Thursday, May 30, 2013

Solano EDC breakfast focuses on children

From page A3 | May 30, 2013 |        
FAIRFIELD — First 5 Solano made a pitch to the business community Wednesday concerning the county’s youth.

The group hosted the Solano Economic Development Corp. breakfast. It asked businesses and individuals to sponsor sending children to pre-kindergarten academies this summer.

“Today, our goal is really to pique your interest and get your commitment on behalf of Solano County’s youngest citizens,” Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert told the gathering at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Solano County will have 16 academies this summer, hosted by school district and youth program providers, for 450 children. The academies are for children who have not attended preschool and who will start kindergarten this fall.

Businesses and individuals can sponsor a child for a pre-kindergarten academy for $200. First 5 Solano will match the amount.Go to or call 784-1338 for more information.

District Attorney Don du Bain and county Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck made the case that what happens in early childhood education is important for the entire community.

Du Bain told the audience that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to end up in jail or prison as are youths who stay in school.

Dropout rates in the country range from 2 percent for the Travis School District to 9 percent for the Fairfield-Suisun School District to 35 percent for Vallejo City Schools, he said. That means one out of every three Vallejo youths are in that high-risk category for jail or prison.

“You can imagine the problems that creates for the city of Vallejo,” du Bain said.

Finally, du Bain talked about efforts to reduce truancy, such as a truancy court that has worked with 55 parents since its inception in October 2011. The goal is to get the parents’ attention rather than to prosecute them, he said.

“Truancy affects crime,” du Bain said. “My goal is not just about reducing truancy, but about crime prevention.”

He outlined a strategy to deal with such challenges – supportive parenting, preschool and after-school programs.

Du Bain gave an example of a supportive parenting program. He talked about Solano County’s nurse-family partnership, which has nurses work with low-income, first-time mothers on health and parenting issues.

Speck talked about the importance of children simply being at school. Sixty-four percent of children with good attendance in kindergarten and first grade read at grade level in third grade, he said.

“Chronic absence is an indicator we need to pay attention to,” Speck said.

California defines “chronically absent” as missing 10 percent or more of the school year. Speck said about 5,000 Solano County children fall into this category.

“Kids who are not ready, they are already on the path to dropping out or failure,” Speck said.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s work force, Solano Economic Development Corp. President Sandy Person said. The issues discussed at the breakfast involve a “critical economic benefit” for the county, she said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or Follow him on Twitter at