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FIRST 5 Santa Clara County is proud to serve the young children and families of our county as a funder, a resource, and an advocate.

Children's Voice - September 2019

Children's Voice - September 2019

Community Snapshot

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Potter the Otter recently visited the Roosevelt Community Center. Camp San Jose and Camp San Jose Jr. met Potter, learned about the importance of drinking water, and received Potter storybooks to take home and read!


Childhood obesity is a chronic epidemic impacting communities across the country. Locally, in Santa Clara County, roughly 17% of low-income children ages 2-5 are obese. FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, in partnership with county departments and community agencies, are taking active steps to combat early childhood obesity through a multi-faceted approach that includes promotion, prevention, and early intervention strategies.

In 2007, the FIRST 5 Santa Clara County Commission initiated the development of our Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategic Plan in partnership with government agencies, early learning partners, non-profits, elected officials, and community members. The plan was updated in 2016 and continues to guide our strategic obesity prevention efforts. Some of our most recent efforts include:

  • Increasing access to drinking water by installing 138 water bottle refilling stations throughout the county as part of the Water To Go partnership with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

  • Obtaining funding from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to expand access to the 10 Steps to a Healthier You! program for family childcare home providers – providing information on how to establish and role model healthy behaviors for the children in their care.

  • Partnering with SPUR, The Health Trust, SCC Social Services Agency, SCC Public Health Department, and Second Harvest Food Bank to support the Healthy Food Incentive Grocery Pilot Project which provides matching funds to families and individuals participating in the CalFresh program - allowing them to purchase even more fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.

  • Expanding our Potter the Otter book series which uses a loveable character to engage young children and families in making healthy choices like drinking water, being active, and eating healthy.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. I encourage you to share the obesity prevention resources below with the young children and families in your life. By working together, we can create impactful policies, programs, and systemic changes that support young children in developing healthy habits that last a lifetime.

In partnership,



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In 2011, FIRST 5 developed Potter the Otter - a lovable character that makes healthy habits like drinking water, being active, and eating healthy fun for young children and families. Since the launch of our first book “Potter the Otter: A Tale About Water” eight years ago, we have distributed over a million books to schools, hospitals, government agencies, and organizations throughout the U.S. and across the globe.

Due to the effectiveness of this strategy, FIRST 5 has continued to develop a series of books, activities, and animated videos featuring Potter the Otter as a healthy messenger. Please share some of the highlighted resources below and visit for even more tools and tips for making healthy habits fun!

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This book narrates the tale of Potter the Otter, who loves to drink water! Potter teaches his friends the importance of drinking water to stay healthy and hydrated.

This is a great resource to teach young children why it is so important to drink water over sugary drinks.

Click here to read the book online.



FIRST 5, together with the Healthier Kids Foundation and the Santa Clara County Health and Hospital System, has developed 10 steps to support simple, healthy changes for young children and families.

These steps include drinking water instead of soda, eating regular family meals together, getting enough sleep, and eating fruit instead of drinking juice.

Learn more by downloading the 10 Steps brochure in English and Spanish.


QUALITY MATTERS…a STRONG START for Kids is an initiative that helps support high-quality learning environments for our youngest learners. FIRST 5 Santa Clara County recognizes the challenges of finding quality care in Silicon Valley.

In partnership with Quality Counts California and First 5 California, QUALITY MATTERS is a county-wide effort to increase quality in the various types of early learning settings parents rely on, including center-based care, family child care homes, libraries, parks and recreation programs, family, friend, and neighbor settings, and more.

How does QUALITY MATTERS increase quality learning and care?

There are several key strategies supported by QUALITY MATTERS. The first is through the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). This state-wide rating matrix allows observers, assessors, and raters to visit sites and determine where they fall within a tiered rating system. Even tier 1 is a quality—these programs must meet state licensing requirements! Another way we support quality is through workforce development. We partner with the County Office of Education and other regional partners to ensure access to trainings, stipends, awards, and incentives for programs that participate in QUALITY MATTERS. Finally, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County strives to be a catalyst for change for children and families in our county. Through QUALITY MATTERS, we convene a set of diverse partners from across the county who represent family strengthening, early learning, and child health and wellness in an effort to strengthen advocacy and policy around early childhood education. We know parents and families care deeply about quality education and care for their children. To learn more about QUALITY MATTERS and to find a list of quality rated sites, visit


FIRST 5 partners with the Roots Community Health Center to fund the Family First program – an African-Centered model for strengthening and empowering families. This program offers coaching, referral to community resources with navigation support, developmental screening with connection to early intervention services, support groups, and parenting workshops. This program is focused on reducing the black infant mortality disparity in Santa Clara County.

Watch the video below to hear one father’s experience with this program.


The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has released a new health and safety toolkit for childcare providers. The goal of this toolkit is to provide best practices for childcare environments that instill healthy and safe behavior for children birth to five years old. Topics are guided by current national, state, and local standards that can also be used by Family Child Care Home providers.

Please click here to view the toolkit.


The First 5 Express is stopping in Santa Clara County! This bilingual exhibit travels across California encouraging families to talk, read, and sing together. The exhibit features free stories, activities, karaoke, giveaways and more! See the exhibit stops below.

September 19 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Morgan Hill Library
660 W Main Street Morgan Hill, CA 95037
View Flyer

September 20 | 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Captain Jason Dahl Family Resource Center
3200 Water Street San Jose, CA 95111
View Flyer


FIRST 5 is proud to sponsor Pumpkins in the Park – an annual harvest fair for young children and families. The event features a giant pumpkin patch, costume parade, children’s concert, carnival games, and more!

October 12 | 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Guadalupe River Park, Discovery Meadow
Woz Way & San Carlos, San Jose

Click here to learn more.


FIRST 5 is sponsoring the Kids Fun Run at this year’s Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. The FIRST 5 Kids Fun Run consists of three courses: children ages 2-3 run 100 yards, children ages 4-5 run 200 yards, and children ages 6-7 run 300 yards.

All participants will receive a finisher’s medal, t-shirt, water bottle and Potter the Otter storybooks.

Click here to learn more about the race and to register your family.



A new article explores the partnership between FIRST 5’s Family Resource Centers and's Gen2Gen program. The pilot program began in July 2017 with 10 volunteers over 50 years old at six of FIRST 5’s Family Resource Centers. Today, FIRST 5 is now engaging 300 volunteers at all 26 Family Resource Centers to support 2,700 local children.

Click here to read the full article.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Community Room
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County
4000 Moorpark Avenue
San Jose, CA 95117

  Children's Voice - August 2019

Children's Voice - August 2019