Carla Ritz describes what first five means to her.

What do you love most about First 5?

With First 5, I love that I get to be involved in every part of our community. I get to sit on collaborative boards that deal subjects like education and health care. We get to navigate all these different systems and be a voice for early childhood, young children, and families who are expecting. I love that I get to be that voice and advocate for them.

What are some best practices you’ve implemented to empower families?

One of the things I’m most excited about is partnering with local hospitals who have been doing great work with new parents. They focus on educating parents on how to prepare for parenthood before their babies are born. It’s a great program, but we noticed that they were not utilizing this time to also talk about other important issues like immunizations and breastfeeding. We now go to classes offered by the hospitals to share community resources and converse about the trials of being a new parent.

We want to help them as much as we can before they bring their baby home. Hopefully they’re able to absorb information from community partners and know that help is all around them. A lot of people are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as expected parents. None of them think that bad things will happen to them, you know. They think their baby is going to sleep through the night and they’ll never get angry or frustrated. But those things do happen. We don’t want to come in and tell them everything that could go wrong, we just want to mention that if things don’t go as planned, there is help. They walk away from these classes with resources, names, numbers and websites full of useful information. So after these classes, they walk away knowing that when they need help, it’s already there waiting for them.

First 5 Lake