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