Report details possible solutions to mental health crisis facing California’s infants, toddlers, and preschoolers

Oct 14, 2021

New report by First 5 Association, First 5 Center for Children’s Policy, and The Children’s Partnership provides history, landscape, and solutions to support state’s very young children.

The First 5 Association, together with the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy and The Children’s Partnership, have released a detailed report titled “Addressing Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Needs: Opportunities for Community Solutions” that delves into the historical and escalating mental health needs of very young children, the current landscape, and the ways in which California, local agencies, and communities must bolster their support and resources in the wake of the pandemic and its potential impacts on child development

“This moment in history could be pivotal in the landscape of California’s early childhood mental health,” said Sarah Crow, Managing Director of the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy. “Though work is being done to support infant, toddler, and preschoolers at the community level, much more is needed to meet the demand for mental health supports and resources for children at this fundamental age.”

California’s children and families were experiencing dangerous levels of stress even prior to the pandemic — so much so that the state’s Surgeon General and Governor have called it a public health crisis. The 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 unique interventions necessary to support their mental health,” said Angela Vazquez, Policy Director for The Children’s Partnership.

Research shows that community-level programs are uniquely positioned to create long-lasting change at a local level, yet, existing programs for young children are often limited by a lack of resources, lack of workforce and lack of public understanding and political will. New state and federal funding in response to the pandemic have the potential to create significant change, but more must be done to ensure that these investments reach our youngest children in community-based settings that offer critical opportunities for prevention and early supports.

Learn more and read the report here:

First 5 Center for Children's Policy
Grounded in the experience of First 5s around the state, the First 5 Center for Children's Policy studies and disseminates best practices and solutions in early childhood development, and evaluates solutions within and outside California that can be adapted for the state. The Center is an initiative of the California Children and Families Foundation, a sister organization of First 5 Association of California. Learn more at

First 5 Association

First 5 Association of California is the voice of the 58 First 5 county commissions, which were created by voters in 1998 to ensure our young children are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. Together, First 5 touches the lives of more than one million kids, families, and caregivers each year, and strengthens our state by giving kids the best start in life. Learn more at

The Childrens Partnership

The Children’s Partnership envisions a California where all children—regardless of their race, ethnicity or place of birth—have the resources and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and thrive, and its mission is to advance this vision of child health equity through research, policy and community engagement. Learn more at

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