Early brain science shows that chronic stressors in families, such as poverty and exposure to violence, must be addressed in order for children to learn and thrive as healthy adults. To achieve the healthiest outcomes for our youth, local leaders and organizations must work strategically together with common goals to advance to the status of children in the San Joaquin Valley.

This will be primary message presented at the Central California Children’s Institute’s 2016 Regional Children’s Summit, “A Call to Action: Building a Regional Children’s Alliance,” on Monday, May 2 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fresno State’s University Dining Hall.

CCCI5The Summit will examine regional progress in improving educational, health and social well-being of children in the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley. The current status of children in the region and new perspectives on this topic will also be part of the conversation.

Event organizers hope to bring together those in early childhood K-12 education, businesses, local governmental leaders, faith-based organizations, and health and social services to discuss the progress the region has made in addressing children’s concerns since 2010, when the last Children’s Summit took place.

“We would like to identify new opportunities and strategies for continuing to move our regional children’s agenda forward, including building a regional infrastructure,” said Dr. Cassandra Joubert, director of the Children’s Institute. “The Regional Children’s Agenda is a consensus document that frames our collective work. We now need to create an infrastructure that can support our region’s goals and our policy priorities for children and families.”

The purpose of the Central California Children’s Agenda, originally developed in 2010, is to unite child advocates in the San Joaquin Valley around an agreed upon set of goals and strategies that seek to enhance the well-being of all children and youth in the Valley.

Key issues identified in the Agenda considered prevalent among children and families include the need to strengthen early psychosocial and emotional development of children, decrease negative youth social behaviors (such as gang violence, teen pregnancy, substance use, high school dropout), and the need for stronger, more effective parent engagement.

“The Agenda was endorsed by more than 100 organizations in 2010,” Joubert said. “The endorsees were largely health and human service organizations, and youth-serving groups. Today we are calling for an expansion of our efforts to include business and faith sectors. It is important to continue to advance the Agenda so that we can leverage the strengths of all of our partners and work collaboratively as a region toward shared goals.”

The Summit will feature guest speakers Dr. Cassie Hartzog, a post-doctoral scholar at the Center for Regional Change at UC Davis, and Kendra Rogers, managing director of Early Childhood Policy at Children Now.


Hartzog will present community priorities for supporting children and families as identified through town hall meetings held in the Valley throughout 2016. She’ll also discuss the regional analysis of children’s issues conducted by UC Davis and supported by Sierra Health Foundation, one of the event’s sponsors. Rogers will also discuss regional approaches that could align with state strategies to improve outcomes for children.

A screening of one segment of the PBS documentary, “Raising of America” will be shown during the lunch hour.

Joubert (L) and former CHHS Dean, Dr. Ben Cuellar.

The Central California Children’s Institute will also be celebrating its 15th birthday. Formed in 2001 under the guidance of former College of Health and Human Services Dean, Dr. Ben Cuellar, the Institute has worked to leverage the resources of the University to improve the well-being and quality of life for all children, youth and their families in the Central California Region. At the time, Valley Children’s Healthcare, also an event sponsor, served as a key partner in advocating for the need to have a collective voice on behalf of children and their families.

Tim Curley, Director of Community and Government Relations at Valley Children’s Healthcare, will moderate the day’s event.

The Children’s Institute, established in the College of Health and Human Services, works in collaboration with several other colleges on campus, including the College of Social Sciences, the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and the College of Science and Math.

“Our goal moving forward is to create a strong alliance of organizations throughout the region that will continue to advance the goals and policy priorities of the Regional Children’s Agenda,” said Joubert.

Joubert recently received the Bruce D. Perry Spirit of the Child Award for her “efforts to develop and provide services for children, promote joy and safety for children and their families, and continuously nurture and work to safeguard the Spirit of the Child.” She was presented this award by the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship Program at UC Davis.

Participants are asked to register for the free, public event by April 20 by visiting: http://bit.ly/CCCIsummit16

For more information, contact Wendy Davis at (559) 228-8727 or wdavis@csufresno.edu.

Cassandra_CVT Click to view Central Valley Today interview. Air date: April 12, 2016.