FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jessica Berthold, 510-925-3812
SACRAMENTO – The statewide network of First 5s will gather May 2 at the steps of the State Capitol to honor three legislators with Champion for Children Awards as part of First 5’s 20th Anniversary celebration marking California voters’ approval of Prop 10. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) will deliver the keynote for the award ceremony.
Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) are backing efforts this legislative session to increase pay and recruitment of child care providers (Aguiar-Curry, AB 2292); bolster home visiting for CalWORKs families with small children (Arambula, AB 992); and advance more rigorous developmental screening practices (McCarty, AB 11). Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) will receive an award earlier in the day as a former commissioner of First 5 Sonoma County.
“Our kids are our collective future. These legislators’ commitment to the wellbeing of California’s youngest children is a step in the right direction,” said Moira Kenney, Executive Director of First 5 Association, which represents First 5s in the state’s 58 counties. “Families are struggling across our state—with poverty, quality child care, and access to early intervention services. By supporting kids in the early years, we can shape the course of their lives—and our society.”
Only 14% of eligible infant-toddlers in California have access to subsidized care, in part due to a workforce shortage that ensued after more than $1 billion was cut from child care spending during the Great Recession. Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry’s bill would create start-up grants to rebuild child care capacity, and increase the reimbursement adjustment factor for infant-toddler care.
“The current reimbursement rate for infant-toddler care providers does not cover the cost of providing care, which has caused many providers to shut down or stop offering care for subsidized families,” said Camille Maben, Executive Director of First 5 California. “Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry’s bill will help reverse this trend and put our young children on track for kindergarten and beyond.”
Home visiting also is integral for the health of California’s families, and Assemblymember Arambula’s support of the CalWORKs Home Visiting Initiative will help maintain and enhance the benefits of these programs. Home visiting has been shown to increase healthy births, boost positive parenting practices, reduce child maltreatment, and increase family self-sufficiency.
“A child’s wellbeing is a shared responsibility with a shared benefit for our society,” said Kim Belshé, Executive Director of First 5 LA. “We need to support children at the earliest possible moments to make the greatest impact. We need leaders and lawmakers to prioritize these voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs. They are the best way to level the playing field so all kids have the opportunity to succeed.”
First 5 is co-sponsoring Assemblymember McCarty’s bill to ensure kids enrolled in Medi-Cal are screened three times before age three with a validated screening tool. Less than 30% of California’s young kids are properly screened for developmental delays, and 70% of kids with delays aren’t detected until kindergarten.
“When developmental delays are identified early, interventions are less expensive, more effective, and yield greater long-term outcomes,” Kenney said.
The Champion for Children Awards ceremony will take place at 12:10 pm. First 5’s 20th Anniversary event starts at 11 am and will include kids’ games and visits from Sesame Street’s Walkaround Rosita and First 5’s Potter the Otter.
About First 5
California voters passed Proposition 10 in 1998, creating First 5 commissions in all 58 counties and a state commission to support the healthy development of children from birth to age five. Together, First 5 touches the lives of more than one million kids, families, and caregivers each year, and strengthens our state by giving kids the best start in life. Learn more: www.first5association.org.