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First 5 Santa Barbara County to Host Community Dialogue on Lack of Quality Preschool and Child Care

First 5 Santa Barbara County, in partnership with a number of community co-sponsors, will host a panel discussion and community dialogue focused on the difficulty parents of 0–5 year olds face in accessing high-quality, affordable preschool and child care.

The event will be held Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, from 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the Downtown Public Library Faulkner Gallery, 40 East Anapamu Street. 

The community dialogue will begin with a presentation by Ben Romo, executive director of First 5 Santa Barbara County, to help frame the issue and share local data and trends.

A panel discussion will highlight the need from a variety of perspectives and explore policy solutions at the local, state and federal level. The following will sit on the panel:
» Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

» Moira Kenney, executive director, First 5 Association of California

» Erika Ronchietto, parent and preschool director, Learningden

» Fran Forman, executive director, Community Action Committee/Head Start Federal Preschool Programs

» Yendi Lopez, parent struggling with child care options

“Major advancements in brain science in the past decade vastly expand our understanding about the profound growth that is supposed to happen in a new born baby’s brain during the first five years of life,” said Romo. “This research points to high-quality preschool and child care as critical in determining a child’s success in the later years.”

According to US Census data, 60 percent of Santa Barbara County 0–5 year olds have either both parents or the only parent present in the workforce, equating to nearly 20,000 local children who need access to preschool and child care.

Yet only 11,000 licensed spaces actually exist in the county. Most Santa Barbara County families cannot afford the price of quality preschool and child care.

“Working parents know how critical high-quality care is for their child’s healthy brain and social emotional development, but access is extremely limited in Santa Barbara County,” Romo said. 

First 5 Santa Barbara County invests sales taxes from cigarettes into local programs and strategies that help children prepare for kindergarten by supporting families to be healthy and strong and by enhancing the availability of high-quality childcare and preschool.

— Lael​ Wageneck represents First 5 Santa Barbara County.


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