Newsletter May 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

For many families, English is not the primary language at home. The language barrier can make it difficult for parents to reinforce and expand upon what their children are learning at preschool. For Jose and Maria Garcia*, their primary language at home was Spanish and their four-year-old daughter often had to translate school activities for them. Since they could not speak English well, they found it embarrassing and frustrating that they could not be more involved in their child’s education.

This changed when Mr. and Mrs. Garcia enrolled their daughter at MAAC Head Start in Escondido, Calif. As part of First 5 San Diego’s Preschool for All Demonstration Project (PFA), the school sends home parent activities to do with their children in both English and Spanish. The activities not only enabled the Garcia’s to be more involved in their daughter’s education, but also helped them with learning English. Today, Mr. and Mrs. Garcia report they are no longer embarrassed and they volunteer in the classroom when they can.

Parents play an essential role in their child’s development and success in the early care environment. First 5 San Diego’s PFA program offers opportunities and support for families to be involved in their child’s education to help ensure a quality learning experience. These opportunities encourage parent participation in the school environment, as well as learning activities parents can do with their child at home.

First 5 San Diego has provided quality preschool to nearly 17,000 children over the past five years. A new Quality Preschool Initiative is being developed that will build upon PFA as we continue to improve access to high quality early learning opportunities for children in San Diego County.

For more information about Preschool for All and other services for young children and their families, please visit or call 1-888-5 FIRST 5.

First 5 San Diego would like to share more success stories from families who have been helped by our programs and services. Sharing stories from real people helps us communicate how First 5 San Diego makes a difference for children and families. If you would like to share your success story, please send us a brief description of your experience through our website at

Barbara Jiménez

*This is a true story, names have been changed for privacy

Early Learning sets the Foundation for a Lifetime
Early Learning sets the Foundation
for a Lifetime

Early Learning Sets the Foundation for a Lifetime
Parental involvement in early learning benefits kids and teachers

It is well established that providing children with quality early learning is essential in developing the language, cognitive, and social skills they need to succeed in school and in life. This is why early learning teachers play a significant role in nurturing young children’s growth and fostering a love of learning.

In honor of California Day of the Teacher on May 11, First 5 San Diego offers parents the following tips to help support teachers and providers in their goal to support healthy development and help kids build a solid foundation for success.

Get Involved
Teachers and providers always appreciate when parents are actively involved in their kids’ education.

  • Talk to your children every day about their day at school and what they learned.
  • Attend open houses, parent meetings, and parent-teacher conferences to build a strong relationship with your child’s teacher.

Communicate Often
It can be challenging for busy parents to speak with teachers often, but there are other ways to maintain regular contact.

  • Introduce yourself at least once in person and check in when you can through e-mail, written notes, or phone calls, depending on the teacher’s preferences.
  • Keep track of your children’s progress, even if they are performing well. Teachers like to hear from parents and know they are engaged in their child’s education.

Read Daily
Reading aloud to your children every day helps them develop skills for school success.

  • Encourage your children’s interest in books by talking about stories that they like and providing books they will enjoy.
  • Take time to enjoy a book yourself. Kids learn by example, so if they see you reading, they will want to read, too!

For more information about early childhood education, contact First 5 San Diego at 1-888-5 FIRST 5 (1-888-534-7785) or and

Day of the Child
Anayeli Hernandez and sons at Day of the Child, Chula Vista, Calif., April 30, 2011

Day of the Child

On Saturday, April 30, 2011, First 5 San Diego participated in the 11th annual Day of the Child event held at Chula Vista Memorial Bowl and Park in Chula Vista, Calif. Presented by the Chula Vista Community Collaborative with the theme “Children’s Opportunities, Our Responsibilities,” the event focused on promoting a safe and healthy environment for young children. Families enjoyed several hands-on activities, health screenings, entertainment, and information about childhood resources available in their community. First 5 San Diego was a co-sponsor along with the San Ysidro Health Center, the Super Dentists, Molina Healthcare, Walmart, Goya Foods, UCSD Radiology Oncology South Bay, Humana, and Pat and Oscar’s Plaza Bonita.

Kids First Fair
Michelle Emery with daughter Lily and son Frankie at the Kids First Fair, Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 30, 2011

Kids First Fair

In recognition of April as “National Childhood Abuse Prevention Month” and the “Department of Defense Military Child Month,” the Marine and Family Services Program at Camp Pendleton hosted the 16th Annual Kids First Fair on April 30, 2011. First 5 San Diego was on hand at the free event to support the event’s mission of healthy children. The fair celebrated children of military parents and promoted positive parenting, family interactions, and children’s safety.

Military families received information about health and early learning services for their children’s development. First 5 San Diego provided parents with First 5 Kits for New Parents and signed up expecting and new mothers in a free mobile education service, Text4Baby. The fun family event also included entertainment, children’s arts and crafts, games, raffle prizes, pony rides, and food.

Text Messages for Moms
Free Text Messages for Moms

Text Messages for Moms

As families celebrated Mother’s Day on May 8th, it was an especially joyous occasion for new moms and moms-to-be. For some, it was also a time to plan for the many joys and challenges that lie ahead. To help new and expecting mothers, First 5 San Diego has teamed up with the San Diego Text4Baby Coalition as part of a nationwide effort to support healthy pregnancies and healthy babies via text messaging. It’s called Text4Baby.

Text4Baby is a free cell phone text messaging service for pregnant women during their pregnancy and through their baby’s first year of life. Messages are sent three times a week and timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth. The service provides tips on subjects including breastfeeding, car seat safety, developmental milestones, emotional well being, exercise and fitness, immunizations, labor and delivery, nutrition, prenatal care, safe sleep, and help to quit smoking. The text messages also provide 1-800 numbers and other resources to learn more.

To sign up, text BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411 or register at

League of Women Voters Education Forum
First 5 San Diego Executive Director Barbara Jiménez presenting at the League of Women Voters Education Forum, San Diego, Calif., April 29, 2011

League of Women Voters Education Forum

On April 29, 2011, First 5 San Diego joined with the League of Women Voters of San Diego and other partners to present “Closing the Achievement Gap,” an interactive discussion about the importance of investing in early childhood education.

First 5 San Diego Executive Director Barbara Jiménez was among the three panelists who discussed quality early education, dual language learning, and transitional kindergarten. Ms. Jiménez shared key highlights from First 5 San Diego’s’ Preschool for All Demonstration Project (PFA) and plans for the new Quality Preschool Initiative currently being developed.

Other panelists included Dr. Janet Oh from California State University, Northridge, who specializes in the study of language development. Dr. Oh discussed some of the common myths and misperceptions about dual language learning in young children and the advantages of learning more than one language in early childhood. Sylvia Gonzalez, Director of the San Diego Unified School District’s Early Childhood Education Program, spoke about local implementation of transitional kindergarten. Transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience for children who are too old for preschool, but not quite ready for the rigors of today’s kindergarten classroom.

More than 80 guests attended the event. Other sponsors included the San Diego County Office of Education, Preschool California, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

AAP Read and Romp
AAP Read and Romp

AAP Read and Romp

Everyone’s good friend Dr. Seuss once said: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” It is in that spirit that reading is front and center for Reach Out and Read San Diego’s “Read and Romp.” First 5 San Diego is pleased to join with our community partner, the American Academy of Pediatrics, CA Chapter 3, as a sponsor of this fun family event that encourages parents to read to their children and nurture their future love of reading.

Read and Romp will be held at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, Calif. on May 14, 2011, from 9 a.m. to noon. Families will also enjoy a continental breakfast and a meet and greet with Clifford the Big Red Dog. Afterwards, they will be able to stay and experience the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for FREE. The event also features activities designed for young children, including face painting, snacks, live readings, and other activities based on popular children’s books.

All proceeds from Read and Romp 2011 will benefit the pediatric literacy program of Reach Out and Read San Diego that partners with doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners to provide free books to young children. Admission is $25 per person; $75 per family of four and $20 for each additional family member. The event is sponsored in part by the Dr. Seuss Foundation. Other sponsors include Kaiser Permanente, Children’s Physicians Medical Group, the Brooke Foundation, and Children’s Primary Care Medical Group.

For more information and to register, visit Space is limited.

Children's System of Care Conference
Children’s System of Care Conference

Children’s System of Care Conference

First 5 San Diego is pleased to partner with the County of San Diego Children’s System of Care Training Academy, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), and Mental Health Systems as a sponsor of the 10th annual Children’s System of Care Conference. The event, titled “Healing Our Youth Through Relationship,” will be held on May 16, 2011 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bahia Hotel, 998 West Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, CA 92109.

The conference is designed for mental health professionals, social workers, educators, probation officers, students, families and youth. Scholarships are available for families, youth and students. For more information about scholarship opportunities, please contact Rosella Aplin at 1-866-910-2600 ext 1722.

For more information and to register for this event, click here.

Early Learning Advocacy Day 2011
Early Learning Advocacy Day 2011

On May 25, 2011, First 5 San Diego is pleased to join with Preschool California and the California Association for the Education of Young Children in sponsoring Early Learning Advocacy Day 2011 in Sacramento, Calif. The event, titled “Seize the Moment for California’s Youngest Children”, will bring together early learning advocates from across California to brief state legislators on why high-quality early learning programs are an essential investment for California and the nation. Parents and educators will have the opportunity to participate in small-group visits with state legislators, learn about innovations in early learning taking place throughout California, and meet and network with other early learning advocates.

Registration is $45. Preschool California is offering fee waivers for qualifying applicants. Click here for a scholarship application if you wish to be considered for a fee waiver.

For more information, visit the Early Learning Advocacy Day 2011 website.

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.