First Five - Director's Message
A Message from Director Jeane Hetland
It is the vision of the Mariposa First 5 Commission 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. Systems of Care
: Create an integrated system of care that maximizes existing resources and minimizes duplication of services;
2. Family Functioning
: Improve transportation and other means for families to access support services;
3. Child Health:
Improve families’ access to high quality, affordable childcare and resources that enable children, 0-5, to develop optimally and begin kindergarten at readiness level;
4. Child Development
: Improve the overall physical and mental health of young children;
5. Child Development
: Improve families’ access and participation to education, information and services that help them create safe, nurturing environments for children.
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 July of 2008, the Commission was approved for Cycle II (July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2012) of the School Readiness Program with matching funds partnership with State First 5 and Mariposa County First 5. Catheys Valley Preschool was added to the program. The School Readiness Cycle I grant provided funding for a school readiness preschool teacher/director, two aides, and two maintenance workers. The School Readiness program included a Home Visitation Program and Parent Trainings/Workshops with resources and activities for the family to use at home. The School Readiness Program included collaboration, literacy-based curriculum, “hands on” learning materials, child-centered activities, and assessment portfolios with a focus on meeting the needs of the whole child. The emphasis was on prevention and intervention by providing integrated school based health and social services for children and their families.
In 2012 - 2013, the Mariposa First 5 Commission did not received the administrative cost funding or the full $200,000 augmentation amount which is based on a formula in combination with births and smoking within the county. Due to the reduction in revenue and the conclusion of the matching School Readiness grant with State First 5 ($100,000), the Commission voted to approve only two grants for that year: 1) Smart Start; and 2) Children’s Dental Health. In addition to the two grants, the Commission funded the School Readiness Program—Catheys Valley, Greeley Hill and Lake Don Pedro Preschools. The Commission sought a balance between preschool education and health for children 0 to 5 years-of-age.
This year, 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).
The Commission will be offering 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; 5) Yosemite Child Care Center grant for $5,000 and 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.