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
Mom came into the BIH program during her postpartum phase. Mom had just moved to California from out of state just after having recently lost her mother. She had a small support system that was made up of her sister and her 12 year old daughter and she was experiencing some incredibly heavy emotions.

After 1 month in one-on-one case management, mom expressed that her attitude and outlook on life had become more positive and that she was in a better mental state. While in BIH, mom’s Family Health Advocate (FHA) has been able to advocate for and connect her with WIC services to cover formula costs that she was previously paying for out of pocket. Mom’s FHA and the BIH team have been also able to connect with community resources to supply her with additional diapers, wipes, formula, and a lovely food basket for the holidays to ensure that she and her family felt cared for. Mom has expressed to BIH’s mental health professional that her FHA has been a “great advocate and support during (her) times of depression and anxiety, as well as providing resources (for her and her family) in times of need.”

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

Blanton Child Development Center
Recently, a young parent came to the center for assistance as the mother of a 2-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. She is currently working for a janitorial service company and is attending medical assistant classes at the Bakersfield Adult School-ROC program. Her goal is to complete her courses and start working in a medical office. This parent tells me she had been part of this program years ago when she enrolled her first child. So, when she had her second child she knew if she called the Blanton CDC, we could help her. This mom stated that she had been struggling for some time, after losing her home and job due to the COVID-19 outbreak, to now having a stable job, living on her own with her kids and going to school to achieve her goals. All of this is due to now having a stable daycare provider. She states that she is very grateful for the Blanton CDC and that the program has been very beneficial to her and her children. Blanton CDC staff can’t wait to see this mother graduate and achieve all her goals.

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

Caring Corner (Special Start for Exceptional Children) 
Lily* is a 3-year-old female toddler with a history of Reactive Airway Disease, Pre-term at 23 weeks gestation, developmental Delay, Chronic Lung Disease, Seasonal Allergies, Retinopathy, and Eczema. She is dependent for activities of daily living and struggles to communicate. Staff and family are attempting to teach the child ASL for age appropriate, commonly-used words. She can eat a regular diet, however, all foods must be cut into small bite-sized pieces. She has recently began attempting to use eating utensils. Lily is mobile but mostly walks on her tiptoes. Additionally, she requires access to adaptive seating or equipment to maintain health and safety while eating, participating in activities, or therapy/treatment directed by staff. She attends preschool at Caring Corner and is currently enrolled in our toddler program, attending preschool. After starting our program, Lily has shown tremendous developmental progress. She is beginning to establish meaningful peer interactions, babbles along during music activities, and is developing expressive language with words such as (ball, toy, colors, and mom). We are looking forward to seeing her continue to thrive in our program and reach her educational goals in the classroom.

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 brand-new mom drove nearly two hours, from Ridgecrest to Bakersfield, so that her two-month-old daughter could be immunized. She sought services at the Children’s Mobile Immunization Program clinic site at a Bakersfield Walmart. The mother shared, “This was my first time coming to one of the mobile clinics. I was referred by the Health Department and decided to go because my daughter couldn’t get into her primary care physician for her two-month-old shots, and they kept pushing back my appointments. My experience at the mobile clinic was very nice and exceeded my expectations,” she shared. “The decorations both outside and inside the mobile unit were my favorite part of the visit because they were kid friendly. I loved that.” She gave a 10 out of 10 score for their experience. “It was worth the drive to have my daughter get her shots. I want everyone to know. Thank you all so much.”

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

Differential Response Services
Differential Response (DR) recently received word of the unexpected death of a client, who left behind three children, including a four-year old. After receiving news, staff reached out to the only living sibling of the former client. Once contacted, he told the DR Case Manager (CM) that he would be caring for the children now. The CM offered DR assistance to the brother so he could obtain guardianship and other supportive services for the children. The brother immediately accepted services. The CM was able to help the brother/new caretaker and children in the following ways: funds for burial services were provided by the Salt program; the brother was linked to GBLA for help obtaining guardianship of the children; the children were truant with distance learning so the brother was taught how to log into distant learning; the Lice Clinic of America in Bakersfield agreed to treat the children’s head lice; and, the family was given car seats, cleaning supplies, food baskets and hygiene kits throughout the time of case management. The brother successfully obtained legal guardianship of the children and the family was stable and able to meet their own needs when DR services concluded.

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

Discovery Depot Child Care
Parent success story Infant/Toddler: During these challenging times we are happy to know that one of the parents in our infant toddler class has gained employment and moved out of the shelter. She is now motivated and ready to create a better environment for her family. She demonstrates interest in her child’s growth and constantly asks questions and participates in any activities involving her child. Even during the distance learning period for her older children, she made sure to keep them on task and help them with their academic life. We have provided her with resources to assist her in any way possible and are excited to see her future achievements.

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

Domestic Violence Reduction Project
A client recently contacted our office alleging she was the victim of domestic violence from her boyfriend. The parties had two children in common, both under 5 years old. She described incidents, most of which occurred in the presence of their children, of being choked, slapped, bit and in which he held a knife to himself and threatened to kill himself in front of her and their children. She desperately wanted to remove her children out of this abusive and violent household. We filed the appropriate paperwork for a protective order and custody orders. The court issued an immediate temporary restraining order and custody orders, set a court date, and provided us with the paperwork to serve the other party. Through several delays in the court system for other legal matters, the court granted a permanent protective order and sole custody of the minors to our client. Client was very happy with the results of the case and her and her children are no longer in a household plagued with domestic violence.
*Note: Select details in this case have been altered to maintain confidentiality.

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

Family Caregiver Project
With regard to the issue of brain development and its stages, we recently had the experience of a mother who recognized certain signals and changes that her children are developing in the cognitive area. She realized that her son was probably in need of some professional support. After being informed through this class about the changes that children present through their development, Mom concluded that her son was delayed in communication and language, and quickly made the decision to go to the pediatrician and explain the situation of her child. The doctor was able to address some issues and the parent realized that having shame about a situation, or otherwise delaying asking for help can have a great affect on your child’s development in the future, and that the important thing is to take the children as soon as there is a concern.

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

Guardianship Caregiver Project
The Guardianship Caregiver Project recently served a grandmother of a six-week-old infant. Child Protective Services (CPS) placed the infant with the grandmother and instructed her to apply for a guardianship to keep the infant out of danger and out of the dependency system. One of the baby’s parents, who was a victim of terrible abuse growing up, was extremely violent to the other parent, who refused to report any of the serious crimes the first parent was committing. CPS and the grandmother both believed the child would be unsafe in the household. We filed a guardianship on grandmother’s behalf, and it was found to be “necessary and convenient” by the Probate Judge. The guardianship was granted. After the guardianship case closed, the grandmother sent us a beautiful message: “Thank you so much for your help. I am forever grateful to you. My grandchild is safe thanks to you. May God Bless You!”

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

Health Literacy Program
One family that has two children enrolled in the program gave positive feedback throughout the school year about the quality of the services offered. She has mentioned numerous times that the pandemic has been so stressful for their family, and she is glad that they are able to attend again. Even though we have not been able to have the Health Literacy Workshops in person the parent stated, “We love the projects that are given each month. The children cannot wait to get home to do them. They especially loved the transportation activity. One of them got a car and the other got an airplane, and they were excited that they both had different activities to complete.”

During the parent-teacher conferences the parent mentioned that the children love coming to school each day and she can see the quality of care they are receiving, the difference it is making with their behavior, and all the new things they are learning and talking about at home. She stated, “The center is an amazing program for both of my boys and I highly recommend to the community.” It has been a challenging year and the services we normally offer had to be modified continually due to the pandemic. To hear this great feedback assures us that we have continued to offer quality care and education to both our parents and children even though it may have looked differently this year. We have learned a great deal as a team and have been able to reflect and pivot our practices to continue serving our families.

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

Help Me Grow Kern County
A Help Me Grow Development Specialist (HMGDS) reached out to mom to complete a scheduled follow-up developmental screening. Mom was walked through the process of completing both ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2 over the phone. While completing the screening mom shared her concerns about a delay in speech. After the screening was completed, the HMGDS shared results with mom. For the ASQ-3 the child scored close to the cutoff with some parent concerns about her child’s speech. The HMGDS asked mom if she would like a referral to be submitted to the Ascension Center. Mom expressed she would, and a referral was made.

Help Me Grow Kern County is a program of Community Action Partnership of Kern in partnership with First 5 Kern

One of our family childcare providers has had exceptional growth in the area of higher education. When this provider began participating with IMPACT six years ago she did not feel higher education was something she needed to improve quality with her program. She felt as though her lengthy experience in family childcare was enough. In that first year of her participation, her coach encouraged her to attend a Bakersfield College 3-unit course on Infant /Toddler Development that IMPACT funding was used to provide. This class was held at the Larry E. Reider Education Center, where providers could get the experience of attending a college class without being intimidated by the campus or a formal classroom setting. We believe the decision to take that class propelled her on a higher education journey. In 2022, we have received an email from her stating that she will be completing her Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education next year and that her professors have asked her to go on and get her Master’s Degree because they would like for her to become an adjunct faculty at their university. She is still participating with Kern Early Stars and is interested in serving on the Early Childhood Council of Kern. We believe this to be an overwhelming success story for our program and recognize the value of higher education for family child care providers.

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
Julie* and Joe* were parents of five children. As they started to grow up, it was noted that their two oldest children had Autism and the behaviors were hard for Julie and Joe to handle. After the fifth child, Julie and Joe couldn’t maintain a home on their own, so Julie moved in with her mother. The home wasn’t an appropriate environment for the children; it was unsafe. Ultimately the five children were placed into protective custody due to the parent’s developmental delays and their inability to properly care for their children’s intensifying behaviors and provide adequate supervision. The parents needed support with parenting and discipline, budgeting, and getting their home in safety compliance. This family truly needed a team or, as some would say, a village. CASA became part of this family’s village; along with the New Opportunities program through the Kern Regional Center supported living services, Henrietta Weill Child Guidance Clinic, Clinic Sierra Vista, and Aspiranet, Wraparound services, and Differential Response. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) first became involved under Family Maintenance and began spending time with the three older children, while the younger three were in foster care. The CASA worked with them for 7 months while the parents worked on what they needed to maintain a safe home for their children and have the younger children returned to their care. The CASA spent time with the older children, three boys all under 10, and noticed that the children spent a lot of time indoors on handheld devices or getting into mischief around the house and rarely listened to their parent’s instructions. The CASA began taking the children to the park, played card games with them, brought musical instruments to play and science projects to do together, and even enjoyed a movie night at the CASA Clubhouse. During these months, the CASA noticed that the boys began to listen more, their behavior improved, they began sharing and being respectful to one another. In the summer of 2021, the parents were able to move into a safer home, learn some parenting, discipline, and organization skills and had their three younger children – all under 6 years old – returned to their home. The CASA stayed with the family for a second round to assist them with the transition of the younger children. The CASA observed that the older children helped the younger ones and were becoming better listeners when their parents beckoned. The CASA saw the family grow in love and the children were happy to be all back together.

*Names changed for confidentiality

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

Kern County Children’s Dental Health Network
A child from the McFarland community received a dental screening/fluoride varnish application from the KCCDHN program. During this screening, the child was identified with visual caries. The parent accepted and scheduled an appointment with our local, contracted pediatric dentist. When dental office staff from Dr. Purdy’s office contacted Mom to confirm the child’s appointment, they were made aware that the parent was deaf and would need an interpreter. The office manager contacted KCCDHN staff and together they were able to ensure and coordinate, so that the parent would always (when needed) have an interpreter present when the child attended a dental appointment.

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 son and I loved the Parent/child swim class. He had so much fun getting acquainted with the water and pool safety! The KVAP staff is wonderful, and we are thankful to have this service in our small community.”

“My son has taken swim lessons with Kern Valley Aquatics Program every summer since he was two years old. All the teachers he has worked with have been caring, patient, and effective instructors. I am happy to say that my son is now a confident swimmer and will be taking lessons again this summer to keep developing his skills and knowledge. My toddler took her first lessons this past summer and had a great time as well. I give all the credit to the fun, organized, and positive atmosphere that Danica and the other instructors create each summer. I’m so happy we have this program available to our kids. I would highly recommend it to every family.”

“I have been bringing my kids to KVAP for over five years now with my daughter starting in the parent-child classes, and now my son. We are so thankful to have this program in our community! The staff is all wonderful and make the swim lessons fun and engaging. We love it and will be back for more next summer!”

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

Make a Splash
Comments from swim lesson evaluations:
“This opportunity had a great impact. My Child really made great progress. Not sure I could afford it if I didn’t get the grant. Thank you!”

“With the covid-19 pandemic my husband lost his job therefore we had no additional money to waste, so having to only pay $5 was so helpful.”

“Really appreciate this program for allowing kids to participate at an affordable cost. All 3 of my kids enjoyed it.”

Make A Splash is a program of the City of Bakersfield

Medically Vulnerable Care Coordination Project of Kern County
A recent client had specialty appointments scheduled at Valley Children’s Health, though the parent was not aware of dates or times. So we assisted them in securing that information to prevent missed appointments for the child. Additionally, we found out the parent was co-sleeping with baby, even though she had already received Safe Sleep Education. But the mother was unable to purchase Pack-N-Play/bed for baby. We were able to provide re-education on Safe Sleep best practices, and arranged for a Pack-N-Play for the baby. The client was grateful and thankful that our MVCCP Care Coordinator could help them with appointments and equipment for her child’s safety, and expressed tremendous gratitude on behalf of the child and for our kindness.

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

Medically Vulnerable Infant Program
Pre-term patient, 32 GA @ 4 months birth age; mother has history of Morquio’s Syndrome and is unable to provide primary care for the patient; she has lost her physical independence since her cesarean section. Maternal aunt is in the process of becoming legal guardian and providing sole care to the infant, the mother, and her own three children; she has since had to stop working and multiple social needs were identified. Our nurse discussed and provided instruction for applying for CalFresh, CalWORKs, and other services, and also made referrals to CAPK, United Farm Workers, Salvation Army, Bethany Services, and Proteus INC for assistance with food, rent, utilities, and other needs. The family collaborated with community partners to obtain financial assistance and is no longer struggling with late bills; the maternal aunt has become a paid caregiver for the infant’s mother through in-home support services. The client mentioned, “I’m glad I have a nurse helping to guide me so I can get all the services my child needs.”

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

Neighborhood Place Community Learning Center
One recent student started our program at 23 months old through Little Learners. This was her first time attending any kind of children’s program. She is an ESL student and was not speaking when she began the program. She had issues entering the classroom for weeks after starting. The main concern included separation anxiety that led her to cry the entire class time. She was non-verbal and refused to play or interact in any play time or craft. She would not sit for any length of time for carpet time or at dismissal. She would continuously run for the door and scream. She has now been in our program for eight months. After conferencing with her mom for support working together, she has shown growth in all areas. She now starts her day happy and participates in all crafts and carpet time. She is attempting to express herself verbally, but it is still a work in progress. She is trying to say her colors and numbers, and also now singing our songs. Goals we have in place for her moving forward are for her to interact more with her peers and teachers, and to continue to progress in her language.

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

Nurse Family Partnership Program
One recent client is a 15-year-old first time mom of a 2-month-old baby girl. During her pregnancy, mother expressed her interest in breastfeeding, and once our nurse provided education on breastfeeding during visits, she made it her goal to breastfeed her baby for as long as possible. We arranged for a lactation consultant and mom was adamant about achieving her goal of breastfeeding even though she was an exhausted new mom at 15. During the immediate postpartum period, the nurse would provide encouragement to her to continue breastfeeding. Parent expressed how important breastfeeding was to her as she knew it was the best option for her child and would result in the best outcomes. The nurse also supported her in learning pumping techniques so that her child could still receive her breast milk during times when perhaps she would not be able to breastfeed directly. The mother reported feeling proud of herself as she saw her child grow and gain weight each week at the nurse home visits and expressed gratitude of the knowledge given by the public health nurse through this program.

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

Richardson Special Needs Collaborative
A teacher from a local school district recently referred a 3-year old to us, due to parental concerns about behavior and development. A Family Advocate (FA) here explained the service the Richardson Special Needs Collaborative offers to families. The parent shared concerns about her child’s needs at home and expressed that child has been sent home from school due to his aggressive behavior. The parent asked for support on seeking services to help her child with the behavior she is presenting as well as her developmental level. A series of SMART Goals were established, starting with requesting a behavioral plan through the school district, and we helped coordinate that meeting and set a course of action based on the recommendations. Follow up goals included contacting the Kern Regional Center and applying for SSI benefits for the child, which we were able to assist with.

The parent shared that after a couple of months of the appointments, the child was eligible for benefits, and that she continues to work on meeting her child’s needs. Additionally, the FA assisted the family with basic needs by referring them for food baskets. The parent was glad that her child will be able to stay in school and will receive the tools to learn positive behavior with the services that were offered and appreciated the support and guidance provided by the Richardson Special Needs Collaborative.

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

Small Steps Child Development Center
One of our parents in the preschool room started receiving childcare services for her now five-year-old child, here at Small Steps. Since then, she was able to complete her training at UEI College and gain a full-time position within her field as a pharmacist technician, as well as secure an apartment where she and her child currently reside. Without full-time care she would not have been able to achieve her goal of completing her program, which has allowed her with a means of providing a home for her and her child and a way or supporting them.

Another great story involves a parent that enrolled her two sons in our program several years ago. We have not only watched the boys grow and thrive, but we have also seen mom reach her professional goals. Knowing her boys would learn and be cared for, mom was able to obtain her business license, find a location, and open her very own business. Daily, mom would drop off the boys and head out to make her dream come true and when she returned to pick up, she would share with us how she was painting and working to get her office ready for opening day. Within a few months, she did just that. She now has her own business where she can set her own hours and be there for her children.

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
Recently we had the opportunity to work extra hard for one little boy who had trouble with transitions – such as when recess was ending, lining up, rotating groups and moving along to new activities. He would always run off and play with toys, or just run around the classroom and have the teachers chase him. It was a challenge to get him to participate with the rest of the kids. Program staff worked out steps to help this child, such as proving a 5-minute warning before each activity transition was to happen. We have also implemented a visual schedule as well, posting it on our wall and showing that child the pictures of what we would be doing each day. We also set a timer that was in a spot where he could get up and look at it to see how long he had left for each activity. Program teachers made sure the child was able to ask questions, and visually see the schedule and what part of the day we were at. After a few months of being persistent, and all the teachers working together as a team, we successfully helped this boy build the skills needed to successfully transition into each activity. He often will walk over to our visual schedule and tell us what we are doing next. This little boy not only learned how to transition from one activity to another, but he also built a strong sense of self because not only was he proud of himself, and his teachers encouraged and complimented him every step of the way.

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

Wind in the Willows Preschool
We currently are providing services to a child whose parents expressed a high level of concerns when enrolling him. Mom and Dad were concerned that this child falls on the Autism spectrum and they worried that this child “may not be able to function in a classroom setting”. We are very pleased to report that this child is doing absolutely fantastic at school. He follows the classroom routine very well and has many friends here. This child has developed his oral language skills and social skills at an amazing rate since enrolling. We are working with him on controlling his emotional frustrations in a productive way as well. We have also worked with Social Security and with the school psychologist from the Muroc Unified School District on assessing him and ensuring that he will be set up and ready for Kindergarten.

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

Women’s Shelter Network
We all hope that there is a happy ending for all cases and clients, but sometimes that is not the case. Some come back numerous times. On average, it takes 7 attempts for a victim to permanently leave their abuser. We had a mom and daughter who stayed at the shelter last year. The little girl was young and wasn’t walking yet. They left after a couple of months to live with family out of town, fleeing once again because her abuser found where she was. This client reached out to us and returned to the shelter when her abuser was soon to be released from jail. Our childcare coordinator was able to spend some time with the little girl who has witnessed violence and was extremely attached to Mom, having separation anxiety. Showing kindness and compassion the little girl began to have trust in staff. Mom included herself in some family group activities and field trips to help the little girl with more exposure to people. By the end of their stay the little girl would spend time in the childcare room without mom. She played with the other children and started to show her independence. Mom obtained housing in another county and was able to establish a permanent home for her and her daughter to have a new start. We were able to give mom resources and referrals, partnering with the Department of Human Services, Head Start, Family Resource Centers, a local Domestic Violent Shelter, and counseling resources. Mom was given a plan for safety in case there was a need. We always hope for the best, but not every case works out that way. Thank goodness for programs like this that gave that little girl a chance for a peaceful non-violent living environment.

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
The family includes grandmother who is 59 years of age and her grandchildren ages 14, 6, 5 and 3. While the grandmother was pursuing legal custody of her grandchildren, the household was experiencing familial strife, food insecurity and housing instability. The children’s school site identified them as potentially needing social services and referred them to the FRC. On her first visit, the family was able to leave the FRC with food, clothing items, school uniforms, new shoes, school supplies, hygiene kits and some toys for the little ones. The family is currently assigned a case manager and is receiving additional support with Medi-Cal insurance, a housing voucher for Section 8 and Cal Fresh benefits. The family enjoys visiting the FRC and the grandmother likes to check in even if it’s just to provide the staff an update to say hello or bring the children by. To see the children smiling and be playful is such a heartfelt moment for all the FRC staff!

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

Buttonwillow Community Resource Center
We recently had a young, single, pregnant mother new to the area, who was referred to us from a community member. We opened case management services, and linked her to our California Enrollment Counselor (CEC) in our office where we assisted her in applying for health care insurance. She will be attending our Nurturing Parenting classes that will start next quarter, and we gave her a list of doctors to consult regarding prenatal care. We also gave her the First 5 Kit for New Parents, diapers, baby wipes, clothing for herself and for the upcoming baby, as well as other items like a swing, a baby bouncer, a baby bathtub, educational learning baby toys and books for her to read to her a newborn child. Also, we gave them emergency food, disinfectant wipes, masks, sanitizers, a diaper bag and other baby necessities. The mother had the baby now and is using all the items that she received from our resource center and she has showed so much gratitude with the assistance that we were able to provide for her in this new life experience, and even mentioned interest in volunteering for upcoming events that we may have.

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

Delano School Readiness
A client was recently referred to Delano Community Connections by a school site where two of her children under 5 attend. She is very grateful that the Delano FRC has been able to assist her in any way possible to make ends meet. She is a single parent who works very hard to provide for her children, and we have been able to help with items including food baskets, diapers, baby wipes, hygiene products, utility assistance, Toys for Tots, and rental assistance and even a mattress that was donated by a community member. We had school employees who wanted to adopt a family who were struggling to make ends meet. They were able to buy the children clothes and toys that mom was unable to afford during the holidays. The children were surprised with plenty of clothes and toys and mom was also surprised with a new purse and clothes. The client was thankful for all the gifts, and she said there were no words she could express when she saw the happy smiles on her children’s faces.

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

East Kern Family Resource Center
A new client recently signed up for the First 5 home-based program in 2021. Their child is a very sweet, bright, and smart 3 year old that resides with her parents in a one bedroom apartment in California City. Her first language is Spanish and and she is always smiling and full of sunshine. The child had never attended a preschool before signing up for the home-based program. The child was very eager to learn and fully engaged when the case manager (CM) did home visits. The client was presented with learning activities by the CM which consisted of number recognition, color recognition, letter recognition, tracing name activity sheet, counting games, coloring sheets and crafts. Mom mentioned to the CM that her daughter enjoys all the activities we leave at the home for her and wants mom to “play school” every morning. Client has grown in all areas; her communication skills have doubled in the English language, and her fine and gross motor-skills have shown a huge improvement. This client continues to blossom and loves to learn.

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

Greenfield School Readiness
One of our family advocates (FA) was working with a mother who was struggling due to her partner (and the child’s father) being hospitalized. The mother stated that she would have to pull her student from our program. The FA had a long conversation with mother, about the importance of school readiness and how her child’s Ages & Stages Questionnaire screening indicated that they needed support. Mother had two goals for the child: 1) to attend preschool, and 2) for the student to be evaluated for speech. Both goals were achieved quickly. This has been a great accomplishment because the child is no longer accompanying the mother for every one of the father’s doctor appointments, but attending learning sessions during the day. The child will be reevaluated for his speech next year and the speech therapist believes that child needs to be around other children his age in order to further his growth and preparedness for TK/K services. Mom expressed how grateful she is to our program and how the FA helped her realize that her child’s education should not be put on hold.

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

Kern River Valley Family Resource Center
Recently, a couple was referred to us from Differential Response for the placement of their one-year old grandchild. The grandparents had the child placed in the home from Child Protective Services (CPS), after being born two months premature with a positive toxicology screening. The child was abandoned at the hospital by both bio-parents, who hadn’t done any paperwork and did not apply for a birth certificate. A conference call to the case manager at the hospital directed clients to a Department of Human Services, Kern County Department of Public Health, and the the Hall of Records. Along with a search for the bio-mother, contact was made with the school nurse and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to address the child’s health, nutrition and formula issues. Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance (GBLA) was contacted for custody and we connected them to the Bakersfield Pregnancy Resource Center for resources. WIC shared that clients were somewhat overwhelmed at first with what to do getting several important things done. At first it was very challenging as the grandparents were met with many roadblocks, but after addressing medical and nutritional needs, the child’s health picked up. We continued to assist the family with appropriate records requests and meetings with GBLA, and performed developmental screenings. The child is now on target with appropriate milestones and is on his way to being a great success story for a child that was abandoned.

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

Lamont/Vineland School Readiness Program
During this year we’ve had a number of really touching success stories made possible by First 5 funding. One of our case managed families has made incredible progress throughout this program year. They began receiving case management services because the father succumbed to COVID, leaving the pregnant mother and her children behind and without resources. After working with them for months, the family is now reaching stability. They’ve been able to access the many resources that are available to support them so that their basic needs are met. And the mother was finally willing to get them the mental health support that they needed. We are continuing to support the family for now but expect them to be exiting case management services soon as they are back on their feet and able to obtain the support that they need independently.

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

Lost Hills Family Resource Center
Recently, one former client of ours moved back to the area after losing her job during COVID. She moved in with her parents and reached out to us requested services. The client opened up about the struggles she had when she moved out of Lost Hills. The place where she was staying had no warm water, a lot of crime in the neighborhood, and lack of home hygiene from the room mates the combination of all this made her return back with her parents. We were sad to hear her story but excited to see she was back and we will help this parent with our services. The parent was requesting center-based child care in particular since she was going to start working. This was an issue since our center based was full to its max. Due to COVID-19 and CDC regulations we could only have 13 children attend in-person versus the normal 24. We offered our home-based services and the option of distance learning via Facebook option, yet mother was in great need of center-based because it will allowed her to work. We spoke with the Coordinator of the Migrant Department referring this parent to their services. One week later the child started center-based services with the migrant department. We were able to offer our case management services to this parent and we are currently focusing on a plan to support this family.

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

McFarland Family Resource Center
We were recently referred a student from the District Support Services to be enrolled into our School Readiness Program. This child is autistic and was struggling with social skills and his mother was worried that when he entered kindergarten he would not fit in, and he would be made fun of by the other students. This child has excelled in our program he has learned to follow the class rules, colors, numbers, shapes and ABC’s but most importantly he gets along with all the other children. His mother is very happy with the progress he has made since attending our program.

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

Mountain Communities Family Resource Center
Julia* came to our office in turmoil after having recently divorced. She had lost her job due to an injury and was struggling, with little child support for her two kids. Our Family Advocate connected her to some foundational resources as she established her own household including CalFresh, Medi-Cal, Housing Authority, and utility assistance. As she waited for DHS and Housing Authority assistance, we provided a food box, Market Gift Voucher, and one month of rental assistance to help her get by. She soon signed up for our Family Success Coaching program as she worked through her financial difficulties and court issues. She set a goal for herself and her children that would focus on meal planning and cooking at home both to stick within a budget and eat healthier food. Her Family Advocate created a binder with recipes they found together, and assisted in budgeting and meal planning.

Her Advocate also informed her about In-Home Supportive Services and the part-time, flexible job opportunity that it could provide. She started the application process and completed the orientations for IHSS as well as finding another part-time job opportunity. She now has stable work that can provide for her and her children’s basic needs. While the challenges continue with her custody proceedings, our Advocate sits with her through her tears, checks in on her Housing Authority application status, and reminds her that her motivation and love for her kids shines through. Julia recently told her Advocate, “You have no idea how much your words mean to me. It brings me confidence.”

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

Oasis Family Resource Center
The Oasis FRC has been assisting a Spanish-speaking client who recently immigrated from South America. She is a single pregnant mom with a three-year-old child who doesn’t speak English and has been a victim of domestic violence. She is living with her brother and mother in a small apartment. Mom was referred to us from WIC, when she first came to our office, we helped her with basic emergency needs such as providing food, diapers, and baby items. With all the support from our office assistant who is bilingual, we were able to start case management services with home visits for Mom and home activities for her 3-year-old child.

Mom has very limited resources. We referred her to the Ridgecrest Pregnancy Center, the Salvation Army, and United Methodist Women group, which donated and delivered mom a bed as well as other furniture and household supplies. We then started home activities for the 3-year-old child who completed his first ASQ. We have been providing educational toys to help provide home activities for her child. Through donations for the community this child also received toys for Christmas. Although Mom doesn’t drive, we have been helping her becoming more autonomous by providing her with bus passes. Mom now takes her child to the local library for children activities riding the bus. We are hoping to help her child enroll in the Head Start program in the fall so he can attend pre-school. We are also looking forward to providing case management services for the upcoming baby and continue to help Mom become more independent.

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

Shafter Healthy Start
A recent child was initially enrolled in the school readiness initiative (SRI) Fall session and successfully completed the program. He returned for the Spring session and is successfully participating, with an active IEP for Speech and Comprehension. Aside from participating in the SRI program the child receives speech services twice a week and receives one hour of learning services at the local school district. Since he started the SRI program, he has demonstrated improvement in his social skills, speech, and comprehension. During the child’s last IEP meeting, it was shared that the child has demonstrated improvement in his fine motor skills such as appropriately holding a pencil and cutting, and the child’s speech has also improved. He is a lot more vocal and often likes to share stories. He is able to establish social relationships with his peers and interacts well with others. SRI teachers have maintained close communication with the child’s mother and the school district’s special education support staff. Mom shared, “He has improved in his social skills especially with other children. He has also improved in his ABC, colors, and numbers since participating in SRI.”

Shafter Healthy Start is a program of Richland School District

Southeast Neighborhood Partnership Family Resource Center
A parenting participant that stands out this year is a single mom of six children. When she enrolled in our course, she was very upset that she was being forced to take a parenting class. She did not have the best attitude to say the least, at every opportunity she had during the class, she would express her discontentment with how her case had been handled by Child Protective Services. On multiple occasions she would argue with me about the different concepts being taught. As we began to dive deeper into the session, I knew that I had to go above and beyond as far as thoroughly explaining the lesson. I gave her examples as well as personal testimonies to validate my points. I began to see a shift in her attitude at about the halfway point. She was not only participating more but she was now agreeing with me and sharing how she was using the methods being taught. At the end of the course, she had made friends with the other single mothers and began to share some of her resources with others in class. It was great to see the effort she put into making this experience a positive and successful one for all.

Southeast Neighborhood Partnership FRC is a program of Clinica Sierra Vista

West Side Outreach and Learning Center
Our Case Manager is currently working with a client who was struggling with her marriage and having issues working at a job with her ex-husband as her supervisor. Due to the stress, her child was acting out at home and at school. The Case Manager provided the client with resources for marriage counseling and gave her homework assignments to work on herself. She created a goal to take the steps to quit her job and become self-employed. She received a workbook on financial freedom and attended a class on entrepreneurship. She and her husband are communicating, and things seem to be going well. This has improved the behavior of her child and she is no longer getting calls from the school. She has also left her job and is now running her own business out of her home.

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