A nearly two decade old early education program on the South Coast is taking on a new look, as the agency which oversees it struggles with a massive funding cut. First 5 Ventura County serves some of the estimated 60,000 prenatal through five year old children in the county. Its flagship program is an effort called “Neighborhoods For Learning.”
It’s money comes from the state tobacco tax, but a big dip in tobacco use has dropped the funding in Ventura County by nearly 60% in the last year alone. The budget has gome from $7 million to $2.9 million dollars.
It means fewer centers will be available for the program this fall. Interface, the new contractor which will run the 13 “Neighborhoods For Learning” program is one of the biggest non-profit program providers in the region. Interface operates 30 programs in Ventura County for children, teens, and adults, dealing with everything from mental health issues to child abuse.
First Five and Interface officials say the new partnership for early education programs is a logical fit. Shifting from 11 contractors, to a single one is also expected to bring new consistency to the program countywide. First Five provides key services to about 4,000 children, as well as support services to many more families.
Plans have been announced for open houses at the centers. The relaunch of “Neighborhoods for Learning” will take placed next month. You can find complete details at First Five Ventura County’s website, www.first5ventura.org