January – December 2015
Prepared by Kim Puckett and Maria Vanderhorst
In Appreciation to
Executive Director for First 5 Humboldt
March 2001 – November 2015
Serving young children and their families in Humboldt County
Message from the Executive Director
In my first months as the new Executive Director of First 5 Humboldt, I have been listening to our participants and our partners, hearing where there is excitement, hearing about what is working. This report represents our annual effort to deeply listen to our program participants and to examine what is working, what is not, and how we can improve. The Children and Families Commission of Humboldt County has maintained a dedication and commitment to thoughtful evaluation since its beginning. By continually asking our program participants for their input, we have been able to use their experiences to guide the funding, supports, and program opportunities provided to our Humboldt community. After all, it is the experience of our children and families that we are trying to improve.
It is clear that this is an important endeavor. With Mendocino, Humboldt County has the highest proportion of adults in California who experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) when they were children (California Center for Youth Wellness, 2014). We have a child abuse and neglect report rate that is nearly 50% higher than the California rate (http://www.kidsdata.org/). We have one of the highest rates in California of children identified with special needs. Humboldt County children, parents and families need support to overcome their challenges and reach their highest potential.
This report provides a look at the efforts of First 5 Humboldt and our partners at helping support that potential. Our focus is on prevention. You will notice in the report that we engage in a number of strategies to do this: from working with our partners to educate young children on oral health, to providing playgroups for parents and children throughout our community, fostering the social connection that research has shown to be so crucial to child and family success. Prevention is the most efficient and the most compassionate way to approach improving child outcomes, and it is a guiding principle for First 5 Humboldt.
At the same time, we continue to experience declining revenues. First 5 Humboldt funds are derived from the California Prop 10 tobacco tax. While it is a wonderful thing for our state that tobacco use is declining, it has resulted in a need to look at our funding very carefully. We continue to consider which programs are most effective and call on our partners and the local agencies which serve children and families to fully invest in prevention, help sustain programs that work, and help children and families reach their full and greatest potential.
Wendy Rowan, the recently-retired founding Executive Director of First 5 Humboldt, shaped this organization to keep its focus on the children, always with an eye to what works. In full appreciation for her many years of dedication and hard work, I look forward to continuing with these priorities and strengthening our partnerships to sustain what works for children in Humboldt County.
Mary Ann Hansen