First 5 Kern
Annual Report to
the Community
FY 2020-2021

From the Executive Director

First 5 Kern is proud to present our Report to the Community for the 2020-21 fiscal year. This report provides a snapshot of the important work that our funded programs do, day in and day out, for the children and families that we serve in Kern County.

While the pandemic continued to play a huge role in the disruption of the lives of our children during the last fiscal year, we quickly learned how to pivot in order to ensure our families received the support they needed. Our programs adjusted quickly, and delivered services in creative ways – whether connecting remotely, providing PPE and diapers, or teaming up with other partners for drive-thru events.

This past year also saw the launch of a new project in ACEs Aware Kern County, which has great potential to shift how we provide and receive care throughout the county for years to come. This could truly be a legacy program, as we continue to build a coalition of local partners in this work.

Roland Maier, Executive Director

Help Me Grow Kern County also has the potential to be a legacy program for us. The ability to help children develop and provide parents with the tools to identify delays for their little ones before they reach a formal classroom can have a profound impact on their future education and their lives. Our partnerships in this work, starting with Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and 2-1-1 Kern County, are going to be important moving forward.

This is also a bittersweet time for me, as I prepare to step down as executive director this year and pass the torch to new leadership. My retirement will mark the end of nearly two decades for me in the First 5 world. In starting as a Commissioner, and eventually the Commission Chair and later Executive Director, I’ve been truly blessed to be a part of this outstanding organization and statewide network. I have had the honor of working with many commissioners, service providers and staff that care deeply, work tirelessly, and have been dedicated to the well-being of Kern County’s children. Finally, a thank you to all of the kids and families that we and our programs have served for allowing us to be a part of your lives.

Roland Maier,
Executive Director

Our Mission

To strengthen and support the children of Kern County prenatal to five and their families by empowering our providers through the integration of services with an emphasis on health and wellness, parent education, and early childcare and education.

Who was served by First 5 Kern programs in 2020-21?

kids 0-3


kids 0-3

total kids 0-5


total kids 0-5

kids 3-5


kids 3-5

kids 3-5


primary caregivers

child care providers


child care providers

Our investment

Funding for First 5 Kern programs comes predominantly from Proposition 10 dollars in the form of a tobacco tax. Other funds may include grants (ACEs Aware, Kern Behavioral Health & Recovery Services) or other funding support from First 5 California (such as IMPACT).

The distribution of those funds is given out to programs that were approved for our current five-year funding cycle running from July 1, 2020-June 30, 2025.

Each program is then assigned to one of three main Focus Areas that best describes their work, with all working collectively on integration (Focus Area 4).

The 4 Focus Areas that
guide First 5 Kern funding

Health & Wellness

Parent Education & Support Services

Early Childcare & Education

Integration of Services

Focus Area 1: Health & Wellness


Black Infant Health Program
Kern County Public Health Services Department

Children’s Mobile Immunization Program
Adventist Health Bakersfield

Infant and Toddler Program
CASA of Kern County

Kern County Children’s Dental Health Network
Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Kern Valley Aquatics Program
South Fork Union School District

Make A Splash
City of Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department

Medically Vulnerable Care Coordination Project of Kern County
Kern County Public Health Services Department

Medically Vulnerable Infant Program
Clinica Sierra Vista

Nurse-Family Partnership Program
Kern County Public Health Services Department

Richardson Special Needs Collaborative
Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Special Start for Exceptional Children
Caring Corner

<<< The Kern County Children's Dental Health Network hosted drive-thru events in 2020-21 in response to decreased access to child care centers and schools during the pandemic.

FOCUS AREA 1: Health & Wellness
(Improved Child Health


across 11 programs

Eleven programs received funding in FY 2020-21 that met the health needs of children and families in Kern County.


children served, ages 0 to 5

Oral health, immunizations, early intervention, and home visiting programs are a few examples of services provided.

11 programs

serving children and families

Hospitals, school districts, non-profits, and county agencies were all among the grantees operating a program that received funding.

Focus Area 2: Parent Eduction & Support Services


2-1-1 Kern County
Community Action Partnership of Kern

Arvin Family Resource Center
Arvin Union School District

Buttonwillow Community Resource Center
Buttonwillow Union School District

Differential Response
Kern County Network for Children

Domestic Violence Reduction Project
Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc.

East Kern Family Resource Center
Community Action Partnership of Kern

Family Caregivers Project
Vision y Compromiso

Greenfield School Readiness Program
Greenfield Union School District

Guardianship Caregiver Project
Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc.

Kern River Valley Family Resource Center
Kernville Union School District

Lamont Vineland School Readiness Program
Lamont School District

McFarland Family Resource Center
McFarland Unified School District

Mountain Communities Family Resource Center
Mountain Communities Family Resource Center, Inc.

Oasis Family Resource Center
Community Action Partnership of Kern

Shafter Healthy Start
Richland School District

Southeast Neighborhood Partnership Family Resource Ctr
Clinica Sierra Vista

Women’s Center Network
Women’s Center – High Desert, Inc.

<<< Shafter Healthy Start hosts an arts and crafts session for families.

FOCUS AREA 2: Parent Education & Support Services
(Improved Family Functioning)


across 17 programs

Seventeen programs received funding in FY 2020-21 that worked with families on child development, parenting skills, and family support services



Clients are predominantly caregivers, receiving services such as parenting education, referrals, home visits, legal support, and other direct services.

17 programs

serving children and families

Programs in this focus area are operated by school districts and non-profits and extend to all corners of Kern County

Family Resource Centers

5,106 parents/guardians served
14 Locations

Services often include:

  • Educational center-based activities
  • Summer bridge
  • Court-mandated parenting classes
  • Case management services for children and parents/caregivers
  • Group parenting classes
  • Developmental screenings

FRCs serve as a central location for families in communities, especially in rural areas or smaller communities without an abundance of available resources.

They provide direct family support services through case management, parenting classes, and referrals, while promoting child development and early education.

Focus Area 3: Early Child Care & Education


Blanton Child Development Center
Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Delano School Readiness
Delano Union School District

Discovery Depot Child Care Center
Bakersfield Homeless Center

Health Literacy Program
Kern High School District, Bakersfield Adult School

Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Lost Hills Family Resource Center
Lost Hills Union School District

Neighborhood Place Community Learning Center
North of the River Recreation and Park District

Small Steps Child Development Center
Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault

South Fork Preschool and Day Care Center
South Fork Union School District

West Side Outreach and Learning Center
West Side Recreation and Parks District

Wind in the Willows Preschool
Wind in the Willows Education Organzation

<<< Bakersfield Adult School's Health Literacy Program encourages active reading with parents and kids.

FOCUS AREA 3: Early Childcare and Education
(Improved Child Development)


across 11 programs

Eleven programs received funding in FY 2020-21 making early childcare services accessible to children in Kern County.


children 0-5

Children are introduced to classrooms through high quality early learning childcare programs and summer bridge programs.

11 programs

serving children and families

Programs in this area are operated by school districts, local government agencies, and non-profits.


Improve and
Programs so

A key program within Focus Area 3 is IMPACT, a statewide initiative funded by First 5 California that strengthens early learning programs throughout the county.

Kern County Superintendent of Schools is the local recipient of these funds, supporting their Kern Early Stars program.

IMPACT funding has enabled outreach to underserved populations of early learning educators such as family childcare providers, family resource centers, and family friends and neighbors. Funding provides support to those programs with coaching, materials, resources, professional development, and financial stipends.

The providers set goals and develop action steps which will improve quality in their program and provide higher outcomes for the children and families they serve.

Making an IMPACT on early education in Kern County

invested in 2020-21

invested in Kern County since 2015

Making an IMPACT in 2020-21

children served

IMPACT childcare sites

zip codes in Kern County served

childcare instructors
participating in trainings

children in IMPACT sites receiving
developmental screenings

Focus Area 4: Integration of Services


First 5 Kern works within the community to build relationships facilitating the creation and implementation of integrated and collaborative systems of information. It is a component of all focus areas, advocacy, and outreach.

The effort enhances system building, optimizes early childhood development and strengthens Kern families. The goal of this focus area is to invest in and improve coordination across systems of care, efficiently connecting young children to early intervention.

ACEs Aware Kern County

Collaborations and Committees

Community Event Support


COVID Relief

Help Me Grow Kern County

Resilient Kern

<<< Help Me Grow Kern County helps parents follow along with their child's development and identify any areas of concern.

Resilient Kern

Resilient Kern has played an important role in helping create a more trauma-informed approach to human services and healthcare in our county.

By pivoting during the pandemic, hosting trainings and informational webinars online at, this initiative was able to continue to build awareness of toxic stress and grow a community of leaders focused on the resiliency of our families.

These efforts set the foundation for First 5 Kern to be awarded a grant from ACEs Aware that has the potential to impact our community for years to come.

Help Me Grow Kern County

Help Me Grow Kern County helped hundreds of families follow along with their child’s development by offering free screenings using two different Ages & Stages Questionnaires to track the progression of their developmental, social-emotional, and behavioral skills.

Our partnership with Community Action Partnership of Kern’s (CAPK) 2-1-1 program allows parents to have assistance completing these screenings over the phone in English or in Spanish, while also working with the family to set up follow-up screenings and connect parents to other resources for their children.

ACEs Aware Kern County

ACEs Aware Kern County launched in Spring, 2021, with a planning grant from the statewide ACEs Aware initiative. The grant was for developing a strategy to increase screenings for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in medical settings – specifically with Medi-Cal providers.

A partnership with Omni Family Health has yielded a pilot program with the goal of building out these systems of care for families throughout Kern County. We welcome you to join the effort at

In the video Building An ACEs Aware Kern County, project lead Hector Gutierrez from First 5 Kern outlines the ACEs Aware Kern County initiative and goals for the program in the years to come.

Learn more about our pilot project with Omni and the Kern Connected Community Network with this introduction to the ACEs Aware Kern County initiative.

Collaborations & Coalitions

First 5 Kern, with guidance from its Strategic Plan, allocates funds for initiatives that provide Kern County children with the foundation they need to succeed.

First 5 Kern is actively involved in and supports partnerships which bring organizations together to achieve better outcomes for children and their families in our community.

Additionally, First 5 Kern steadfastly maintains a voice at the table for collaborations across Kern County impacting children 0-5, many of whom meet regularly at the First 5 Kern offices.

  • 34th Street Neighborhood Partnership
  • ACEs Aware & Resilient Kern Leadership Group
  • Bakersfield College Child Development Advisory Committee
  • Bakersfield City School District – School Health Advisory Committee
  • Buttonwillow Community Collaborative
  • Community Action Partnership of Kern – Health Services Advisory Committee
  • County Nutrition Action Plan
  • Delano Neighborhood Partnership
  • Early Childhood Council of Kern
  • East Bakersfield Community Collaborative
  • East Kern Collaborative
  • Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) Part I Implementation Planning Committee
  • Greenfield H.E.L.P.S. Collaborative
  • Health Net Kern Community Advisory Committee
  • Home Visiting and Early Childhood Systems Coordination Meetings
  • Indian Wells Valley Collaborative
  • Keep Bakersfield Beautiful Committee
  • Kern Connected Community Network – Community Advisory Group
  • Kern County Network for Children General Collaborative
  • Kern County Prevention Council
  • Kern Complete Count Committee (Census 2020)
  • Kern Pledge – Kinder Readiness Workgroup
  • Kern River Valley Collaborative
  • Lost Hills Community Collaborative
  • McFarland Collaborative
  • Medically Vulnerable Care Coordination Committee
  • Mountain Communities Collaborative
  • Oildale Community Collaborative
  • Richardson Special Needs Collaborative
  • Robert Wood Johnson and Prevention Institute P3 – Power, People, and Parks Initiative
  • Safe Sleep Coalition of Kern County
  • Safely Surrender Baby Coalition
  • Shafter Healthy Start Collaborative
  • South Valley Neighborhood Partnership
    Arvin/Lamont/Weedpatch Collaborative
  • Southeast Neighborhood Partnership General Collaborative
  • West Side “Together We Can” Collaborative
  • Wasco Community Collaborative


In addition to our funded programs, First 5 Kern lends financial support to community events serving families and young children. Agencies and non-profits may request up to $5,000 of community sport funds.

Click here for more info!

Fiscal Year 2020-21 recipients:

  • Kern County DHS – Purple Ribbon Month
  • Family Life Pregnancy Center of Tehachapi – drive-thru car seat/pack-n-play giveaway
  • United Way of Kern County – Fall Family Fest, Book of the Month Club
  • Caring Corner – Family Collaborative
  • Bakersfield Pregnancy Center – drive-thru baby showers

COVID Relief

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed great need in Kern County’s communities.

Through partnerships with First 5 California and, we were able to host multiple supply distributions for childcare providers, our funded programs, and community partners.

Thousands of items – such as gloves and masks, diapers and paper products, soaps and sanitizers – were distributed and hundreds of partners received supplies from all corners of the county.

First 5 Kern Commission

John Nilon, Chairperson
Retired Kern County Administrative Officer

Russell Judd, Vice-Chairperson
Retired CEO, Kern Medical

Jennie Sill, Secretary
Mental Health Systems Administrator,
Kern Behavioral Health & Recovery Services

Brynn Carrigan, Treasurer
Director, Kern County Department of Public Health Services

Supervisor David Couch
Kern County District Supervisor, District 4

Debbie Wood
Retired Coordinator for School Health, Bakersfield City School District

Kelly Richers
Superintendent, Wasco Union Elementary School District

Dr. Lisa Gilbert
Deputy Superintendent, Instructional Services,
Kern County Superintendent of Schools

Lito Morillo
Director, Kern County Department of Human Services