Quality Matters is the county’s new child care rating system
Concord, CA – Kids who attend quality child care programs do better in life. That’s the message of a new campaign in Contra Costa County to educate parents about the importance of selecting quality child care for their children.
The campaign, called Quality Matters, also publicly launches Contra Costa County’s new system to rate and improve the level of quality licensed child care programs provide to young children. First 5 Contra Costa, the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and the Contra Costa Child Care Council are sponsoring the campaign.
“The important message to families is that quality matters when choosing an early learning or child care setting for their child. Research shows that children in quality child care are more successful academically and in life,” said Sean Casey, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa. “Quality Matters is improving the quality of child care in our county and will provide parents with tools they need to identify quality programs.”
To date, 104 licensed child care programs in Contra Costa County are voluntarily participating in Quality Matters. Providers receive training, coaching, support and incentives to meet or exceed quality standards. Most Quality Matters sites are located in low-income communities or serve children with high needs – the children least likely to receive quality child care. Sixteen counties in California are piloting child care rating and improvement systems using common criteria and standards.
The new campaign features ads in English and Spanish on buses, transit shelters, supermarket carts and online, and promotes the qualitychildcarematters.org website which includes tips for locating and paying for quality child care and ratings for participating programs. So far, 83% of child care programs have either met or exceeded quality standards in areas proven to have the greatest impact on children’s learning and development. These include staff education and training, child-teacher interactions, and providing safe and enriching environments and age-appropriate instruction.
“With the majority of a child’s brain developing during the first five years of life, the quality of care a child receives during this time is critical,” said Ruth Fernández, program coordinator of the county’s Local Planning and Advisory Council for Early Care and Education, which is housed at the Contra County Office of Education. “Quality Matters provides a set of standards to define quality for parents and for providers. Over time, and with adequate state funding, it will help guide parents in choosing the best care they can for their children.”
Signs of Quality Child Care:
- Teacher-Child Interactions: Providers that interact positively with the kids in their care.
- Ratio and Group Size: Small group sizes and a small number of kids to every adult.
- Learning Activities: A mix of creative, fun and educational activities that are right for a child’s age and help them learn new skills.
- Staff: Warm and knowledgeable staff who have a lot of training and rarely quit. Providers have taken classes or earned degrees in Early Childhood Education.
- Environment: A rich learning environment with varied materials, activities and routines. Areas are healthy, clean and safe.
- Child Health & Development: Providers make sure children receive health screenings and that children are developing on track.
First 5 Contra Costa: First 5 Contra Costa helps young children start school healthy and ready to learn by investing in programs focused on children during their first five years, the most important time in children’s development. First 5 is leading the effort to create a countywide quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for Contra Costa child care programs. Funding for Quality Matters is made possible by First 5, a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant and a California State Preschool Program QRIS Block grant. Learn more: www.First5coco.org.
Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) – The Contra Costa County Office of Education’s mission is to be the premier county education agency providing bold leadership, high quality programs, and innovative services. The CCCOE administers the California State Preschool Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Block Grant and partners with First 5 Contra Costa, the Contra Costa Child Care Council, and the three local Community Colleges to administer the county’s QRIS Initiative. Learn more: www.cocoschools.org
Local Planning and Advisory Council for Early Care and Education: The Contra Costa County Local Planning and Advisory Council for Early Care and Education, a program of the County Office of Education, works to promote quality child care through community assessment, advocacy, resource development, and collaboration with other organizations. Learn more: www.plan4kids.org.
Contra Costa Child Care Council: The nonprofit Contra Costa Child Care Council is the only child care resource and referral agency serving all of Contra Costa providing a wide range of free and low cost services and programs. It partners with parents, child care providers, businesses, and the community to promote quality care and early education so that children are ready for school and parents can work. Learn more: www.cocokids.org.Read More
Conde Nast Traveler magazine has named Concord, California as one of 10 Best Places in the World to Retire. Chosen number seven on their list, according to their website, the magazine described Concord as follows:
“Located only 30 miles east of San Francisco, Concord is a big little city, home to farmers markets, excellent health care facilities, and free community activities throughout the year. Other bonuses are its location on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system, and a crime rate below that of San Francisco, despite its proximity and connection to the city. Concord is also one of the few U.S. cities to have a working drive-in theater, which is perfect for indulging in an evening of nostalgia.”
Vice Mayor Ron Leone was elated to hear the news.
“That’s great to hear,” he said. “Concord is a great place to live and retire. We have a lot of amenities and we’re close to everything.”
On the list in order are Coronado, Panama; Penang, Malaysia; Cascais, Portugal; San Miguel de Allenda, Mexico; Killarney, Ireland; Corozal, Belize; Concord, California; Grand Haven, Michigan; Santa Fe, New Mexico and Louisville, Kentucky.
See photos and descriptions of each city, here. http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2016-03-03/the-10-best-places-in-the-world-to-retire
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University announced students from Contra Costa County have made the President’s Honor Roll for the 2015 Fall semester. Following are the students and cities in which they live.
Antioch: Mikah Erin Nunley
Clayton: Trista Danielle Vieira
Danville: Cole Trevor Furukawa; Emily Elise Geranen; Alyssa Nicole Gonzales; Brittany Elizabeth McIntosh; Sydney Elizabeth Melin; Taylor Ann Nixon; Colette Margaret Smith; Shannon Nicole Steffen; and Hannah Stewardson.
Martinez: Rob Noel Toney; and Brandon Cooper Townsend.
Orinda: Casey Coyle Harrington; and Allison Rae Kostecki.
San Ramon: Alexandra Siobhan Farley; and William Alan Roberts.
Walnut Creek: Courtney Margaret Fitterer; Olivia Josette Lowry; Allison Morgan Milligan; and Sydney Leigh Swenson.
The President’s Honor Roll recognizes students who stand above the rest with excellent academic performance. To be eligible for the honor roll, undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of nine graded hours in a single term at WSU and earn a grade point average of 3.75 or earn a 3.50 cumulative GPA based on 15 cumulative hours of graded work.
The data displayed in the President’s Honor Roll may be affected by students who restrict the release of some or all information about themselves.
For more information on WSU, visit https://wsu.edu.Read More
CONCORD – On March 16, 2016, the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) Board of Directors unanimously approved Ernesto Avila to fill the Board vacancy left by the retirement of Board President Joseph Campbell. Avila will participate in his first Board meeting representing Division 3 on April 6, 2016. The Division 3 seat along with two other board positions will be up for election in November 2016.
Avila lives in Concord and currently is Vice President of a private engineering firm. His LinkedIn page states he is Owner of Avila and Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc. His background includes 32 years of engineering experience. Over a decade ago he was an employee of the CCWD, then accepted a position running a water agency in the Monterey area and finally started his own engineering firm. He has been a Planning Commissioner with the City of Concord for the past 10 years and is an active member of the Concord community.
CCWD received applications from ten highly qualified candidates, and from those, selected six individuals for interviews conducted at the March 16 meeting. Following interviews and deliberations, the Board appointed Avila to represent Division 3.
“Board members unanimously agreed that Mr. Avila will uphold the Board’s commitment to represent the needs of our customers and provide high-quality water service with enthusiasm,” said CCWD Board Vice President, Lisa Borba.
All applications and documents related to the selection process were made available for public review on the website and at the District offices.Read More
Join us Sunday, March 20th at 6PM for a viewing party of Open Roads with Doug McConnell featuring a segment on Marsh Creek. Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed invited our friends from Save Mount Diablo, the John Marsh Historical Trust & the Independence High School Outdoor Wetlands Learning (OWL) Program to participate in a quick look at Marsh Creek top to bottom.
We will have food and soft drinks for $10. This is a family event!
You can attend without eating just sign up for a free ticket.
When: Sunday, March 20, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM (PDT) – Add to Calendar
Where: Providence Bar & Eatery – 2085 Main Street, Oakley, CA 94561 – View MapRead More
Sign up for a FREE two-day workshop and paint a self-portrait as a way to self-understanding and self-expression
The Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County is offering two-day self-portrait painting workshops at no cost to all Contra Costa County Veterans. Workshops will take place in Martinez at ARTU4iA, a working art studio led by noted artist John Kleber. No art experience required. All painting materials will be provided.
MARCH 16 & 23, 2016
6:00 – 9:00 pm
If you are a Veteran living in Contra Costa County please register at AC5.orgRead More
Becomes sixth candidate to join District 3 race
Odessa Lefrancois, a 16-year resident of East Contra Costa County and a 12-year county health services employee, made her candidacy for District 3 Supervisor official by completing her filing on Wednesday afternoon, March 9th, as supporters and volunteers dressed in “Vote for Odessa” shirts looked on at the County Office of Elections and Registration.
Informally beginning her campaign last November, by riding in a car with signs announcing her candidacy in Antioch’s Veterans Day Parade, Lefrancois is undeterred to join a race with five other candidates seeking to replace Mary Piepho.
“I’ve not only lived in the district for a long time, I’ve also worked (and still do) for the County for over a decade,” she said. “I’ve seen County governance both from the inside and the outside. More importantly, I’ve experienced, firsthand, the effects of Supervisor decisions as a resident as well as an employee. I have something unique that the other candidates don’t have – a dual perspective and experience.”
Recent decisions from the Supervisors have led Lefrancois to her run for Supervisor.
“For nearly a decade, we have seen the County reduce or completely cut services, close down health care facilities, roll back employee salaries and benefits, and insist residents do more with less,” she said. “Supervisors preached sacrifice.”
But one decision in particular concretized Odessa Lefrancois’ determination to run.”
“When the Supervisors, minus Candace Andersen, voted to raise their own salaries by an unbelievable 33% while preaching sacrifice to everyone else, I knew this County needed new leadership,” she stated. “That decision was incredibly self serving. Leaders serve the public interest, not their own interest.”
On her priorities for the County, she said, “I am neither a career politician nor a political opportunist chasing the next office. I am a mother, a resident, a County health services employee, a retired Navy veteran, and a community volunteer.”
As a mother and resident, Lefrancois’ priorities are improved public safety and the preservation of green spaces and wetlands for families to enjoy.
As an employee, Lefrancois’ priorities are better regional transportation infrastructure and County leadership that will treat their employees fairly, and to lead by example.
As a Navy vet, Lefrancois’ priorities are better health care delivery to all, especially our men and women in uniform who served honorably but now have mental and/or physical health needs to heal.
According to her bio on the NAACP East County Branch website, two weeks after graduating from Lincoln High School in McClellanville, she joined the United States Navy.
During her military career she was trained as a hospital corpsman and a respiratory therapist. Training led to a military career that took her to over thirty-five states in the United States and five foreign countries (Japan, Korea, Philippines, Canada and Mexico). She retired from the military after 21 years of honorable service at the rank of Chief Petty Officer (E7). After retirement, she went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership and Management from Chapman University, in Orange County, California. Community involvement includes but not limited to Health Chair for Antioch Church Family and the current President of the East County National Association for the Advancement of Colored (NAACP) Branch.
Lefrancois is a proud mother of two children, Shane (28) and Lorraine (20) and three grandchildren. She enjoys bicycle riding, reading, traveling and most important, living a life of service to others. She is currently employed as a respiratory therapist at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Kaiser, Walnut Creek Medical Center. Lefrancois resides with her husband, Louis in Antioch.
The election is June 7th. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two candidates will face off in the General Election in November.Read More
Antioch City Councilmember and community advocate Monica Wilson announced she had added the endorsement of State Controller Betty Yee to a growing list of support for Contra Costa Supervisor.
“Monica is a champion for Contra Costa in improving the economy and quality of life for its residents and businesses,” Yee said. “Her demonstrated leadership and experience in the business and public sectors will serve Contra Costa County well. I wholeheartedly support Monica Wilson for county supervisor.”
Controller Betty Yee, of San Francisco, currently serves as the state’s Chief Financial Officer. She chairs the Franchise Tax Board and serves as a member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Boards, which have a combined portfolio of nearly $500 billion. Yee was elected to the seat in November 2014, defeating the Republican Mayor of Fresno Ashley Swearengin in 2014 with 54% of the vote.
“I am thrilled to have the support of our State Controller, Betty Yee.” said Wilson. “We both share the same goal of making sure California’s working families receive their fair share.”
Prior to serving as State Controller, Betty Yee served on the Board of Equalization since 2006 until 2015, representing 21 counties in northern and central California. Yee’s 30 years of experience in public service include serving as Chief Deputy Director for Budget with the California Department of Finance.
Yee also serves on the Board of Directors for the Equality California Institute, the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender civil rights organization. She is a Co-founder of the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project, which engages California high school students in public service and politics.
Yee is the newest high profile endorser for Wilson’s supervisorial campaign, which recently announced it had also received the backing of Board of Equalization Chairwoman Fiona Ma. Yee served as Vice President of California Women Lead, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for women holding or interested in running for political office. Ma currently serves as that organization’s Treasurer.
Wilson lives in Antioch and received her M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix and her B.A. from Howard University. She is currently an Antioch City Councilmember. The seat is being vacated by outgoing third district Supervisor Mary Piepho. Contra Costa County’s third supervisorial district includes Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, and Discovery Bay. The primary election is June 7, 2016.Read More
Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord) recognized Collette Carroll as the 2016 Assembly District 14 Woman of the Year during the annual floor ceremony, on Monday, March 14, which honors outstanding women making an impact in their local communities and across the state.
Collette Carroll, a resident of Clayton, California is a 2015 CNN Hero and the President and Executive Director of California Reentry Institute (CRI), a nonprofit organization that prepares and supports men through the transition from prison to freedom. Through her Empowered Reentry Program based out of San Quentin State Prison, Collette provides inmates with the tools and assistance to become contributing members of society, proving that with preparation and support, the cycle of incarceration can be broken.
“It is an honor to recognize Collette for her courageous work and its impact on California,” said Bonilla. “Her dedication, passion and commitment has transformed the lives of CRI graduates. The work she has accomplished inside and outside of our prisons for over 16 years proves that change and rehabilitation can happen when given the opportunity and support.”
In 2008, Collette created CRI when she realized the work she was doing was simply scratching the surface and that in order to make a successful transition from incarceration to freedom, men needed a solid and seamless pre-and post-release program. The comprehensive program which Collette runs inside San Quentin is a minimum 20 months and has had a remarkable, zero percent recidivism rate for all graduates of the program.
This past February, Collette held a graduation for a class of 43 and will begin a new class in late Spring. For more information about Collette and CRI, please visit: http://californiareentryinstitute.org/.
Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord) was elected in November 2010 and represents California’s 14th Assembly District, which includes Contra Costa County and Solano County.Read More
Mental Health Systems held a ribbon cutting and open house to officially open Contra Costa Health Services’ Assisted Outpatient Treatment program (AOT) located at 2280 Diamond Blvd. #500, Concord on Thursday, March 10, 2016.
MHS’ Contra Costa ACTiOn Team – delivered through an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) model – provides AOT to individuals that qualify for AB1421 known as Laura’s Law. The California state law was named after Laura Wilcox, a mental health worker who was killed by a man who had refused psychiatric treatment. It allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment. To qualify for the program, the person must have a serious mental illness plus a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior towards self or others.
The Contra Costa ACTiOn Team is designed to help consumers that face mental health challenges find the support they need to live safely and productively within the community. The program will offer treatment to individuals who meet all nine criteria described in Laura’s Law when requested from family members, cohabitants, law enforcement, or mental health providers. While AOT can be a court-ordered process for treatment, the overall goal of this program is to make treatment available on a voluntary basis, where court order will be brought in as a last resort.
Participants of the program will collaborate with ACTiOn Team members to develop individualized treatment plans and receive 24-hour access to services. Services for this program may include outreach, engagement and support, group therapy, individual therapy, case management, employment and housing assistance, medication management, wellness coaching, independent living skills and community engagement. The program will eventually have the capacity to deliver care to up to 75 eligible adults for the first year.
“This program provides the evidence-based, highly effective practice of Assertive Community Treatment with intensive supportive services provided by a multi-disciplinary team,” Mental Health Systems Vice President Dr. Laura Otis-Miles said. “It is a valuable resource in Contra Costa County to help our clients and their families break the cycle of repeated hospitalizations, incarcerations, and homelessness.”
The Contra Costa Action Team is designed to help consumers that face mental health challenges find the support they need to live safely and productively within the community. This is the first Mental Health System’s program to come to the Bay Area.
Mental Health Systems (www.mhsinc.org) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1978 to provide innovative and cost-effective behavioral health and drug and alcohol recovery services. Currently, MHS operates more than 80 community-based programs throughout California. Leading the field of nonprofit behavioral health services, our expertise and scope is unparalleled. MHS offers culturally appropriate, client-centered and strengths-based services in its programs for children, transition age youth, adults, older adults and families. While some services are available through private insurance or self-pay, most MHS programs are publicly funded and available to those who cannot afford privately paid services would be otherwise unable to receive them. All services are provided in a client-focused, compassionate manner that underscores MHS founding values of Integrity, Excellence, Hope, Action, Innovation and Dignity.