SAN DIEGO, Calif. — (April 18, 2011) — First 5 San Diego programs have improved families’ access to health care, quality preschool and developmental services for children ages 0 through 5 in San Diego County. Additionally, parents and caregivers are more knowledgeable about how to best support their child’s early development. These and other important early childhood outcomes were reported in First 5 San Diego’s 2010 Annual Evaluation Report released last month.
“Our investments in early childhood development are focused on programs that will have the greatest impact on children ages 0 through 5 and their families,” said San Diego County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, Chair of the First 5 Commission of San Diego. “As a result, First 5 San Diego has improved the quality of services delivered to children and services are more responsive to the needs of families in our county. In the long run, preventive efforts save tax-payer dollars.”
First 5 San Diego has built a strong system of support for the healthy development and well-being of children ages 0 through 5 to help them enter school ready to learn. Some highlights from several key initiatives in FY 2009-10 include:
- Healthy Development Services (HDS) –A primary goal of HDS is to identify and treat health problems and developmental delays early. Last year, 36,576 children received developmental services. More than 90 percent of children receiving treatment services showed improvement. HDS also provided 13,571 parents with education and care coordination services to assist them in getting treatment for their child’s developmental needs. More than 97 percent of parents increased skills for supporting their child’s development.
- Oral Health Initiative (OHI) – OHI provides free oral health screenings and treatment for young children and pregnant women. Last year, one-third of children and two-thirds of pregnant women who were screened showed obvious tooth decay. 19,289 children received oral health screenings and 11,576 children received dental treatment. The initiative had a significant increase in the number of pregnant women, with 3,444 pregnant women receiving dental treatment – a 168.6 percent increase from the previous year. First 5 San Diego fills a critical gap in the county as there are limited funding sources for oral health services.
- Healthcare Access (HCA) – HCA assists families to enroll and maintain health insurance for children and pregnant women. Last year, 9,227 children and 2,389 pregnant women were enrolled in health insurance through HCA. Families served received increased preventive care for children such as well-baby checkups, immunizations and dental visits, and emergency room visits were lower than the county average, providing a significant savings to San Diego’s healthcare system.
- Preschool for All (PFA) – Through PFA, First 5 San Diego provides free, half-day quality preschool for young children in selected communities throughout the county. 3,906 children received a quality preschool experience through PFA; from fall to spring, more than 70 percent of children showed significant gains in competence, learning, motor skills, safety and health. Almost all parents of PFA children were involved in their child’s education to maximize each child’s development and learning experience.
- More details about First 5 San Diego’s programs and their outcomes are contained in the full Annual Evaluation Report for FY 2009-2010.
“These results demonstrate the critical role that First 5 San Diego plays in providing important services for young children and their families,” said Slater-Price. “First 5 San Diego meets needs that no other program is able to address in our county.”
In light of the current budget crisis, however, some of these programs and services could be reduced or eliminated. AB99, the budget bill that shifts half of reserve funds from each local First 5 commission to the State, was signed into law on March 24, 2011. As a result, First 5 San Diego stands to lose $88.3 million.
“The majority of reserve funds that will be taken by the State were already designated for programs and services for young children and their families.” said Barbara Jiménez, executive director of First San Diego. “First 5 San Diego will have to revise its program allocation plan to account for the reduction of funds for a wide range of successful programs specific to the needs of San Diego County.”
About the First 5 Commission of San Diego
The first five years of life are critical to a child’s development. These years shape a child’s success in school and in life. First 5 San Diego helps parents and others help children during these early years. The Commission leads the greater San Diego community in promoting the vital importance of the first 5 years of life to the well-being of children, families and society. The ultimate goal of the Commission’s work is that all children ages 0 to 5 are healthy, loved and nurtured, and enter school as active learners. Learn more at first5.demosite.us or call toll-free 1 (888) 5 FIRST 5.