Newsletter March 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

It has been an unprecedented honor to serve as Executive Director for the First 5 Commission of San Diego. As you may know, I recently accepted the appointment of Deputy Director of the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency’s (HHSA) North Coastal and North Inland Regions. During the transition to my new position, I will continue serve as Executive Director of First 5 San Diego until a replacement is found.

As I make this transition, I reflect back upon the accomplishments and the important difference we’ve made in the lives of young children and their families in San Diego County. Some are easily recognized and others are less tangible but they all contribute to achieving our vision that all children ages 0 to 5 are healthy, are loved and nurtured, and enter school as active learners.

Among the most easily recognized are our investments in capital projects including an educational space “Fairy Tale Mesa” at Serra Mesa Library, expansion of the Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD) North Park Pediatric Facility, Kennedy Park Totlot in El Cajon and child development centers at St. Vincent de Paul Village and the U.S. Naval Station at North Island. These projects have made a difference for young children and their families now and into the future.

Parent and public education has been a major component in all of our initiatives. We have focused efforts to reach the broader community through media and other outreach methods to increase awareness of the importance of the first five years of life.

Among the less visible activities is our effort to build relationships to maximize our impact. I am pleased to report that we have leveraged over $9.5 million dollars with private and public partners in the last fiscal year alone and we continue to increase efforts to leverage dollars. We enhanced connections with other County programs, and actively participated in collaborative efforts, including KidSTART, Text4Baby and the County’s Health Strategy Agenda “Building Better Health.”

Finally, we have been able to fill significant gaps in safety net services caused by the budget crisis. To date, we have funded nearly $31 million for programs directly impacted by the state budget including Black Infant Health, Healthy Families, Child Welfare Services, Health Care Access, SANDAPP (a program for pregnant and parenting teens), and CALWORKS Stage 3 Childcare.

I am grateful to have had this opportunity to lead First 5 San Diego. The transition will be made easier because of the outstanding leadership of our commissioners, dedicated staff, and our community partners who are committed to making a difference for children ages 0 to 5 and their families.

With Appreciation,

Barbara Jiménez

National Nutrition Month
National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month®, an annual reminder to families on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

The calls for better nutrition for children are loud and compelling. First 5 San Diego is a partner in the County of San Diego’s “Building Better Health” Agenda, which promotes healthier lifestyles in our communities, including among our very youngest. In addition, the Commission has supported the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative whose mission is to reduce and prevent childhood obesity in San Diego County and serves as a “Call to Action” to inspire agencies, institutions and neighborhoods to recognize the importance of nutrition and physical activity.

Let’s all embrace March as a time to learn more about healthy eating and nutrition, and to incorporate specific behaviors and activities into our lives. Plenty of information is available to help you get started. Click here to access a variety of great resources for National Nutrition Month.

The Brain-Boosting Power of Health Eating
The Brain Boosting Power
of Healthy Eating

The Brain-Boosting Power of Health Eating
Nutrition Tips for Learning

Proper nutrition plays a key role in a child’s ability to learn and do well in school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who eat a balanced diet and start the day with a nutritious breakfast have more energy and are better able to learn at home and in school.

Parents, caregivers and early learning educators play a valuable role in providing healthy food choices to children at an early age. To help children develop lifelong healthy eating habits, First 5 San Diego offers the following tips:

Power up on breakfast: After a good night’s sleep, breakfast provides important nutrients that give children a great start to the day and get them ready to learn. Prepare healthy breakfast choices for your child like oatmeal with low-fat milk, raisins and banana slices; or go berry wild with a low-fat yogurt smoothie made with strawberries and served with scrambled eggs on whole wheat toast.

Make fruits and vegetables a priority: Help your child get the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day by adding lettuce and tomatoes to a sandwich or offering cut-up fruit like apples or oranges with every meal.

Indulge your creative side: Children love healthy foods that look fun – and taste great! So be creative with meals. Top a cheese quesadilla with a smiley face using green peas for eyes and carrots for a mouth, or cut sandwiches in triangles and other fun shapes.

Offer healthy snacks: Toddlers and young children should eat frequent, small meals throughout the day. Pack nourishing snacks to provide an energy boost, like bite-size fruits and vegetables. Low-salt crackers and cheese slices are also good choices.  

Get children involved: When children help prepare a meal, they’re more likely to eat it and try foods they may not have liked before. Ask your child to pick fruits and vegetables with you at the grocery store or local farmer’s market. When preparing meals, let your child tear lettuce for a salad or add veggie toppings to pizza slices.

To help you prepare nutritious meals, First 5 California offers a free mini cookbook available in English and Spanish – Yummy for Your Tummy – which has healthy, low-cost recipes for the whole family.  To order your copy call 1-800-KIDS-025 or click here to download.

Banana  Bites Banana Bites (from Yummy for Your Tummy)
(Makes 4 snacks)

1 ripe firm banana
4 teaspoons yogurt
4 teaspoons granola, crumbled
2 straws, cut in half

Peel the banana and cut off the ends.  Cut banana into 8 slices.  Place banana slices on parchment paper or baking sheet.  Skew on 2 pieces of banana per straw.  Spoon 1 teaspoon of yogurt over each banana slice and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of granola. Cooking Tips:  Try different fruits and vegetables and prepare them in various ways to find out what your children like best.  Be cautious when young children are using straws.

Good Oral Health
Good Oral Health Impacts a Child for a Lifetime

Tooth decay affects children more than any other chronic disease, but developing good habits at an early age and taking your child to the dentist by age one or when their first tooth appears helps them get a good start to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Last month, First 5 San Diego launched an oral health public education campaign with the theme, “Good Oral Health Impacts a Child for a Lifetime.” The campaign highlights First 5 San Diego’s Oral Health Initiative (OHI), which provides free dental screenings and referrals for children ages 0 to 5 and pregnant women. OHI also provides dental care for children and pregnant women who would otherwise go untreated. Oral health-focused public service announcements on TV and radio will air through June. In addition, messages promoting oral health will also appear on mall displays, bus stops and buses.

For more information about our Oral Health Program and/or to access dental services supported by First 5 San Diego, call 1-888-5 FIRST 5 or visit our Oral Health website.

Autism Discovery Institute
Free Dental Clinic
at Southwestern College,
National City, CA

Give Kids a Smile!

It was a day full of smiles for hundreds of children in the community. First 5 San Diego was on hand at a free dental clinic at Southwestern College on Saturday, February 12, 2011. Presented by the San Diego County Dental Initiative and the Dental Society, local dental professionals and students volunteered to provide children ages 1-18 with free dental screenings, varnish and sealants. In addition to preventing tooth decay, the goal of the event was to connect families with a dental provider to ensure regular dental checkups for their children.

Watch Video

Latino Voters
Latino Voter Poll

Latino Voters: Early Learning is a Winning Issue

On February 24, 2011, First 5 San Diego joined Preschool California and other 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 was presented. Executive Director Barbara Jiménez and Dr. Denise Meek from the San Diego County Office of Education spoke about local efforts to provide quality preschool in San Diego County.

The briefing brought together community leaders and stakeholders, early education professionals, and local, state and federal policymakers and legislators.

Click here to view the results of the poll.

Empowering Children in a Changing World
Operation Samahan (OHI) at
CCYF Parenting Conference 2011,
San Diego, CA

Empowering Children in a Changing World

The world we live in is an ever-changing place and being a parent hasn’t gotten any easier. Between your child’s peers, the internet, television and other adults, there are all kinds of influences and potential dangers for your children.

On February 5, 2011, First 5 San Diego joined the San Diego County Commission on Children, Youth and Families (CCYF) to host the “Positive Parenting in a Changing World” parenting conference at the San Diego Convention Center. The goal of the one-day event was to help parents learn specific techniques and skills to assist them in their efforts to raise healthy and happy children.

Various workshops targeted parents of children ages 0-5 and included sessions on choosing quality day care, nutrition, the importance of male parents and positive discipline. Keynote speaker Dr. Gene Nathan, former Medical Director of the Academy of Pediatrics San Diego Chapter, spoke about a systems approach to address the medical issues of a child and family. Samantha Hua, Certified Holistic Health Coach, gave another keynote address about the importance of healthy meals for families.

Safe Start San Diego 2011
Safe Start San Diego 2011

First 5 San Diego will co-sponsor the Safe Start San Diego Conference 2011 on Friday, March 18, 2011 from 8am to 5pm at the Marina Village Conference Center, 1936 Quivera Way, San Diego, CA 92109. The free conference is designed for professionals who serve children, youth and families; however, the general public is also welcome.

The event, titled “Working with Children and Families Impacted by Violence”, will showcase evidence-based programs and best practices for working with children and families exposed to violence. In addition, leading local and national experts will speak about violence, abuse and trauma. Workshop themes include Supporting Families, Childhood Exposure to Violence and Trauma-Informed Systems.

The Safe Start conference is also sponsored by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), San Diego Domestic Violence Council, Safe Start San Diego and the San Diego County Commission on Children, Youth and Families.

To register for the conference and for more information, click here.

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.