First 5, the Riverside County Children & Families Commission, after hearing from parents with children and teachers at five September “Community Conversations,” is presenting its revised 2016-2021 Strategic Plan designed to invest in partnerships that promote, support and enhance the health of children under five in the county.
One of the “Community Conversations” forums was held in Valle Vista outside Hemet, Sept. 18, and gave local teachers and parents an opportunity to reflect on the needs of children and families and where they would like to see focus placed in the coming years.
What was learned in the Community Conversations will help decide future spending decisions on funds from California’s Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenues. First 5 Riverside is a commission formed by the Riverside County Department of Social Services. It was established in 1999 to support early childhood development through educational outreach, partnerships and funding for early education.
First 5’s new “Impact Model” is a part of the strategic plan revision process with a refined understanding of its role in supporting improvements to serve the youngest children and their families. It outlines how its investments will be provided as changes occur in the service area.
The changes First 5 is working toward involve two new ways of thinking about its role and the impact it wished to create.
It is divided into four different kinds of systems to change outcomes and is expressed in terms of what will be different for children and their families in relation to the services and supports they need to thrive.
First 5 in the revised plan seeks increased access, quality, coordination to services and supports. It also seeks increased consumer and community capacity to utilize services and supports, as well as to successfully face challenges. One of those challenges, according to recent First 5 reports, is the diminishing revenues coming from state Proposition 10 tobacco taxes that support the programs.
The impact model recognizes the challenges and introduces an organizing principle for the different types of investments in hopes of strengthening the system of services and supports for young children and their families. The investments will be divided in two “meta-categories,” direct services and system change.
Direct services can take the form of services for children or services for families and caregivers, while systems for change investments take the form of efforts to build provider capacity to support organizations and communities to work better together, to increase and leverage resources and to educate parents and policymakers.
The new plan will take effect July 1.
The 24-page draft of the First 5 strategic impact model for 2016-2021 in detail can be found at the First 5 website, www.First5Riverside.org, or call (800) 266-3880.