First 5 Riverside gains strategic plan ideas from Valle Vista residents

A group of interested parents and grandparents discuss some ideas on how to improve the health of children under five years of age during a First 5 Riverside meeting, Sept. 18, in the Valle Vista Community Hall. The ideas gleaned from the participants will go into a revised strategic plan for help the youngest of children in the county. Tony Ault photo

A small group of interested parents and school officials from Valle Vista met to share their ideas on how to better care for and educate children, ages 0 to 5, during a “Community Conversations” meeting sponsored by First 5 Riverside Children & Families Commission.

The event was one of four “Community Conversations” meetings held during the past week in different Riverside County locations. The Valle Vista meeting held at the Valle Vista Community Center on Fairview Avenue, Sept. 18, was designed by First 5 Riverside to get ideas to revise the current 2016-2021 Strategic Plan.

First 5 Riverside Children & Families supports early learning, child health and family strengthening, so all Riverside County children through age five can build a strong foundation for success in school and beyond. They partner with many children’s organizations.

The participants worked in small groups to come up with some ideas on how to better prepare children in the area for their future schooling and the ways to maintain the children’s best health and safety through those very important growing years. The ideas will be incorporated in the revised strategic plan for the First 5 Children & Families Commission.

“We are revising our 2016-2021 Strategic Plan because of the shifting landscape,” Tammi Graham, executive director of First 5 Riverside, said. “As birth rates in Riverside County continue to increase and Proposition 10 tobacco tax dollars decline, we are actively working on finding new ways to improve how services and supports are organized and delivered. Input from the community is essential to this new plan and how we’ll be guided in the next four years and beyond.”

First 5 Riverside receives most of its funding from the state cigarette taxes collected and was originally formed in 1999 in Riverside County.

The facilitators were contracted “Learning for Action” representatives including the firm’s CEO Steven LaFrance, Alex Hildebrand and Jessica Xiomara Garcia. Ideas were gleaned from the three discussion groups focusing on “Child Health,” “Early Learning” and “Family Strengthening” for children 5 and under. The participants moved from one discussion group to another providing their input.

Representatives from ABC Childcare and VIP Tots were also in attendance.

Welcoming the participants to the conversational meet was Diana Walsh Royce, assistant superintendent of schools in the County Office of Education.

The ideas from the discussion groups from the Valle Vista meeting and the other meetings held in Riverside, Beaumont and Rancho Mirage will be compiled and used in the revised strategic plan. The first reading is scheduled for Oct. 25 in Riverside.

Learn more about First 5 Riverside and the services they offer at www.First5Riverside.org. First 5 Riverside offices are located at 585 Technology Court in Riverside.

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