Amy Travis appointed as the new executive director for First 5 Kern

  • Incoming leader spent 10 years with CASA of Kern County – three as executive director

  • Officially assumes the new position on July 18

  • Roland Maier retiring after 8 years as executive director for First 5 Kern

First 5 Kern has announced today Amy Travis will assume leadership of the organization as the new executive director. Her tenure will begin formally on July 18, as she takes over for Roland Maier, who is retiring at the end of July.

Travis will transition from her current role as the executive director of CASA of Kern County. She began her career with CASA in May 2012, and has been instrumental in the organization’s restructuring and development, securing new funding streams, and increasing the number of children served yearly.

Under her leadership, CASA of Kern County became a vital partner in advocacy at the state level, was nominated as Non-Profit of the Year by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, and launched its CASA Clubhouse Visiting Center. Amy has extensive knowledge of non-profit operations as well as experience as a local business owner. In 2019, she was honored and selected by Bakersfield Magazine as a “20 Under 40 to Watch.”

She graduated from Fresno Pacific University, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership, studied at Loyola University Chicago, and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Strategic and Organizational Leadership at Fresno Pacific University. She serves on the Kern County Network for Children Board of Directors, addressing the most critical issues facing children in Kern County. Travis lives in Bakersfield with her husband and children. When not working, she enjoys volunteering with her church, reading a good book, and spending time with her family.

“I’m overjoyed and humbled by this opportunity to serve as First 5 Kern’s next Executive Director,” said Travis. “I look forward to furthering the incredible reputation this organization has built as a strong advocate for children and families. I have a passion and desire to serve vulnerable children who will one day be the future of our community.”

“On behalf of my fellow Commissioners, we could not be more thrilled in the selection of Amy for this critical position in our community,” said First 5 Kern Commission Chair John Nilon. “Amy embodies all the qualities that we wanted, including executive leadership, community presence, and experience in the delivery of services to our most vulnerable children. The expectations for First 5 Kern are at their highest, and we have every belief that Amy will exceed those expectations.”

“We would also like to thank Roland for his service and wish him the best in retirement,” added Nilon. “As a long-time commissioner and executive director, Roland has dedicated a large portion of his professional and personal life in the furtherance of First 5 Kern. Our children are much better off thanks to his leadership.”

Roland Maier announced his pending retirement in April, which kicked off a search for new leadership. He was appointed executive director in 2014, and also served as a commissioner from 2002 to 2013, including a three-year stint as commission chair.

First 5 Kern awarded planning grant from ACEs Aware initiative

First 5 Kern has been awarded a six-month grant for nearly $300,000 from the California Department of Health Care Services, in partnership with the office of the California Surgeon General, as a part of the ACEs Aware initiative.

ACEs Aware grant FAST FACTS

  • Outreach to providers, education on the benefits and potential outcomes of incorporating ACEs screenings into area practices
  • Will target Medi-Cal providers and local Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Will utilize the Kern Connected Community Network to link people to services
  • The grant is valued at $293,656 and will run through July 2021

The grant will fund the creation of a countywide Network of Care that will train and support local medical providers to screen for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and, where needed, connect with local community partners to meet the non-medical needs of families under stress from poverty, food insecurity, lack of transportation, social and cultural isolation, and racism.

Research shows the link of a high ACE score to significant health risks, such as severe asthma, Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.

First 5 Kern will execute the grant through its Resilient Kern program, which is a collaborative effort to help enhance the resiliency of residents throughout the county by providing trauma-informed care.

Resilient Kern will work with its community partners to evaluate how we jointly manage toxic stress in Kern County and work directly with medical providers to increase health screenings for Adverse Childhood Experiences for our community.

Specifically, this effort will engage with Medi-Cal providers and our local Federally Qualified Health Centers, who see the majority of Medi-Cal patients in Kern County.

“This grant represents an important next step in our work to create a more trauma-informed Kern County,” said First 5 Kern Executive Director Roland Maier. “By increasing the number of screenings for ACEs in our county, we can shine a light on the needs that exist, both in services and support. The commitment to this by our partners who serve our most vulnerable communities will go a long way to provide more equitable outcomes for our children and families.” 

The work included in First 5 Kern’s grant will run through June, 2021, and include outreach to providers, as well as education on the benefits and potential outcomes of incorporating ACEs screenings into area practices.

In total, more than $30 million was awarded through this round of grants to 35 organizations throughout California to strengthen and build robust care networks. This was the only such grant awarded to Kern County in the initiative.

Resilient Kern has trained hundreds of local members of the health and human services community over the last three years, and the website serves as a hub for information and recorded local webinars pertaining to trauma-informed care.

The Kern Connected Community Network

An important part of the ACEs Aware planning grant centers around connecting patients to the services they need throughout the county through the Kern Connected Community Network (KCCN).

The KCCN has brought together and trained over 50 local agencies and organizations to help provide a smooth transition for patients to community resources.

When combined with the trained medical providers through the ACEs Aware grant, KCCN will be able to provide efficient linkages between hospitals, clinics, and local community organizations throughout Kern County that provide services vital to underserved populations.

The ACEs Aware initiative

ACEs Aware is an initiative led by the Office of the California Surgeon General and the Department of Health Care Services to give Medi-Cal providers training, clinical protocols, and payment for screening children and adults for ACEs.

In January 2019, Governor Newsom appointed Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a national leader in pediatric medicine, research scientist, and a national voice elevating the issues around ACEs and toxic stress, as California’s first-ever Surgeon General.

Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, in partnership with Gov. Newsom, the state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), and health and community leaders, is leading system reform that recognizes, and responds to, the effects that ACEs have on our biological systems and addresses the lifelong impacts of ACEs.

Help Me Grow aims to increase developmental screenings for the children of Kern County

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Help Me Grow Kern County has officially launched.
A nationwide program, Help Me Grow has spread across the country as the data becomes clear regarding early identification and intervention: the earlier that developmental delays are identified, the easier it can be to address them and prepare children for entering school.
The American Association of Pediatricians recommends that children receive at least three screenings before they turn three years old.
Families can utilize Help Me Grow to complete a developmental screening for their child, between the ages of one month and six years. Parents can take the screenings at home, either online at, or by calling
2-1-1, where a developmental specialist can conduct the screenings over the phone.
Once a screening is completed, and if there are concerns, a service referral can be made by a Help Me Grow Care Coordinator.
Help Me Grow Kern County uses the Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) to chart a child’s developmental journey.
“Many delays are easier to address prior to children reaching school age, where the nature of instruction can leave children constantly trying to catch up to their peers,” said First 5 Kern Executive Director Roland Maier. “Help Me Grow can help identify areas of concern for our kids and connect families to local services in order to set them on the right path to healthy development.”
The ASQ-3 is an assessment of a child’s communication and motor skills, while the ASQ-SE2 is a social, emotional and behavioral screening. Each questionnaire takes approximately 10-20 minutes to complete, and parents are encouraged to perform both assessments. The questionnaires are specific to the age of your child, and some of the questions involve activities for them to complete, such as stacking blocks, using scissors or drawing.
The assessments are available in English and Spanish.
Help Me Grow Kern County was developed through a Mental Health Services Act grant provided by Kern Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, and is a partnership with 2-1-1 Kern County.
Visit to read more about the assessments or to conduct an online screening with your children. There is further information about the program and a Q&A section for parents, as well.
About First 5 Kern
First 5 Kern was established in 1998 when California voters passed Proposition 10, which levied a 50-cent tax on tobacco products. Revenues generated from the tobacco tax are used to fund local programs in the areas of health and wellness, early childcare and education, and parent education and support services that promote early childhood development for children ages zero to five.
For more information on First 5 Kern and its work, please log onto its website at or follow @First5Kern on social media sites.

Kaiser Permanente announces 2019 grant for Trauma-Informed Kern County Training

Kaiser Permanente announced they have awarded a grant to the Medically Vulnerable Care Coordination Project (MVCCP). The grant will provide for a second straight year of funding for the Trauma-Informed Kern County training initiative.

What is Trauma-Informed Kern County?

The effects of long lasting trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on children and adults has been documented in research for over 20 years. Since 2016, the Bakersfield Californian has highlighted the drastic impact of Toxic Stress on many in Kern County, and increased awareness of its long-term effects on our community. Toxic Stress has been found to substantially shorten people’s lives and has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, cancer and asthma, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide. Many of these conditions and experiences are linked to early childhood trauma that can occur across generations and seriously impact and impair families and communities, not just in Kern but across our nation.

The goal of the training cohort is to to bring all our diverse communities together from around Kern in a county-wide, system-wide training and collaboration that can make a greater, long-term impact on the lives of individuals, families and our many communities.

Over time, becoming a Trauma-Informed Kern County will lead to improvements in our approaches to people, leading to changes in policies, procedures and even physical structures that will be more welcoming and effective as we jointly work to improve health, education, employment opportunities and community well-being in Kern County.

The second session of the training takes place on May 15. For members of the media interested in attending, please reach out to First 5 Kern Communications & Media Specialist, Kevin Bartl.