Newsletter April 2011

First 5 San Diego

First 5 Commission of San Diego
Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, Chair
Carol Skiljan, Vice-Chair
Sandra McBrayer
Wilma J. Wooten, MD, MPH
Nick Macchione, MS, MPH, FACHE

Barbara Jimenez
The Director’s Corner
Barbara Jiménez

As you may be aware, critical programs and services for children and families across the county and state have been greatly impacted by the current state budget crisis. First 5 San Diego services are no exception. AB99, the budget bill that shifts half of reserve funds from each 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, which means difficult decisions lie ahead.

These decisions will include rethinking our long-term spending plan, which takes into account declining tobacco tax revenues and the spending down of reserve funds. The majority of reserve funds that will be taken from San Diego County were already designated for programs and services for young children and their families. First 5 San Diego will have to revise its program allocation plan to account for this large loss of funds, and will have to determine how best to target future investments with fewer available funds.

Despite these challenges, First 5 San Diego will continue to support the healthy development and well-being of children ages 0 through 5, working in close partnership with our service providers to meet the needs of children and families. We have provided many valuable services and resources that make a significant impact on the lives of children ages 0 through 5 and their families.

Here are some highlights from our key initiatives in FY 2009-10:

  • Healthy Development Services (HDS) – 36,576 children and 13,571 parents were provided developmental screening, treatment and education through the HDS initiative. More than 90% of children receiving treatment services showed improvement, and more than 97% of parents increased skills for supporting their child’s development.
  • Oral Health Initiative (OHI) – 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 served in FY 2009-10, with 3,444 pregnant women receiving dental treatment – a 168.6% increase from the previous year.
  • Healthcare Access (HCA) – 9,227 children and 2,389 pregnant women were enrolled in health insurance. Families received assistance with maintaining and using their health insurance, resulting in increased preventive care such as well-baby checkups and immunizations, decreased emergency room visits, and increased dental visits among children.
  • Preschool for All (PFA) – 3,906 children received a quality preschool experience through PFA. From fall to spring, more than 70% of children showed significant gains in competence, learning, motor skills, safety and health.

These are just a few of the accomplishments for First 5 San Diego programs last year. Our Annual Evaluation Report for FY 2009-2010 has much more detailed information about our services and outcomes for children and families. These results demonstrate the importance of supporting early childhood development and the critical need for services for young children and their families.

Best Regards,
Barbara Jiménez

Understanding Autism
Understanding Autism

Understanding Autism
Tips for parents and caregivers on identifying early warning signs

Currently, one in 110 children in the United States has autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is a developmental disability that occurs when the brain has trouble functioning properly. It affects a child’s ability to speak, learn, and communicate with others. At this time, there is no cure for autism. However, children who are screened and diagnosed at a young age and who visit a doctor regularly for treatment show significant improvement in learning and communication skills.

In recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month, First 5 San Diego wants parents and caregivers to be aware of the early signs of autism, which can help families identify a need for early intervention and treatment.

Early Warning Signs

Not all children develop at the same rate, but some may need further evaluation and special services to help them grow up healthy. Autism, in particular, can be difficult to diagnose because it affects each child differently. Pay attention to certain signs in your child’s behavior. See a health care provider for further screenings if you notice your child exhibits any of these indicators:

  • Does not coo or smile by six months old
  • Has trouble sitting, standing up, or reaching for objects by one year old
  • Does not say simple words like “mama” or “dada” by one year old
  • Does not turn his or her head to follow sounds or voices
  • Does not react to loud noises
  • Repeats certain behaviors, including some that are harmful like banging his or her head
  • Makes little or no eye contact and wants to be alone
  • Does not play games like peek-a-boo or “pretend” (e.g., pretending to feed a doll)
  • Any loss of speech or social skills

Early Intervention and Treatment

By getting help at an early age when the brain is still developing – from birth to age three – parents can help children reduce the effects of autism by the time they start kindergarten. Some of the most common treatment options include speech therapy, diet, and therapies focused on improving relationships.

Healthy Development Services (HDS)

As children grow and develop, they reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave and move. Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye bye” are called developmental milestones. Careful monitoring of your child’s developmental milestones can help you understand what to expect during each developmental stage and identify whether something seems out of the ordinary.

To help parents and caregivers know whether their child is on track with their development, First 5 San Diego’s Healthy Development Services (HDS) provides free healthy development checkups. If potential delays or problems are identified, HDS provides additional assessment and treatment services, if needed. The program’s services include:

  • Healthy development screenings for all children through age five
  • Vision, hearing, growth, speech and language, and behavior services
  • Parent education, support and empowerment
  • Resources for new parents, families raising children with special needs, childcare providers, and preschool teachers

Identifying and treating developmental delays as early as possible will help ensure that your child enters school ready to reach their full potential.

For more tips and resources about autism, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics Autism webpage.

For more information about First 5 San Diego’s Healthy Developmental Services program, visit the HDS webpage or call the First 5 San Diego warmline 1-888-5 FIRST 5 (1-888-534-7785). Most resources and services are free. Services are available throughout San Diego County.

Flourishing Families
Flourishing Families

Flourishing Families

When parents learn their young child has a developmental disability, they begin a journey full of emotion. There are difficult choices, interactions with many different professionals and specialists, and an ongoing need for information and services. Knowing where to begin their search for information, help, understanding and support can be overwhelming.

First 5 San Diego is pleased to share San Diego Family Magazine’s new resource guide for parents and caregivers of children with special needs titled, “Flourishing Families.” The guide provides a starting point for families in search for information and resources in San Diego County. It can also be useful to professionals working with families who have children with special needs, providing them with a ready resource to share.

Click here to read Flourishing Families.

Have You Got the 211?
Have You Got the 211?

Have You Got the 211?

In today’s economy, more families are finding themselves in need of critical resources — from basics like food and shelter to financial assistance and health insurance.

211 San Diego is a national dialing code that connects people with community, health and disaster services. The free, 24/7 confidential phone service is available to the entire population of San Diego. 211 provides information and referrals to services in the following areas:

  • CalFresh & Food Assistance
  • Utility Assistance
  • Financial Assistance
  • Housing Information
  • Physical Activity & Nutrition
  • Child Care & Early Education
  • Military & Veteran Services
  • Shelter & Homeless Services
  • Mental Health Services
  • Emergency Response

For more information about 211 and/or to search its database of community resources, visit

Watch 211 on NBC San Diego.

Making a Healthy Easter Basket
Making a Healthy Easter Basket

Making a Healthy Easter Basket

As Easter approaches, it’s easy for parents to indulge their children with sweet-looking and sweet-tasting chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and other treats. But to keep those lovely smiles, First 5 San Diego encourages parents to avoid candy in Easter baskets this year and try other fun and healthy alternatives:

  • Replace candy in Easter eggs with dried fruit, trail mix or yogurt-covered raisins.
  • Add a golden egg with a dollar bill.
  • Consider Easter-themed books or books by your children’s favorite authors.
  • Give toys your children can use to help them stay active outside, such as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls and sporting goods.

If you can’t resist a sweet treat for your child, make sure you brush their teeth immediately afterwards. To learn more tips to keep smiles healthy, visit the First 5 San Diego Oral Health Tips webpage. To get more information about First 5 San Diego’s Oral Health Program, visit or call 1-888-5 FIRST 5.

Safe Start Conference
Safe Start Conference

Safe Start Conference

On March 18, 2011, First 5 San Diego joined the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), Safe Start San Diego, the San Diego Domestic Violence Council, and the San Diego County Commission on Children, Youth and Families in sponsoring the Safe Start San Diego 2011 Conference. The conference “Working with Children and Families Impacted by Violence” was held at the Marina Village Conference Center in San Diego. Designed for professionals who serve young children and their families, the goal of the event was to provide family and youth with violence-related training from prevention to intervention.

More than 450 participants received state-of-the-art training in supporting families, youth violence, mental health, and domestic violence. Keynote speakers from the Prevention Institute in Oakland, CA, Larry Cohen, Founder and Director, and Annie Lyles, Program Manager, gave powerful presentations about the critical link between the environment and family violence. They also spoke about the ability of policy, legislation and organizational practices to prevent violence against women and children.

Life Loss Conference
Life Loss Conference

Life Loss Conference

On May 6, 2011, First 5 San Diego will join the Stephan Center in presenting a life loss conference, “Coping with Change: Exploring Losses in a Variety of Situations,” from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Scripps Mesa Conference Center, 103 Spring Canyon Rd, San Diego, CA 92131. The event is designed for professionals who support children and families experiencing life loss. Workshops will focus on exploring life loss processes and behavior experienced by children and adults in relation to education, special needs, illness, incarceration, foster placement, military deployment, and death.

For more information and to register online, visit

Day of the Child
Day of the Child

Day of the Child

First 5 San Diego is partnering with the Chula Vista Community Collaborative and other organizations to present the 11th annual Day of the Child event on Saturday, April 30, 2011. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Memorial Bowl Park in Chula Vista, Calif. With the theme, “Children’s Opportunities, Our Responsibilities,” the mission of this year’s event is to promote a safe and healthy environment for young children. It will be a fun-filled day full of activities and entertainment for children and their families. Parents will be able to learn about resources and services available in their community. For more information, visit the Day of the Child event webpage.

Kids First Fair
Kids First Fair

Kids First Fair

First 5 San Diego will be participating in the 16th annual Kids First Fair on Saturday, April 30, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Paige Fieldhouse at Camp Pendleton. In recognition of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Department of Defense Military Child Month, Kids First Fair is the largest annual military family event of the year. It is designed to inform, educate and entertain parents and children. The fair will highlight military children and promote positive parenting, family interaction, children’s safety, family fun, and community spirit. For more information about the event, call Toni Telebar at 760-763-1795.

Add Your Event to Our Website

Our new website features an enhanced community calendar. Do you have a community event that you would like to add to the First 5 San Diego calendar? If your event focuses on children ages 0-5, parents, caregivers and/or expectant parents, offered at no or low cost, and sponsored by a non-profit organization, we want to share your event. Fill out our Community Event Listing Request Form.

For more information about First 5 San Diego services call 1-888-5 First 5. For updates from First 5 San Diego, please join us on Facebook.