Director’s Corner

First 5 Executive Photo- Kimberly GalloMore than 45,000 children in San Diego County – 18% – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,850 a year for a family of four. Research shows, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 41% of children live in low-income families in our region.

Poverty brings the single greatest threat to a child’s well-being. Children living in poverty are more likely to experience a wide range of problems, such as homelessness, food insecurity, child abuse and neglect, poor health, inadequate child care, and poor academic outcomes. Such conditions reduce a child’s chances to succeed in school, graduate from high school and attend college, obtain a stable job, and increase the likelihood to commit crime. Risks are greatest for children who experience deep and persistent poverty during the early years.

First 5 San Diego is committed to helping San Diego’s most vulnerable children and their families obtain the support they need to get the best start in life. Through partnerships and collaborations with other local organizations, First 5 San Diego has focused investments on children and families with the highest risk to ensure they receive needed health and dental care, high-quality early education, home visits, fresh food, and other valuable services.

But to effectively support these families, we recognize that building community capacity is crucial. We have taken steps to improve systems to better serve children and their families by aligning systems with the County of San Diego. This creates a more efficient, customer-focused network where continuity of care and quality of service are a priority. We’re a recognized champion of Live Well San Diego and have signed on more partners to build healthy, safe and thriving communities. We have taken the County’s HEART (Helpfulness, Expertise, Attentiveness, Respect, Timeliness) Customer Service Commitment to use a positive approach to provide customers with a positive experience. Also, we are adopting the County’s Trauma Informed System by embracing a trauma-informed culture.

As we approach the holiday season, we invite you to join efforts to help and raise awareness about children living in poverty. Holiday drives across the county present many opportunities for you to directly support young children in need. We are pleased to once again partner with the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank for the 2015 Holiday Food Drive. You can participate by donating food, volunteering, or even hosting your own food drive. First 5 San Diego partner Reach Out and Read San Diego is thrilled to host a holiday book drive with Barnes & Noble Rancho Bernardo located at 11744 Carmel Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92128. When you shop at this location, you can add a book to your purchases which will go directly to children in need through neighborhood pediatric clinics. Your support will go a long way in making a difference for our county’s neediest children during this time of year.

Happy Holidays,

Kim Gallo

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