City receives Champion for Children Award

Gonzales City Council and City Manager Rene Mendez (far right) were honored with the Champion for Children Award on Nov. 5 during the council meeting. (Photo by Samantha Bengtson)

Recognized for its innovative children and youth policies

GONZALES — Monterey County Children’s Council (MCCC) selected the City of Gonzales to receive the first Champion for Children Award after the City added a “Health and Wellness” element to its General Plan for the wellbeing of children and youth.

“Innovation and leadership for the wellbeing of children and youth define the Monterey County Children’s Council Champion for Children Award,” said Nancy Kotowski, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools and MCCC Chair. “The City of Gonzales took pioneering steps to support children, youth and their families. The plan addresses both short- and long-term community needs that will help children and youth thrive now, in school and later in life.”

The City of Gonzales approved health and wellness changes to its General Plan in July 2018 by developing a blueprint for the City’s approach to improving children and youth development. The City plans to encourage inclusion of child care spaces in new residential and non-residential areas.

It also supports the development of affordable, accessible and quality early child care, preschools and Head Start programs.

The new addition also aims to build cross-sector collaboration to help determine community needs and find solutions to early learning and care.

“We could no longer ignore our hearts and the research,” said City Manager Rene Mendez. “Investments in children and youth have so many positive impacts for our communities that we can’t overlook ways to increase graduation rates, lower crime and have a return on investment. This begins with early childhood development.”

When the Monterey County Children’s Council became aware of Gonzales’ health and wellness plans, they devised the Champion for Children Award and honored the City with the award Nov. 5.

The Champion for Children Award recognizes leadership and commitment to improving the lives of children and youth through policy and system changes.


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