Yolo County’s youngest children have health insurance, improved access to dental care and more fresh produce at meals, according to a recent report evaluating the effectiveness of First 5 Yolo grants.
The First 5 Yolo evaluation findings for fiscal year 2012-13, prepared by the Davis Consultant Network, documented the positive impact of $4.1 million spent last year to support programs and services benefiting infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families.
Of particular significance is that more than 96 percent of the county’s youngest children have health insurance, that dental clinic hours for pregnant women and children from birth through age 5 have increased 43 percent since 2008, and that eight food distribution centers are regularly giving away fresh produce to low-income families.
Insurance application assistance programs offered through the Yolo County Children’s Alliance, increased children’s dental care at CommuniCare Health Centers and the Winters Health Care Foundation and free food distributions at local Family Resource Centers have been the result of purposeful strategies and funding decisions by the First 5 Yolo Children and Families Commission during the past seven years to improve the overall health of young children.
The efforts are paying off. CommuniCare’s Smile Savers program has documented a 12 percent decrease in dental disease among low-income preschool children since 2008. Thanks to the expanded capacity, most children ages 0-5 and pregnant women are now being scheduled for non-urgent dental appointments within two weeks at CommuniCare and Winters Health Care Foundation dental clinics.
Also, during fiscal year 2012-13, CommuniCare reported more than 1,000 in-office applications of fluoride varnishes for children ages 5 and younger.
This is a huge accomplishment since, according to Barry Chang, D.D.S., tooth decay in the first teeth will affect the long-term dental health of the permanent teeth and their formation if the baby teeth are infected.
Other programs are also getting the attention of the commission. Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, who chairs First 5 Yolo, noted, “This year we launched the Expanded Family Resource Center initiative. With an annual $850,000 investment, we are bolstering critically needed services to all areas in the county.”
Added First 5 Yolo Commissioner Rick Baker, M.D., “The FRCs are a tremendous resource for families with young children. FRC staff connect families to appropriate agencies and organizations, provide case management, offer early learning parent and child play groups, provide parent education classes, conduct developmental screenings, coordinate with Yolo County Library’s early literacy programs and distribute fresh produce. All for free.”
One of the most impressive accomplishments by First 5 Yolo was its ability to leverage its organizational standing and its grant investments to attract an additional $2.4 million in resources to Yolo County,” said Francesca Wright, lead evaluator for the Davis Consultant Network.
“This provided key operational support for high-quality child development programs such as Up for West Sacramento and city of Davis Child Care Services.”
And there is more.
* Family Resource Centers connected families through nearly 2,500 referrals to internal programs and partner agencies. In partnership with the Food Bank of Yolo County, the centers distributed 47.7 tons (97,353 pounds) of fresh produce to hungry families at 152 distribution events.
* Family Resource Center partners helped 849 low-income families access nearly $1.6 million in tax credits.
* Yolo County’s most vulnerable mothers are being connected to resources, therapies and parenting training through the Yolo County Children’s Alliance Step by Step/Paso a Paso Home Visitation Program.
* Yolo County now has 14 newly licensed foster homes as a result of 35 adults completing the full 21-hour foster parent training last year.
* Yolo County Library increased story-time participation to nearly 19,000 participant units. Repeat attendees of story-time, regardless of their home language, read at home more frequently than first-time attendees.
* Family Resource Center partners hosted 271 Play School Experience sessions engaging 189 families in early learning activities.
* Yolo Family Services Agency coached 37 parents on parenting skills with the evidence-based Incredible Years curriculum.
* Universal Preschool for West Sacramento (Up 4 West Sac) supported free, high-quality preschool experiences for 511 children, of whom 52 percent were English language learners.
* RISE Inc. provided free child development programs in the Capay Valley.
* Twenty-four families participated in Parent Circle Time, a series of workshops that cover age-appropriate discipline, early learning, health and child development.
* The RISE Kinder Transition After-School program provided 145 sessions for 4- and 5-year-old children at Esparto Elementary, where 23 children participated in supervised after-school programming with their peers.
* CommuniCare Health Centers provided high-quality child care for 69 children ages 0-5 while their mothers participated in the Perinatal Day Treatment Program.
“As we begin our efforts to create a children’s movement in Yolo County, these successes create a good foundation for the work to come,” Saylor said. “Our previous needs assessments and what we are learning from parents of young children emphasize the importance of staying the course and expanding capacity to help our children grow up healthy and ready to learn.
“Every day we ask ourselves, ‘How are the children?’ ”
For a copy of the full report, call First 5 Yolo at 530-669-2475 or visit www.first5yolo.org and click on the “About Us” link.