Annual Report 2021-2022

Building a Robust Early Childhood System

Place. People. Policy.
We are honored to work in partnership with families and providers to build the early childhood system and steward precious public resources on behalf of the County’s young children.


The First 5 team is proud to present First 5 Alameda County’s 2021-2022 Annual Report. Please join us in celebrating the work we’ve done in collaboration with our wonderful community partners.

For so many, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought unimaginable challenges. Yet, despite the hardships, countless examples of strength, love, and creativity have emerged. We’ve been honored to follow the lead of parents, communities, and providers in building an equitable, and responsive system in support of child well-being. 

It has been an historic year for us. We are full of gratitude for taxpayers and their decision to invest in the early childhood system through Alameda County’s Measure C and Oakland’s Measure AA. In addition to preparing to administer these valued public funds, we have also continued to build the early childhood system by investing in and scaling health and family navigation support to children under 5 who are enrolled in Medi-Cal. We evolved our Kindergarten Readiness Assessment approach to be fully in partnership with parents and educators and continued our place-based and parent/caregiver investments, including our commitment to honoring dads. Our hard work and strong administrative reputation, our close connections with families and the early childhood field, and our deep commitment to using our resources in service to equity, has positioned us to continue to increase investments in children, families, and providers, allowing us to serve over 30,000 people. This work makes a real difference in the lives of young children and their families and it’s an honor to take part in it. 

Our annual report captures just the tip of the iceberg of the amazing work our agency has done over the past year and I hope that the stories bring to life our passion for the work.

To Be of Use,
Kristin Spanos
Chief Executive Officer









Children are ready for kindergarten when they develop in environments that support them and their families. Families need well-paying jobs, access to quality, affordable early care and education, transportation, health care, and safe places to live, play, and connect. Families also require freedom from discrimination rooted in racism and classism. This year, our participatory community-centered approach to our Kindergarten Readiness Assessment study established the largest local data set on kindergarten readiness, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, and the conditions that families say are important.


An Early Childhood System of Care cultivates the community and family conditions that every child needs in order to be ready for kindergarten at age 5. Our approach to building this system is multifaceted and each of our strategies influences and reinforces each other. We work on multiple scales–the child and family, the community, and the policies. This requires a collaborative approach that not only provides service entry points for families, but also addresses health care access, education, employment, and the intentional dismantling of racist and classist policies that harm everyone. This is why we place Equity and Basic Needs at the center of our work.





We reach young children where they are learning and growing with coaching, training, professional development, technical assistance, and financial support.
Building a System to Support Early Learning & Care
Early Care & Education (ECE)

The Early Care and Education (ECE) Apprenticeship program recruits, educates, and trains parents who are also CalWORKs participants to be early childhood educators. The program:

  • Bolsters a historic ECE labor shortage.
  • Provides job opportunities for CalWORKs recipients.
  • Mostly serves parents and brings ECE best practices to participants’ families and communities.

Funded by First 5, the Alameda County Social Services Agency and Tipping Point, this pilot has proven that an investment in training early childhood educators can provide long-term savings to the public system and is a smart use of CalWorks dollars.

"The ECE Apprenticeship program is an example of innovative public investment that has the opportunity to be replicated statewide.“
– Kristin Spanos
Health Heroes

The Health Heros program promotes health and safety by connecting student nurses to child care providers.

This innovative partnership between First 5, Samuel Merritt University’s (SMU) College of Nursing, BANANAS, 4C’S of Alameda County, and Hively administered seven cohorts of SMU student nurses with field assignments benefitting over 550 children in 22 FCCs and 20 centers.

Preparing to Steward Public Funds

First 5 is the named administrator of the Early Care and Education (ECE) components of two local ballot measures, Alameda County’s Measure C, and the City of Oakland’s Measure AA. To prepare for the most effective use of the public funds, First 5 has been researching, evaluating, and preparing. This includes:

Partnering with the Planning Council to complete a comprehensive countywide ECE Needs Assessment with an eye towards equity to support understanding of the infrastructure needed to scale.
Launching a collaborative assessment of early care and education facilities, and establishing an ECE Workforce Taskforce.
Planning for technological investments that build the infrastructure to support eligibility and enrollment processes in service to families and caregivers accessing care. This work was made possible with $1M funding by the Alameda County Social Services Agency.
Expanding the internal structure, staffing, policies, and procedures that the administration of these funds requires.

The agency is positioned to effectively use these funds to build a cohesive and connected ECE system on behalf of families and providers.

Equity-Centered Quality Supports for Early Care & Education

First 5 recognizes that access to quality child care and quality community-based programming is inequitably distributed across our County.

First 5 supports quality improvement by working in collaboration with families, community partners, and providers to evolve the definition of what quality means and support providers to meet that definition. First 5 has prioritized supporting those caring for children who have been excluded from quality supports in the past. This year we expanded our Quality Counts program to work with 38 family child care providers.


A robust early childhood system engages parents and caregivers as leaders and connects them to resources that support children’s well-being.
Valuing & Supporting the Role of Dads

The Fatherhood program supports dads, providers, and public systems to celebrate the role of fathers and father figures in the lives of children.

The program focuses on strengthening collaboration with public systems and community-based organizations. As part of this work, First 5 held a virtual summit in June 2022 in collaboration with the Alameda County Social Services Agency. The event fostered deep connections and authentic exchanges during a difficult time of continued social isolation.

Meeting Concrete Needs: Help a Mother Out

Access to basic needs is essential for families with young children. That’s why First 5 not only supported, but also invested in an evaluation of the Help a Mother Out program.

The data that came out of the evaluation is being used to advocate for more ways to address diaper needs, including presentations to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Social Services Committee, and at the annual California Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) conference.

Investing in Trainings to Strengthen the Community

First 5 responds to requests by families and providers to learn best practices in early childhood education, mental health, family support, health, and provider administration.


Thriving neighborhoods are an essential component of an early childhood system.
Neighborhoods Ready for School

First 5’s Neighborhoods Ready for School (NRFS) is a place-based, community-directed strategy to address the interplay between neighborhood conditions, family and child well-being, and the structural factors that contribute to overall health, development, and kindergarten readiness.

Place-Based Investments Support Kindergarten Readiness

This year, First 5’s sponsored Kindergarten Readiness Assessment found that:
  • Receiving support from the NRFS initiative was associated with higher kindergarten readiness overall.
  • NRFS families reported using more community resources than other families.

Families with middle and lower incomes who live in neighborhoods where there has been significant place-based investment, including First 5's NRFS grants, report a greater number of community assets than families with similar incomes in other neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Assets by Neighborhood & Income


Strong health outcomes require expanding local pediatric strategies and systems care coordination capabilities.
Help Me Grow

Help Me Grow is First 5’s Early Identification, Screening, and Care Coordination (EISCC) strategy that ensures children have the resources they need for healthy development.

In an effort to scale this successful model, First 5 has partnered with Alameda Alliance for Health, receiving a $1.4M award to reach all children under 5 who are enrolled in Medi-Cal, drawing down federal and state funds to support screenings and other supports for young children and their families.

Investing in Birth Equity & Black Maternal Health

First 5 is increasing our focus and investment in strategies to address disparate health and well-being outcomes for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) babies and their mothers.

  • In partnership with Alameda Health System, we're sustaining and expanding DULCE, a program that provides family navigation and legal support to families who have recently had a baby, many of whom are families navigating the immigration and public benefits systems.
  • First 5’s Director of Programs, Carla Keener, participated in two statewide tables (California Preterm Birth Initiative Steering Committee and First 5 Home Visiting Think Tank) to inform birth justice work, including the publication of "The Road to Black Birth Justice" 


FY 2021 - 2022
Total Revenue
Program Contracts/Grants Expenses by Strategy


We know that systems change requires an entire ecosystem of agents working together. I want to give heartfelt thank you and express my deep gratitude to the following people:
  • The tireless First 5 staff, who have shown immense flexibility and adaptability, all while keeping the health and well-being of young children and their families at the center of their work.
  • Our community partners and providers who’s trusted presence in the community have helped us reach those that need our services the most.
  • The First 5 Commissioners, whose unwavering leadership has helped us navigate these uncertain times.
  • The public systems leaders, government staff, and advocates who are working to ensure that underfunded systems support children and families, and mitigate inequities.
  • And most of all, to the families with young children who are demonstrating perseverance, creativity, love, and commitment to raise the next generation during these turbulent times.


  • Renee Sutton Herzfeld, CHAIR
    Executive Director, Community Child Care Council (4Cs) of Alameda County
  • Dave Brown  
    Alameda County Board of Supervisors for District 3
  • Cecilia Oregón, VICE CHAIR
    Executive Director, Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy
  • Scott Coffin
    CEO, Alameda Alliance for Health
  • Tomás A. Magaña, M.D., M.A., F.A.A.P.
    Founder & Director of FACES for the Future, Lead Physician in the Dept. of School-Based Health Centers, La Clínica de La Raza
  • Karina Moreno
    Executive Director, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund
  • Kimi Watkins-Tartt (Alternate Aneeka Chaudhry)
    Director, Alameda County Public Health Department
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20211115 Atlantic Avenue
Alameda, CA 94501