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First 5 California Dual Language Learner Pilot (2017-2022)


In 2016, the First 5 California (F5CA) Commission approved funding of $20 million between fiscal years 2016–17 through 2020–21, to support a Dual Language Learner (DLL) Pilot. The DLL Pilot study was designed to examine effective culturally and linguistically responsive strategies in instruction, professional development, and family engagement in early learning and care settings; and the conditions in which they are effective, sustainable, and scalable. The DLL Pilot was also used to increase awareness about the benefits of bilingualism and home language in early educators, families, and the public through the participation of Pilot sites, the Talk.Read.Sing.® campaign, and F5CA’s parent website. Due to COVID-19, the Commission approved the Pilot to be extended to June 2022 with additional supports for DLLs in the Expansion phase.

The DLL Pilot Study was implemented in three phases: background (phase 1), in-depth (phase 2), and expansion (phase 3). A summary of the research questions and study design, along with how the study was adapted to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on early learning settings, are highlighted in the DLL Pilot Study Oveview Document.

Sixteen CA counties participated in the DLL Pilot study. Counties were selected through a random selection process, and they are: Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo


Study Highlights

The three phases of the Pilot study and the research and evaluation findings from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) provided deeper insights about multi-lingual language learners, their families, how early childhood education systems and local county systems support their needs. Some of the highlights include:

  • Partnering with families is critical: when families’ home language and culture are supported in school and at home, children show better outcomes
  • Multilingualism is an asset: multilingualism improves cognitive abilities and changes brain architecture to promote short- and long-term success
  • Caregivers need to understand how to work with these populations, which requires a systematic approach.


DLL Pilot Study Findings

F5CA contracted with AIR to carry out the research study and evaluation of the DLL Pilot. Information about the research team and study design are available on the AIR’s website at

Throughout the DLL Pilot, the AIR published evaluation findings in several reports. Among the publications includes the Summary of DLL Pilot Study Findings Brief. This brief provides an overview of the study, highlights the key findings, and shares recommendations for supporting DLLs and their families, through classroom instructional practices, family engagement strategies, and professional development for educators across early learning and care settings. The reports are available on the AIR’s web site

Community of Practice (CoP)

DLL Pilot counties participated in CoPs every month between April 2021 – June 2022. The CoPs were part of the DLL Pilot Study Expansion Phase, designed to help First 5 California (F5CA) and its partners understand what it takes to implement effective DLL practices to scale and sustain them statewide. The DLL CoPs were implemented in partnership with the AIR, Advancement Project California, Early Edge California, and the California Department of Education Opportunities for All Branch; and were facilitated by the Glen Price Group (GPG) with funding from the Emerging Bilingual Collaborative.

Additional DLL Resources: Studies and Links

Small Population County Funding Augmentation

First 5 California’s Small Population County Funding Augmentation (SPCFA) program provides funding to augment annual tax revenues to local First 5 Commissions in counties with small populations and low birth rates.

Originally initiated in Fiscal Year 1999-2000, the First 5 California Commission provided additional funding of up to $200,000 to small population counties to help ensure the implementation of Proposition 10 was truly a statewide effort. On January 26, 2017, the State Commission approved up to $8.625 million in additional funding over four years (July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2021) for 20 small population county commissions with low birth rates and to ensure core operations and services are sustained for children and families residing in these communities

In order to participate in SPCFA, counties agree to terms outlined in a Local Area Agreement framework to implement successful local systems, measure outcomes and monitor progress, and demonstrate quality improvement in three focused investment areas:

  • Developmental and Health Needs
  • Engaging and Supporting Families
  • High-Quality Early Learning/Early Educator Support and Effectiveness

For more information, please see the link below regarding documents related to SPCFA funding, FAQs, reporting forms, and an evaluation tool kit. If you would like to submit a question or comment regarding the SPCFA, you can do so by sending an email to In the subject line, please reference the specific county and program corresponding to the inquiry (e.g., re: Mono County dental health program).

SPCFA Documents

Home Visiting

Evidence-based early childhood home visiting (HV) has proven to help vulnerable children and families overcome barriers to health and well-being. With the rapid release of significant new funding from the State Budget for HV, and expectation to target the most vulnerable families through evidence-based programs, it is imperative California has a well-trained and supported workforce and that local agencies coordinate HV services to maximize impact on family well-being.

In July 2019, the Commission approved up to $2 million over a two-year period for a contracted evaluator to conduct a study of the current HV workforce, project future workforce needs, and recommend policy and infrastructure investments to address the workforce gap. In February 2020, Child Trends was awarded a contract to carry out the workforce study. Read more about the Home Visiting Workforce Study in HVC Documents, below.

Further, in October 2019, the F5CA State Commission approved up to $24 million in funding for fiscal years 2019–20 through 2024–2025 to help counties create a sustainable, unified local HV system that supports families with the services they need and to maximize available funding to serve more families. A Request for Application (RFA) for HV coordination (HVC) funding was released in Spring 2020.

As of January 1, 2021, 50 counties are receiving F5CA HVC funding and Technical Assistance (TA). See HVC Documents, below, for information about the TA, RFA, and resources to support deliverables.

County implementers should check for additional resources within the HVC Data Portal.

For questions or additional information about F5CA HVC, please email the HV team at

HVC Resources

Refugee Family Support

In October 2021, the F5CA State Commission approved up to $3 million in funding over one year to help support refugee families with children birth through age five resettling in counties across the state.

First 5 California will award grants to county commissions to partner with local organizations serving refugees to provide support services to families with children birth through age five or families with a pregnant family member resettling in counties throughout California. Examples of services funded through this grant include accessing linguistically and culturally responsive health and social services, meeting basic needs, and enrolling their children in quality early learning and care. Recent arrivals served by this grant may include refugees, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), or humanitarian parolees from any country who are eligible for federal funding and arrive during the funding period (July 1, 2022–June 30, 2023), or who arrived and settled in California after August 1, 2021.


RFS Documents and Forms

Prior First 5 Program Investments and Evaluation Reports

Since 2000, First 5 California (F5CA) has invested over $492 million in improving the quality of early learning settings and supporting the quality of the early childhood workforce in California. Research shows high-quality early learning programs improve school readiness and lead to better long-term academic achievement. High-quality early education helps reduce unemployment, drug or alcohol abuse, high school dropout rates, and crime. In particular, teacher effectiveness, and quality of adult-child interactions, are among the most important factors impacting the quality of early learning programs.

In 2000, F5CA launched its first investment in improving the quality of early learning through the Comprehensive Approaches to Raising Educational Standards (CARES) Program. CARES was developed to support the retention and the professional development and education of the early childhood workforce. The program transitioned into CARES Plus in 2011 with an emphasis on training and support for effective teacher-child interactions. From 2011 through 2016, CARES Plus served 16,600 participants by providing incentives, support systems, training, and technical assistance for early childhood educators, improving their education and increasing participation in targeted professional development. Evaluation of CARES Plus showed: 1) participants highly valued the program; 2) counties participating in the program collaborated with local partners to improve access to training and education; and 3) evidence-based training and coaching improved the quality of teacher-child interaction as assessed by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System® (CLASS®).

In 2005, F5CA launched another effort to support the quality of early learning through the Power of Preschool (PoP) Program. PoP supported high-quality preschool in areas with low performing schools and provided tiered financial incentives based on meeting quality factors. In 2012, the program transitioned into the Child Signature Program (CSP) and expanded to serve high-quality infant-toddler programs. CSP annually served approximately 24,000 children in 1,300 classrooms during 2012–2015. CSP provided enhanced supports integrating proven elements from other successful F5CA programs and drew on F5CA’s partnership with the Educare quality learning model. Evaluation of CSP showed participating classrooms were of high quality as assessed by Environment Rating Scales and CLASS®.

In 2015, the F5CA State Commission transitioned from specific investments in the Child and Teacher Signature Programs (CSP and CARES Plus) to broader systems support through a five-year $190 million investment in First 5 IMPACT (Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive) (link to page). First 5 IMPACT supports the early learning workforce and quality improvements in early learning settings through quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS). This effort expands partnerships and creates new opportunities with an enhanced focus on sustainability by engaging the entire early learning site in continuous quality improvement.