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First 5 invests $250,000-plus in programming for children

For The Madera Tribune

A preschooler gets her eyes checked on the Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Unit.


In a time of declining tobacco revenues, First 5 Madera County continues to make the needs of young children a priority in Madera County. During a Commission meeting on June 6, more than $250,000 of funding was approved to reach children and parents throughout Madera County this year. Tzu Chi Mobile Vision Clinic

Vision plays a significant role in early learning and often goes undetected in young children. In partnership with the Tzu Chil Mobile Vision Clinic, will offer vision screenings to over 250 preschoolers, prescriptive glasses and information necessary to establish a “vision home.”

The mobile vision clinic is fully equipped with a local optometrist and optometry equipment so that kids are examined and receive eye glasses in less than an hour. This project aims to reduce disparities in vision care by brining vision services to local preschool sites and educating parents about ongoing vision care. Tooth Fairy Project

Tooth decay is one of the most common childhood health problems and, in addition to being painful, results in difficulty speaking, impaired concentration and even school absenteeism.

In partnership with Camarena Health, a Tooth Fairy and pediatric dentist will visit over 1,200 preschoolers throughout Madera County in their classroom setting. This project aims for early identification of oral health needs among young children through screening and early detection.

Further, using oversized teeth and toothbrush, the Tooth Fairy and pediatric dentist provide oral health education through singing and brushing demonstrations in order to plant the seed of good oral health care early. Based upon demonstrated results, this project will be expanded to preschoolers in Madera, Chowchilla, North Fork, Oakhurst and the Madera Ranchos. Parent Education Initiative

Parents are the greatest influence on early learning and school success. In partnership with Madera Unified School District — State Preschool Program, parents of over 500 preschoolers will receive targeted interventions to bolster their role as their child’s first teacher. A Parent Coordinator will convene parents of preschoolers monthly to focus on parenting practices, child development, early learning strategies, parent-child interaction, etc. Through targeted parenting interventions the goal of this program is to ultimately increase preschool performance and result in children being more ready to begin kindergarten.

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About First 5 Madera County: Research shows that a child’s brain develops most dramatically in the first five years of life and what parents and caregivers do during these years to support their child’s growth will have a meaningful impact throughout life. Based on this research, California voters passed Proposition 10 in 1998, adding a 50 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes to support programs for expectant parents and children ages 0-5. First 5 Madera County distributes approximately $2 Million a year in Prop.10 revenues to programs and services that meet local needs.

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