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African American Children with Autism are more likely to be Misdiagnosed

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Currently, one in 110 children in the United States has autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is a developmental disability that occurs when the brain has trouble functioning properly. It affects a child’s ability to speak, learn, and communicate with others. A study by Dr. David Mandell in October 2005 reported that, on average, the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was delayed by almost 2 years among African American children (7.5 years old) as compared to their Caucasian counterparts (5.5 years old). At this time, there is no cure for autism, but kids who are screened and diagnosed at a young age and visit a doctor regularly for treatment show significant improvement in learning and communication skills.

In recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month, First 5 California wants parents and caregivers to be aware of the following early signs of autism to help families identify a need for early intervention and treatment.

Early Warning Signs
Not all children develop at the same rate, but some may need further evaluation and special services to help them grow up healthy. Autism, in particular, can be difficult to diagnose because it affects each child differently. A group study by the National Alliance of Autism Research revealed that each ethnic group has unique genes that can interact with autism-associated genes to slightly change the course of the disease. For example, certain symptoms associated with autism, such as delayed language development and problems handling daily life tasks, are more severe in African American individuals with autism than Caucasians. Pay attention to certain signs in your child’s behavior. See a health care provider for further screenings if you notice your child exhibits any of these indicators:

• Does not coo or smile by 6 months old
• Has trouble sitting, standing up, or reaching for objects by 1 year old
• Does not say simple words like “mama” or “dada” by 1 year old
• Does not turn his or her head to follow sounds or voices
• Does not react to loud noises
• Repeats certain behaviors, including some that are harmful like banging his or her head • Makes little or no eye contact and wants to be alone
• Does not play games like peek-a-boo or “pretend” (e.g., pretending to feed a doll) • Any loss of speech or social skills

Early Intervention and Treatment
By getting help at an early age when the brain is still developing – from birth to age 3 – parents can help children reduce the effects of autism by the time they start kindergarten. Some of the most common treatment options include speech therapy, diet, and therapies focused on improving relationships.

For more information, visit www.first5california.com/parents.

About First 5 California
First 5 California, also known as the California Children and Families Commission, was established after voters passed Proposition 10 in November 1998, adding a 50 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund education, health, child care and other programs for expectant parents and children up to age 5. For more information, please visit first5california.com/parents.

Article by Kris Perry, Executive Director, First 5 California

'Seniors Need Jobs Too'

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By Linnie Frank Bailey –

New America Media fellow Linnie Frank Bailey examines the plight of older ethnic workers looking for their share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in this two-part series.

“I wish more of the stimulus funds had gone to the senior community,” says Anthony Bell, California Program Manager for the National Indian Coalition on Aging (NICOA). “Everyday we get heartbreaking calls from older workers who have lost jobs and are desperately looking for work to save their homes.”

Seniors are an often overlooked demographic when jobs and the economy are mentioned, even though they are staying in the workforce longer than in years past. Out of the $787 billion stimulus, just $120 million, or less than 0.01 percent went to senior employment, although older Americans are returning to work in greater numbers.

The Recovery Act did provide $100 million for nutritional programs for older Americans, and SSI recipients got an extra, one-time check for $250 as part of the stimulus. While that might have paid a few bills, Bell says, $250 is a “a mere pittance to seniors who are struggling with job and housing issues.”

Working Longer

There are a variety of reasons why American workers are remaining in the labor force past the standard retirement age of 65, however a struggling economy, and America’s 78 million baby boomers, the first of whom reached 65 in 2009, are credited with changing retirement patterns in America. The most recent figures from the Labor Department show the number of unemployed workers age 55 to 64 has nearly tripled since the recession began.

Officially, the unemployment rate for seniors is about half that for younger Americans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

8.5% of African Americans and 8.0% of Latinos over 65 are unemployed, but that doesn’t count seniors who want to work, but don’t meet the government’s definition of actively looking for a job.

Bell, whose organization runs a senior employment program, believes ethnic elder unemployment is higher than the rates for non-ethnic seniors. “We know African- Americans and Hispanics face higher unemployment across the board,” he states.

“You have to remember,” he says, “ethnic elders are facing both race and age discrimination.”

Ethnic elders in the Inland Empire (western Riverside and San Bernardino Counties) are competing with younger workers for nonexistent jobs. The area has some of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Of 49 metropolitan areas with a population of 1 million or more, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., area came in second in unemployment with a rate of 15 percent. (The Detroit-Warren- Livonia, Mich., reported the highest unemployment rate at 15.6%)

From his Riverside office, NICOA director Bell sees seniors who are anxious to return to work. “Some have faced a life-time of under employment, but we are seeing an increasing number of seniors who have been employed all of their adult lives and lost their jobs. Some have Master’s and advanced degrees, but they are desperate for anything – even minimum wage -- to help them survive this recession.” Bell says that one of the few areas that shows promise for older workers is employment as security guards. “I can get them training and certification and find jobs in this field,” he says. “Otherwise they must compete with younger workers for minimum wage jobs, mostly in retail.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2015 one in five (or 20%) of America’s workers will be over the age of 55. The report also shows that the most significant employment growth will come from workers over 65. The numbers of workers between the ages of 65 and 74 and those aged 75 and up are projected to grow by more than 80 percent.

“It’s a shame the value of older workers isn’t always recognized,” he adds. “They bring maturity, stability, and loyalty to the workforce. We hear this again and again from those who employ them.”

The State of California received over two million dollars in stimulus funding for SCSEP, of which $173,940 was allocated to Riverside County and $91,106 was awarded to San Bernardino County. Bell reports that Inland funds have been exhausted, and that they were used to employ 35 people who are working 20 hours a week at $8 an hour.

“It’s not enough,” says Bell. “Each year the situation gets compounded as more and more people fall into the senior age group. We need another stimulus – we need to pump more money into work for this age group. There is a continuous decline in their standard of living.”

Senior Community Service Employment Program - (SCSEP)

The only national senior employment program to receive stimulus funds is the Senior Community Service Employment Program - (SCSEP), a program designed to offer employment options for low income seniors. To be eligible for SCSEP workers must:

Must be 55 years or older Must not exceed low-income guidelines (generally, income must be below 124% of federal poverty rate)
Must be a resident of the state
Must not have worked in the prior 7 days

In the Inland Empire and other locations across the country, SCSEP is operated by the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) – one of 18 program sponsors across the county.

In addition to California programs, NICOA runs SCSEP in Arizona, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The organization stresses that although they are a Native American group, they offer SCSEP to seniors from all ethnic groups.

Senator Feinstein Introduces Legislation to Commemorate Buffalo Soldiers

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U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) recently introduced legislation to commemorate the Buffalo Soldiers, the Army's first all-African-American units, and the critical role they played in the early years of the National Parks.

"We must preserve the memory of our brave Buffalo Soldiers, who were in essence our nation's first park rangers and left a rich historical legacy in the state of California," Senator Feinstein said. "This bill is an important first step in memorializing the critical role the Buffalo Soldiers had in shaping the National Parks we so treasure. We must ensure their contributions will be remembered and shared by all."

Created by Congressional Order in 1869, the Buffalo Soldiers bravely served our country both at home and abroad in the face of segregation and intolerance. The Buffalo Soldiers also left behind a legacy enshrined in our National Parks.

Buffalo Soldiers stationed at San Francisco's Presidio patrolled Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, where they protected our parks from poachers and loggers, built trails, and escorted visitors. The Buffalo Soldiers were, in essence, our nation's first park rangers.

This bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to commission a study to:

· Evaluate the feasibility of establishing a national historic trail commemorating the route the Buffalo Soldiers traveled between their post at San Francisco's Presidio and Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.

· Identify properties to be considered for the National Register of Historic Places or National Historic Landmarks.

· Develop educational initiatives and a public awareness campaign about the contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers. The "Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act" is a companion bill to H.R. 4491, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) in January.

SoCal Churches Join In Haitian Relief Effort

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By Ashley A. Jones –

In an effort to reach out and provide assistance to Haiti earthquake victims, Dr. Reginald L. Woods and staff of Life Changing Ministries in San Bernardino visited Haiti from February 17-26, 2010 to offer humanitarian aid. Other So Cal churches to join their effort by donating funds were Dr. John Woods, Jr., Pastor, Praise Christian Center of Montclair, Ca and Pastor Larry Weaver, Atherton Baptist Church in Hawthorne, Ca.

On January 12, 2010, over 2.3 million Haitians were affected by a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake resulting in the destruction of the impoverished nation. The 35-second earthquake injured thousands of individuals and contributed to a death toll surpassing 100,000.

Haiti’s estimated population is 9,035,536. Of this figure, 95% of the population is Black and the remaining 5% are White and mulatto.

Senior Pastor Dr. Woods and staff members Minister/Evangelist Juanita Jackson and Deaconess Saundra Birdsong arrived in Santiago, Dominican Republic on February 17, 2010 where they were met by their host and transported to Cap Haitian, Haiti. Cap Haitian is north of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. According to Dr. Woods, the primary purpose of the visit was to provide assistance and support to the Haitians, as well as to encourage them by letting them know more help would be on the way.

“Haiti was already in great need prior to the earthquake. The infrastructure, the government, the roads, everything about it screamed out poverty and distress. It was definitely going to take international help because they were not in a position to help themselves,” said Dr. Woods.

The group met with local Cap Haitian Pastor Ecclesias Donation of the Tabernacle of Praise, who led the group to the earthquake site and other surrounding cities within the country. The group had the opportunity to meet with the Haitians and assess their needs.

“The Haitian people were warm but some were reserved. They definitely appreciated our care and concern,” said Dr. Woods.

“The biggest thing they need is prayer. They need God’s intervention. And second of all, they need a government leadership that will be accountable. They’ve had corrupt leadership for so long. The U.S.A has given Haiti over a billion dollars of support but the nation doesn’t show it, that’s the problem. Where is all the money going? Well the money has been going to the pockets of the politicians,” said Dr. Woods.

According to Dr. Woods, the nation is greatly in need of global support. Specifically, the Haitians need monetary and technological support. “They need to develop an infrastructure that would meet modern society standards. Other nations have had powerful earthquakes but have not been as devastated because they have a better infrastructure,” said Dr. Woods.

“The greatest thing I received from the visit was the opportunity to bond my heart with the people of Haiti. Also, I’ve come back and have found myself serving as an ambassador, speaking about their needs and also having received several thousands of dollars from people to channel back to Haiti and I will be retuning personally as well as taking people that desire to go,” said Dr. Woods.

Since the visit to Haiti, Life Changing Ministries has had the opportunity to host Pastor Ecclesias Donation and other key stakeholders in Haiti including a young candidate running for 2010 presidency in Haiti. Additionally, Dr. Woods has visited multiple organizations to deliver an oral presentation of the visit and have submitted funds to Haiti on behalf of several organizations. Currently, LCM is assisting pastor Donation and his staff in building a well 15 miles from Cap Haitian to provide water and crops to 350 school children.

“In summary, I’d say that we all need to live to give. That is, live beyond ourselves. The Bible says it’s more blessed to give than to receive. I would encourage every Christian, every human being to look beyond their own needs and be concerned about the needs of others. Life is more fulfilling when we are a blessing to others and not focused solely on our own needs,” said Dr. Woods.

To learn more about joining LCM’s effort to support Haiti, please contact the church at (909) 882-2337. You may also contact the church if you would like to have more information about receiving an oral presentation of LCM’s visit to Haiti from Dr. Woods. The church’s website is located at lifecm.org.

Community Briefs

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Board of Supervisors to Honor 47 Outstanding County Employees

As part of National Public Service Recognition Week, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will publicly recognize 47 County employees at its May 11, 2010, board meeting. At this once-a-year opportunity to recognize the everyday work of public servants, one employee from each participating County department has been selected for an Award for Excellence, based on outstanding service to the county and its citizens. Aside from their regular job duties, many honorees devote their time and expertise to support community service activities throughout the county.

2010 marks the 21st year that the County has participated in this national Public Service Recognition Week event. Public employees in the United States and around the world take part in the annual celebration honoring the men and women serving America as federal, state, and local government employees. The County’s honoree selection is based on specific criteria including customer service, initiative and leadership, accomplishments, and attitude.

Following the awards presentation on Tuesday, honorees will also be recognized at a private reception in the government center rotunda, sponsored by the San Bernardino Public Employees Association.

The following County employees are being recognized as part of Public Service Recognition Week:

Beatriz Valdez, County Administrative Office

Jackie Laird, Department of Aging & Adult Services

Allen Lampman, Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Denay Morgan, Airports

Jeri DeWitt, Department of Architecture & Engineering Christopher Cook, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center

Richard Armstrong, Assessor Cindia Casillas, Auditor/Controller-Recorder- Treasurer-Tax Collector

Linda Santillano, Auditor/Controller-Recorder- Treasurer-Tax Collector

Peter Muller, Department of Behavioral Health

Joseph Michael, Board of Retirement

Annette Taylor, Board of Supervisors

Jeffrey Schroer, Department of Child Support Services

Elizabeth Scott-Jones, Children and Family Services

Norma Fite, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors

Michael Sadsad, Community Development & Housing

Penny Alexander-Kelley, County Counsel

John Thomas, District Attorney Clarissa Jimenez, Economic Development Agency

Soua Vang, Economic Development Department

Cheri Pedroza-Duran, Facilities Management

Leigh Overton, Fire Department

Ruth Griffin, First 5 San Bernardino

Rick Wright, Fleet Management

William Ward, Flood Control

Linda Whittle, Human Resources Department

Rosemary Esparza, Information Services

Gia Kim, Land Development

Tricia Munoz, Land Use Services

David Martinez, Library

Karen Saffle, Museum

Elizabeth Stuart, Performance, Education & Resource Centers

Cinda Grayson, Preschool Services Department

Julie Hovis, Probation Department

Sam Knudsen, Public Defender

Tammi Graham, Department of Public Health

Diana Diaz, Purchasing

Elsy Banks, Real Estate Services

Joseph N. Oliver, Regional Parks

Mary Lou Mongar, Registrar of Voters

Eileen Egland, Risk Management

John Cronin, Sheriff-Coroner-Public Administrator

Michael Murphy, Solid Waste Management

Celia McDonald, Special Districts

Juanita Williams, Transitional Assistance Department

Sally Gibson, Veterans Affairs

Mike Holtz, Workforce Development


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BVN National News Wire