First 5 Yolo Executive Director Julie Gallelo was recognized for her 10 years of leadership and service to the First 5 Yolo Children and Families Commission at the last week’s commission meeting. Commissioners, colleagues and community members joined in the celebration.
Gallelo, who holds a master of public health degree from San Diego State University, has been at the helm of First 5 Yolo since 2004. Prior to that, she worked for the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services.
Her background includes HIV and communicable disease prevention programs in Sacramento and San Diego and serving as the community health service director at the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley in San Jose. Prior to moving to Northern California, Gallelo was a dental health educator in San Diego schools, working to prevent dental disease in children.
First 5 Yolo was formed 15 years ago through the passage of Proposition 10, the tobacco tax that allocated 50 cents per pack of cigarettes to the First 5 California Children and Families Commission for programs to benefit children from birth through age 5 and their families. Each California county receives a portion of the tobacco tax funds based on birth rates.
“Julie’s leadership and dedication these past 10 years have been at the core of our success in helping children,” said Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, chair of First 5 Yolo. “Research shows a child’s brain develops most dramatically during the first five years and what parents and caregivers do during these years to support their child’s growth will have a meaningful impact throughout life. Julie is a passionate advocate for programs that provide that positive impact in the lives of children.”
Key initiatives achieved by First 5 Yolo during Gallelo’s tenure include the formation of Up4WestSac preschool program that provided free preschool to more than 3,000 youngsters, a 65 percent increase in early learning activities at the Yolo County Library, more than double the number of licensed foster parents in Yolo County, the Children’s Health Initiative, the Integrated Family Services Initiative, and the Family Resource Centers Initiative.
Nine years ago, First 5 Yolo launched its Children’s Health Initiative, and now 97 percent of the children in Yolo County have health insurance.
Six years ago, the Integrated Family Support Initiative was born out of the commission’s strategic planning process that pinpointed areas of the greatest need in Yolo County. The initiative ensures that high-risk mothers are getting intensive education and support through home visits in the Step-by-Step program, and thousands of children are visiting a dentist who might otherwise not received dental care.
Then in 2012, First 5 Yolo created the Enhanced Family Resource Center Initiative to bolster Family Resource Centers’ expanding services and locations to serve a larger Yolo County population needing support and case management. The initiative uses a place-based funding system that directs dollars to communities based on population size and demand for services.
Programs such as low-cost or free fresh produce, developmental screenings, early learning activities, parent education and financial literacy are offered through this initiative. Last year alone, more than 1,200 families with children from birth through age 5 received services.
Other investments in the community included training and technical assistance for child care centers and homes, foster parent urgent child care placements at the Yolo Crisis Nursery, support for early literacy activities at the Yolo County Library, fresh food giveaways; and parenting classes.
“All told, we have invested about $26.5 million into the futures of Yolo County children,” Saylor said. “Julie Gallelo and her staff led the charge to ensure the money has been spent addressing our greatest needs — wisely and effectively. We are immensely grateful to her for her leadership and passionate advocacy for our young children in Yolo County.”
For more information about First 5 Yolo, go to www.First5yolo.org or call 530-669-2475.