First 5 Madera County celebrates 20 years of service

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune First 5 Madera County executive director Chinayera Black-Hardaman request a favor from attendees to hold up the Potter the Otter books they received and read to a child.


First 5 Madera County celebrated 20 years of service for children from birth to five years old and their families with a luncheon Oct. 17 at the Madera Municipal Golf Course.

Since its founding in 1998, First 5 Madera County has been at the forefront of providing early childhood services, advocating for policy change and supporting the capacity building of providers. First 5 Madera County has funded over 100 programs with more than $30 million of investments into the community.

Most noteworthy, according to First 5 Executive Director Chinayera Black-Hardaman, have been the development and operation of two Family Resource Centers (FRCs). For the past 15 years, the FRCs served as the hub of services for families with young children to easily find activities and resources to support early childhood development.

“We are excited to celebrate our 20th anniversary alongside our partners who help us meet the needs of Madera County’s youngest children. It is only through these partnerships that we have served thousands of young children,” said Black-Hardaman. The luncheon featured brief remarks by Public Health Director Sara Bosse, followed by a keynote address by Madera Mayor Andy Medellin. Presentations were made by state legislative representatives and local public officials.

In partnership with the community, First 5 Madera County supports a county-wide continuous prevention and early intervention system that promotes optimal health and development, narrows disparities and improves the lives of children 0 to 5 and their families.

First 5 Madera County promotes an integrated system of care with the ultimate goal of getting children ready for learning and ready to begin kindergarten.

According to Black-Hardaman, “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.”