Sunday, 19 May 2024

First 5 Lake contributes funding to prevent local enrollment freeze

LAKEPORT – Last month a local organization voted to contribute funds to help offer health care and services to children during the state's budget crisis.

First 5 Lake County commissioners voted on Dec. 10 to contribute funds that will keep local children ages 0 to 5 from being placed on waiting lists for health coverage as the state's budget uncertainties continue.

This funding will pay health care premiums for new applicants to the Healthy Families program until the end of June.

“First 5 Lake is pleased to help expand health coverage access to more children in our county, particularly during this period of rising unemployment and economic instability,” said Tom Jordan, First 5 Lake’s executive director. “This important collaboration continues to make health coverage affordable and accessible to our most vulnerable children.”

First 5 Lake approved a contribution of $28,350.78, as part of a $16.7 million joint initiative between First 5 California and First 5 county commissions throughout the state.

The funds provide immediate relief for infants and young children who would have been denied health coverage because of the state’s budget crisis.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Lesley Cummings, director of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers the Healthy Families program, have all expressed public support of First 5’s funding solution.

“With this plan, First 5 California and First 5 county commissions continue to advocate for the well-being of our state’s youngest children by providing immediate relief to those facing a lapse in health coverage,” said Kris Perry, executive director of First 5 California.

However, First 5 California itself may be in danger in the coming budget year, due to a proposal contained in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's preliminary 2009-10 budget that would eliminate the organization and shift $275 million in funding from the program to Department of Social Services “high priority” children's programs.

Research shows that a child’s brain develops most dramatically in the first five years and what parents and caregivers do during these years to support their child’s growth will have a meaningful impact throughout life.

Based on this research, California voters passed Proposition 10 in 1998, adding a 50 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes to support programs for expectant parents and children ages 0 to 5.

First 5 is the largest and most stable funding source of health coverage for children up to age 5 in California. Last year, the agency spent more than $48 million on children’s health insurance.

First 5 Lake County distributes approximately $500,000 a year in Prop. 10 revenues to programs and services that meet local needs.

Schwarzenegger alone can't eliminate the First 5 Commission – that's up to the voters.

For those who don't agree with the proposal and want to give the governor their opinion, his office can be reached at telephone 916-445-2841, fax 916-558-3160 or e-mail him from his Web site at

For more information on available local children’s services and other First 5 Lake programs, call 263-6169.


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