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

New Publication

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.

Addressing infant and early childhood mental health needs: opportunities for community solutions

This moment in history could be pivotal in the landscape of California’s early childhood mental health. Conditions created by the pandemic, such as isolation, economic stress, and community trauma, are all proven to negatively impact a child’s ability to thrive. It is vitally important that young children and their parents and caregivers receive the interventions necessary to support their mental health during this critical time.


California’s Medicaid Breakthrough: An Opportunity to Advance Children’s Social and Emotional Health

Revamping Medicaid policies to improve young children’s social and emotional health and address health care inequities is particularly critical in California, where over half of children ages 0 to 5 have Medicaid coverage (known as Medi-Cal, in California), and two-thirds are children of color.


Medi-Cal Basics for Early Childhood Leaders

This primer provides an overview of some of the critical components of Medi-Cal for young children, and links to resources where you can learn more.

New Publication

The Road to Black Birth Justice

This report summarizes the findings of a multipart project that the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative conducted, in partnership with the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy, to understand the challenges and opportunities to improve the birth outcomes and experiences of Black people and their families in California.


Plan Partnership Project Playbook: A Guide for First 5 Commissions Starting Relationships With Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans

This playbook offers practical advice to First 5 leaders for developing partnerships with managed care plans.


Understanding Children’s Mental Health Services under Medi-Cal

This webinar covers Medi-Cal mental health services for children and was presented by Kim Lewis, Managing Attorney at National Health Law Program.


Lessons and Opportunities: How First 5s can create meaningful partnerships with their Medi-Cal Managed Care plans

This brief highlights a few key lessons and points of intersection, provided by First 5 Alameda, First 5 LA, and First 5 Ventura through their work over the last several years and as part of the Pediatrics Supporting Parents project.

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.

Featured Project

Early Childhood Resource Library

The Early Childhood Resource Library compiles and shares relevant research, data, and stories from across California. These resources were created by organizations doing important work to support early childhood.

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