The source of the funding is Proposition 10, the Tobacco Tax Initiative passed by voters in 1998. That proposition created a state and individual county commissions to oversee expenditure of funds. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors passed County Ordinance 4192 on June 28, 1999 establishing the Children and Families First Commission of Ventura County.
The Center for Excellence is structured as a collaborative with Core and Associate Partners. Core Partners include California State University Northridge, Child Development Resources of Ventura County, Inc.; the Ventura community colleges: Ventura, Oxnard and Moorpark. Associate Partners are UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, the Ventura County Community Foundation, the Child Care Planning Council and the Ventura County Library, among others.
"The strength of this center is that our Core partners are all local Ventura County-serving agencies and institutions. We will be drawing on the expertise of six local higher education institutions, all with programs targeting our most vulnerable citizens prenatally through age five" said Dr. Barbara Thorpe, Associate Academic Vice President and principal investigator of the project.
The Center for Excellence will provide training for groups offering services to preschool age children, develop the capacities of these groups and agencies, stimulate the development of creative partnerships among education and health agencies, and conduct special needs studies to identify areas where the school readiness of young children can be improved.
Dr. Carrie Rothstein-Fisch, Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, CSUN, emphasized that "the Center for Excellence exists to support the local efforts of Neighborhoods for Learning - programs developed by and tailored to unique community needs throughout the County targeting young children and their families. The Center is a collaboration of many partners who bring expertise, insight, and energy in supporting families with young children in the areas of health and well being; family strengthening; and school readiness."
"Further," said Dr. Rothstein-Fisch, "The Center for Excellence provides an ideal setting for graduate students in the Masters Program in early Childhood Education (at both the Northridge and Channel Islands campuses) to contribute to early childhood professional development along with program development, assessment and evaluation. Our graduate students will greatly benefit from the Center, just as the Center will be enhanced by their contributions to the strengthening of programs for young children and their families."
Immediate next steps for the Center include a detailed scope of work and timeline and a systematic methodology for establishing performance criteria that will measure effectiveness of and gaps in childcare services and efforts throughout Ventura County.
"It is appropriate that this university be assisting in this program. Our mission is closely tied to the well being of the people of the Ventura region" commented J.Handel Evans, President of CSU Channel Islands, the lead agency.
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