Anastasia Lester describes what first five means to her.

What do you love most about First 5?

First 5 is all about the kids. It’s about serving a population that often doesn’t have a voice for itself. With the help of First 5, we’ve been able to provide a voice for those children.

What has your county done in order to improve school readiness?

Our county is about eight thousand square miles. When we look to enhance child outcomes, we have to think about the diaspora that we’re working with. This diaspora is not only in miles, but in three different terrains. We have mountain, valley, and desert all in our county and each of them have very different needs. What we do is try to invest our time listening to what people in our community need. Some people in the desert can be anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours outside of our main city. Because of that, getting resources to them is imperative.

Part of that strategy has been implementing and supporting our family resource centers through funding and education opportunities. We fund 17 of the 24 centers in our county and we feel that’s really important to support them because they provide hubs to those particular communities that need services. And, who better knows the services than the people living in those communities? That’s really how we address that, is to outreach through our family resource centers and to provide services funneled through that way.

What are you most excited for with this First 5 Summit?

The one thing I’m really excited about is trauma informed care. It’s going to be very interesting to see if Kern County is on the correct path. I’m hoping to learn about opportunities that we may have not thought of yet, to see what other people are doing, what we can adopt, what we could provide them as feedback, and also to figure out a way to best serve those most in need. We’re looking at trauma as a whole. As a definition, trauma may not just be just a child that has been physically abused, but a child could have been sexually abused, or even homeless. And so, that’s what I’m most eager about at this conference, to see what everyone else is doing and to figure out ways to support our state in that movement.

First 5 Kern County