The focus of this year's conference was on  Mental Health Consultation and the impact on children, families and communities. 

The keynote session with Dr. Allison Boothe Trigg, walked participants through "A Day in the Life of a Mental Health Consultant" and included i nformation on the Louisiana Quality Start (ECMHC) model and expansion to Kindergarten and fir t  grade programs. The afternoon session began with Stephanie Rubin reporting on the recently released findings from "Keeping Kids in Class". She was followed with a Panel Discussion featuring State Agency Staff Jennie Young, Jacquie Porter and Stephanie Bonnet-Kramer who discussed how Texas' state agencies are working to prevent the suspension and expulsion of young children in Texas. Dr. Libby Doggett concluded our conference with "A Call to Action: Ways to Address the Social Emotional and Behavioral Health of Young Children in Texas".

Upcoming Trainings
Dallas Food For Thought
Join us for our next Food For Thought as we discuss Screen Time and Young Children.  In this session, we'll discuss current screen time recommendations for children, content analyses of television programming, and empirical developmental research with goals of understanding (1) how television viewing affects children - the good, the (neutral), and the ugly, (2) what role parents have in children's viewing, and (3) how parents'  screen use affects children.

May 25th | 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM | Screen Time and Young Children

Safe Babies
Join us for this two hour workshop where participants will explore potential challenges, benefits and strategies to strengthening co-parenting between parents and between foster and biological parents involved in the child welfare system.

May 17th | 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM | United Way, Dallas
May 24th | 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM | One Safe Place, Ft. Worth

May Webinars
Teachers are important adults in the lives of children. Join us as we explore the influence that teacher well-being has on children's socio-emotional adjustment and academic performance.

May 17th | 2:00 PM
May 22nd | 12:00 PM
May 24th | 1:00 PM | Expert Session with Dr. Susan Wolbe

May Awareness

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month 
May is National Foster Care Month, a month set aside to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. It is also a time to focus on ways to create a bright future for the more than 430,000 children and youth in foster care.
May 10th was National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day 
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day took place on Thursday, May 10! This annual event raises awareness about the importance of children's mental health and its impact on their healthy development.  This year's national  observance focused on the importance of an integrated health  approach to supporting children , youth, and young adults with serious emotional disturbance who have experienced trauma.  Early childhood mental health is a child's growing capacity to experience, regulate, and express emotions. For children from birth to 5 years of age, early childhood mental health is the same as social and emotional development.  

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