Just one home visit this year from the Antelope Valley Partners for Health and a chat about volunteering inspired Lancaster single mom Shelby Brown to become a Community Information Ambassador.

First 5 LA grantee AVPH partnered with Best Start Palmdale and Best Start Lancaster to train parents and other volunteers to be Community Information Ambassadors, or CIAs. CIAs learn about building social connections and networks, and increasing awareness of resources. They share all that information at events and monthly Best Start Community Partnership meetings.

“I had no idea of all the support and resources that were out there, right in my own community.” – Shelby Brown

“I had no idea of all the support and resources that were out there, right in my own community,” said Brown, who has 1-year-old and 2-year-old sons. She recently went to Lancaster’s Antelope Valley Wellness Symposium on Oct. 27.

“I made people’s day by them just asking a question, and me answering them,” Brown said. “This program has been teaching parents how to take care of themselves, and socialize. You realize, ‘I’m not the only one struggling at the end of the month.’ I’ve been going to play dates. I’m out of the house. I’m talking to people. I’ve come out of my shell. I’m so glad I had that home visitor.”

CIAs in Lancaster choose one of three agencies – Yes2Kids, Child Care Resource Center (CCRC) and Tarzana Treatment Center – to pair up with.

Yes2Kids focuses on preventing child abuse. CCRC focuses on early child care and education. Tarzana Treatment Center focuses on mental health, health care and drug and alcohol abuse. CIAs in Lancaster range from 16-year-old high school students to parents and grandparents, from all backgrounds.

“Our main focus is to increase parent and resident leadership. CIAs don’t need to have experience,” said Debbie Lindsey, program manager for AVPH, Best Start Lancaster. “I’ve seen some really passionate people into doing community work, and their confidence is really building.”

CIAs are asked to commit for one year, with 12 hours a month of volunteer work, spread out according to people’s schedules. Volunteers are trained during work hours. The grant period for the program started this past February, and goes until February 2018, with CIAs recruited four different times over that period. Training takes about six weeks.

Events with CIAs include workshops, parent cafes and family activities that promote togetherness. About 15 CIAs, for example, helped with the Best Start Lancaster Yes2Kids Winter Family Event at Lancaster’s Challenger Middle School on Nov. 5. Forty-two parents, 30 kids from age 7 to 18, and 16 children under age 6 came to the event.

“We had workshops on the five protective factors, to decrease child abuse, and family activities that were low cost.” – Debbie Lindsey

“We had workshops on the five protective factors, to decrease child abuse, and family activities that were low cost,” said Lindsey.

Kids played card games and table hockey. Each child received a book. Each family was given a kit with info on about 10 different activities they can do over the holiday season with their kids. A massage therapist showed parents how to do their own massages, and infant massages, to lower stress. Yoga, salsa dancing and Zumba also promoted fun and a lot of laughter. CIAs led the activities.

Ruth Morales, program coordinator with the Tarzana Treatment Center, said that the eight CIAs she is currently working with are totally dedicated to helping their communities. A TTC event is set for next May as possibly a mental health workshop, Morales said. CCRC is scheduled to host a holiday event next month.

“Why my CIAs picked the treatment center is that they know someone affected or need mental health services, or have themselves dealt with domestic violence,” she said. “This is why they’re a part of this movement.”




Pride Month 2024: Empowering Change in Los Angeles

Pride Month 2024: Empowering Change in Los Angeles

June 2024 Summer kicks off with Pride Month! This month-long event is held in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City and to celebrate the history and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. At the same time, Pride Month is an opportunity to...

May 9, 2024, Board of Commission Meeting Summary

May 9, 2024, Board of Commission Meeting Summary

First 5 LA's Board of Commissioners convened in person on May 9, 2024. Vice Chair Summer McBride presided over the meeting, which included votes on the Revised Records Management Policy and Records Retention Schedule and an amendment to an existing strategic...

Honoring AANHPI Innovators and Leaders, Past and Future

Honoring AANHPI Innovators and Leaders, Past and Future

As We Celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaíian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month  This May, First 5 LA joins Los Angeles County in celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaíian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month. Originally designated as a week-long...

Media Campaign to Promote Bilingualism Adds Four New Languages

Media Campaign to Promote Bilingualism Adds Four New Languages

Christina Hoag | Freelance Writer April 25, 2024 Last year, Spanish and Chinese. This year, Vietnamese, Khmer, Korean and Armenian. The Dual Language Learner Initiative has launched a new media campaign in four additional languages to encourage increased bilingualism...

Home Visiting Garners Increasing Official Recognition

Home Visiting Garners Increasing Official Recognition

  Christina Hoag | Freelance Writer April 25, 2024 In April, four of Los Angeles County’s biggest cities officially recognized Home Visiting Day for the first time, a sign of home visiting’s expanding public awareness and the region’s leading role in the programs...

March 14, 2024, Board of Commission Meeting Summary

March 14, 2024, Board of Commission Meeting Summary

Ruel Nolledo | Freelance Writer March 27, 2024 The First 5 LA Board of Commissioners convened in person and virtually on March 14, 2024. The agenda included the approval of a new Early Care & Education agreement, an authorization for First 5 LA staff to receive...

New Study Examines Developmental Concerns of Families in WIC

New Study Examines Developmental Concerns of Families in WIC

 Ann Isbell | First 5 LA Health Systems Program Officer March 27, 2024 Because parents are deeply attuned to their children, they are often the first to notice a developmental concern. But when they have questions about their child’s developmental progress, many...

Translate