Healthy & Active Before 5 is a leader in advocating for health equity for young children and their families in Contra Costa County. HAB45 is committed to building capacity and taking action alongside its partners for local policy change. The HAB45 Executive Committee collaboratively determines its top priority areas that shape the HAB45 Public Policy Agenda:
Promote Land Use & Parks Policies that Expand Physical Activity Opportunities: Access to safe places to move and play is an essential ingredient for early childhood health. HAB45 will advocate for city and countywide policies that increase early childhood active play, preserve existing parks, form new parks, foster park safety, create 0-5 playspaces, and provide opportunities for active living in communities.
Prioritize Housing Security: Housing insecurity is a top concern for Contra Costa families. HAB45 works with trusted allies in the housing sector to highlight the needs of families with young children and advocate for policies that Protect tenants from displacement and eviction, Preserve existing affordable housing, and Produce housing that is affordable for low income families.
Advance Strategies to Increase Food Security: All Contra Costa families deserve access to affordable, healthy foods in their community. HAB45 supports policies at the organizational, local, and state level that increase access to fruits, vegetables, and clean water where children learn, play, and grow. HAB45 will also continue to support policies that promote breastfeeding and lactation accommodation in diverse settings.
Advocate for a Robust Safety Net: HAB45 is committed to advocating for a safety net that provides high-quality, comprehensive, and culturally relevant services to support the mental and physical well-being of all Contra Costa children, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, immigration status, or region.
In addition to these priority policy areas, HAB45 takes on additional advocacy activities in order to respond to current and emerging community needs. These include, but are not limited to, policies that promote economic security, early childhood education, mental health, health care, and racial and immigrant justice.
Healthy and Active Before 5 (HAB45) decided to find out what happens once a new policy is implemented. In November 2017, we invited all organizations who have passed healthy organizational policies, through our Pledge the Practice, Pass the Policy Initiative, to participate in a survey. Staff from 14 organizations responded to the survey, with each of the major model policies of the initiative represented.
Our respondents shared many positive stories about how their organization’s policies have changed the environment for clients and staff.
“Our organization only provides water and/or naturally flavored water. We’ve had occasions in which a community member will bring in a juice or soda, and participants typically know and will kindly speak out on it.”
Healthier vending options, outdoor staff meetings, reduced availability of soda, and a well-supplied lactation room are all examples of these positive changes. In some cases, healthy policies served as a catalyst for further activities to promote the health of young children and families.
“Richmond WIC is very breastfeeding-friendly. The breastfeeding room was a catalyst to start breastfeeding support groups, which are the only free public breastfeeding support groups in West County.”
HAB45 provides mini-grants to organizations who pass healthy policies. Survey respondents reported how funds were spent:
Activity sets for children
Water bottles, containers, filters
Breastfeeding room furniture
Outdoor Activity fees
Breastfeeding materials & supplies
Landscape architect fees
Bikes to go between offices
Healthy foods & beverages
Implementing and sustaining positive change
79% of respondents selected “strongly agree” when asked if their organization’s policy had been implemented successfully soon after it passed.
Only 50% of respondents strongly agreed when asked if the changes had been sustained over time.
The most common challenges reflected in the survey responses were related to staff. Staff turnover presents a particular challenge, because new staff may not be fully informed of the healthy policies.
As one respondent at an organization with a healthy food policy said:
“The policy initially had an impact on the beverages and foods that staff brought to potlucks and staff were eating healthier. Now, we have several new staff who I do not feel are aware of the healthy snack policy.”
However, another respondent from an organization that does provide information on their wellness policy to new staff stated,
“The wellness policy gives us a clear way to explain our office rules to new staff.”
Breaking old habits
In addition to challenges related to new staff’s awareness of healthy policies, several respondents mentioned resistance from staff or the difficulty of “breaking old habits” as a barrier to successful implementation.
Respondents described several other challenges, such as lack of enforcement from leadership, the ongoing work of maintaining changes to the physical space, and sustaining changes across multiple sites or programs.
Based on these findings, HAB45 will work with respondents and other partners to deepen the implementation of their healthy policies with additional trainings, enhanced documentation & materials for new staff. We will also provide opportunities to share best practices among agencies who have passed policies.
For their part, survey respondents reported that they are working to promote their policies with partners, consistently bring activities in line with the policies, and further their programming, activities, and internal policies to support the health of all staff and clients.
Thank you to all of the organizations who have passed healthy policies! We realize this work doesn’t end when a policy is passed. We appreciate your ongoing commitment to creating healthier environments for children and families in Contra Costa. If you would like support with implementing an existing policy or passing a new one, please let us know.
Healthy & Active Before 5’s Leadership Council is a cross-sector network with a shared goal of advancing health equity for young children and their families in Contra Costa. We convene the Council twice a year to learn from experts, discuss strategies for improving early childhood health throughout the county, and model best practices in healthy eating and active living. The Leadership Council also serves as HAB45’s extended advisory board and provides invaluable guidance in implementing our plan and principles throughout the community. Learn more about our Leadership Council here.
Join us for our 2021 Fall Leadership Council Convening! Date and registration details to be announced.
Enjoy highlights from past Leadership Council Convenings below:
October 2020: Election Readiness!
On October 6th, Healthy & Active Before 5 convened its cross-sector Leadership Council for updates and capacity building. While this year’s convening needed to be virtual due COVID-19, it was wonderful to see so many friendly faces with a shared goal of health equity for young children in Contra Costa! Director, Ali Uscilka, provided updates on HAB45’s work and our Public Policy Agenda, and Program Associate, Chelsea Rae, presented our new 4P’s mini-grant opportunity for sites that want to make changes to support physical activity while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Keynote speaker Margaret Brodkin, Director of Funding the Next Generation, provided information and tips for working to pass local revenue measures Prop 15 and Measure X. Attendees worked in small groups to practice sharing information about these election opportunities and brainstorm ideas for how early childhood and public health advocates can get involved leading up to the November 3rd election.
October 2019: Get Ready for 2020!
Healthy & Active Before 5’s Fall 2019 Leadership Council Convening took place on October 30th at John Muir Hospital in Concord. Forty-two representatives from the early childhood, health care, public health, and non-profit sectors attended. Darlene Rios Drapkin, US Census Bureau Partnership Specialist and Matt Lardner, Contra Costa Census Outreach Coordinator gave an informative presentation about how the census works, why it matters, and what community partners can do to promote a complete count. Ali shared some updates about HAB45’s census work, progress on the Public Policy Agenda at the state level, and other opportunities in 2020 including local elections. Executive Committee members facilitated table discussions about what questions we might ask potential candidates for local office to highlight the health needs of young children and families in Contra Costa. Chelsea Rae led a fun and interactive physical activity break that incorporated networking to facilitate deeper relationships. Overall, the event was a big success! We are grateful to all of our partners who made it happen, and our funders (John Muir Health, Kaiser Permanente, and The California Endowment) who support these semi-annual convenings.
April 2019: Equity in Action!
This event highlighted examples of policy changes that are advancing equity in our communities. Brooke Converse from the Contra Costa Library presented the library’s new fine-free policy, which will expand access to books and early literacy resources for all Contra Costa residents. Dr. Joan Roux, of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, gave an update on the hospital’s plan to be designated as Baby-Friendly in the coming months. The changes being implemented will support breastfeeding and bonding for families giving birth at CCRMC. As a continuation of our work to educate our partners about housing issues, Tony Samara of Urban Habitat shared promising local policy solutions to address the housing affordability crisis, including just cause for evictions and rent control. Leadership Council members worked in small groups to learn more about effective policy advocacy and implementation, from contacting state legislators to communication strategies for organizational policy changes. And of course, there was a lively Zumba break and healthy breakfast! We look forward to working with our partners to advance policies on all levels that will create healthier environments for families.
November 2018: Building Capacity to Advocate for Equity
At this meeting, we focused on building skills and capacity for advocacy. Panelists Sandra Martinez of The California Wellness Foundation, Betty Geishirt Cantrell of SparkPoint Contra Costa, and Tasha Henneman from Senator Nancy Skinner’s office shared their perspectives on how and why non-profits and service providers can engage in advocacy. Attendees reviewed Healthy & Active Before 5’s Public Policy Agenda with examples of current advocacy priorities. Executive Committee members and staff facilitated breakout sessions where attendees could practice advocacy skills, including social media advocacy, crafting talking points for public testimony, and building relationships with elected officials. The day ended with a collective action to advance our priorities. Slides from the event can be accessed here.
May 2018: Housing for Contra Costa Families: Challenges and Opportunities
This Leadership Council Convening featured presentations by Will Dominie, Policy Manager for Housing Affordability and Equitable Development for the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) and Mariana Moore, Director of the Ensuring Opportunity Campaign to End Poverty in Contra Costa. The presentations were followed by a panel of Housing and Community Health Leaders who spoke on the topic: “Meeting the Housing Needs of Contra Costa Families.” During a small group discussion, our Leadership Council discussed and made a list of action steps and resources/skills each individual and organization had to address housing challenges or engage in advocacy efforts for more affordable housing. Afterwards, the group combined the list of action steps to make a “roadmap” for action.
Spring 2016: Food Environments and Preventing Obesity in Families with Young Children: Policies and Programs
This Leadership Council Convening featured key note speaker Pat Crawford, PhD, RD, Senior Director of Research and CE Specialist at the Nutrition Policy Institute. Dr. Crawford shared the latest pediatric and adult obesity data and discussed innovative policies and programs that could be implemented in Contra Costa County. During a small group discussion, our Leadership Council discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that their organizations and Contra Costa at large face in creating a healthy food environment for families with young children. HAB45 leadership plans to use this information to inform strategic planning meetings and further develop our Action Plan.
Fall 2015: Lessons Learned from the Berkeley Soda Tax
This meeting served to educate participants about the latest efforts to prevent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and provided an opportunity to model healthy behavior practices. Our incredible panel of speakers included Dr. Vicki Alexander, President of the Board of Directors for Healthy Black Families, Inc., Dr. Xavier Morales, Executive Director for the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, and grassroots political strategist Larry Tramutola. The panel highlighted some of the keys to the campaign’s success and outcomes since the passage of Berkeley’s historic Measure D Soda Tax campaign.
Spring 2015: Parks, Advocacy, and Community-Based Participatory Evaluation for Early Childhood Health
Keynote speaker Ian McLaughlin from ChangeLab Solutions presented on “Complete Parks Systems,” highlighting community park improvement efforts across the state. During the second half of the meeting, Janet Costa from the East County Regional Group (ECRG), Alex Chávez from the Central County Regional Group (CCRG), Tomasa Espinoza from the West County Regional Group (WCRG), Rhea Laughlin from First 5 Contra Costa, and Tonya Love of HAB45, presented on the “Contra Costa Community Based Parks Advocacy Project.” The presenters described the assessment of 75 parks, identified inequities across low rated parks and listed recommendations for improvement. At the end of the presentation, members of the parks project participated in a panel discussion, sharing lessons learned from our advocacy efforts. Following the panel, the Leadership Council brainstormed what role they could play in helping to strengthen our parks campaign in each region.
Fall 2014: Policy and Legislative Strategies for Financing Early Childhood Health Promotion
The meeting featured a keynote presentation by Prevention Institute Program Coordinator Will Haar on Primary Prevention Policy and “closing the loop” of investment in health and return on investment. The second half of the meeting featured a panel and discussion on local strategies for financing community prevention. Panelists included: Dr. Vicki Alexander, Co-Chair of the Berkeley Healthy Child Coalition leading the “Yes on Measure D” Soda Tax Campaign; Ron Leone, Vice Mayor and City Council Member of the City of Concord; and Coire Reilly, Manager of Injury Prevention & Physical Activity Promotion Projects at Contra Costa Health Services Community Wellness and Prevention Program. Following the panelists’ presentations and Q&A session, the participants broke out into small groups to discuss the viability of the strategies presented for Contra Costa and next steps for the Leadership Council’s support of public policy change.
Spring 2014: Healthy & Active Before 5 Public Policy Agenda
At this meeting we unveiled the HAB45 Public Policy Advocacy Agenda, marking our debut into public policy advocacy and a new and exciting direction for the collaborative. Announcing the Agenda to the Leadership Council signified the collaborative’s first steps toward garnering the support of its constituents in this work. During a small group discussion, the Leadership Council discussed what their organizations would need in terms of information, resources, and community support n order to support the HAB45 policy agenda.
Spring 2011: Social Marketing
At this meeting Mike Miller, President of Brown·Miller Communications, spoke about how social marketing can change behaviors and social norms, and the important interaction between policy efforts and marketing messages. We requested the involvement of our Leadership Council in working with us, Brown-Miller, and First 5 Contra Costa in developing a 3-year social marketing campaign (which became our Sugar Bites campaign!) to reduce early childhood obesity in Contra Costa County.
Our Pledge the Practice, Pass the Policy (4Ps) Initiative is comprised of 6 sample policies.These model policies are a free tool available to you and your agency to help you get started with healthy policy change.To see how other organizations have adapted our model policies, check out our Policy Library.
UPDATE We modified our model policies to include new COVID-19 guidance this year. You may use this guidance to help children continue to be healthy and active during this time. We are offering mini-grants to agencies that pass new healthy policies in this area. If you already have a policy in place, we can provide a mini-grant to support your continued work.
Healthy Beverage Policy: Cut out serving sugary drinks and juice to children, families, and staff at your organization’s events, meetings, and celebrations.
Healthy Food & Beverage Policy: Serve healthy foods and beverages at all organization meetings, events, and fundraisers. This means serving fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains to clients (both children and adults) and your staff. Collaborators, contractors, and grantees are also encouraged or required to follow your new Healthy Food & Beverage Policy.
Breastfeeding Accommodation Policy: Expand on the California law that requires employers provide break time and a clean, private space for breastfeeding employees to breastfeed or pump milk. Go above and beyond to create a supportive environment for breastfeeding women in the workplace. Start with information and outreach to employees before they start maternity leave.
Movement and Play Policy: Promote an organizational environment that supports movement and active play. Adopt policies that support families and clients with children to be active at your agency and support employees who want to be more physically active.
Tap Water Promotion Policy: Provide tap water to young children to inexpensively promote health, help prevent early childhood obesity, and support a healthy planet. Go a step farther than providing healthy beverages, by having a policy that specifically supports serving tap water.