First 5 SLO County unveils five-year plan for children's health

A local group that looks after the interests of children from before birth through age 5 has developed a five-year plan that allocates $1.365 million annually to these youngsters and their families.

But they have to carry out their plan with declining income.

First 5 San Luis Obispo County on Thursday released its proposal to provide a safety net that will “provide critical services.”

“The 2011-15 strategic plan focuses on five initiative areas that include children’s health, oral health, special needs, peri-natal substance abuse, and school readiness” said Julian Crocker, First 5 chairman.

Programs that improve children’s health such as vision screening, breastfeeding assistance, stop smoking services, and community and parenting education about children’s fitness and nutrition are incorporated into the plan, he wrote in a news release.

“It is very important,” Crocker said, “to focus on core services for the youngest and most vulnerable residents of our community.” “The plan emphasizes preventative activities rather than treatment. We know that every dollar invested in prevention can save up to seven dollars in future treatment costs,” Crocker said.

He said the funding level represents an approximate annual reduction of 42 percent from previous years, created in part by the loss of $3,771,000 in local Proposition 10 funding that has been redirected by legislative vote to help solve the current state budget crisis.

The organization adds that it intends to work with parents, children and other groups to develop a “Young Children’s Bill of Rights,” which “will stress the importance of all aspects of child development, including physical, cognitive, behavioral, social and emotional.”

For more information go to www.first5slo.org.