First 5 was established to make sure children have proper childcare, health services, and nutrition to prepare them for elementary school.
16 small, rural school districts in Tulare County get half of their First 5 funding from the state, the other half from the local Tulare County chapter. This means a huge reduction in services for kids trying to get prepared for school. Ivanhoe Elementary School District, however, is making it their goal to raise $41 thousand by next fall to keep their program intact.
Parents in this small, rural community of Ivanhoe were distraught when they heard First 5 California would no longer exist.
Mayra Becerra: "If we didn't have it he'd probably just be behind."
Evette Lopez: "I was sad because my children have been in this program since they were probably almost 2 years old."
Ivanhoe Elementary School District receives $100 thousand to provide preschool, parent education, at-home visits and other First 5 school readiness programs. Administrators say the programs are critical to keeping students on the right path.
Janet Hogan: The First 5 California dollars have ended and it's only the First 5 Tulare dollars that are left. It's a smaller grant."
The thought of losing the program sent Ivanhoe Elementary School Principal Debbie Cardoza into a fundraising frenzy. Cardoza says reducing the program wasn't an option adding that "First 5 School Readiness Program" has dramatically changed students' performance in school as well as their attendance.
Debbie Cardoza: "The kids that participate in school readiness out of 15 in the last few years on average gotten between 9 and 11 correct out of 15. For kids that don't have that experience they only get 2 right."
Cardoza says parents of First 5 children are also more involved at school. "It's kind of a resource center for children before they actually come to Ivanhoe School."
Evette Lopez: "My son is really good in school he's able to read at 3rd grade level I'm really proud at him and it has a lot to do with starting school at a very young age."
Ivanhoe Elementary still needs $24 thousand for this year. As for the year after, the school is hoping grants will keep the program alive.
To donate to Ivanhoe Elementary School's First 5 School Readiness Program:
Make checks payable to "Ivanhoe School Readiness Project"
Ivanhoe Elementary School
16030 Ave 332
Ivanhoe, CA 93235
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