Newsletter March – April 2013

First 5 San Diego
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First 5 Commission of San Diego

Supervisor Ron Roberts, Chair
Carol Skiljan, Vice Chair
Sandra McBrayer
Wilma J. Wooten, MD, MPH
Nick Macchione, MS, MPH, FACHE

National Nutrition Month
National Nutrition Month

Kim Medeiros The Director’s Corner
Kim Medeiros

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy eating habits through National Nutrition Month. This year marks the campaign’s 40th anniversary with the theme “Eat Right Your Way, Every Day”, focusing on developing a healthy eating plan while keeping your individual food preferences.

We each have different lifestyles, cultural and ethnic traditions, and health concerns, and all of these things affect our food choices. However, eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods. In fact, most favorite foods can be a part of a healthy eating plan that is tailored for your lifestyle, traditions, health needs, and of course, tastes, as long as these foods are consumed in a balanced way and in moderation.

First 5 San Diego suggests the following food and nutrition tips for your family’s lifestyle:

  • Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables
    Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Make two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables your daily goal. The more color, the better.
  • Make at least half your grains whole.
    Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
  • Watch Portion Sizes
    Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help you keep portions under control. Use half your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert. To help you keep your meal balanced with the right portion sizes, visit
  • Drink more water
    Drink more water over sweetened beverages like fruit juice or soda. Water helps to regulate body temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, carry away waste products and more.

Look out for our Nutrition Campaign in April! We’ll be sharing many more nutrition tips and healthy recipes for your family to enjoy.

It’s never too late to start eating healthy!

Kim Medeiros

Helping Children Love Healthy Eating

Helping Children Love Healthy Eating
Veggie Dippers

Helping Children Love Healthy Eating

It can certainly be a struggle getting your child to love healthier foods, from vegetables to whole grains and drinking water over their favorite juice. But you can help them grow to love healthy eating but making it fun. Here are some ways to help your children love a healthier lifestyle:

  • Set themes for your evening meal as a family. For example, make each day of the week a color day. Monday can be “red” day and include fruits and vegetables of the red color – tomatoes, bell peppers, and beans. Add strawberry yogurt for dessert with a cherry on top.
  • Sing songs or make rhymes about healthy foods to make them seem more appealing.
  • Add a whimsical touch to your presentation: star-shaped sandwiches, fruit kebabs, funny-faced vegetable arrangements.
  • Read stories that instill messages about good nutrition. Read books like “Potter the Otter: A Tale About Water.”

It’s always easier to get children to eat healthy when they are introduced to healthy foods in infancy. If your child doesn’t seem to like the taste at first, try again a different time. Also, set an example for your child by eating healthy foods every day.

Healthy eating can be fun for the entire family with a little imagination. Try this easy, healthy, and fun recipe from the First 5 California Yummy for Your Tummy Cookbook (Click Here):

Veggie Dippers

Kids love dipping. Colorful fruits and vegetables can be fun “dippers” for children, and they provide powerful nutrients that will help your children stay healthy.

½ pound eggplant
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 avocado
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ lime, juiced
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into sticks
2 red bell peppers, cut into sticks
2 yellow squashes, cut into sticks
½ pound green beans, cleaned, tips cut off

Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice eggplant into ¼-inch rounds. Place eggplant and garlic on aluminum foil-lined pan. Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes. Once cooled, remove and discard skin from eggplant. Cut avocado in half, remove pit and scoop out with a large spoon. Add eggplant, garlic, avocado, olive oil, salt and lime juice to food processor and puree until smooth. Serve with the fresh vegetable sticks.

FacebookHow do you tempt your young one to eat fruits and vegetables? Email us a picture of your fun, healthy meal or your child-pleasing treat to Each week, we’ll pick our favorite, send them a healthy prize, and post on our Facebook page.
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, call 1-888-5 FIRST 5 or visit

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month

Child abuse and neglect are serious problems — nationally, statewide and in our own community.

Researchers estimate that for every reported incident, four others go unreported. Child Abuse cuts across all socio-economic groups, races and religions, and all parents share a desire to provide the best for their children. But raising healthy, confident children can be difficult, especially when parents are frustrated, inexperienced, have serious mental health problems, or are facing stressful conditions such as relationship difficulties or financial crises.

Why Support for Families is Critical
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, intended to call attention to the causes, signs and solutions to this family tragedy. Research has shown that parents and other caretakers who have resources and support are more likely to provide safe and healthy homes for their children. states that parents need a network of supportive personal relationships and other resources for coping with stress, knowledge and understanding of critical child development issues, and financial and other concrete support such as shelter, food and childcare. Without these, well-intentioned parents can make poor decisions that can lead to neglect or abuse.

How Support for Families Can Help
With the support, many families are able to find the strength and resources they need to raise safe, healthy and productive children. First 5 San Diego provides resources for parents to learn more about their child’s growth and development. Our parent education, support, and empowerment workshops help parents understand the benefits of positive discipline techniques and meeting their child’s needs.

Through these and other family support activities, parents develop resources, knowledge and skills to:

  • Understand what is typical behavior for children at different ages
  • Identify, respond to and advocate for their children’s needs
  • Communicate calmly and clearly with children
  • Set clear and realistic boundaries for children
  • Correct and redirect children without losing control
  • Handle stress in positive ways, including reaching out to friends, family and community resources for support
  • Develop positive bonds with their children and enjoy spending time together
  • Have confidence in their own abilities as parents

For more information on resources for parents and to get connected to our parenting workshops, call 1-888-5 FIRST 5 (1-888-534-7785) or visit For more information about child abuse prevention, visit

Closing the Achievement Gap Before it Starts
Closing the Achievement Gap Before it Starts
By Dr. Randy Ward, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools &
Kimberly Medeiros, First 5 Commission of San Diego Executive Director

It’s well-known that many children in our community come into the education system at a distinct disadvantage. By the time they are 3 years old, high-income children have a vocabulary of more than 1,110 words, while very low-income children possess only about 500 words. This sets these children on a path to lower academic achievement, increasing their chances of being placed in special education, being held back a grade and even of dropping out of school entirely.

The solution to this challenge is also well-known. Early-childhood education builds important pre-literacy and early math skills and fosters children’s love of learning by encouraging exploration. It also helps kids develop social skills such as cooperating, making friends and accepting new responsibilities.

If we don’t allow children to start off at a disadvantage, we won’t ever have to close achievement gaps, those pernicious gulfs between low-income children and their better-off peers, and between African American and Hispanic students and their white and Asian counterparts. That’s why the First 5 Commission of San Diego has contracted with the San Diego County Office of Education to operate the Quality Preschool Initiative (QPI).

QPI seeks to increase the quality of existing early education programs, ultimately reducing the school readiness gap and improving school achievement in San Diego County by providing children and their parents with the kind of early education they need to do well in school and beyond.

Funded through a $55 million, three-year contract from First 5 San Diego, QPI provides high-quality preschool at no cost to about 10,000 students in 12 high-need communities: Borrego Springs, Central San Diego, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, Lemon Grove, Mountain Empire, National City, San Ysidro, South Bay, Valley Center/Pauma and Vista. QPI programs are in school sites, family care centers, faith-based locations and child care centers to meet the various needs of families.

The program provides much more than just a direct preschool subsidy to families and organizations that deliver early-education services. Research shows that high-quality early-childhood education can help close the achievement gap and get our children ready to learn and succeed in school and in life, but the key is “high-quality.” QPI builds the capacity of preschool programs, so the school can educate all of its future students more effectively. The initiative provides preschool operators the tools they need to improve quality for children such as: external reviews to evaluate program environment, teaching practices and safety; customized coaching support; and screening of children for special needs and referral to services as needed.

Of course, it’s not up to schools alone to ensure students are ready to learn. Parents are a child’s first and best teacher; studies show that one predictor of a student’s achievement in school is the extent to which families create a home environment in which learning is valued and parents are involved in their children’s education. QPI supports that role by engaging parents, grandparents and caretakers in their children’s learning as partners. Parents at QPI preschools are encouraged and provided opportunities to volunteer in the classroom, and are offered parenting, nutrition and other classes. The goal is to give parents tips they can use immediately at home, to help build the foundation for success for both parents and students that will continue throughout their school education.

Aside from parents, preschool teachers play the most important role in preparing a child for school. They possess the academic and experiential requirements needed to guide developmentally appropriate and meaningful early learning experiences. Teachers also serve as key contacts within a preschool agency to implement quality improvements within the classroom. QPI has implemented a unique teacher stipend system focused on encouraging professional growth by providing a financial incentive to grow professionally.

Programs like QPI are a smart investment; economists have found that quality early learning offers one of the highest returns of any public investment – more than $7 for every dollar spent. After all, the cost to provide a child with a year of quality preschool is
$4,600, compared to an annual cost of $47,000 to incarcerate a person in California.

By not making early-childhood education a priority, we are jeopardizing our own future. In a globally competitive workforce, we can no longer allow children to enter school unprepared to learn and to succeed. Thankfully here in San Diego, we are doing something about that. The Quality Preschool Initiative is a powerful step forward in preparing children to succeed in school and contribute to a strong economy and a thriving community.

This op-ed article was published in the Union Tribune on February 8, 2013. To view online, Click Here

First 5 California’s Executive Director Comments on President Obama’s Universal Preschool Proposal
First 5 California’s Executive Director Comments on President Obama’s Universal Preschool Proposal

First 5 California’s Executive Director Camille Maben released the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s proposal for universal preschool mentioned in his State of the Union address.

“A quality preschool experience is good for our children and for our economy, and I’m excited that President Obama recognizes the economic value in early education. We’ve long known that investments in high quality preschool generate substantial social and economic payoffs by reducing persistent crime, unemployment, and drug or alcohol abuse.

This is especially important for California, which serves a large and diverse population. Approximately 50 percent of California’s at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds do not attend preschool, and fewer attend a high quality preschool. Studies show that children from low-income families — those lacking in cognitive, social and emotional support — typically enter school 12-14 months behind their peers.

By providing every child with the opportunity to attend high quality preschool, we effectively level the playing field and ensure that all children enter Kindergarten ready to learn alongside their peers.”

DSEP Program Wins National Award
DSEP Program Wins National Award

The Developmental Screening and Enhancement (DSEP) program was one of 10 projects out of 140 applicants to win the national Hospital Charitable Service Award through Jackson Healthcare. Rady Children’s Hospital, the program’s service provider, was honored at an awards ceremony in Atlanta, Ga. The Hospital Charitable Service Award recognizes hospitals from around the nation whose commitment led to innovative efforts to improve community health and increase access to healthcare education and services. Each nominee had to demonstrate excellence in at least one of the following five criteria areas: community impact, innovation, collaboration, transferability and best practice.

Approximately 40% of infants and toddlers and 50% of preschoolers involved in Child Welfare Services (CWS) have serious developmental and/or behavioral problems. The goal of the DSEP program is to provide developmental and social-emotional screenings for all children ages birth through 5 who enter in the foster care system. Foster children with special needs receive follow-up developmental assessments and expanded case management services, whether they are placed with foster families or relative caregivers. Overall, children served by DSEP show a decrease in social-emotional concerns, and some foster caregivers showed reduced stress.

First 5 San Diego began supporting DSEP in 2001, increasing its commitment in recent years. Since 2008, First 5 has provided approximately $9 million in funding for DSEP, allowing for more treatment, home services, staffing and intensive case management. Other partners include the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency and Promises2Kids. Jackson Healthcare will publish an eBook about the winning projects. For more information about the award winners, Click Here.

Reknowned Pediatrician Brings “The Happiest Baby” to San Diego Health Professionals
Dr. Harvey Karp

Reknowned Pediatrician Brings “The Happiest Baby” to San Diego Health Professionals

On February 1, 2013, Dr. Harvey Karp, a nationally renowned pediatrician and child development expert, presented an overview of his Happiest Baby and Happiest Toddler curricula at AMN Healthcare in Del Mar, Calif. More than 100 health providers, educators and professionals attended the event, hosted by the American Academy of Pediatrics San Diego Chapter 3 and funded through First 5 San Diego’s Healthy Development Services program.

In his presentation, Dr. Karp revealed his discovery of the calming reflex, calling it an “off switch” for crying that all babies are born with. He clarified common baby myths and gave his simple five –step technique for helping parents quickly put their baby down to sleep without them having to cry-it-out. In the latter half, Dr. Karp introduced a “primitive” view of toddlers (aged 8 months to 5 years) to provide an understanding of their challenging behavior. He presented his methods of how to communicate with a toddler, calm melt-downs, and prevent tantrums.

To learn more about Dr. Karp and his curricula, visit

Project New Village Event
First 5 staff Christen Johnson and
Rosa Lemus, People’s Produce
Farmer’s Market, February 1, 2013,
San Diego, Calif.

First 5 Teams Up with Project New Village at Farmer’s Market

First 5 San Diego was pleased to join Project New Village during their People’s Produce Farmer’s Market held on February 1, 2013 in Southeastern San Diego.

Open since 2010, the People’s Produce Certified Farmers Market is the only outdoor marketplace in Southeastern San Diego that accepts and promotes food stamp / EBT use, and provides a venue for economic opportunities for neighborhood growers and entrepreneurs, with free health screenings, education and referrals. The market operates Fridays, 2 – 6pm, and is located at 4981 Market Street.

The mission of Project New Village is to collaborate with organizations and individuals to promote personal, community and communal wellness in Southeastern San Diego. For more information, visit

First 5 High Fives
First 5 High Fives

The American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3 (AAP-CA3) is the local Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a national organization of pediatricians who dedicate their efforts and resources to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Unique to professional medical organizations, the AAP’s prime focus is children’s issues, not just those of members. The AAP has approximately 60,000 members in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Local chapters of the AAP are distributed geographically throughout the United States.

Established in 1961, the mission of AAP-CA3 is to achieve optimal health (physical, mental and social) for all children (infants, children and adolescents) in San Diego and Imperial Counties, and support its membership in achieving this vision. The local Chapter has almost 500 active members. The Executive Board consisting of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Immediate Past President, and Executive Director, is supported by the Chapter Advisory Committee, which is composed of over 35 clinicians from many diverse and varied backgrounds, and who provide care for children and their families, work to ensure public health, and are actively involved in their communities and throughout San Diego County. The Chapter has 15 staff that work on health-related projects including, immunizations, asthma, obesity, preterm infant, children with special needs, mental health, early literacy and development. For the last 7 years, AAP-CA3 has been the organizing agency for a coordinated approach to early literacy, implementing Reach Out and Read, a national program that encourages early literacy by pediatricians giving out developmentally and culturally appropriate books at well-child visits ( The Chapter provides support for the Reach Out and Read Program to over 200 pediatricians in countywide.

Since 2006, one of AAP-CA3’s projects has been to provide countywide coordination and support to First 5 San Diego’s Healthy Development Services (HDS), which provides developmental and behavioral services to children ages 0 through 5 in San Diego County. These services are targeted towards children with mild to moderate needs with the intent of providing help for children who otherwise would not receive the care that they need. Services are provided by over 20 organizations countywide. A regional leadership organization directs efforts within county regions. The American Academy of Pediatrics HDS team coordinates and assists these lead organizations in their efforts to ensure that children enter school healthy and ready to learn. For more information about AAP-CA3, visit their website

Upcoming Community Events

Read and Romp, Reach Out and Read San Diego
Saturday, March 2, 2013
McMillin Event Center at Liberty Station
2875 Dewey Road
San Diego, Calif. 92106

San Diego Cherry Blossom Festival,
Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Japanese Friendship Gardens
2215 Pan American Road
San Diego, Calif. 92101

Women’s Resource Fair, San Diego Lawyer Volunteer Program
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Golden Hall (Downtown San Diego)
202 C Street
San Diego, Calif. 92101

Day of the Child, Chula Vista Community Collaborative
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Memorial Park
373 Park Way
Chula Vista, Calif. 91910

Healthy Kids Day, YMCA Jackie Robinson
Saturday, April 27, 2013
151 YMCA Way
San Diego, Calif. 92102

Healthy Kids Day, YMCA South Bay
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Otay Ranch Center
2015 Birch Road
Chula Vista, Calif. 91915

San Diego Kids Fair & Expo
Saturday, April 27, 2013 and Sunday, April 28, 2013
Del Mar Fairgrounds
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Del Mar, Calif. 92014

Kids First Fair, Camp Pendleton Children,
Youth and Teen Program
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Paige Field House
13th Street and Vandegrift Blvd.
Camp Pendleton, Calif. 92055

Add Your Event to Our Website

Our 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.

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