The First 5 Yuba Commission is making available another round of grants for programs aimed at young children and their parents.

Grants of up to $100,000 for major projects and $2,500 for smaller projects are available, with enough funding for six major programs and 20 smaller ones.

Still to be determined, though, is whether the commission, funded through tobacco taxes and created by 1998's Proposition 10, may get a request from Yuba County officials in the next budget year if shortfalls from the state happen again.

During the current budget year, First 5 drew from a contingency account to give the county $32,794 for a dental health program aimed at children and $71,380 for a health program for moms and their children.

Both county programs, said First 5 Executive Director Jenny Sharkey, had a funding gap when the 2009-10 state budget was finalized last fall.

"It always depends on the proposal and the presentation," Sharkey said, explaining even if the county's program is short, who it serves has to match with First 5's mission mandate for money to be allotted.

Yuba County Administrator Robert Bendorf said while financial times are tight, it's imperative local governments partner with each other and other groups to share resources, expertise, and sometimes dollars.

"We've had partnerships established prior to this downturn, and we've expanded and enhanced them now," he said.

Bendorf said it's too soon to say whether the county might come hat in hand to First 5 again after the 2010-11 state budget is sorted out.

"First 5 certainly has other areas they provide funding for," Bendorf said. "You only have so many funds and so many services you can give money to."

But the state's budget outlook isn't bright. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget proposal released last month relied on a certain amount of federal funding to fill the deficit; otherwise, the state could eliminate huge programs in health and human services.

Bendorf and Sharkey said one other area of financial cooperation between the county and First 5 is more visible: grants getting the county's fledgling recreation program off the ground.

In 2008, First 5 Yuba gave the county a three-year, $250,000 grant to start the program, with early offerings aimed at the preschool set and their parents.

Sharkey said she believes the county plans to eventually make the recreation program sustainable by charging fees for programs aimed at children and adults.

Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Ben van der Meer at 749-4709 or For more Yuba County news, see Ben's blog "Yuba County Insider" at

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