The Santa Ana City Council this week approved agreements to provide free childcare services at two community centers and conduct a feasibility study on creating a municipal public health agency.
These are two of the first programs to move forward under the Revive Santa Ana pandemic recovery initiative.
Revive Santa Ana, which is funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), is designed to provide short-term financial and health assistance as well as address long-term health, education, youth and other service needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the City Council approved a spending plan for the first, $80 million phase of the initiative.
On Tuesday, Aug. 17, the City Council authorized the City Manager to execute a facilities use agreement with Training and Research Foundation to operate childcare centers at Corbin Community Center and El Salvador Community Center, through Aug. 31, 2026. This program fits into one of the City Council’s priorities in Revive Santa Ana of providing more early childhood education opportunities for Santa Ana families.
The City Council also authorized the City Manager to execute an agreement with Health Management Associates, Inc. to provide feasibility and fiscal evaluation services for a municipal public health agency, for a total project cost not to exceed $200,000. The Council included this in Revive Santa Ana in order to explore whether the City of Santa Ana could create its own health agency and not have to depend on the Orange County Health Care Agency for services such as COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
The Training and Research Foundation (TRF) is a non-profit organization that serves low-income preschool children and families by providing school readiness services that include education, health and nutrition. The childcare that TRF provides is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic for parents who need to return to the workforce.
The agreement between the City and TRF offers the usage of the Corbin and El Salvador community centers for a wide variety of services. TRF will provide services to children up to age 3 who are Santa Ana residents, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. TRF will be able to serve 65 to 75 infants and toddlers based on this agreement, with class sizes consisting of 6 to 12 infants or toddlers.
Eligibility for these services will be done through applications reviewed by TRF, which will determine the criteria of need for services of Santa Ana residents. A proper recruitment process will also be done by TRF, which will include a community information session and the creation of a waiting list for interested family members.
Health Agency Study
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised community and public awareness of the importance of public health agencies. This unprecedented pandemic has also raised the expectations for public health departments to address substantial local health inequities amongst jurisdictions in Orange County.
The City of Santa Ana, like many other California jurisdictions, is considering whether the current public health delivery structure is meeting the needs of its residents. Currently, the County of Orange provides all public health services to County residents, including Santa Ana.
Under California law, municipalities have responsibilities for public health functions, but they can transfer this authority to counties. Most communities have chosen to do this due to the extent of the duty, required infrastructure, and associated expenses. Four California cities have their own health departments: Pasadena, Long Beach, Vernon and Berkeley.
The feasibility and fiscal evaluation for a municipal health agency for the City of Santa Ana is expected to be completed in about eight months and will be presented to the City Council.
More information on the childcare program and the results of the study will be on the Revive Santa Ana webpage when available.