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Focus Areas

All California’s children deserve high-quality early learning opportunities. First 5 California’s investments in early learning and care increase the effectiveness of the programs and help children ages 0 to 5 and their families thrive.
Warm and responsive interactions between adults and young children are key to children’s optimum development and learning. First 5 California investments increase teacher and provider qualifications and skills to support improved effectiveness.
Families are their children’s first and most important teachers, especially with regard to the critical brain development that occurs during those first few months and years. First 5 California’s investments promote strong families and thriving relationships through the Talk. Read. Sing.® campaign.
Prenatal and early childhood exposure to nicotine and second-hand smoke have long-lasting adverse effects on health and brain development. First 5 California’s resources help support parents and caregivers to quit smoking and vaping.
Public education and outreach is one of the primary functions of the California Children and Families Commission. Three of the primary public education and outreach efforts of First 5 California currently underway are its Talk. Read. Sing.® campaign, First 5 California’s flagship Kit for New Parents, and the First 5 Express.
First 5 California advocates for the strong start all children deserve, with an emphasis on children prenatal through age 5 and their families, to optimize early childhood development and reduce childhood poverty.

Why We Do It

Brain development is stimulated by regular and ongoing language interaction and engagement with caring adults during the earliest days, months, and years of a child’s life.
Effects of economic and social inequalities are evident in young children’s development as early as 18 months of age and widen throughout early childhood. These opportunity gaps can lead to an achievement gap in a child’s school.

Children who are bilingual and retain their home language while simultaneously learning a second language have a cognitive and social advantage. First 5 California is a champion for high-quality dual language learner practices in early childhood and the benefits of becoming bilingual.
Expanding access to high-quality early childhood programs, from home visiting to early learning and care, is among the smartest investments Californians can make.

Working together in systematic and strategic ways across agencies and communities, from the local, state, and federal levels, is fundamental to improving outcomes for children and families.

Where We Work

First 5 Mono Highlights

The year began much like previous years for First 5 Mono County; home visiting, playgroups, and child care quality support were the largest and most successful programs. Partnerships continued to strengthen, as illustrated below. Read More

First 5 Santa Barbara Highlights

In Fiscal Year 2019–20, First 5 Santa Barbara County invested $3,311,193 in programs and services for 1,713 children, 1,513 primary caregivers, and 424 providers. Investment strategies included family strengthening, expansion and quality of early childhood spaces, communications and policy development, and systems capacity building. Read More

What We Know

Initial findings from the First 5 California-funded Dual Language Learner (DLL) Pilot Study indicate that overall beliefs about bilingualism and policies in place to support DLLs are shifting in a direction that promotes the development of young DLLs’ bilingualism. However, there are still systemic challenges that limit implementation of high-quality instruction for DLLs. Key statewide challenges include professional development support for providers in early learning and care settings, how to adequately identify DLLs, and how to assess DLL children in multiple languages.

Developmental Screening Among Children Ages 1–5 in California

Findings from the California Health Interview Survey

Data from the California Health Interview Survey, 2007 and 2015–2018, shows an increase in the proportion of parents reporting their child received developmental screening. The prevalence of developmental assessments varied by household income, insurance type, parental education level, and race and ethnicity. Children living in households with incomes of 300% or more of the federal poverty level (FPL) or where parents had more than a high school education were more likely to receive a developmental assessment. Race and ethnicity were also factors: Latinx children had a lower prevalence of assessment than white, non-Latinx children. Educating the public and childcare providers about the value of assessment can help boost California rates of developmental assessments.

Findings from a survey of center-based and transitional kindergarten (TK) teachers reveal that early care and education teachers are equipped to fulfill lead TK teaching roles. California is moving to transform TK into a universal preschool program available to all children four years of age, creating the need for thousands of TK teachers during a time when the state faces a teaching shortage. The California Early Care and Education Workforce Study surveys childcare center administrators, center-based teachers, licensed home-based providers, and TK teachers.