Today, a large number of community stakeholders (including the San Joaquin County Children’s and Youth Task Force) convened to celebrate the county’s third annual Community Leadership Breakfast. The San Joaquin Children’s Alliance was at the forefront of this momentous occasion, with partners like Child Abuse Prevention Council and Family Resource & Referral Center kicking off the event to talk about some of the reasons why it is so necessary to increase youth investments at this time.
Speakers included elected officials, non-profit teams, and other renowned community workers from Leadership Stockton’s 2017 inaugural class. Many emphasized the need to make early financial investments in local programs that are addressing youth and the need for more parent/family engagement. Similarly, County Supervisor Kathy Miller noted the importance of equipping children with equitable opportunities and resources early on in life to raise a well-educated workforce that shall one day contribute to our community’s growth. As Miller notes in a recent public service announcement, investing in good business means investing in our youth. In other words, increasing financial investment in prevention and early intervention programs actually enables parents and children to avert crisis in the future. If our children have the support they need right now in order to thrive, then there is less likelihood that they will have physical, emotional, mental, educational and developmental issues as they grow into adults.
Some prevention and early intervention programs that were highlighted during the breakfast include Lodi Unified School District’s SAFE program (Student and Family Empowerment) which works with parents to address students’ emotional or behavioral issues and foster healthy relationships between students and their families. Parent Cafes were also highlighted as great ways to engage parents in area-schools and provide peer support to those who live in neighborhoods serving high numbers of at-risk students. To date, there are at least 35 parent cafes across the county in which parents can participate, gain group support, and network with other parents struggling with similar issues. Finally, accessing community resources via 211 was also highlighted. 211 is a phone resource that county families can access by dialing 211; phone dispatchers share information for over 3700 programs and 500 agencies in the region who are able to assist families with referrals to agencies working to provide educational, health, and housing resources, and so many more. Although speakers noted that it may take an entire generation to feel the impacts of these programs, immediate investment into these resources still impacts youth and families in the present.
We send special thanks to County Supervisor Kathy Miller, Kay Ruhstaller, and Lindy Turner Hardin for your tireless efforts and for allowing us to showcase why it is so necessary to “make the business case for children” and secure financial investments in the present for their future well-being. SJCA is proud to be a part the local thinking tank to address the state of children in our region, and we feel inspired by the work that countless individuals are doing to serve and protect our kids from future crisis or calamity. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to show the community why #OurFuture deserves the best investments possible.