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

Parent Mental Health Concerns and the Impact on Young Children

This brief describes the impacts of parent emotional health concerns on infants and toddlers, the programs that can support new parents, and recommendations on how the State can increase access.


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.


New pre-pandemic data show children with Medi-Cal don’t access enough preventive care

California’s children covered by Medi-Cal Managed Care received alarmingly low levels of recommended preventive care in 2019, according to data newly released by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).


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.


California’s Early Identification and Intervention System and the Role of Help Me Grow

Now is a critical time to evaluate and improve California’s early identification and intervention (EII) system by leveraging the state’s existing county Help Me Grow (HMG) systems.


Early Screening, Better Outcomes: Toolkits Provide Guide for Developmental Screenings and Referrals

First 5 LAs new developmental screening and referral toolkits are an opportunity for health providers to establish developmental screening or maximize existing screening practices to benefit from available funds, as well as ensure that children and their families are connected to necessary resources as soon as possible.


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.


Medi-Cal Financing Overview

This brief provides an overview of the relationship between federal and state Medicaid funding, financing structures in Medi-Cal managed care, and other considerations for First 5 commissions and advocates interested in children’s health care delivery.


Systems Interactions: Medi-Cal Managed Care and other Health Care Delivery for Children on Medi-Cal

This brief describes additional delivery systems that families may have to access in order to make full use of the EPSDT Medi-Cal benefit, and their relationship with Medi-Cal managed care.


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.


California can take steps to address mental health crisis for children, parents and child care providers

The time to prepare is now. California can take several steps to address mental and behavioral health concerns of young children ages 0 to 5, their parents, and child care providers over the next year to reduce adverse childhood experiences and build resilience.

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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