Let’s Get Real

Early Childhood

90% of a child’s brain is developed by age 5.

Socio-economic issues- such as unemployment, illiteracy, and toxic stress- contribute to some of the local challenges families face in our region, and have a direct impact on our community’s children.

How does poverty affect early childhood development?

  • By age 4, low-income children have heard and learned 30,000,000 less words than their upper-class counterparts. 30 MILLION.
  • Impoverished kids have difficulty recognizing letters, counting to 20, and writing their first names in early education.
  • In 2017, only 35.4% of third-graders in San Joaquin County met state literacy standards.
  • Long-term, children living in poverty are less likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to wind up in jail or homeless.

Nearly 1 in 3 children in SJC live below the poverty threshold.

What can we do?

Programs such as First 5’s CalWORKs Helping to Enhance Parents’ Potential (CalHEPP) Home Visitation Program are helping to combat this issue by supporting families with young children through services that strengthen their job search and job readiness skills, financial management knowledge, early literacy engagement, and health and nutrition practices.

  • 76% of parents completing First 5’s CalHEPP Home Visitation Program in 2017 were more likely to read to their children 5 days a week than compared to before they started the program.
  • Families learned how easily we can teach our children important life skills in the first 5 years just by talking, reading, singing, drawing and playingmore with them.
  • Only 37% of parent participants had 10 or more kid-friendly books in the home and read five or more days a week prior to starting CalHEPP. Upon completion, 67% of parents had more than 10 children’s books in the home that they read routinely.
  • Since third-grade literacy indicates overall life success, First 5 is spearheading work to make sure that children can read and learn to grow into healthy young adults.

How Does Unemployment Affect Early Childhood Development?

  • Unemployed parents are less able to provide financial stability for their children. Insecure finances may induce feelings of strain, conflict and toxic stress – leading to poor mental and emotional health.
  • Children of unemployed parents are 15% more likely to repeat a grade, be suspended or expelled from school, and dropout of high school.

How Do We Help?

First 5’s CalHEPP Program works with parents to connect them to reliable employment support and resources. Case managers meet with parents in their homes to assist with job leads, resume-building, and preparing for interviews. Parents also learned how to identify and navigate community resources while gaining financial management skills.

After completing CalHEPP over 75% of parents felt they were better equipped to search for and obtain employment.


Let’s get real.

Life is stressful, and challenges can quickly turn into a crisis if you don’t know where to turn for help or don’t have a support network of friends and families.

How does stress in the household impact children?

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University concludes,

 “Extensive research on the biology of stress now shows that healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body and brain. Such toxic stress can have damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan.

Source: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/toxic-stress/

Read about how one Stress in the household affected one San Joaquin family…..

A 2-1-1 phone specialist received a call from a desperate parent who had been caught shoplifting baby food at WinCo in Tracy. She had been laid off and resorted to desperate measures….  Read more here

Who can help?

Thankfully, San Joaquin County residents can simply pick up a phone and dial 211. Like 911 for emergency services or 411 for general information, 211 is here to help. 

What is 2-1-1 SJ?

211 SJ is a service of Family Resource and Referral that anyone can access in a time of need. You can pick up the phone and dial 2-1-1 to immediately be connected to a real person, who will connect you to the resources you need 24 hours a day/365 days a year, such as:

At  211sj.org you can find comprehensive lists of resources available including where are the nearest food pantries?  What number do I call in a crisis?  What Veteran support services do we have available?  Click to learn more about this resource now!

211 is an asset to our community connecting residents to the resources they likely don’t know they have available to them.  Help us get the word out today to ensure EVERYONE knows about 211. 

Youth Mentorship

Let’s get real.

Violence, abuse, and neglect are a very real issue among San Joaquin County youth, and for many, it directly affects the trajectory of their lives.

SJC Continues to rank one of the highest in youth homicide rates.

  • San Joaquin County was ranked #1 in California for youth homicide rates in 2013 for 10 to 24 year olds
  • Youth homicides in SJC from 1987-2016: 173
  • In 2010, 83% of San Joaquin youth and young adults ages 10 to 24 who died of homicide were shot and killed with guns.
  • 38% of victims were murdered by someone they knew
  • 3% of community survey respondents in our region reported that youth violence is an important health concern in their communities

How does youth violence impact children and youth?

  • Youth exposed to violence in the home or violence in the community are at greater risk of poor mental health and physical health outcomes in adulthood.
  • In San Joaquin County, youth exposure to violence greatly increases risks for heart disease, incarceration, high-school dropout, depression, suicide attempts & alcoholism/substance abuse.
  • Overall, exposure to trauma and violence negatively impacts the psychosocial development and learning readiness of children in our region.

Youth are getting arrested faster than they are getting jobs, going to school, or receiving treatment for trauma or mental health concerns.

  • SJC ranks 5th in the state in percentage of justice system involved youth with unmet mental health needs (in the first half of 2017, 87% had unmet mental health needs)
  • SJC has the highest rate of youth in the Central Valley that are neither employed nor attending school during the academic year (9.5% for California, and 11.7% just for SJC)
    • Many of these youth experience increased rates of arrest, foster care, and poverty
  • The ratio of counselors to students in California high schools averages 1 adults per every 792 students
  • Only 2% of California Schools have school-based health centers

SJC spends approximately $200,000 per year to incarcerate one youth – this is enough money so send 28 students to a four-year college for one year

How do we help?

Youth mentorship prevents students from slipping through the cracks.

  • Evidence shows that youth with mentors have higher school attendance & performance, reduced violent behaviors, decreased likelihood of drug use, and improved interpersonal relationships with their families and peers  
  • At-risk students with mentors are 55% more likely to enroll in college

“… the Council on Crime in America (1997) identified mentoring as one of three interlocking crime-prevention strategies (the other two- monitoring and listening- also provide adult contact).”

“Research has shown that the presence of a positive adult role model to supervise and guide a child’s behavior is a key protective factor against violence”

What resources are in SJC?

Thankfully, in San Joaquin County we have mentorship programs such as Fathers and Families that are helping to rewrite these stories. FFSJ works with young men & women on evidence-based curriculum that focuses on culturally-relevant rites of passage groups to become noble and honorable young people.

  • El Joven Noble hosts weekly healing spaces where youth referred from probation can learn about healthy coping skills, positive adult mentorship, and leadership values.
  • Many of the youth that FFSJ works with have a higher rate of arrest, foster care, and poverty.
  • Some have also been victims of crime due to gun violence and domestic abuse.
  • Mentors work to promote literacy & community involvement to help youth with educational attainment.
  • In 2017, FFSJ gathered over 1,700 new/gently used books to donate to youth across the city
  • In-house, they reached out to over 200 youth with their #ReadingisLit campaign.
  • The initiative engaged educational leaders, community members and elected officials to advocate on behalf of our youth who struggle with literacy – an indicator for lifelong success & wellbeing.
  • FFSJ also works to promote career readiness by employing talented youth to gain experience in youth participatory action research and local community-improvement projects that develop their advocacy and leadership capabilities.
  • FFSJ hired 5 youth for summer 2018 to conduct Youth Participatory Action Research
  • Youth are creating a mini-documentary to highlight the costs of incarcerating youth in SJC

Overall, the agency holds an astounding 11% recidivism rate for all of its incoming participants who are referred from probation