Newsletter February 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

Oral Heath
Barbara Jimenez
The Director’s Corner
Barbara Jiménez

Dental disease is one of the most common childhood diseases in the nation, affecting children more than any other chronic disease.  According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, nearly 50 percent of children have tooth decay before age 5.  If left untreated, dental disease can cause pain and infections that may lead to tooth loss, difficulty eating, sleeping, talking and concentrating. To help increase awareness about this important child health issue, February has been designated National Children’s Dental Health month.

First 5 San Diego is committed to promoting the importance of oral health for children and pregnant women. Through our Oral Health Initiative (OHI), we provide dental checkups and treatment for young children and pregnant women who would otherwise go untreated. Last year ( FY 2009-10), OHI providers served more than 19,000 children and 2,300 pregnant women.

Good oral health is important for the overall healthy development of young children.  A pregnant woman’s oral health impacts the health of her baby; a young child’s good oral health is important to learning and school success.  First 5 San Diego encourages parents and caregivers to begin taking care of children’s teeth and gums early on with the following helpful tips:

  • Take your baby to the dentist for a checkup by his or her first birthday or when their first tooth erupts.
  • Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.  Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste in the morning and at bedtime.  An adult needs to help children brush until around age 7.
  • If you are pregnant, be sure to visit your dentist and get any needed treatment.
  • More oral health tips

For more information about First 5 San Diego’s Oral Health Initiative and to access dental services in San Diego County, call 1-888-5 FIRST 5 (1-888-534-7785) or visit

Another great oral health resource for parents can be found at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists website

Stay tuned for our new oral health campaign coming later this month, in which we will reach out to parents and the community to reinforce the message that “healthy teeth are important for a good start.”

Best regards,

Barbara Jiménez

Teach Me: Choosing a Quality Preschool for Your Child

From learning their ABC’s to making friends, children learn so much during their first five years of life. So when it is time to enroll a child in preschool, parents have the important job of finding a preschool that will continue to nurture their child’s development. Choosing the right program will pay off in the long run: Research shows that children who attend quality preschools do better in school, especially in reading and math. So how do you find a preschool that is a good fit for your child?

To help you know what to look for in a preschool, consider the following tips:

Ask Questions. Making sure you find the right preschool for your child can take some research. It’s a good idea to start your search up to a year before you want your child to start to give you time to evaluate different programs. Typically, children start preschool around age 3.

  • Ask to see the school’s state license to be sure it meets health and safety regulations.
  • Learn about teachers’ educational background. Ideally, they will have specialized training in early childhood education.
  • Ask about the school’s child/teacher ratio. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends one adult for every 10 children, which means more individual attention for your child.

Look for a Well-Rounded Program. During their early years, children develop quickly as they expand their knowledge about the world around them and learn how to interact with others. Making sure your child is enrolled in a program that gives him a solid foundation will help prepare him for success in kindergarten.

  • Look for a preschool that provides a variety of activities adjusted to children’s developmental stage and needs, such as hands-on learning, teacher instruction, group and individual projects as well as active play time.
  • Make sure the preschool teaches basic school readiness skills including the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors.
  • Check that the school has plenty of age-appropriate books, toys and other materials that encourage literacy and creativity.

Ask about Parent/Teacher Collaboration. Working together with preschool teachers can help strengthen your child’s ability to learn.

  • Look for a school that welcomes parents and caregivers to visit and participate in activities. This helps establish collaboration between teachers and parents.
  • Ask parents at the preschool about how teachers communicate with them. It benefits your child when teachers and parents share information about her progress, favorite activities and learning style.
  • Ask about the program’s discipline policy to make sure it is similar to your own. Having different rules at home and at school can be confusing for young children.

First 5 San Diego’s Preschool for All (PFA) Demonstration Project. First 5 San Diego’s Preschool for All (PFA) Demonstration Project provides free, quality half-day preschool for families in specific communities of San Diego County.  The program is available in the communities of Borrego Springs, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, Lemon Grove, National City, San Ysidro, South Bay, Vista, Valley Center/Pauma and Mountain Empire. 
PFA focuses on quality enhancement of preschool programs, including the following key elements:

  • Classroom quality
  • Professional development for teachers and administrators
  • Parent engagement
  • Screening and early identification of developmental delays
  • Inclusion of children with special needs
  • Community partnerships

PFA settings include a wide range of choices for families, including school district based centers, family child care homes, and faith-based, non-profit and for-profit centers. For more information visit

Latino Voters
Latino Voters: Early Learning Is A Winning Issue

On February 24, First 5 San Diego is joining with Preschool California and their partners to share results of a bi-partisan state-wide poll of Latino voters. The poll was commissioned by Preschool California in partnership with Univision, Inc., to assess Latino voters’ attitudes on preschool and candidates who support early learning and preschool. Currently 1 in 5 registered voters in California is Latino, and Latino children account for more than half of all children under age 5 in the state. The importance of early learning to Latino voters and their opinions on the subject will be presented at an informational meeting.

Date/Time: February 24, 2011; 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Location: Community Care Licensing, 7575 Metropolitan Drive, Suite 110-114, San Diego, 92108.

If you would like to attend, please click here to RSVP.

Commission Recognizes Outgoing Advisory Committee Members

At the January 10, 2011 Commission meeting, the First 5 Commission of San Diego thanked outgoing members of its Technical Professional Advisory Committee (TPAC) for their service on behalf of young children and families in San Diego County. TPAC Chairwoman Commissioner Carol Skiljan presented recognition awards to Dr. Ron Plotkin, Dr. Jack Luomanen, and Patricia Sinay.

TPAC advises the Commission regarding its strategic plan, community needs, existing resources, research and best practices. Members are selected for their ability to support and enhance the work of the Commission through specific expertise and/or experience in the health, development, education, and well-being of children ages 0-5 and their parents.

New TPAC members for 2011 – 2012 were welcomed by the Commission, including James Beaubeaux, Nedra Bickel, Jo Ann DeLeon, Elizabeth Marucheau, and Aimee Zeitz.

“We’re looking forward to working with the new and returning TPAC members this year year, ” said Barbara Jiménez, Executive Director, First 5 San Diego. “The wide range of knowledge and expertise brings great value to their role in advising the Commission.”

For more information about TPAC and each TPAC member, visit our TPAC Webpage.

Autism Discovery Institute
Autism Discovery Institute Grand Opening

On January 13, 2011, Rady Children’s Hospital held a grand opening celebration of its newly renovated Autism Discovery Institute. First 5 San Diego contributed $34,917 toward the renovation, including funding for audio and visual equipment, sensory gym equipment, behavioral treatment rooms, and a sunshade for the toddler playground.

The Autism Discovery Institute is one of only three such facilities in the United States and the only one in California. The 12,000-square foot facility is home to a state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment center, toddler school, preschool, sensory motor gym, and research center.

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.