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Speak Up For Children and Families

A note from Angie Dillon-Shore, Executive Director First 5 Sonoma County

Published:  November 28, 2016

Many of us are concerned about the impact of the election on the families that we serve. We’re all aware that many children and families are afraid -- afraid of being deported, being separated from their families, being attacked or bullied because of race, religion, sexual identity, language and national origin. Families who rely on health insurance through Medicaid or Covered California are fearful of losing their coverage.

Thanksgiving is often a day when we reflect on the things in our lives for which we are grateful. My personal reflection is that in spite of the uncertainty and pessimism we might feel, we are so fortunate to be in a position to respond to and fight injustice, to stand up for those whose rights are being infringed upon and work as part of a 0-5 provider community that offers safety and reassurance to vulnerable families and children.  Now, more than ever, we need to lock arms and work as a united front of advocates and allies to protect the safety and well-being of children and families. I call on each of us to commit to double down on our efforts to help all children thrive.

As we move forward, I want to assure our partners that equity will remain a guiding principle for all the work we do at First 5 Sonoma County. We will continue to vigilantly monitor policies that may harm children and push marginalized families farther to the edges. Please help us to keep our 0-5 systems partners informed by sharing critical information you might have about potential and actual policy changes that may impact families and children. Resources and links can be sent to Sheri Lang at sheri.lang@sonoma-county.org. We will make sure information is disseminated out to providers and stakeholders via email and/or First 5’s website.

Below are some resources to help Sonoma County families right now:

  • Ease children’s fears. We all know that loving relationships with trusted adults are key to helping children feel secure. Here are a few resources:
  • Inform families about their rights. Everyone has basic rights, no matter who is President. Undocumented immigrants have these rights, too. The National Immigration Law Center has information about these rights and safety plans. Share this information widely: English and Spanish. Legal Aid of Sonoma County has been a long-time advocate and protector of vulnerable Sonoma County residents.
  • Join with others to advocate on behalf of children and families – support and engage with local, state and national organizations. Local organizations include: Parent Voices, North Bay Organizing Project Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County and the Child Care Planning Council.
  • Promote Covered California. While we don’t know which pieces of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) will remain, it likely will take some time to “repeal and replace”. Covered California is active; current coverage remains intact for 2017 during which the rates will not change. Enrollment is now open and runs through January 31, 2017. Encourage families who need health coverage to sign up now or to renew into their existing plan. Advise them not to risk a financial burden in 2017 by not enrolling. Families can access assistance with enrollment in Covered California at these locations

Finally, I encourage all of us to support each other in denouncing those who incite hatred and fear. It is unacceptable and intolerable. We must speak up and defend the rights of individuals and groups whose basic rights are being targeted, most especially for the sake of our community’s children. Please join First 5 Sonoma County in pledging to do whatever we can to ensure that our community is a safe place where every child has the opportunity to thrive.