Archive for the ‘Children & Families’ Category

Family Violence Prevention Forum Thursday, Oct. 25 in Antioch

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

On October 25, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office along with our justice partners, is hosting a community forum and resource fair which will address what family violence looks like in Contra Costa County, what Contra Costa County’s response is to family violence and how law enforcement responds to family violence. Victims may feel conflicted about reporting violence in the home or may not be aware of the wide range of resources in our community that can respond to, intervene in and work to prevent these issues and keep our families safe.

32.9 percent of California women and 27.3 percent of California men experience physical violence, sexual violence and/or stalking in their lifetimes. In 2016, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received over 28,000 calls from California and nearly one-third of these had children in the home. Research has shown that only 4 percent of domestic violence murder victims nationwide had ever availed themselves of domestic violence program services. Our goal is to increase that number by letting our community members know how to get help right here in Contra Costa County.

The event will occur in Antioch at the Antioch Water Park (4701 Lone Tree Way) starting at 5:00 p.m. with the resource fair. Community members will receive a “passport” to use when visiting providers at the resource fair and will be eligible for prizes if they collect a “stamp” from each provider. A blue ribbon panel of experts from many levels of our County’s family violence response system will address the audience at 6:00 p.m. and be available for questions. After the panelists finish, the resources fair will be continue until 8:00 p.m. Food and drinks will be provided.

 Victims of family violence can get help by reporting the conduct to the police, by calling the STAND! for Families Free of Violence 24-hour toll free crisis line at 1-888-215-5555 or contacting the Family Justice Centers in Richmond (256 24th St.) or Concord (2151 Salvio St., Suite 201). In any life-threatening emergency, victims should always call 911. In 2019, a new Family Justice Center location will open in Antioch to serve East County residents.

The entire program will be moderated by KTVU’s Candice Nguyen. Panelists will include:

·         Dana Filkowski, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

·         Rhonda James, STAND! For Families Free of Violence

·         Devorah Levine, Contra Costa Alliance to End Abuse

·         Kevin McAllister, Rainbow Community Center

·         Nicole Riddick, Pittsburg Police Department

·         Jason Vanderpool, Antioch Police Department

The participating agencies are as follows: 

·         Antioch Council for the Teens

·         Antioch Police Department

·         Bay Area Rapid Transit

·         Brentwood Police Department

·         Brentwood Union School District

·         Catholic Charities of the East Bay

·         Community Violence Solutions

·         Contra Costa Family Justice Centers

·         Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

·         Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department

·         Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office

·         International Rescue Committee

·         Mexican Consulate

·         Oakley Police Department

·         Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa, Inc.

·         Opportunity Junction

·         Pittsburg Police Department

·         Planned Parenthood

·         Rainbow Community Center

·         Rubicon Programs

·         Ruby’s Place

·         STAND! For Families Free of Violence

·         Tourette Association of America

·         Village Community Resource Center

 October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month.


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Free Fall Family Frolic Friday at the Antioch Water Park

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Say so-long to summer at the Antioch Water Park “Fall Family Frolic” on Friday, September 7, 2018 from 5:00 to 7:00pm.  It is a FREE night of family swim and The City of Antioch invites all residents to enjoy Friday night having fun and spending quality time with family and friends at the Water Park. The park will be open from 5pm-7pm on September 7th, offering free admission to everyone.

The Antioch Water Park offers a unique family experience and creates life-long memories. Gather the kids and round up your neighbors for that final summer swim party. There are five slides and five pools including a sport pool with obstacle course, a spray park for young children, picnic areas, shade trees, table tennis, and more!

To learn more about the Antioch Water Park please call 925-776-3070 or visit the City’s website at

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The Learning Experience Academy of Early Childhood Education opens in Antioch

Friday, August 17th, 2018

Owner Rajya Ponnaluri, family and friends are joined by local business owners and community leaders for a ribbon cutting of her new business on July 28, 2018. Photos courtesy of Antioch Chamber of Commerce.

Rajya Ponnaluri (in sunglasses) and staff.

The Learning Experience, one of the country’s fastest-growing Academies of Early Education, opened its newest center at 4831 Lone Tree Way in Antioch. They held a ribbon cutting with the Antioch Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, July 28.

Now enrolling and offering private tours for families, the center provides childcare, enrichment programs, and early education for children from six weeks to six years of age. Its all-inclusive curriculum and programs include phonics, mathematics, science, foreign language, yoga, and a philanthropy program that teaches children the value of kindness and generosity.

The independent franchise in Antioch is owned by Rajya Ponnaluri, a first time franchise owner, who will employ over 30 teachers and staff members to serve upwards of 180 children.

For more information call (925) 281-7640 or visit or stop by, today.

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Antioch kids: Adventures in Fun & Fitness through August 2

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

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Back to School event at HIMC Barber Studio in Antioch offers free backpacks and haircuts Sunday, July 29

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

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BREAKING NEWS: DeSaulnier reports proposed detention center “has been halted”

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Screenshot of a tent city-type detention center from

Washington, DC – Today, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) issued the following statement in response to news that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it will not be moving forward with a detention center at the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

“I am pleased the effort to turn Concord Naval Weapons Station into a detention facility has been halted. As we advised the Administration, the Concord Naval Weapons Station is an unsafe and inhabitable environment, and to propose housing almost 50,000 people there was both dangerous and immoral. We fought this proposal along with our local officials and dedicated community and will continue to fight against the inhumane and unjust policies proposed by this Administration. It is important not to let our guard down as one tweet can change things.”

Congressman DeSaulnier voiced concerns to the Administration about creating a detention facility on Concord Naval Weapons Station and led an effort of California Members in asking for the release of a proposal identifying Concord Naval Weapons Station as a possible detention site. News of Concord making the list of proposed facilities first broke in Time Magazine and Congressman DeSaulnier immediately contacted local officials to work with them to fight this effort. He also held a Facebook town hall to answer questions from area residents.

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Former Concord Naval Weapons station possible site for 47,000 immigrant detention center

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

The former Concord Naval Weapons Station. Photo by

By Allen Payton

It was revealed on Friday that according to a copy of a draft memo obtained by TIME, the U.S. Navy is considering establishing a detention center for up to 47,000 illegal immigrants at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. It would be one of four remote bases in California, including at Camp Pendleton, as well as Alabama and Arizona as part of the Trump Administration’s new zero tolerance policy of prosecuting and detaining all those who cross our border illegally, even for the first time.

The immigrants, including families with children, would remain in a “temporary and austere” tent city as the Navy memo describes it, according to the TIME article, until their court hearing, including those seeking asylum. The estimated cost to construct all of the facilities would be $233 million.

It’s not clear where the facility would be located on the former weapons station site. The land south of Highway 4 is now labeled the Concord Reuse Project and includes plans for as many as 12,000 homes in four transit villages, elementary school, office park and open space, with the 500-acre first phase by Lennar Urban planned for 4,400 homes. Attempts to reach Guy Bjerke, Concord’s Director of Community Reuse Planning for more details, were unsuccessful.

Concord Reuse Plan for the former Naval Weapons Station land south of Highway 4.

In the Executive Order he signed on Wednesday banning the separation of families apprehended at the border for crossing illegally, President Trump stated “The Secretary of Defense shall take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary (of Homeland Security), upon request, any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families, and shall construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law.”

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA11) whose district includes Concord, released a statement on Friday regarding the proposed detention center.

“STOP! The Administration needs to take a time out,” he stated. “This is no way to effectuate intelligent immigration policy, including for those seeking asylum. This is absolute madness and I oppose it wholeheartedly. If the Administration wants to have a rational dialogue about fixing our immigration system, I am happy to do that, but making up immigration policy on the fly is just wrong. We will fight this in every way we can.”

In addition, Margarget Hanlon Gradie, Executive Director of the Contra Costa AFL-CIO Labor Council, released the following statement on Friday opposing the proposed detention center.

“Working families oppose the proposal to jail asylum seekers anywhere in Concord, Contra Costa County, or America.

“We have worked for a dozen years to create a new vision for the Concord Naval Weapons Station that brings benefits to our community — not prisons.  We believe this land – the public’s land, belonging to the people of Concord – should be used for schools, hospitals, affordable homes and good jobs, not the criminal abuse of human rights.

We stand with Rep. Mark DeSaulnier and other elected leaders in their call to reject cynical political posturing. Our federal government needs to restore DACA for our Dreamers and create a path to citizenship in a functional immigration system that supports workers’ rights, family reunification, and the needs of local and global economies.”

Screenshot of a tent city-type detention center from

Anna Roth, Director of Contra Costa Health Services also released a politically-charged statement on Friday regarding the proposed detention center.

“Contra Costa Health Services learned through media reports on Friday that the former Concord Naval Weapons Station may soon be used as a detention facility for as many as 47,000 undocumented immigrants.

As principle guardian of public health in Contra Costa County, charged with protecting all people who live here, Contra Costa Health Services condemns this dangerous, immoral proposal – not just the location of this facility, but its existence.

Whether the despicable practice of caging young children separately from their parents continues or family members are imprisoned together, there is no place in Contra Costa or any civilized society for these types of facilities.

We know as health professionals the irrevocable harm caused by family separation, a trauma that leads to higher incidence of addiction, mental illness and chronic disease among survivors. The consequences to the health of prisoners, particularly children, are not hard to predict.

The health impacts of institutional violence against immigrants also extend to residents of our county. As Health Services Director, I hear from patients and employees every day who are under duress because of recent immigration practices.

Many Contra Costa residents live in fear, documented and otherwise. Patients miss appointments because they’re afraid ICE will be waiting for them in the doctor’s office.

This climate of fear adversely affects our community’s health, and would only worsen with this detention facility pitched in the center of our county. For the health of all Contra Costans we demand that a detention camp not be located in our county.

Furthermore, we call for an immediate end to the practice of imprisoning undocumented immigrants, particularly children.”


Anna M. Roth RN, MS, MPH Director | Contra Costa Health Services”

Immigrants who cross the U.S. border illegally and are detained awaiting their court hearing, are part of a backlog of 700,000 immigration court cases according to a report by Mother Jones, including those seeking asylum. But, according to a Washington Times article, the backlog is closer to one million cases. “James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which handles immigration cases, said Tuesday that the backlog of active cases is over 692,000 and that the courts have an additional 330,000 cases that have been put into ‘administrative closure,’ but that are still before the courts.”

The asylum process takes more time, causing the immigrants to remain in detention longer, which can be extended further if they arrive without documentation. (See requirements for being granted asylum). In order to seek asylum it must be done in the U.S., including at a port of entry, an embassy or consulate in the immigrant’s home country, or in another country, such as Mexico.

Those seeking asylum cannot work while they await the decision by the government until after 150 days have passed, according to information on the U.S.  Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website:

“You cannot apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the United States at the same time you apply for asylum. You may apply for employment authorization if: 150 days have passed since you filed your complete asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview) AND No decision has been made on your application.

According to a 2016 report by then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during the final year of the Obama Administration, there has been an increase in families from Central America crossing the border illegally and being apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

“Unaccompanied children and families have presented new challenges in our immigration system,” he stated.

Those figures show an increase from 15,000 families crossing illegally in 2013 to almost 78,000 in 2016.

The first time an immigrant crosses illegally they are charged with a misdemeanor. Each subsequent illegal crossing it is a felony. Previously, the parents of those crossing as families for the first time have been apprehended, cited and released, pending their court hearing. But, many of them never appeared for their court date. The Trump Administration, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new zero tolerance policy, requires the arrest and detention of even those who cross the border illegally for the first time.

According to the press release by the Department of Justice, the “policy comes as the Department of Homeland Security reported a 203 percent increase in illegal border crossings from March 2017 to March 2018, and a 37 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018—the largest month-to-month increase since 2011.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration Statistics Yearbook for 2016, each year, on average the U.S. allows in one million foreign nationals who are granted lawful permanent residence (i.e. immigrants who receive a ‘green card’), admitted as temporary nonimmigrants, granted asylum or refugee status, or are naturalized.”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Contra Costa DA’s Office partners with ASK and Brady Center for Gun Safety campaign

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is committed to preventing gun violence in our communities and educating youth about the dangers and consequences of gun possession. This month, the District Attorney’s Office is collaborating with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics in the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Gun Safety Campaign to educate parents and children about gun safety.

Nationwide, approximately 1.7 million youth live in a home with an unlocked, loaded gun. More than one in five U.S. teenagers (ages 14 to 17) report having witnessed a shooting, and an average of seven children and teens under the age of 20 are killed by guns every day. The ASK campaign is a nationwide effort which includes numerous leading national organizations, including education, healthcare, and law enforcement groups who are dedicated to stopping gun violence in America. 

We must address the growing trends of gun violence, not only in our schools but on our streets and in our homes. Common sense gun safety laws do work along with educating parents and guardians on how they can best protect their children at home. My office will continue to partner with law enforcement, our schools, and our community to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our kids safe and to prevent further gun violence,” stated District Attorney Diana Becton.

In honor of the annual summer “ASK Day” kickoff this week, representatives from the District Attorney’s Office will host tables at the Farmers’ Markets in Pittsburg and Martinez on Saturday, June 23rd and Sunday, June 24th to provide the community with information about the risks associated with unsafely stored guns in their homes.

In partnership with the Contra Costa County Probation Department, the District Attorney’s Office will continue to teach the Gun Information for Teens (“GIFT”) Program to youth throughout the county. In 2012, the GIFT Program started as an initial pilot to educate youth about gun violence and prevention, which focused on the intersection between gangs, guns, drugs and youth in our county. The GIFT Program expanded in 2015 remains an important tool for our office to empower students to protect themselves and their communities from gun violence. Representatives from the District Attorney’s Office and Probation Department currently teach this 6-course anti-violence curriculum to approximately 1,000 students each year.

All school district administrators are encouraged to join this collaborative effort to keep our schools and neighborhoods safe; to schedule the GIFT Program at your school, please contact Deputy District Laura Delehunt at Courses will be tailored to address the specific needs at your school site and will provide students with valuable skills to make positive choices.

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