The California Children and Families Foundation (CCFF), a sister organization of First 5 Association, is thrilled to announce we have received a Pritzker Children’s Initiative grant to strategize how to streamline California’s system of care for children prenatal to age three. The goal is to support the healthy development of our state’s infants and toddlers by linking essential services to Medi-Cal, and to the state health and human services system more broadly, ensuring resources and services reach children earlier in their lives.
“CCFF is excited by this opportunity to draw upon the expertise of First 5s and our partners around the state, to help create a more cohesive early childhood system in California,” said Moira Kenney, executive director of CCFF and First 5 Association. “By improving policies that address critical early needs, we can connect children to resources before they reach kindergarten—when intervention is less costly, more effective, and leads to greater long-term outcomes.”
The need for more coordination around early childhood is great. While the literature suggests 12-16% of American children have at least one developmental delay, California serves less than 3% of children through early intervention services. Research also shows a child’s brain develops faster during the first three years of life than at any later period in life, building the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health. Yet, early childhood services in our state often focus on preschoolers, overlooking pregnant women, newborns, infants, and toddlers who are at a critical stage in development. CCFF believes a critical step will be to transform Medi-Cal to focus more directly on the needs of pregnant women and children under three.
The grant’s scope of work includes research to identify opportunities for greater inter-agency collaboration, and best approaches to streamline service pathways; refinement of policy opportunities to improve health systems; and coordination of campaigns to educate and build awareness among state leaders about the need to improve early childhood systems. Specifically, CCFF will work with partners to identify strategies to achieve universal developmental screening, maximization of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment benefits, and home visiting for all newborns with Medi-Cal.
As a grant recipient, CCFF will join the recently launched National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT). Funded through the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, NCIT brings together national partners, early childhood leaders, philanthropy, policymakers and practitioners inside and outside state and local government to create and strengthen promising policies and programs and share what works so that more states and
communities can support the healthy development of our youngest children. Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties are also part of the NCIT.
With an incoming administration that has a stated interest in improving early childhood systems and services, it’s a promising time to advance an early childhood agenda in California. CCFF seeks and welcomes input from our partners as we work to ensure all of California’s young children are safe, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and life.
About the Pritzker Children’s Initiative
The Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI), a project of the J.B. and M. K. Pritzker Family Foundation, is committed to building a promising future for our country by investing in and supporting solutions in early childhood development for children prenatal to age three, with a goal of every child reaching kindergarten ready to learn.
About the California Children and Families Foundation
The California Children and Families Foundation is a nonprofit public benefit corporation organized for charitable and educational purposes under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). The Foundation conducts regional and statewide projects that assist First 5 county commissions and the children and families they serve, complementing the activities of First 5 Association.