Family support program First 5 First Steps enrolling 100 more families in South Bay region
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The first years of a child's life can set the course for a lifetime. The first five first steps program has been working in San Diego for almost 10 years, to help parents provide that good foundation for their children. The pandemic has created many challenges for the program, but also some opportunities. The south bay region of first five first steps says an influx of funding means the program can help 100 more families and enrollment is now open. Joining me is Michelle fave. First five first steps program director in the south region. Michelle, welcome to the program.
Speaker 2: (00:36)
Thank you, Maureen. It's great to be here.
Speaker 1: (00:38)
What kinds of services come with enrollment in the first five first steps program?
Speaker 2: (00:43)
So with our first five first steps program, as a name states, we are partly funded by first five San Diego, as well as county and state funds, which allow us to provide free services to families. And we are mainly a family support program. And our vision is that every child reaches their full potential and that parents can feel confident, connected in the role as caregivers. Most common topics that we touch on is learning about child development, all of the developmental milestones, like when a child will walk or talk, be potty trained, the parenting strategies, being able to make healthy choices about children's nutrition, lowering stress, finding adequate childcare and preschool school. And we offer home visits to families in San Diego county, but more specifically in SPCs through the south region, formally known as south bay community services since 2013.
Speaker 1: (01:33)
Now it's clear how these services getting good nutrition, proper care helps babies and toddlers, but it sounds as if this program a also helps parents, is that right?
Speaker 2: (01:44)
That's correct. We mainly work with parents who are expecting to have a new baby or parents of newborns because it's crucial during this time, right? We know that by the time a child turns three, their brain is 80% developed and our services provide that support in helping the children, problem, solving, communicating self control and helping the parents and navigating that journey through parenting, whether, if it's their first baby or if they have older children already
Speaker 1: (02:11)
Now who qualifies for the first five first steps program,
Speaker 2: (02:15)
Most of the families we serve have limited social supports. So for example, military families, newly arrived immigrant or refugee teen parents, families with limited income. So basically expecting parents and parents of newborns.
Speaker 1: (02:30)
How did the program continue to help families during the pandemic? I mean, you had to cut back on things like home visits, right?
Speaker 2: (02:37)
Yes, that's correct. We had to be quick to be able to adapt services to what was needed. So we immediate, we stopped in person visits and we were able to shift to this virtual world, right. And supporting families to get connected to the virtual platform, doing frequent phone calls. So we tried to keep it as close as possible to our in person services, which meant, you know, still trying to keep that eye contact, even through video, still being able to provide, uh, certain materials sometimes for activities, dropping it off as a no contact to the parents at their home. And then connecting virtually to be able to guide that activity still providing handouts potentially through screenshots or through email, as opposed to a paper. So we were very creative and our families were very creative too. And sometimes propping up their phones in a way that they could still participate and not having to hold the phone the whole time.
Speaker 1: (03:31)
Can you tell us how you've seen the first five first steps program make a difference in a family's life?
Speaker 2: (03:38)
I have been working with the program since 2013. So I've gotten to work with many families, either firsthand or hearing about it through other colleagues. So we definitely have families who come to us sometimes, like I mentioned, with limited supports. So the first questions that we ask is what do they need before we can really get into talking a development and that relationship building and bonding and attachment, we have been able to connect families to those resources in the community, such as, you know, connections to housing supports connections to food, distribution slides, connections to potentially in certain situations, a DV shelter. So that continuous support through somebody who is listening to a family on an ongoing basis and being able to help them navigate through those uncertainties. Then we can also get into all of those topics of development and that relationship building with their baby.
Speaker 1: (04:33)
Now, why is the first five first step south bay region able to offer support to more families? Now
Speaker 2: (04:39)
We have been very, be fortunate to receive additional funding and that has allowed us to be able to grow our team. So we currently have a team of 13 family support specialists that are serving the south region only. We also serve San Diego county as part of the larger team through the other different agencies and regions. But in the south alone, we have 13 family support specialists
Speaker 1: (05:00)
And you're looking for 100 more families to enroll.
Speaker 2: (05:03)
Yes, that's correct.
Speaker 1: (05:05)
What's the overall goal of the program. When do you feel like you've succeeded
Speaker 2: (05:10)
In our main vision of the program? We want every child to be able to reach their full potential, right. And making sure the parents are feeling confident and connected to their role as caregivers. So when we feel a parent is like, you know what? I, I think I got it. I know if I have a new difficulty coming up, I know where to start. I am resourceful. I know where to go. That is the point where we start feeling like we can pull away a little bit. So again, we always wanna strive for self-sufficiency. We wanna make sure that they know where to access services, where to access, how to be self advocates for their children. And I think that that's the point where we feel like we have made a difference in their lives
Speaker 1: (05:50)
And how can families enroll.
Speaker 2: (05:52)
They can enroll by contacting us through our email address that is first email@example.com. They can also call us at (619) 650-1597. And they can also go to our website for more information, which is www first steps, sd.org.
Speaker 1: (06:12)
I've been speaking with first five first steps program director in out region. Michelle favela. Michelle. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2: (06:20)
The South Bay region of the First 5 First Steps program currently has the capacity to enroll 100 more families to support through its free services. The services provided include home visits, support with child development, relationship bonding, and rental and food assistance.
First 5 First Steps has been helping families across the county since 2013, and is a program of the San Diego Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and First 5 San Diego. The program is divided into four regions throughout the county: Central, East, North and South regions.
Michelle Favela, First 5 First Steps program director in the South region, joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk about the program and the impacts of the pandemic.
"We definitely have families who come to us sometimes with limited supports, so the first question that we ask is 'what do they need?' before we can really get into talking about development and that relationship building, bonding and attachment," Favela said. "We have been able to connect families to those resources in the community such as connections to housing support, connections to food distribution sites, connections to, in certain situations, a D.V. shelter. So that continuous support through somebody who is listening to a family on an ongoing basis and being able to help them navigate through those uncertainties, then we can also get into all of those topics of development and that relationship building with their baby," she said.
The program serves expectant parents and parents of infants and toddlers.
"Most of the families that we serve have limited social supports. So, for example, military families, newly arrived immigrant or refugee families, teen parents and families with limited income," Favela said.
She said the pandemic brought challenges to the organization, but some opportunities as well.
"We have been very fortunate to receive additional funding, and that has allowed us to be able to grow our team," Favela said. "So we currently have a team of 13 family support specialists that are serving the South region only. We also serve San Diego County as part of the larger team through the other different agencies and regions, but, in the South alone, we have 13 family support specialists."
Favela said one challenge brought on by the pandemic was having to transition from home visits to virtual visits, taking away the personal experience.
Families can enroll into the program by calling the organization at 619-650-1597, emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the First 5 First Steps website.