Early Learning: LEARN – SHARE – PLEDGE

Ninety percent of child’s brain is already developed by age 5. Children’s earliest experiences have long-lasting effects on their potential to succeed in life.

That’s why First 5 Riverside, the Riverside County Children & Families Commission, is committed to ensuring our youngest children in Riverside County have the best start in life. To shapanel2re early learning work, challenges and opportunities in the Riverside County Third Supervisorial District, First 5 Riverside recently hosted a Quality Start – Riverside County panel discussion with experts, policymakers and other community stakeholders.

Debbie Clark-Crews, Executive Director of the Riverside County Child Care Consortium and First 5 Riverside Commissioner, moderated the conversation with Chuck Washington – Third District Supervisor and First 5 Riverside Commissioner, Margot Grant Gould – Policy Director for the First 5 Association of California, Sharon Baskett – Assistant Superintendent, Riverside County Office of Education Division of Early Childhood Education Services, and Tim Ritter – Superintendent of Temecula Valley Unified School District.


Just how important is are quality early learning experiences? Well, if we change the first five years, we can change everything!

Check out what these five numbers have to do with early childhood development. Early learning partners throughout California are aligning and discussing solutions, including how rating and improvement systems fit in. Locally, Quality Start – Riverside County is emerging to increase quality in child care centers, homes, preschools and other early learning environments.

To increase our impact on Riverside County’s youngest children, stakeholders are invited to pledge to become champions for children, stay updated and get involved.

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Light Bulb Moments

By Tuesday, November 8, 2016 Permalink 0

Laurie Schoenberg, MFT, is the first Riverside County participant in the 2016-2017 UC Davis Extension Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship Program (IPMHFP), a highly regarded 15-month intensive, interdisciplinary training and mentoring program for professionals working with children ages 0 to 5.

Learn more about the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship program and how to apply.

LaurieSLaurie is now more than half way through the program. Read about her experience in her own words below.

I am truly amazed how quickly the time has passed since starting the Fellowship more than nine months ago!  My first blog reflected the first phase of the Fellowship:  Basic Skills & Core Concepts.  The Second Phase of the program – Learning with Luminaries of the field includes: faculty from the disciplines of medicine (pediatrics and psychiatry), psychology, nursing, neuroscience, education, special education, social work, occupational therapy, human development and psychoanalysis.  The speakers have been phenomenal and I am so honored for the intimate interactions the Fellows receive from the true heroes of the infant/early childhood mental health field.

I am growing and changing as a clinician and every month I return to my therapy office feeling challenged and encouraged to implement the concepts.

I must admit, I was beyond thrilled when I am became aware that Dr. Bruce Perry would be spending a three-day training session with the Fellows.  We are the first Fellowship to have his Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) woven throughout the entire Fellowship. NMT is NOT a therapy model; it is a way to organize a child’s history (prenatally to date), parents history and current developmental functioning through an online assessment tool available.  After the information is entered, the tool gives the user a summary of brain information, developmental information and recommendations that will meet the needs of the individual client! I have completed three so far and as a result, the insight into each client is quicker and individually tailored to assist the client in their individual needs.  We are so fortunate for this gracious opportunity from Dr. Perry!

THE FIRST 5 YEARS: Local Early Learning Advocacy & Education

Over the next five years, the Riverside County Children & Families Commission (First 5 Riverside) will invest more than $69 million  to narrow a critical gap in quality early learning programs for Riverside County children through age 5. The Commission is also working closely with countywide agencies to create an early learning master plan, a quality rating and improvement system and a parent education campaign. These efforts align with current quality-focused state and national movements.

“The first 1,000 days of a child’s life – the most critical developmental period – is key to their success and education for the rest their life,” says Tammi Graham, First 5 Riverside’s executive director. “In these early years, research shows that children who participate in high-quality early care and preschool programs have better health, social-emotional and cognitive outcomes than those who don’t.”


One-on-one attention, skilled teachers, age appropriate learning toys and lessons, responsive interactions and rich conversations – all contribute to the “quality” of a child’s early learning experience.

An aspect of quality can also be the teachers and what they can bring to the center or activity, says Toni Rangel, program director for Riverside City College’s Child Development Center.

child playing with shape sorterFirst 5 Riverside funds early learning and care scholarships, professional development and support, as well as materials to increase quality and access throughout Riverside County.

Without such support through the Martha’s Village & Kitchen Child Development Program, more than 100 children would fall through the gaps. Rosa E. Torres, program manager, says families that attend the Indio center face a variety of challenges. They are the homeless, families in transitional programs, teen parents, grandparents raising grandchildren and families facing crisis such as domestic violence or unemployment.

 “These families have been through a lot, some even faced with paying for child care or rent or food,” Torres said. “Here, we provide structure and help rebuild that important family bond lost because of their circumstances.”

Adeline Munoz says First 5 Riverside support has helped her become a working mother. Jessica Castrejon, who recently found herself homeless with five children, said she is grateful for the roof over her head and child care so she can work on getting things done for her family. Meanwhile Leticia Gomez is thrilled that her 4-year-old is learning language, communicating successfully in both English and Spanish when a few years ago, he only knew Spanish.


English/Spanish Checklists: What to look for when searching for quality early learning/child care – http://bit.ly/F5RCCLISTS

Riverside County Office of Education Resource & Referral: Call 800-442-4927 or visit – https://rcoecsis.rcoe.k12.ca.us/onlineref2/ for referrals to licensed quality child care in Riverside County based on your needs.

Quality Start – RivCo: Learn more about professional development, coaching, incentives and more to help raise quality in early learning throughout Riverside County.

FIRST 5 Update: Water Safety in Riverside County


This year alone, four children through age 5 have drowned and 28* have had a near drowning experience.

This summer, First 5 Riverside grantees – The YMCA of Riverside County and the Riverside University Health System Public Health’s Injury Prevention Services provided swim lessons, water safety information and CPR training to help avoid senseless tragedy.  The Commission also recently approved grant funding for the Desert Healthcare Foundation‘s Ready Set Swim! Jr. program in the Coachella Valley, which will launch next month. Classes will be held at pools in Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Indio, Coachella and Mecca. Workshops and presentations will be held throughout the desert region.  See and share the English or Spanish flyer.

By the end of next summer 850 children and 1,700 parents/caregivers are expected to participate in grantee programs.

Stay connected with us for more updates and details.

* As of 8/17/16

Sienna Garcia

Know and practice the ABCs of Drowning Prevention:

 A is for ACTIVE ADULT Supervision – Maintain constant eye contact when your child playing in or near water. Most children under age 5 have no fear of water and no concept of death. Water is associated with play. Being intensely focused on your supervising duties is essential to your child’s safety.

Next are BARRIERS This includes installing a fence, gates, latches, alarms, pool safety nets and covers to effectively keep children safe. Multiple barriers should be used and tested frequently to make sure they are functioning properly.

And, finally, be proactive and seek CLASSES – to learn proper rescue techniques, how to swim and water safety practices for the whole family.

First 5 Riverside is a proud member of the Riverside County Water Safety Coalition. Get more resources at RivCoWaterSafety.org.