Children's Voice - November 2018
Remembering Eleanor Villarreal and Her Dedication to Gilroy’s Children and Families
Eleanor Villarreal, former FIRST 5 commissioner, passed away on October 28th, 2018. Family, friends, and community members gathered to celebrate her life on Friday, November 9th at Rebekah Children’s Services, where she spent more than 20 years advocating for young children and their families. Eleanor served as a FIRST 5 Commissioner from 2002 to 2017. As a Commissioner for 15 years, she was influential in improving the lives of the children and families of Santa Clara County.
Eleanor was an active supporter and member of Gilroy’s Latino community. She served as a founding member of the Gilroy Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, an organization that promoted business and education of the Latino community. Eleanor was also a member of the Gilroy Hispanic Cultural Festival, the Latino Family Fund, and was a founding member of the Exchange Club of Gilroy.
In 1996, Eleanor was named Gilroy’s Woman of the Year and named Outstanding Professional Fundraiser in 1997 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Silicon Valley. More recently, she received the Legacy Award from Community Agency for Resources, Advocacy, and Services (CARAS) in honor of her community and social work in Gilroy.
She is survived by her husband, children, and grandchildren. Eleanor’s legacy will also live on through the Rebekah Children’s Services library, named in her honor. She will forever be remembered in the lives and hearts of the friends and family she loved and the children and families she advocated for.
Family Resource Center Connects Local Parents to Information and Resources
James is a single father and San Jose resident who became involved with Family First, a program sponsored by FIRST 5 Santa Clara County. Through FIRST 5's Roots Family Resource Center (FRC), James enrolled in the program in hopes that it would give him support and resources to help him regain custody of his young son.
As part of the Family First program, James was guided through the custody evaluation process, including home visitations and received support navigating the child custody process. He also received information on the healthy, child-friendly meals and snacks that his son could eat while at home or daycare. James’s health navigator also guided and informed him about the available support systems, including CalWORKs, a public assistance program that provides services to eligible families that have children in the home.
A few months after the program ended, James obtained full custody of his son, Christian. James returned to the Family Resource Center and where he was connected to secure and stable housing resources.
“With the assistance and guidance I received during the Family First program, I am now raising my son in an environment where he is thriving and learning every day.”
- James, Family Resource Center Parent
FIRST 5, Community Members Hold Reception to Honor Outgoing Supervisor Ken Yeager
On Thursday, November 15, FIRST 5 staff and community members held a reception to honor Santa Clara County's District 4 Supervisor Ken Yeager for his service on the FIRST 5 Santa Clara County Commission and his unwavering dedication to the children and families of Santa Clara County
He has been a strong supporter of public health and a local champion for health measures. He was one of the first in the county to champion the importance of early developmental screenings, spurring the formation of a pilot program and securing resources to implement universal developmental screenings countywide at all VMC clinics.
Supervisor Yeager has also led the way in early childhood obesity prevention in this county. He was instrumental in establishing FIRST 5’s Water to Go partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Water District and Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
More recently, he championed a cross-system effort to develop a “Whole Child Approach” in Santa Clara County - instructing school districts, internal county departments, and thought leaders to develop a pilot plan in the Alum Rock School District and Franklin McKinley School District that is focused on ensuring universal access to early care, education, health, and social services for children birth to age eight.
As a member of FIRST 5's Commission since January 2010, Yeager has been committed to the health and well-being of Santa Clara County's youngest residents. Together, we thank Supervisor Yeager for his impactful work on behalf of Santa Clara County's children and beyond. Santa Clara County is healthier because of his tireless dedication and leadership.
Co-Op Preschool Opens at San Jose's Painter Elementary
Earlier this month, in support of the county’s efforts to expand evidence-based early childhood education programs for children, the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District opened a free parent co-op preschool for qualifying families at Painter Elementary.
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County is supporting the new co-op by ensuring that the classrooms are equipped to serve early learners by offering SEEDS and myTeachstone training opportunities. FIRST 5 is also providing community workers to support recruitment, resources, and referrals.
In partnership with the Santa Clara County Office of Education, SOMOS Mayfair, and County of Santa Clara, the goal of this co-operative pilot program is to increase parent engagement in support of a common vision of high-quality early education. As part of the program, parents actively volunteer in the classroom, attend social events, participate in education sessions, and work closely with their child at home.
Thank you to the Santa Clara County Office of Education, SOMOS Mayfair, and County of Santa Clara for partnering with the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District to bring this preschool to life! For more information about the preschool or to see if your family qualifies, click the button below.
Potter the Otter, FIRST 5, Community Members Attend 2018 Inclusion Collaborative State Conference
Late last month, Potter the Otter and FIRST 5 staff joined the Healthier Kids Foundation, Parents Helping Parents, and many other community organizations at the 2018 Inclusion Collaborative State Conference in San Jose. The conference was a reflective educational opportunity to understand and explore evidenced-based practices.
Geared toward individuals involved in the case and education of children from prenatal to age 24 with and without disabilities, attendees explored ways in which they could create or enhance equity and inclusive practices in their programs and communities in which they live.
The conference also included film screenings and presentations, including Building Successful Co-Teaching Relationships, Early Children Education Workforce Efforts, and much more.
Pumpkin Palooza at SVCN's Be Our Guest Luncheon
Many thanks to the celebrity servers and guests who attended and supported the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits (SVCN) at their annual Be Our Guest Celebrity Luncheon on Thursday, October 25. Elected officials, community leaders, and local organizations decorated a variety of pumpkins for the luncheon.
Annual Kids Fun Run Gets Kids Running on Thanksgiving
On Thanksgiving Day, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County and community partners volunteered their time at the FIRST 5 Kids Fun Run. Young children, ages two to seven, participated in a series of races according to their age group. Potter the Otter was also on hand to meet and take pictures with children and their families and encourage everyone to get a healthy start to the holiday season.
November is National Family Literacy Month!
Research shows that when parents and caregivers read together with their children, learning happens! Below are a few tips parents and caregivers can use to promote family literacy at home.
Parents and caregivers should start reading to children from birth. It is never too early to start reading books with your little one. We encourage you to read one of Potter's the Otter's books with your child!
Parents and caregivers can tune in to what their child is talking about or looking at and ask questions. Everyday interactions and tasks like bath time, with colors and shapes, can be teachable moments. These interactions can also help children reach their literacy benchmarks later in life.
A child’s vocabulary development during the preschool years relates to their reading skills and school success later in life. Kids who hear more words spoken at home find reading easier and enter school with wider vocabularies.