We insist on putting little kids first.

We research, then promote, policies and practices that will strengthen systems for children ages 0 to 5 in California.

What We Do

Recent Updates


Community Health Workers Advancing Child Health Equity: Part II

A community health workforce can improve the health of children, particularly children of color, by connecting families to information, care, and services. They are trusted members of the communities they serve, creating a link between the community and health/social services, which are not always easy to navigate nor culturally responsive, to improve service access and quality.


Diaper Need: The Impacts of the Inability to Afford Diapers for Families in California

As pandemic-era relief programs end, more and more families report an inability to afford basic needs such as food, housing, utilities, childcare, and healthcare according to Stanford’s RAPID survey.


Home Visiting Landscape in California

Pregnancy and the birth of a baby are significant occasions that also bring many challenges. Providing support to new parents and caregivers during this time, and through early childhood, is essential to give all children and families a strong start in life.


FDA approval of the first postpartum depression pill and what it means for infant and toddler health and development

On August 4, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first pill for postpartum depression (PPD), marking a significant milestone in treating a condition that affects one in five California women.


First 5 Association’s Home Visiting Policy Framework

This policy framework captures First 5s’ fundamental beliefs and goals for home visiting. It is intended to inform the First 5 Association’s home visiting advocacy and systems building efforts over the next several years.


First 5 Center Releases Report on Family Engagement Strategies

The First 5 Center for Children’s Policy is proud to release "First 5 Efforts to Engage Families and Shift Power: A Review of Current Practices" today, which provides important examples of how First 5s bring family voice into their decision making, how they are thinking about sharing power, increasing transparency, and improving program design through engagement with family members in the communities they serve.


Improving Racial Equity in Kindergarten Readiness Inventory Efforts

This brief summarizes a literature review and key informant interviews with KRI developers, early childhood advocates, educators, and researchers, and highlights four key considerations that may help local early childhood and education leaders, state policy makers and others create more equity-focused systems for California’s families.

New Blog

New Reports Describe State’s Early Intervention System for Infants and Toddlers

To date, advocates, policymakers, families, and other stakeholders have had few resources to understand how early intervention services work in California. To support filling this gap, California Budget and Policy Center released two new reports.


The Role of First 5s in Home Visiting: Innovations, Challenges, and Opportunities in California

The First 5 Center for Children’s Policy initiated a qualitative research project involving a series of interviews with 54 First 5s across the state. This paper presents the findings of these interviews and their implications for home visiting in California.


As Childhood Poverty Rises, the Child Tax Credit Remains a Crucial Benefit for California’s Youngest Children

With tax season approaching, it is important to highlight the programs that help lower income families with young children receive much needed financial assistance.


Community Health Worker Medi-Cal Benefit: Implementation and the Role of Community Partners Like First 5

Community health workers (CHWs), promotores, and other non-licensed health professionals are frontline public health workers and trusted members of the communities they serve.

New Brief

Support for Native American Infants, Toddlers and their Families in California

This brief is the result of a research project on issues facing the Native American community in California, and ways for community-based organizations to partner with Indigenous communities to best support them.


First 5 Efforts to Engage Families and Shift Power: A Review of Current Practices

To better understand First 5s’ family engagement efforts, First 5 Center for Children’s Policy conducted a two-part qualitative research project involving interviews with local First 5s. This brief includes a description of the project’s methodology and findings, as well as lessons learned to support authentic, equity-centered engagement with families.


Proposal for an Early Childhood Health Services Initiative in California: An Opportunity to Expand Preventive Supports for Young Children

This concept paper explores California’s opportunity to improve the health and development of young children by leveraging the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Health Services Initiatives (HSIs).


Exploring Workforce Needs: Lessons Learned to Support Home Visitors

To understand home visitors’ workforce development needs, the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy commissioned ZERO TO THREE to conduct focus groups and surveys with home visitors who had participated in professional development opportunities. This brief explores the three key lessons that emerged from that research.


New Children’s Medi-Cal Behavioral Health Benefits 101: Family Therapy and Dyadic Services

California has created a dyadic services Medi-Cal benefit effective January 2023. The dyadic services benefit allows Medi-Cal to cover behavioral health wellness visits that focus on the individual child and their surrounding environment, including caregiver wellness, all within the context of the child’s medical appointment.

Interactive tool

Navigating the Early Identification and Intervention Maze: A Flowchart

California’s early identification and intervention (EII) system is complicated. This interactive flowchart shows the various pathways families with low-income may follow when seeking services for a developmental or mental health concern.

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