Smart Start Collective Launches a Prenatal-to-Five Resource Website for Lake County

Lakeport, CA – October 11, 2019. The Smart Start Collective announced today the launch of their resource website (www.smartstartlakecounty.org) aimed at connecting expectant parents and the families and caregivers of Lake County’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers with the wide array of local resources available to them. “There are so many wonderful programs and services in our community to help parents give their children the best possible start in life; this website is a single, user-friendly source for families to find what they are looking for and learn about local resources they might never have thought to seek out,” said Carla Ritz, executive director of First 5 Lake County. Emillie Feenan, Director of the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health program for Lake County Public Health described the website as, “A prime example of what we can do when we come together as a collective to create a resource to help not only our families, but providers as well. It is exciting to know that we will have a resource guide for our 0-5 and perinatal population that is up to date and accurate. This is a huge win for our community.”


The Smart Start concept was introduced by Sutter Lakeside Hospital in 2017 with the introduction of their monthly safe sleep seminars to provide education on risk reduction for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and provide expectant parents in attendance with a “Smart Start Baby Bundle” including a pack-n-play, diapers, wipes, clothing, and other items to help them implement the skills they learned. Sutter Lakeside also invited community partners to give short presentations at the classes, sharing information about the resources they provide to those in attendance. Within a year, Adventist Health Clear Lake adopted and funded this model and began to offer the Smart Start Safe Sleep classes as well. 


In December of 2018, representatives from local agencies and organizations serving families with young children came together as the “0-5 Network Forum” and spent a half-day together mapping Lake County resources in the areas of health & medicine, child growth & development, basic needs & resources, and parenting education. Using this information, volunteer Blaze King designed and built the Smart Start Lake County website as a capstone project for his Information Technology degree program through California State University, Monterey Bay. He spent countless hours creating a site that would be ADA compliant, mobile-friendly, bilingual, and intuitive to use. As the 0-to-5 Network Forum members worked together with Blaze to make the website a reality, the consensus was that their efforts on this project and other joint efforts going forward would all share the similar goal of helping Lake County parents to give their children the best possible start in life, and thus changed their name from the 0-to-5 Network Forum to the Smart Start Collective. “I am part of this collective because I do believe it takes a strong community to make changes. I believe in the work we do and feel that little steps will leave giant footprints in the future. This website is just the beginning for our families to connect with the wealth of resources Lake County has to offer,” said Angela Cuellar-Marroquin, Lake County Child Care Planning Council and QRIS Coordinator for Lake County Office of Education. 


Sutter Lakeside Hospital has continued to expand on their Smart Start efforts by applying for and receiving a grant from First 5 Lake to add a bilingual Family Resource Navigator position to their staff. In July of 2019, the Family Resource Navigator began contacting participating parents, who opted in to the program at the safe sleep seminars, and she will continue reaching out by phone and mail multiple times in their baby’s first year of life to help parents navigate services systems and access needed resources.   


Members of the Smart Start Collective will be at the Heroes of Health and Safety Fair in Lakeport on Saturday, October 12th handing out magnets at their respective booths with the Smart Start Lake County website address as well as the address of the Health Leadership Network’s comprehensive County online resource guide (www.lakeresource.com). 


Agencies and organizations currently participating in the Smart Start Collective are: 

  • Adventist Health Clear Lake
  • Easterseals Northern California
  • E-Center WIC
  • First 5 Lake County
  • Lake County Child Welfare Services
  • Lake County Department of Public Health – Maternal Child & Adolescent Health, Tobacco and Lead Prevention Programs, SNAP-Ed, Oral Health Program
  • Lake County Department of Social Services
  • Lake County Office of Education – Healthy Start, Child Care Planning Council, Bloom
  • Lake County Tribal Health Consortium
  • Lake Family Resource Center
  • Mendocino Community Health Clinics – Lakeview Health Center
  • Mother-Wise
  • North Coast Opportunities – Rural Community Child Care Resource & Referral
  • Partnership Health Plan
  • Redwood Coast Regional Center
  • Redwood Community Services
  • Sutter Lakeside Hospital