Programs have a lasting impact on the lives of children, families, and entire communities.
Funded agencies provide a support network when families have few places to turn. Sometimes stories are tragic. Poverty is rampant, stress and family crisis are common. Programs create opportunities for success through their services and the community partners they refer to. The staff of programs funded by First 5 Kern experience first hand the positive impact that Proposition 10 tobacco tax dollars have on the lives of children and families in Kern County.
Below are just a few stories that show the positive impact that comes from empowering children, parents, and families – helping them become resilient, self-sufficient, and successful participants in their communities. Participants in First 5 Kern’s funded programs remain confidential.
Small Steps Child Development Center
During the toddler years, a child should be able to walk and run long before their third birthday. Doctors could not determine why one local toddler was not taking any steps. With nurturing support, a healthy and consistent environment, and nurturing parenting, the child was walking within two months of enrollment in the Small Steps Child Development Center. Small Steps Child Development Center is a program of the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.
Black Infant Health Program
A young woman, 22-years-old and 28-weeks pregnant, lived with severe developmental delays. She lived with the baby’s father in a highly stressful environment – ultimately becoming homeless. Staff at the Black Infant Health program connected the parents with community service referrals to acquire an apartment and establish in-home supportive services to assist them in the daily tasks and care of the infant. The child remains up-to-date on well-baby checkups and immunizations. Black Infant Health Program is a program of the County of Kern, Public Health Services Department.
Make A Splash
A mother of a toddler enrolled her child, who was terrified even to get his face wet. After enrollment in Make A Splash, the program instructor was able to help him overcome his fears by week two. Through diligent followthrough of his mother, the child participated in the full series of lessons. Now the family can be assured that the baby is as safe as possible around and in the water (including taking baths and even swim playfully) without feeling panicked. Make A Splash is a program of the City of Bakersfield, Department of Recreation and Parks.
Special Start for Exceptional Children
One little boy with challenging behaviors attends the Special Start for Exceptional Children program. It is not uncommon for him to throw toys, run from teachers, and have tantrums. He often refuses to eat, mostly due to a deficiency and lack of appetite (due to long-term use of a gastrostomy (feeding) tube). To assist students with behavioral issues, a teacher implemented “Tucker Turtle”; an anger management technique that provides a place for students to “take a break.” Tucker Turtle is a friend to talk to when the children feel sad, angry, or even happy. The little boy was first introduced to Tucker in the midst of a tantrum. After a couple of months, he sought out Tucker on his own – even, on one occasion, relaxing so much he fell asleep. Tucker Turtle has become a buddy to the children. Taking Tucker a step further, staff initiated “Caring Hearts for Tucker” where children could place a paper heart on Tucker when they were caught doing a good deed. The little boy was so moved by the process of Tucker that he was heard exclaiming that “the hearts make Tucker smile!” Although his behaviors still surface occasionally, now he hesitates before making a negative choice. Special Start for Exceptional Children is a program of Caring Corner, a special education preschool for medically fragile children.
Domestic Violence Reduction Project
A 38-year-old mother of three children (ages 10, 7 and 4), came to the Domestic Violence Reduction Project to seek assistance in getting a restraining order. Emotionally abused throughout the six-year relationship with the father of her youngest child, the emotional abuse had escalated to physical violence. She shared an incident of an argument that had resulted in being pushed her up against a wall. As she struggled to steady herself and get away, he put his fist through a window and fled. He was arrested but not charged. On another incident, he whipped their child with a cable cord for going outside to play without permission.The Project assisted in filing the restraining order. The mother was granted the stay for three years, and the judge granted her sole custody (and “professionally supervised visitation” to the father twice monthly, along with mandatory domestic violence prevention classes). The orders remain until the father can show the court that he is no longer a danger to the child. The family can finally live in peace. The Domestic Violence Reduction Project is a program of Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance.
Kern County Children’s Dental Health Network
A mother in Shafter, a rural community, entered National Health Services Inc., a community medical clinic, seeking dental help for her toddler who had been in pain for several months. She told how he would awaken at night crying in pain. With no money or dental insurance, the only resolution she had was to tell him to “try and forget it and have mind over matter”; and the family would pray that the pain would be alleviated. Through an emergency referral, the child was screened by Kern County Children’s Dental Health Network and found to have severe decay and infection, and his treatment began that same day. The family received education about the importance of oral hygiene and the mother reports he can sleep pain-free at night and is ready to begin kindergarten. Kern County Children’s Dental Health Network is a program of West Kern Community College District and works through Kern County Superintendent of Schools.