First 5 Shasta Puts Children First
● By Brandi Barnett
High FiveMarch 2007
By Teresa Wilson
“How are the children?” is the motto of First 5 Shasta, the Shasta Children and Families First Commission dedicated to helping young children from prenatal to age 5.
More than $10million has been invested in the children of Shasta County through Proposition 10 funding that established a 50-cent tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The funding has allowed First 5 Shasta to charter a number of programs through partnerships with local organizations. The goal in these collaborative efforts is providing programs and activities that nurture early childhood development through parent/family support and education, physical health, literacy and implementation of playgrounds for children through age 5.
“We need to put resources where they make a difference. All opportunities that happen for a child in the first five years of life allow them to succeed later on,” said Muffy Berryhill, Executive Director of First 5 Shasta.
First 5 Shasta performed a community assessment and developed a plan tailored to the unique needs of our children.Once the needs were identified, First 5 Shasta provided Prop 10 funding to community organizations who work independently to implement programs such as school readiness, health and wellness, oral health and a number of “special opportunity awards” that enhance existing programs and projects.
“If we can say all the children are well, then the community is well,” said Berryhill.
First 5 Shasta is dedicated to helping young children and $7million has been invested in local programs and activities that place a high value on early childhood development and learning. Another $1.5 million has been earmarked for an early care initiative that addresses childcare needs through education and professional support for childcare providers.
One of the most noticeable contributions to the community is the development of 15 playgrounds, located from Cottonwood to Castella, designed specifically for preschool children.
“When I started here five years ago, there was nothing on the map,” said Deborah Peel,marketing communications director for First 5 Shasta, as she proudly pointed out the several playground locations on a map of the North State.
Peel is equally excited about the upcoming Week of the Young Child, an annual celebration April 22–28 that has become a Shasta County tradition. “The Week of the Young Child is a time to honor young children and remind our community that they are important and valuable residents of Shasta County.”
To learn more about First 5 Shasta and the programs they support and fund, visit www.first5shasta.org or call (530) 229-8300.