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First Five - Director's Message
A Message from Director Jim Ochs

Director_Jim_Ochs.jpgI want to introduce myself as the new Executive Director.  I have moved from Chico to Merced and hope to relocate to Mariposa in the near future and become a part of the community.  I have already recognized how people in Mariposa love their community and are willing to help one another.

I want to share a little about my background. I was raised in San Jose and graduating from the University of Oregon.  I spent two years working in Cambodia for non-government organizations and then moved to Tulare County living there for over 20 years.  I worked for the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency, Community Development and Redevelopment, Kings County Health and Human Services Agency and have ten years of experience working for First 5 Tulare County.  

For fun, I enjoy all types of water sports, especially skiing and swimming.  I have two children--a son, Tyce, who is 14 and a daughter, Kalani, who is 12 years old.

I am excited about the opportunity to be the Executive Director of Mariposa First 5.  I feel that my past experience has been invaluable—providing the means for me to utilize the skills that I have learned through my multifaceted work experience.  

I want to take this opportunity to validate the history and mission of Mariposa First 5 Commission. The vision of the Mariposa First 5 Commission is that all children enter school healthy and ready to learn.  They know that children need nurturing, support and a positive home environment to be successful in school and prepared for life.  The following needs were identified in the 2009 Needs Assessment:  Healthy Children, 2) Children Ready to Learn, 3) Strong Families, and 4) Healthy Community Systems.  The Commission adopted five strategic plan goals based on the assessment.  In October, 2004, State First 5 consolidated commission goals into four Result Areas.  The following are the incorporated goals of the Commission with the State Result Areas in bold print: 

1.  Improve Systems of Care: Create an integrated system of care that maximizes existing resources and minimizes duplication of services;
2.  Improve Family Functioning: Improve transportation and other means for families to access support services;
3.  Improve Child Health: Improve the overall physical and mental health of young children;
4.  Improve Child Development: Improve families’ access and participation to education, information and services that help them create safe, nurturing environments for children.  Children are ready for kindergarten.

This Strategic Plan shares the vision, goals, and funding sources based on the community’s needs.  The Commission’s work over the past ten years has been primarily to improve the lives of children infant to five years-of-age in Mariposa County.  The Commission has funded several programs and projects that directly affect the lives of preschool children.  Over the past six years, the Commission has funded a School Readiness Program on the North side of the County, a Smart Start Prenatal health program, several preschools, (including Catheys Valley, Acorn and Kiwanis), a food and diaper program through Manna House, and several enrichment programs, e.g., Rural Media Arts, Kindermusik and the Library Story Time. 

The Commission developed a comprehensive grant application and procedure process.  The emphasis was on sustainability and evaluation of projects, evaluating the focus and impact that would make a difference over time for children. There were a number of grants and activities funded by Mariposa First 5 over the years.  The projects, programs and grants were funded based on the goals and result areas as set forth in the Strategic Plan.  There were quarterly reports, an evaluation plan, and fiscal information due throughout the year with a final report that was submitted to State First 5 as part of the Commission’s annual report. 

In 2014 - 2015, California First 5 provided a guaranteed amount of funding for each of the small counties.  Mariposa First 5 is receiving $325,000 for the next three-years, which includes administrative costs.  Because of this safeguard, the Commission was able to offer a grant application process that focused on health, preschool and Transitional Kindergarten.  Following the application process, the Commission funded a Transitional Kindergarten aide for both Mariposa Elementary and Sierra Foothill Charter School and the Children’s Dental Health grant for both dental education and services.  In addition, the Commission continued funding the School Readiness Program (Catheys Valley, Greeley Hill and Lake Don Pedro Preschools).  

This past year, the Commission offered another round of grant opportunities for 2015 - 2016 for children 0 to 5 years-of-age.  The Commission requires quarterly and budget reports for all grant recipients, as well as an evaluation tool, parent and community surveys along with letters of support.

The grants funded for 2015-2016 were: 
1) Children’s Dental Health Grant for $30,000;
2) Mariposa Elementary Transitional Kindergarten for $16,882;
3) CARES Plus grant for $10,000;
4) Kiwanis Preschool for $5,000; and
5) Yosemite Child Care Center grant for $7,500.

The Commission offered another round of grants for the fiscal year 2016-2017.  The following grant recipients funded were:
1) Children’s Dental Health Grant for $30,000;
2) Mariposa Elementary Transitional Kindergarten for $16,882;
3) Kiwanis Preschool for $10,000;
4) Yosemite Child Care Center grant for $5,000 and
5) Marie Pretzer’s Child Care Center for $1,000.

The Commission meets every other month (February, April, June, August, October and December)--the second Monday of the month at 4:00 P.M.  The meetings provide the Commissioners with an opportunity to evaluate funded programs, review State First 5 expectations and mandates, and approve budget expenditures.  In addition, there are opportunities to review community needs and services.   The First 5 Commission believes that every child in Mariposa County should be given the opportunity to grow and to learn.

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5100 Bullion St.  |  Mariposa, CA 95338  |  Telephone Numbers