MAY 2018
Purple Heart, senator, mom
In 2004, Tammy Duckworth was one of the first women to fly combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her Black-hawk helicopter was hit in November 2004 causing the loss of her legs and partial use of her right arm. She declined a military medical retirement, continued to drill as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard, and received a Purple Heart.

The veteran served as assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs before being elected to Congress in 2012.

Senator and mommy of two, Duckworth made history recently again when she fought for the right to bring her baby (her second child) with her to the Senate floor.

The child, dressed in a ducky sleeper with a soft cotton jacket to ensure dress code compliance, made her first appearance as together the Duckworth women showed the world that moms can give their babies the best start possible and still take care of business.

Once again the actions of Tammy Duckworth pave the way for women for generations to come. ARTICLE

California lawmakers will soon consider a proposal to allow state employee parents to bring their newborns to work at state offices. AB 2481 could allow babies, 6-weeks to 6-months-old, an age where they sleep often and before they can crawl, to be in offices. ARTICLE
Team visits legislators for First 5 Kern families
First 5 Kern celebrated the launch of the First 5 Network's 20 th anniversary at the state capitol. Commission Chair Cindy Wasson (second from right), Commissioner Susan Lerude (right), Executive Director Roland Maier (center), and Communications and Media Specialist Christine Lollar (second from left) met with Assemblyman Vince Fong (left), Assemblyman Rudy Salas (below), Senator Andy Vidak (below), and with representatives for Senator Jean Fuller and Assemblyman Tom Lackey.

Roland Maier, Executive Director of First 5 Kern said “Now more than ever we believe that California’s success will one day be measured by the success of its youngest children.” First 5 Kern is planning to celebrate locally this fall under the banner “Happy 20th Birthday Kern County Families."

Positive results for Kern County children show: 57% of young children are read to daily; 76% of mothers receive prenatal care in the first trimester; and 95% of all kindergartners receive all required immunizations. Yet the needs of Kern's kids are still great and families need help more than ever. More than one third of Kern's children live in poverty; licensed child care is not available to 82% of families who need it; and 49% of 3- to 5-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool or kindergarten.

First 5 teams from across the state spent the day talking with legislators about three specific, urgent needs for California's youngest and most vulnerable families:
  • Quality Early Learning: Infant-Toddler Care - Two bills are currently being considered, AB 2292, sponsored by First 5 California, provides start-up grants, increases the Infant-Toddler Adjustment Factor for reimbursement rates, and expands licensing support. AB 2626 restores professional development days, crucial to continuing education of child care providers and educators.
  • Family Resiliency: Home Visiting - The governor's proposed $158 million over three years will fund a new voluntary home visiting pilot program for CalWORKS families - the first ever for California (which is one of the few states that doesn't already have such a program). First 5 is eager to partner with Kern County departments to expand home visiting.
  • Comprehensive Health: Developmental Screening - AB 11, co-sponsored by First 5 Association, is a bill ensuring children receive routine-milestone screenings to identify delays in a timely manner. Too often children 0 to 5-years-old with developmental delays are not identified until kindergarten.
Executive Director Roland Maier shared with Senator Vidak the crucial importance of developmental screening.
Assemblymember Salas met with Executive Director Roland Maier, Commissioner Susan Lerude, Commission Chair Cindy Wasson, and staff member Christine Lollar (not shown).
First 5 Kern funds programs for expecting moms/babies
As we celebrate Mother's Day First 5 Kern shares the list of the 42 programs funded by First 5 Kern serving 0 to 5-year-olds and their families. Three programs specifically serve vulnerable, expecting mommies and their babies. They include Kern County Public Health Department's Black Infant Health and Nurse-Family Partnership Programs; and Clinica Sierra Vista's Medically Vulnerable Infant Program. Visit the website for a full list of FUNDED PROVIDERS .
New Commission Chair shares
why she has served for ten+ years
The First 5 Kern Children and Families Commission recently appointed Cindy Wasson as Chair. Cindy is the longest serving Commission participating for nearly ten years.

When asked about her memories of childhood she shared “My mother was an elementary school teacher and she would read to me from the Better Homes and Gardens' Storybook. I have clear memories of The Little Red Hen, Peter Rabbit, and Lines and Squares. I read the same stories to my two children and still have the well-loved, old tattered books on our bookshelf.” 

Twenty years ago, when Proposition 10 funding was approved by voters, Cindy was one of its most enthusiastic supporters. Serving for many years as a Public Health Nurse she recognized the monumental impact First 5 could have on Kern’s most vulnerable pregnant women and children. There was no question in her mind. She wanted to be involved right from the beginning. Cindy described watching how the work of First 5 Kern has advanced, "This has been so exciting and rewarding. High-risk families who face so many challenges finally have a voice.” 

Executive Director Roland Maier complimented the leader "It is this level of caring commitment that has made this organiz-ation a cornerstone in family-centric services to young children and their families in Kern County."

PHOTO: Cindy represented the Commission, along with Commissioner Susan Lerude and Executive Director Roland Maier, at the First 5 Association meeting May 1.
k i d s f e s t to feature Wee 5 EXPO for adventures and fun
First 5 Kern has been visiting sites all over Kern County with toddler sized tables and hands-on activities made from recycled and dollar store treasures. The outreach effort, called the Wee 5 EXPO, was designed to provide opportunities for play, to grow imaginations, and to encourage parents to play too.

The exhibit features water bottle rattles (for singing and dancing), cardboard kitchen appliances (for imaginary meals), strainers for spaghetti noodle spike balls (see photo), and more. The fan favorite is placing wine corks into Starbucks cups using kitchen tongs (which serves to develop fine motor skills).

Play is learning. “Watching the interaction has been amazing,” said Communications and Media Specialist Christine Lollar. “We’ve seen little ones make catapults, string ponytail bands in elaborate patterns, and squeal with glee as towers of Popsicle sticks tumble. “STEM, cause and effect, fine motor skills… all of these are visible when toddlers learn through play,” said Lollar. “You would think we had expensive luxury toys. But these are all things parents can make at home to encourage learning."

The next Wee 5 EXPO will be at k i d s f e s t on May 12, at the Kern County Museum. LINK
Stay tuned to @First5Kern on social media for a chance to win FREE passes!
First 5 Kern will also be at "Immunization Celebration" at Adventist Health's Mobile Immunization Clinic , May 16, 3-6pm, 2800 Chester Avenue.

A recent study by University of Toledo researchers, backs up the theory that less is more. Writer Bill Murphy Jr. writes “ We live in a culture that often tells us that the more money you spend on someone, the more you show you care about them.” Researchers found the opposite to be true. “When provided with fewer toys in the environment, toddlers engaged in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively." ARTICLE
Families will enjoy First 5 Express visits in May
Children and parents alike are in for a treat as the First 5 Express adventure returns to Kern in May for two more opportunities for families. First 5 Express, a mobile, bilingual children’s activity center was created by First 5 California to inspire families to understand the importance of a child’s earliest years and the positive impact they can have on brain development through talking, reading, and singing. LINK
On April 11-12, the First 5 Express team visited Bakersfield, providing Talk.Read.Sing. fun, learning opportunities at the Bakersfield Adult School Child Care Center (a.m. and p.m. sessions) and the Greenfield Health and Wellness Fair. Both are funded programs of First 5 Kern. VIDEO
Hugs = brain development
Parents who are always hugging their kids are encouraged to keep it up. According to new research, physical affection during a baby’s development period is more important than originally thought. ARTICLE
Maternal deaths rise
While rates of maternal mortality have declined in industrialized countries since 2000, they have dramatically increased in the US. As many as 900 women die here every year, most often from complications related to pregnancy that are preventable, such as blood loss and high blood pressure. 

For every 100k live births worldwide, there are 12 deaths. In America, that number is 26 women.

A perfect storm of factors could push US rates higher due to: increased cardiovascular disease; women waiting to have children later in life; and more reliance on C-sections (coming with risks of infection and hemorrhaging). 

A March for Moms are planned to raise awareness about maternal mortality and to gain the attention for motherhood issues.  ARTICLE

BLACK WOMEN... are four times as likely to die from pregnancy, and three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, than white women. 

BLACK INFANTS... are more than twice as likely to die as white babies; a wider racial disparity today than it was in 1850. ARTICLE
Federal budget increase to aid California families
Thousands of children will get access to subsidized child care because of a massive increase in new federal funding. A $1.3 trillion budget includes an increase of nearly $2.4 billion in Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program funding. This is the largest federal child care assistance program, intended to provide child care to low-income parents so they can work or attend educational or job training programs. The increase includes an added $610 million nationwide for Head Start and an additional $236.7 million is estimated for California. Added to the $305 million already slated, this is the highest level ever. The funding stream has been frozen for years. Even still, most children eligible under program guidelines will still not be served. It is hoped these funds will allow nearly 12,000 more California children to receive child care; 151,000 more children nationwide. ARTICLE
Strawberries and toddlers
Involve toddlers in the kitchen by giving them washed strawberries and straws. Teach them to stick the straws through to "core" the berries, then... yum!
When children participate in food preparation, they are more likely to try new foods. Watch for @First5Kern's social media series KIDDOS IN THE KITCHEN. STRAWBERRY RECIPES FOR TODDLERS
Click above for a detailed community calendar with links to events, websites, flyers, agendas, forms and more. Check in on social media @First5Kern for updates.
For ideas to celebrate or honor the special days below follow us on social media or check in to @First5Kern on PINTEREST

May is National ...
Mental Health Awareness Month
Foster Care Month | Bike Month | Egg Month
Get Caught Reading Month | Hamburger Month | Water Safety Month | Strawberry Month

Special May Weeks
6-12 Teacher Appreciation Week, Nurses Week, Hospital Week, Pet Week
13-19 Etiquette Week, Police Week | 20-26 Emergency Medical Services Week

Nationally recognized days in May
1 May Day, Foster Care Day, Mother Goose Day, School Principal's Day | 3 Day of Prayer
4 Bird Day, Firefighters Day, Star Wars Day, Space Day | 5 Cinco de Mayo, Join Hands Day
6 Nurses Day, Lemonade Day | 8 Teacher Appreciation Day | 9 Sleepover Day, School Nurse Day, Bikes at School Day | 10 Clean Your Room Day | 11 Child Care Provider Day
12 Stamp Out Hunger Day | 13 Mothers Day, Frog Jumping Day | 14 Dance Like a Chicken Day
16 Love a Tree Day | 18 Pizza Party Day | 19 Learn to Swim Day
20 Take Your Parents to the Playground Day | 21 Wait Staff Day, Red Cross Day
23 World Turtle Day, Lucky Penny Day | 24 Red Nose Day | 25 Wine Day
27 Grape Popsicle Day, Memorial Day | 29 Paper Clip Day | 30 Water a Flower Day
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For communications or media info contact Christine Lollar, 661.328.7034 or   CLOLLAR@KCCFC.ORG