The First 5 Kern story.

Impact Stories

The programs that are funded by First 5 Kern 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 crises 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 and any listed names are aliases. Below are stories that have been shared by our programs from the 2020-21 fiscal year.

2-1-1 Kern County
A recent caller contacted 2-1-1 in need of information for resource items for a large household. While the caller answered a few demographic questions with the I&R Specialist, mom shared she had a child under 5 years old. Parent was offered a development screening as an additional resource option through Help Me Grow Kern County, and completed a developmental screening over the phone. A Help Me Grow Development Specialist was able to walk the parent through the process of completing both Ages and Stages Questionnaires, and the parent shared concerns about her son’s behavior. The Developmental Specialist was able to address the parent’s concerns, a referral was sent to Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, and mom will be contacted to schedule an appointment for an assessment. Mom was thankful for the opportunity to complete both of the Help Me Grow screenings and receive resources her family needed.

2-1-1 Kern County is a program operated by Community Action Partnership of Kern, and is also supported by the Kern County Public Health Services Department and the United Way of Kern County.

Black Infant Health Program
Through goal setting, and with lots of encouragement from her Family Health Advocate (FHA), a recent participant applied for a Licensed Vocational Nursing program at a local college. Even better, on a follow-up home visit to her home, where the Advocate was stopping by to deliver some diapers, the client announced that she took her advice about applying for County jobs on the Kern County Job’s website and had just acquired a job with the Kern County Housing Authority that day. She was incredibly proud of her achievements in completing her goals and stated she felt more confident and self-empowered through the support she gained in BIH.

Black Infant Health Program is a program of the County of Kern, Public Health Services Department.

Blanton Child Development Center
We currently have a single mom that has been part of our program since Fall 2022. When mom started she was seeking employment and attending a local community college, working toward a medical office administration certificate. In order for parent to receive her certificate she had to complete intern hours. During the time parent was completing her intern hours the medical office liked the way she worked and offered her a permanent position. Parent is now working full time and is happy to announce she will be graduating soon. She is very grateful Blanton CDC opened its doors to older parents, as it has given her the opportunity to receive child care, something she struggled with before being part of Blanton CDC. She tells us she is very grateful her child is enrolled at Blanton CDC because it allowed her to pursue her career, and her child has learned so much while being part of our program, including sign language, which she frequently uses when she is at home.

The Blanton Child Development Center is a program of Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Caring Corner (Special Start for Exceptional Children) 
*KK is a 3-year-old female who has been attending Caring Corner for almost a year. Her diagnosis includes blindness, a G Tube, and Walker Warburg Syndrome. WWS is an extremely rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. Symptoms include frequent muscle spasms, developmental delay, muscle weakness, and occasional seizures. KK is blind but has light perception, she is nonmobile, nonverbal, and has a life expectancy of only 3-5 years. Along with her pediatrician, she is also treated by a Physical Therapist, Neurosurgeon, Neuropsychologist, and a GI Specialist. While at Caring Corner, KK uses a tumble form chair for adaptive seating. The family has applied for and is currently waiting for a wheelchair. SA, KK’s mother says, “Since being able to have ‘KK’ at Caring Corner I have been able to complete school and find a job. The flexibility of Caring Corner has allowed me to be more available at work, grow in my profession, and be more independent financially. If it wasn’t for this program, I would have to quit my job since a lot of people are scared to care for a child with special needs.” KK is safe and cared for here.

Special Start for Exceptional Children is a program of Caring Corner, a special education preschool for medically fragile children.

Children’s Mobile Immunization Program
A first-time mom and her one-year-old daughter sought immunization services at the Children’s Mobile Immunization Program clinic site, just ten minutes away from her home. Kern Family provided transportation to the clinic at Adventist Health in Bakersfield – a program funded by First 5 Kern. The mother shared, “This was my first time coming to one of the mobile clinics. My mother gave me a flier and suggested that I use the program. I hoped the Children’s Mobile Immunization Program would be more efficient and quicker than my doctor’s office. My experience at the mobile clinic was very good, quick, and easy,” she shared. “Being able to hold my child while she received immunizations was my favorite part.” The mother scored their experience a five out of five, and said her experience was “very good” and she was treated “very good.” She said, “It was so fast, and the staff was very good to us. Thank you.”

The Children’s Mobile Immunization Program is a program of Adventist Health

Differential Response Services
The case manager received a referral call for a general neglect case. Allegations stated that law enforcement was dispatched to a home regarding a toddler walking alone in the middle of the street. The investigation found that the grandmother had left the child alone since his mother was on her way home from work. The mother and child live with maternal grandparents. The child was released back to the mother, who said she would not leave the child alone anymore, and Differential Response set a series of goals for the mother moving forward:

Goal 1: Mother will apply for childcare.
Goal 2: Mother will find a dentist for the child.
Goal 3: Mother will apply for low-income housing.

When DR case management began, the family was provided linkages to concrete services that include Community Connection, CAPK, Housing Authority, Clinica Sierra Vista Dental Locations, Kern Family Health Care, and Lamont Adult Behavioral Health. The mother was able to get the child into preschool part-time and when out of school, the maternal grandmother picks up the child and takes care of her until the mother gets home from work. Next school year the child will be a full-time kindergartener afterschool child care is arranged. The mother found a dentist for the child and began regular visits. She applied to low-income housing through the housing authority and is awaiting approval for a residence of their own. The family was stable and completed all goals, and the case was closed out successfully. The mother engaged in the program and was very thankful for DR services.

Differential Response Services is a program of Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Discovery Depot Child Care
Discovery Depot would like to highlight a mom who has 4 children in the center (one with special needs and another who is medically fragile). Mom is working to better her life. She fled from an abusive relationship and came to Bakersfield where she resided at the shelter for several months. Due to all the problems she has endured she was moved to the emergency shelter to afford her more space to care for her medically ill child. She has taken on a lot and still manages to do what is necessary in spite of her son’s medical needs. She is currently looking for permanent housing and will be enrolling in a substance abuse training program to help others.

Discovery Depot Child Care is a program of The Open Door Network, located at the Bakersfield Homeless Center

Domestic Violence Reduction Project
Client is the mother of four minor children ranging from ages 1 to 17. Client was referred to us by the Family Justice Center as a victim of domestic violence and was seeking a restraining order and custody orders. The abusive party, client’s husband, was abusing drugs and had physically harmed client and one of their children, then ran from the police to avoid arrest. He eventually was arrested and served with a one-week-long protective order from the police. He then got out the next day and immediately came back to their house, violating the one-week-long protective order. Client’s case rose to the level of domestic violence under the Family Code so we agreed to represent her in obtaining a permanent restraining order and custody orders so that she and her children can safely remove themselves from a violent home environment. We prepared client’s paperwork, received a temporary restraining order and temporary custody orders, served the other party, and went to court. Before the court date, the other party continued to violate the temporary orders by trying to remove the children from school and by going to client’s house. An arrest warrant was issued. At the next court date, the other party did not go to court, so the judge heard our case without him there and granted client a permanent restraining order and permanent custody orders.

The Domestic Violence Reduction Project is a program of Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance.

Family Caregiver Project
One client is a father who is a stay-at-home dad taking care of his baby girl. He enjoyed spending time with her and getting her involved in art. When he was a teenager, he enjoyed art and is now starting to exposing his daughter to art, knowing it would have a positive impact. “To have the opportunity in this class is priceless. I usually don’t do any craft art with my kids. I would start to make at least 30 min per week,” he expained. “It feels good to act like a child again. I had fun.”

The Family Caregiver Project is a program of Vision y Compromiso.

Guardianship Caregiver Project
A woman contacted us two years ago, looking for help in obtaining guardianship of a 5-year old child whom she has been raising for much of his life. The woman, who became our guardianship client, was not related to the child, but was his “putative” parent. The child had a number of serious disabilities and he needed many services. Client could not obtain the services without either a guardianship or a parent’s permission. When mother disappeared and was no longer able to give permission, services stopped. Father was not present in his son’s life, and his whereabouts were unknown. When we finally reached him on social media, he refused to give us his address to serve him. We worked with the court for about a year and a half to get the issue of service resolved, and finally, we were able to get the guardianship for our client and the child. Several agencies, whose services were needed, then enrolled the child and he is now progressing in his treatment.

The Guardianship Caregiver Project is a program of Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc.

Health Literacy Program
Our interactive family engagement workshops have a positive impact on both children and parents. We see changes in children’s attitudes about eating healthy and talking about healthy eating during mealtimes at the Children’s Center. We are also seeing children excited about our school garden. Children care for the plants by watering, picking weeds, and picking fresh vegetables to eat. Many of the children will pick a vegetable, (carrots, broccoli and snap peas), go to the sink, wash it off, and then eat it. During the last quarter we had several “aha” moments from parents. One parent during the presentation on cutting back on added sugars was taking pictures and said he could not believe how much sugar was added into the juices he was giving his children. He took pictures of the visuals which were bags of sugar next to the drink which showed how much sugar was in each drink. One of the drinks demonstrated was “Capri Suns.” The Dad commented and said, “I am going to stop buying the Capri juices for my children, that is way too much sugar!” He took pictures so he could share them with the mom and talk to his kids about it. Another moment was during the presentation on gardening. Many parents were commenting on how they didn’t think they could garden because they needed a large outdoor space to do it in. The Facilitator explained all the different ways you could grow a garden, indoors and outdoors, and how you could plant in buckets, cups, pots, etc. With a little bit of soil, the plant, and water, you could have your very own garden. Many parents were making plans on how they could make a salsa garden or vegetable garden. Each parent was given a cucumber plant at the workshop, and one reported back that she was able to transplant it in her backyard and it was growing.

The Health Literacy Program is a program of the Bakersfield Adult School/Kern Union High School District

Help Me Grow Kern County
In February, a parent heard about Help Me Grow via television and called 211 for assistance. Caller was transferred to a Development Specialist to complete a screening for her child, and the parent expressed concerns with their child’s communication and toileting. The parent completed both the ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2 with the Development Specialist over the phone. The child scored in the black range for multiple areas (demonstrating there were delays and areas of concern). The parent consented to a referral to Kern Regional Center for a further assessment, and an appointment has been scheduled to continue with services.

Help Me Grow Kern County is a program of Community Action Partnership of Kern in partnership with First 5 Kern and Kern Behavioral Heath and Recovery Services

During regular trainings for child care providers with their coaches, the participants were honored for their participation in Kern Early Stars. The coaches took the opportunity to present their family child care providers with a participation certificate to display in the home. In addition, providers received a large sign to display in their yard that identifies them as a Kern Early Stars participant and that they are dedicated to quality improvement activities. Thirty eight providers who have been participating in Kern Early Stars since the beginning of the program, received a yard sign that listed since 2016. Providers were able to take photos with their coaches and share a few words about what participation in Kern Early Stars has meant to them and how the children they care for have benefited.

IMPACT (Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive) is a program of First 5 California in partnership with Kern County Superintendent of School and the Kern Early Stars program.

Infant/Toddler Program
Roman* was one of the cutest little 4-year-olds his CASA had ever seen, with tousled curly hair and deep brown eyes. This kid was the most athletic child she’d met at such a young age. His CASA noticed that although his cognitive and fine motor skills were not very strong, his gross motor skills were out of this world as she frequently watched him ride his bicycle through rocks, weeds, trees, ditches, and parked cars, without any trouble or falls. He was also quite adept on a trampoline as he was able to do flips repeatedly, with great ease. Roman was taken into protective custody and had a short stay in foster care after his mother overdosed on pain medication. After approximately three months of parenting classes, substance abuse counseling, and random drug tests, his mother was able to have him return to her case under Family Maintenance Services, and CASA was appointed. His CASA met with him three to four times a month, taking her bag of [educational] goodies with her each week. Right before Roman was to start Transitional Kindergarten, his CASA completed an ASQ assessment with him. Of course, Roman scored high in gross motor skills and he was also doing well social-emotionally; however, there was some concern in areas of communication, problem-solving, and fine motor skills. When Roman started Transitional Kindergarten, he struggled during the first part of the year with making friends, delayed speech, and doing fine motor tasks. The CASA spoke with his teacher several times and they both were seeing some of the same issues. The CASA provided the family with school supplies to assist Roman in practicing and strengthening his fine motor skills and books for language and comprehension. After four months of formal education and the CASA working with Roman in these specific areas, the CASA had seen a significant difference in Roman’s academic skills. The CASA reassessed Roman after six months and Roman’s scores had greatly improved in all areas. The CASA also saw an increase in his language skills, as well as the ability to write his name, and become fully engaged in learning activities. If it weren’t for his CASA advocating for his academics, he may have fallen through the cracks and may not have received the additional support he needed.

*Names changed for confidentiality

The Infant/Toddler Program is a program of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

Kern County Children’s Dental Health Network
Our Dental Hygienist received a call from the Kern County Health Department, with a referral from a refugee coming from Mexico. KCCDHN staff called the parent and made an appointment for the parent and child, the child received a visual exam in our office. The Dental Hygienist screened the child and he had 4 teeth with visual decay. His back molars had holes so she asked if he was having pain. The child pointed to both sides of his mouth. When our staff asked him if top or bottom teeth hurt and it was bottom teeth on both sides. Because the child was in pain, our staff contacted the Pediatric Dental office immediately and was able to get the child in the same day. Fortunately, child has since completed treatment at a local Pediatric Dental office with whom we contract.

Kern County Children’s Dental Health Network is a program of West Kern Community College District and works through Kern County Superintendent of Schools.

Kern Valley Aquatics Program
Comments from recent participants:

“My 4-year-old daughter loved swim lessons at KVAP. The instructors were patient and thorough. I watched her improve throughout the week. Following swim lessons, we went swimming and I saw her utilize the skills she learned.”

“KVAP is a wonderful service provided in our small town. We live near water. Lake, river, our kids need to know the importance of water safety. Danica and the crew at KVAP provide that. Everyone is professional and very hands on.”

“My granddaughter received a grant for swim classes and is officially a ‘little guppy’. The instructors are so kind and patient with these kiddos. I am very grateful for KVAP and the grant program. Thank you.”

The Kern Valley Aquatics Program is a program of the South Fork Union School District

Make a Splash
The Pediatric CPR, First Aid and Water Safety trainings continue to be a great success and are a unique opportunity that remain in regular demand.

Comments from CRP class evaluations:
“The grant opportunities that are provided to the community help not only adults, but young teenagers become aware of first aid, CPR, and what can do in case of emergencies. It’s great that we are provided low-cost classes that educate us.”

“This class is necessary, and I am thankful I had the opportunity to learn the skills I did. I feel comfort in knowing I am prepared in case of an emergency or need. Thank you.”

“Very informative CPR class. Professor was very professional and well prepared. This class gave me knowledge for future events regarding life threatening and help save others’ lives.”

Make A Splash is a program of the City of Bakersfield

Medically Vulnerable Care Coordination Project of Kern County
A recent mother told the nurse she was having difficulties obtaining medication and medical equipment for her child, due to issues with insurance. The nurse was able to make contact with the child’s insurance to remedy this issue. Shortly after this, the mother informed the nurse that she was now having difficulties with the pharmacy not dispensing the medication and medical equipment. These issues resulted in an emergency room visit for the child. The nurse made contact with the child’s pharmacy and was able to resolve the issue and arrange for the medication and medical supplies to be ready for the mother to pick up the same day. Upon follow-up, the mother stated that she was able to acquire the needed medication and medical supplies for the child. The mother also stated that the child was doing much better and had not required any acute care services since obtaining the medication and medical supplies. The mother expressed her gratitude for the nurse and stated: “[I] was getting the run- around and wouldn’t have been able to figure this out without you”.

The MVCCP is a project of the County of Kern Public Health Services Department

Medically Vulnerable Infant Program
A 2-year, 11 month Medically Fragile male toddler with a rare genetic disorder, Rubinstein Tayebi syndrome, has multiple congenital anomalies and specialty follow up. MVIP has had its work cut out for this patient/client. This child’s mother was overwhelmed and frustrated with all the out-of-town specialty appointments. The language barrier and knowledge deficit caused the mother to miss appointments, confuse specialties, miss medication refills, and struggle establishing a medical home. The nurse and case management services have helped the child’s mother with special needs like emergency formula, diapers, wipes, and developmental toys. This family was also helped with transportation, medication refills, CCS authorizations, SSI, Kern regional center, early development intervention, appointment scheduling, and education and adjustments to new G-Tube feedings and continuous feeding rates. Establishing rapport with the Spanish-speaking parent was crucial in this case, because mother felt comfortable disclosing domestic violence. The nurse helped her with reporting and linkage to support services. MVIP has been vital to this child and family. Nursing case-management and home visiting has helped the parent navigate the medical system, become a better advocate for her child, and helped lessen parental fear and worry for this child’s medically fragile conditions and outcome.

The Medically Vulnerable Infant Program is a program of Clinica Sierra Vista

Neighborhood Place Community Learning Center
We have a little boy who started our Little Learners program in August 2022. When he was 28 months old, he was very shy. He did not use any words in class except for “no.” He did not have any social exposure to other children his own age. As he began to attend class, he continued to be very shy and withdrawn. He did not interact with the teachers except to shake his head “no” often. He was not interested in joining the class for carpet time. He also did not want to participate in art unless the teacher physically went to him and guided him to the art table. He has been attending our program for 8 months and recently turned 3 years old. He has made big accomplishments with his speech and interactions with his teachers as well as his peers. This student loves carpet time now! He sings our songs and enjoys participating in learning flashcards. His vocabulary has increased immensely in the past 3 months. Some goals we have for him are to interact more with his peers and teachers on his own and continue to develop more language. We encourage him to move around the classroom and we look forward to the day he will independently move freely during center time in the classroom. His mother has expressed to us how grateful she is to have such a wonderful program for him to come to. She has stated that he has already learned so much and she knows he will continue to grow and thrive here. He has made so much progress since he started, and we are excited to see him grow as he continues to attend our Little Learners program.

The Neighborhood Place Community Learning Center is a project of the North of the River Recreation and Parks District

Nurse Family Partnership Program
A mom we work with is a 16-year-old that delivered her son prematurely at 32 weeks. Although it was totally unexpected, she took it all in stride and went daily to visit her son and take him breastmilk she had pumped while at home. Her son did very well and after just 3 weeks in the NICU, he was ready to be released home. Once home, Mom struggled with getting him latched on the breast, her son seemed to prefer the bottle. She stated that after several attempts, he would cry, and she would pump her breast and give him the breastmilk in a bottle. At the first home visit with her son home, the nurse explained to Mom that it was still possible to get him on the breast, but that it would take patience on her part and being aware of his “sign language”, infant cues, so that she could anticipate when he was hungry and get him ready to want to nurse. We reviewed common hunger signs of infants, as well as arousal techniques Mom could use to gradually awaken the baby. At the second home visit, the baby was sleeping when the nurse arrived. Mom informed her that the baby was doing very well with breastfeeding. Soon the baby began to stir and slowly awaken, N.P. spoke to him quietly and gently took him into her arms, asking him if he had a good nap and if he was ready to eat. She stroked his cheek, and he slowly opened his mouth and yawned. She checked his diaper and found it was time for a diaper change, another arousal technique. While changing his diaper, Mom talked to the baby and the nurse. She then brought him up to her chest and touched his cheek. This time, the baby turned toward her breast and opened his mouth, N.P. quickly prepared herself to latch the baby on her breast. She was able to get her son latched on to the breast and nursed for about 5 minutes. The nurse praised her for the awesome job she did in reading his cues and appropriately arousing him gently and slowly so that he could find his way to latch on to the breast. Mom looked proud and happy to know she had accomplished the challenge of getting her baby to breastfeed.

The Nurse Family Partnership Program is a program of the County of Kern Public Health Services Department

Richardson Special Needs Collaborative
The Infant Development Program (IDP) Instructional Aide from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) referred a 1-year-old child to the Richardson Special Needs Collaborative. The primary reason for the referral was child’s hearing condition. The family is also in need of diapers, transportation and insurance. The child will be having several appointments at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. The child was diagnosed with hearing loss at one of his doctors’ visits. The parent showed interest in the collaborative and the referral was made. The parent was receptive to the program in hopes that the resources offered at the Richardson Special Needs Collaborative will help the family overcome any barriers. A SMART GOAL for obtaining transportation to Valley Children’s hospital for medical care, a referral to CCS was made due to the child hearing loss, and we assisted her with setting that up. Parent was happy because through CCS she will be able to request transportation services to Valley Children Hospital.

A second SMART Goal consisted in applying for Community Connection for childcare, since she will soon will have to go back to work. FSA assisted in reaching out to CCCC and submitted the required paperwork. The child qualified and this allowed her to go back to work. The family was also referred to a local church for a Christmas donation. The family was overwhelmed with joy because they had never experienced something like the Christmas they had. Additionally, we provided the parent with educational materials such as books for parent to work with the child, and basic needs including food baskets. Parent appreciated the assistance from the Richardson Special Needs Collaborative because it has given her a better understanding of the resources that are available to meet her child’s needs. The FSA will continue to provide ongoing support and basic needs for the family as necessary; it appears this has been a successful experience for the family.

The Richardson Special Needs Collaborative is a program of Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Small Steps Child Development Center
A recent Small Steps success story goes to a mom who enrolled her youngest child in the center while residing at our emergency shelter. Since the child has been enrolled, mom was able to find a job which allowed her to find an apartment where she and her 4 children currently reside. Mom also contacted Bakersfield Adult School and enrolled in general education courses to prepare her for taking the GED exam and also enrolled in 2 parenting classes to aid her in taking care of her children. Mom has also placed her children on the waiting list for CHAT to receive therapy through our agency.

The Small Steps Child Development Center is a program of The Open Door Network, affiliated with Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault

South Fork Preschool
As educators we are lucky that we get to be the ones to help the children in our care grow and develop new life long skills. Starting preschool is tough. For most kids, this will be the first time being away from their parents. We had a little girl start preschool who had trouble separating from her mom. As they walked into the preschool every day the little girl would be wrapped so tight around her mom with eyes full of tears. The mom for the first couple of days sat in the preschool to try and help her daughter get comfortable with the preschools routine, and to try and help her make new friends. But just her mom being there, and the little girl anticipating her mom leaving made it even harder for the little girl. The mom eventually started to leave first thing after arriving at the preschool. She sat the little girl down in the chair, hugged her, told her she would be back soon and then would leave. The little girl cried, and wouldn’t let anyone near her or touch her. She didn’t want anything other than mommy. My coworkers and I tried all sort of different things to get her comfortable with being at school. This little girl was going to be 5 soon and needed to get ready for kindergarten in a few months. We tried a few things like letting her hold a stuffed animal, bringing pictures in of her family that she could hold and look at any time she needed and just really encouraging her to be part of the class. None of these seemed to work to well, finally my coworker had the idea of letting her hold a little clock. We marked two times on the clock. Drop off time and pickup time. The little girl was able to watch the clock and see that the time her mom would be coming to pick her up was getting closer and closer. Just having this reassurance made all of the difference in the world for this little girl. She participated in groups and made new friends. She even formed really positive relationships with her teachers.

Today, after months of being at the preschool this little girl no longer uses the clock. She does most things willingly and even loves school. I feel like we did a really great job of getting this little girl ready for her next big adventure – Kindergarten!

South Fork Preschool is a program of the South Fork Union School District

Wind in the Willows Preschool
We are currently providing services to a young child whose parents have split custody of her, as they live in two different areas. This child goes to a largely populated preschool in a big city while she is in the care of her mother. While she is in the care of her father, she goes to our preschool. Her father, mother and stepmother have expressed how grateful they are for her to receive our services, as they are much different than the care she receives while attending the larger school. According to her father, she leaves our program extremely happy and is thriving here. They appreciate the smaller class size, more one-on-one time with her teachers, more hands on learning and the less overwhelming social aspects our school provides. In the words of her father, “She is not just a number here.” We are so thrilled to provide our services to this little girl, who experiences two very different types of early education environments.

Wind in the Willows Preschool is operated by the Wind in the Willows Education Organization

Women’s Shelter Network
We’ve been working with a single mom to a one-year old daughter who, when she came in to the shelter in February 2023, spoke very limited English. In the time since they’ve been here we have worked diligently together to cross the language barriers in order to better serve them both. The client and staff have gone back and forth using translator apps and have used broken Spanish/English in order to better communicate. With this effort, we were able to help mom make arrangements for childcare as well as find employment and make use of other resources. In a short time, our client has built an impressive vocabulary and can communicate with us almost exclusively in English. Her daughter, who is just learning to talk, is well on her way to bilingualism. She babbles in both English and Spanish, and has blossomed in her confidence while being exposed to many different faces and language. Mom, daughter, and staff have grown so much in the face of this challenge and are proud of the effort and heart taken in order to be inclusive of the language and culture differences.

The Women’s Shelter Network is a program of Women’s Center – High Desert, Inc.

First 5 Kern’s support of local FRCs and CRCs

In a county as expansive as Kern, with smaller, outlying communities, sometimes getting connected with the services you need for your family is a particularly challenging issue. First 5 Kern is proud to partner with various Family and Community Resource Centers throughout the county to help make those connections possible.

Arvin Family Resource Center
A mother of three came to the Arvin Family Resource Center seeking assistance with resources for childcare. At the initial meeting, the Support Services Advocate assessed the current childcare needs and any additional needs. The mother shared having three children ages 16 months, 5 and 8 years old. Upon learning the children’s ages, the Advocate explained the First 5 program to the mom and began providing the resources she needs. The Advocate learned the family had multiple needs and were eligible for McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Program within the school district. The family was immediately assisted with shoes, clothing, books, school supplies, and a box of food donated by United Way of Kern. In addition, the Advocate provided the mother with referrals to child care and locating and completing affordable housing applications. Since being case managed through First 5, the mother has attended nurturing parenting classes, received diapers, wipes and a First 5 Kit for Parents. Moreover, the mother has brought family members and friends to the Family Resource Center to learn about the services available.

The Arvin Family Resource Center is a program of the Arvin Union School District

Buttonwillow Community Resource Center
We have a new young single mother of 3 children, who participated in our program with her mother when she was little. She lived in the Buttonwillow Community until she was 18 years of age, and then moved away. She returned to Buttonwillow three years later with her 3 children. She remembered the services that we offered for the families, and knew our office was the best place to get the assistance she needed for herself and her family. She is receiving case managed and home-based services. She was in an abusive situation and wanted to get out. We linked her to the Sherriff Dept., which helped her get a restraining order against the father of her children. We linked her to GBLA for legal assistance as well. She wants to finish the credits she needs so she can get her high school diploma. She is going to enroll her children in preschool for the next school year. She was not able to enroll in them this year since she didn’t have transportation twice a day. She lives on the outskirts of Buttonwillow, but is hoping to find a home in town. She also has received disinfectant wipes, masks, sanitizers, books, diaper bag, clothing, and other necessities. She has shown so much gratitude for the assistance that we were able to provide for her in this new life experience. We also gave her the First 5 new parent DVD kit and learning baby toys and books.

The Buttonwillow Community Resource Center is a program of the Buttonwillow Union School District

Delano School Readiness
Client referred to CCC in February, 2023. Single client who has custody of her two grandchildren, ages 2 and 4 years old. Daughter (parent to grandchildren) was in a car accident on March 2022 and passed away. Grandmother has been through a lot with health issues. Client ended up in the hospital in ICU due to COVID with very severe shortness of breath, muscle aches and difficulty breathing. Client is still using oxygen machine to help her with breathing. CCC was able to help with Car Seats and Food Basket. One of the grandchildren attends our SRI pre-school classroom. Client also has been very active in taking Nurturing Parenting Classes to help her with the upbringing of her grandchildren.

Delano School Readiness is a program of the Delano Union School District

East Kern Family Resource Center
We had a family who signed up for the First 5 case-management program back in September, 2020. Initially the child was very quiet, sweet, and smart who had a difficult time with the death of his uncle, who died of COVID-19 in the home. He was a 42-month-old child who lived with his single mother and two older brothers in a three-bedroom mobile home. The child had no educational experience and did not attend any type of pre-school before signing up for the home-based program. The child was always very excited to complete his educational lessons through his IPAD since all home visits were being done virtually due to Covid 19 restrictions. The client continued with the program throughout the Covid shutdowns and continued even after the Covid requirements were lifted. The case manager continued to work with the child, and he began to understand numbers, colors, and letter recognition. He also learned how to write his full name without any assistance. The mother of the child mentioned to the case manager that the child’s spirit was up when compared to the past and he was eager to attend Kindergarten. The child graduated from the First 5 program in March of 2023, and is doing extremely well in school. The case manager is now working with his twin sisters. When the child sees the case manager arrive at the home to work with the sisters he get extremely excited and enjoys watching his sisters learn their letters, colors, and numbers. We are extremely happy to see the child do well in school and always smiling.

The East Kern Family Resource Center is a program of Community Action Partnership of Kern

Greenfield School Readiness
A parent participating in our program recently shared a library calendar of events to our class. Due to this, the advocate had a conversation about visiting the library. There was some information about a reading log challenge, to encourage an interest in reading. So the Advocate created reading logs for students and it was great to see families completing and turning in their reading logs. Our advocate was able to issue a small incentive, such as a new book, for the students. Also, it was great to see parents were reading the books issued by our program. Some of the parents actually went to get a library card. Some other parents mentioned to the advocate that they have never been to a library. It was great to expand literacy in this way.

Greenfield School Readiness is a program of the Greenfield Union School District

Kern River Valley Family Resource Center
Our Early Education Advocate recently received a referral from CPS, who wanted to place a young child in the care of a client who already had other younger siblings in their care. Our staff assisted the client in completing all required classes and background checks to be a foster parent, including conducting home visits. The client expressed a need to have counselling services for the children, and through us, he started a budget course to help maintain the family finances. We also helped him get the youngest child enrolled into Preschool as well as apply for College Community Services. In total we were able to provide connections for 11 different agencies in the Kern River Valley, which provide assistance in career training, preschool, learn-to-swim, holiday meals, Toys for Tots and tax assistance. The client finished his budgeting classes and has found employment. The youngest child is in preschool, and he has been able to pay household bills, rent and purchase groceries on his monthly budget. The client is doing great with the newest addition to his household and we are sure they will continue to grow as a family.

The Kern River Valley Family Resource Center is a program of the Kernville Union School District

Lamont/Vineland School Readiness Program
We had a mom that was referred to us by our preschool program because of suspected domestic abuse. The children seemed suddenly unkempt, and the teacher asked a Family Advocate to follow up with them. The Family Advocate discovered that this was because they had left their home and did not have their clothing or other personal care items with them. The family was assisted with diapers, clothing, personal items, education, referrals, and support. We helped the family get consistent housing, study for and receive a driver’s license, get a job and car, and then finally were able to get the mom to take Nurturing Parenting classes, which helped her get connected to other families and feel support from the teacher and other parents. During the classes she shared with us that they helped her realize how much she needed to really be paying individual attention to her children, and how much better she understood what the point of discipline is. Mom had one of the largest increases in her Nurturing Parenting assessment score that we’ve seen, and is now nearing stability in case management and will hopefully be ready to exit the program soon due to her personal stability.

The Lamont/Vineland School Readiness Program is a program of the Lamont School District

Lost Hills Family Resource Center
We recently had a student in center based learning care. Per the principal I was invited to a meeting to discuss a potential client. The child was going to turn three years of age that week so we met to discuss if we, as a center based preschool, would be the right place to meet the student’s needs, goals, and wants. They day of the meeting, the mother, child, principal, assistant superintendent, me, and three other personnel from the County of Kern were present. It was brought to our attention that the child was diagnosed with down syndrome and he had an established IEP. Within the meeting we all agreed that our preschool would give an opportunity to this child and its family. It was going to be a challenge, but we will try our best to ensure our program was the right place for this child. At the beginning it was a challenge because the child is non-verbal, and needs assistance to meet basic needs. The entire personnel had to be trained on how to accommodate his needs, and the goals established in the IEP. Today, the child has been adapting to the preschool environment; we are still working on helping him be independent with basic needs. Is a work in progress and I hope this student and its family will remain to be part of our program until the child turns five and transitions to kindergarten.

The Lost Hills Family Resource Center is a program of the Lost Hill Union School District

McFarland Family Resource Center
There is a little girl in our School Readiness class that when she first started the program would not speak and would not interact with the other students. When the Family Advocates would talk to her and try to get her to engage she would not. The Family Advocates would speak to mom about her and she would say she was just really shy, but as time went on, the child started to get used to the classroom environment and mingle a little with the other students. That’s when the Family Advocates noticed the child could not speak well. The Family Advocates talked to mom and she stated her daughter was fine and did not have any speech problems that she could understand her just fine. They told her they would like to make a referral to the support service department to get the child assessed and the parent refused. The Family Advocates talked to the mother for months and worked with the child during this time and they were still struggling to understand her. The mother finally agreed to the referral and the referral was made. The child was assessed and an IEP was scheduled. The child is now receiving services through the district’s support services for her speech, and she will be set to go with services when she enters Kindergarten. Has it not been for the dedication and determination of the Family Advocates, assistance for her needs would have been delayed. The student is now thriving and interacting with the other students. She talks more – it’s still a challenge to understand her at times – but she is on the right track.

The McFarland Family Resource Center is a program of McFarland Unified School District

Mountain Communities Family Resource Center
Michelle* showed up on our doorstep on a cold January day asking for help with housing after spending the prior night in a freezing car with her 2-month-old baby. She had been reluctant to seek help because she had previously lost custody of her first child years before and desperately wanted to provide a safe home for her new baby, despite having suddenly lost her housing due to the baby’s father’s addiction and criminal activity. Michelle’s parents were unwilling to assist her, but our Family Advocates jumped into action to ensure that mother and baby would have a roof over their head by nightfall. Leveraging relationships in our community as well as rental assistance funds through the federal Emergency Food & Shelter program, we had a two-month studio apartment rental for her and her daughter established that same day, giving her time to secure childcare so she could begin working again. Michelle immediately joined our First 5-funded Family Success Coaching program over the ensuing months. Her Advocate assisted her with establishing health insurance for her daughter, securing the birth certificate and other important paperwork, completing applications with Community Connection for Childcare, and a gas card to help her get to the South Kern Family Justice Center to deal with a legal issue. Food, diapers, wipes, and formula were provided to make sure her daughter was well-cared for until she could start back to work. Three months later, she is back at her job and working with her Advocate toward her self-directed goal of saving $50 per paycheck toward a down payment on an apartment. Due to housing shortages in the mountain communities, she is planning to move to Bakersfield and transfer her job with a large corporation to a location in the valley. She knows that her daughter is growing well and meeting milestones because of the Ages & Stages developmental assessments her Advocate provides. From the first day at the MCFRC office when she was so nervous to come, she said, “Thank you guys so much! I didn’t know what to do, but I am so glad that I came here! You were all so welcoming!”

*not the client’s real name

The Mountain Communities Family Resource Center is a program of the non-profit Mountain Communities Family Resource Center, Inc.

Oasis Family Resource Center
A recent mom Started case management in last year and was referred to the Oasis Family Resource Center by a CPS Social worker. Mom also enrolled her five-year-old son and four-year-old daughter at the time for case management services and home visit activities. When Mom was referred to the Oasis Family Resource Center, she was told by her case worker that if she was to enroll and commit to case management services from the Oasis FRC they would close her case. When mom was referred to the Oasis FRC, she had recently gained partial custody of her two youngest children. Mom is a former drug addict who has now been clean for ten months. In her Family Service Plan, mom listed NA, AA, as well as having a sponsor as her resources. Mom has also been receiving therapy services through Community College Services for about 14 months, and enrolled at Cerro Coso Community College for three classes this quarter. Mom also started an anger management class in February and is now halfway through that program. Mom has been meeting with her case manager once or twice a month, helping to work on her organizational skills such as creating a budget binder, a chore list, and a meal plan. Mom is now keeping up with all her appointments for classes, counselling, and case management, making great use of the resources available to her and her family. Mom is also now working part-time.

Our case manager is working with the daughter who is now five years old and in kindergarten, and working on several of the skills taught in the Summer Bridge program from the assessment to keep her on track with reading and writing and number skills. Mom has confirmed that her case worked dropped the case and she is continuing to utilize case management services while she works toward full custody of her children. She has expressed how grateful she is for the support she receives from the Oasis FRC.

Oasis Family Resource Center in Ridgecrest is a program of Community Action Partnership of Kern

Shafter Healthy Start
The client initially contacted our office and inquired about the Court Mandated Parenting classes. The client enrolled for the 12-week-course program. The client is a mother of 7 children. Client was recently in a domestic violence relationship and attending the classes helped her gain a better understanding of how to improve her relationship with her family and her parenting skills. She also became a case managed client and received support for children #6 and #7. The client was provided age-appropriate car seats for children #6 and #7. The case manager provided parent with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire for those same children, and placed them on the waiting list for the Center Base Preschool program for upcoming sessions. The client also successfully enrolled in a program to obtain her High School Diploma and will soon complete that program. The client completed the 12-week course for Court Mandated Parenting Classes during the Spring session and successfully received her Certificate of Completion. The client was excited to have completed the Court Mandated course and is ready to start a new journey in her life.

Shafter Healthy Start is a program of Richland School District

Southeast Neighborhood Partnership Family Resource Center
Recently a client was referred to SENP to receive more information on First 5-sponsored case management services. When we reached out to the client and explained the services available, she was relieved to find out that there was a program available that could help her get organized, directed, and find resources in her area. The client is a mother of 3 children, all under the age of 5 and all need different resources. When case management services began with the client, our case manager wasted no time in establishing goals for family, giving family resources, advocating for mother to make medical and dental appointments, and to find childcare in her area. The client was open to receive resources that were being offered to her and was so appeased to know that help was available to her and her children, she would often express her gratitude for our First 5 program to her case manager. While receiving case management services, client learned parenting skills that would allow her to be more patient with her children and become a first-time teacher to her children, client also became proactive in accessing services in her community by using 211. Client is continuing to receive case management services, and her children are thriving and reaching developmental milestones. The client has learned so much from her case manager and has also learned how to take better care of herself, practicing self-care so that she can be in a better head space for herself, children and family.

Southeast Neighborhood Partnership FRC is a program of Clinica Sierra Vista

West Side Outreach and Learning Center
A recent client was struggling to make ends meet while raising her 4-year-old child. She had been through some difficult times and was facing many challenges, including financial difficulties, lack of support, and difficulty finding a job as she was new to the Taft area. Our case manager listened to her story, understood her struggles, and identified the barriers that were preventing her from moving forward. With our guidance and support, she was able to overcome her financial difficulties by accessing community resources provided by our case manager, such as food banks (the NEEDS Center and Laborers of the Harvest), childcare subsidies through Community Connection for Childcare in Bakersfield, and affordable housing by moving to low-income apartments. Our case manager also helped the client develop new job skills, connecting her with job training programs and employment opportunities through the West Kern Adult Education Network and Career Services Center at the Department of Human Services. As the client became more stable, our case manager focused on helping her build a support network. Together, they worked on developing healthy coping strategies to manage stress and improve her overall well-being through homework assignments. Through her hard work and case manager’s support, the client was able to secure a stable job and provide a better life for her and her son. The case manager also helped the client navigate the complex healthcare system to ensure that her child received the medical care and support he needed. Despite the challenges she faced, the client was able to overcome adversity and build a better life for herself and her son.

West Side Outreach and Learning Center is a program of the West Side Recreation and Parks District