Local Churches Launch Faith-based Partnership for Community Change

( [email protected] ) Mar 26, 2004 10:21 AM EST

RIVERSIDE -- Local churches in Riverside, California and the community are partnering to launch the first health educational seminars starting March 30. The seminars titled Faith-based Partnership for Community Change, are designed to educate African American parents and caregivers about early childhood development issues, especially the health and developmental needs of children ages 0-5

Faith-based Partnership for Community Change will provide an early childhood development seminar or workshop to any church in western Riverside County with experts from local programs. Topics such as nutrition, free and low-cost insurance programs, literacy, and other issues of concerning the African American community will be covered during the seminar.

According to the state Department of Health Services, Riverside County’s African American infant mortality rates are higher than any other ethnic group in the county.

The first seminar, which will be held at Amos Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Riverside, will focus on the Black Infant Health Program, a county health department initiative designed to reduce the high rates of Black infant mortality in Riverside County. The Black Infant Health Program provides personalized support, health services and personal empowerment for expectant women and men in its attempts to reduce the infant death rate for African American children.

“The church is the heart of the African American community,” said Stella Smith, deputy director of First 5 Riverside. “By working with pastors, trusted sources within the community, we believe we can reach more parents and caregivers with crucial information needed to bring a healthy, happy child up in the world.”

According to a research, a child’s brain develops most dramatically in the first five years and what parents and caregivers do during these years to support their child’s growth will have much impact throughout the child’s life. Based on this research, California voters passed Proposition 10 in 1998, adding a 50 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes to support programs for expectant parents and children ages 0 to 5. First 5 Riverside receives approximately $22 million in Prop. 10 revenues per year to fund programs and services that meet local needs.

Faith-based Partnership for Community grew out from a group of pastors who are part of First 5 Riverside committee, with the goal to identify, promote and access existing community resources for congregations to support those who need help when raising a child.

"Often, people don’t know there are services out there for them, let alone where to go for what they need,” said The Rev. Andujo, host of the first seminar. “The partnership allows us to ‘bring the mountain to Mohammed,’ so to speak. These seminars will make a difference for our congregations.”

For more information on the seminars and about Faith-based Partnership for Community Change, contact Michelle Burroughs, First 5 Riverside’s Community Engagement Administrator, at 909-248-0014.