The First 5 Association of California was created in 2001 to offer opportunities to learn across the 58 First 5 counties, and to give voice to the counties’ experiences and stories at the state level. During the years since its inception, the Association has built a strong network across the counties as well as with First 5 California, the state-level agency created by Proposition 10. The First 5 network has become a testing ground of innovative solutions and early childhood system building over the last two decades.
The California Children and Families Foundation was also founded in 2001 as the sister organization of the First 5 Association, in order to provide a platform for philanthropic support for then-nascent First 5 entities throughout the state. The Foundation coordinated technical assistance funding in the start-up phase of the First 5s, leading learning communities in priority areas (e.g., quality supports for preschool, early childhood mental health, early intervention systems, and child nutrition) as well as in important infrastructure development, including financial planning, measurement, and evaluation.
This original function of the Foundation, coupled with the emerging strength of the First 5 network, created the opportunity to launch a new initiative at the Foundation, the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy. The Center develops research and policy ideas with the goal of helping to improve early childhood systems in California.