The First 5 Association of California is a nonprofit membership organization that supports the 58 First 5 county commissions in building the early childhood systems and supports needed to ensure California’s young children are safe, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and life.
Our vision is that, one day, California’s success will be measured by the well-being of its youngest children.
Our network has three branches:
First 5 Association, the 58 First 5 county commissions, and First 5 California.
First 5 Association
Sets strategic vision; coordinates state policy, advocacy; manages collective knowledge; supports regional, local capacity building
First 5 California
Networks, partners with peer state agencies; advocates; leverages funds strategically; builds public awareness via media
58 First 5 Commissions
Control local funding, partnerships, communication, innovation; share expertise, data, stories for replication, scaling
As a voice for the state’s youngest kids, we bring together partners and leverage funding sources to strengthen systems of care through advocacy, collaboration, innovation, and communications.
First 5 History
Proposition 10 – The Children and Families Act of 1998
In November 1998, California voters passed Proposition 10, the “Children and Families Act of 1998” initiative. The act levies a tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to provide funding for early childhood development programs. Revenues generated from the tobacco tax must be used to enhance the early growth experiences of children, enabling them to be more successful in school and ultimately to give them an equal opportunity to succeed in life. Revenues must be used for the following specific purposes:
- To create a comprehensive and integrated delivery system of information and services to promote early childhood development;
- To support parenting education, child health and wellness, early child care and education, and family support services; and
- To educate Californians on the importance of early childhood development and smoking cessation.
Tobacco tax revenues are collected at the state level. Eighty percent of these funds are then allocated to the 58 counties according to annual birth rates. The remaining 20 percent of the money is allocated to First 5 California to support statewide programs, research, and media campaigns.
Proposition 10 Strategic Results
- Improved Health and Development. Children who are healthy in mind, body, and spirit grow up confident in their ability to live a fulfilling, productive life. Healthy children have sufficient nutrition, health care, nurturing, guidance, and mental stimulation; and they live in families and communities that value them.
- Improved Early Education. The importance of preparing children to succeed in school is critical. Skills that allow one to problem solve and think creatively are developed in early childhood education settings and nurtured through community and parental reinforcement.
- Improved Family Resilience. Successful and strong families are those that are able to provide for the physical, mental, and emotional development of their children. Young children are entirely dependent upon caregivers for survival, and nurturing parents and caregivers provide the foundation for a child’s ability to create successful relationships, solve problems, and carry out responsibilities.
- Improved Systems. Many parents and caregivers with young children have difficulty in accessing existing forms of assistance, much less learning about and utilizing new services that are introduced. Services must be made available in a culturally competent manner, embracing the differences in cultures and languages within the county. The system of children and family services should also recognize the challenges faced by families whose children have disabilities or other special needs, and work to make services more accessible to these families.
First 5 County Commissions
When voters passed Proposition 10, they launched a new model of responsive public agencies. In each of the 58 counties, the First 5 Commission, made up of local community leaders, experts, and advocates, provides oversight for the First 5’s activities.
First 5 California
The State Commission initiates and funds statewide early childhood development projects, conducts research, and sponsors large media and public education campaigns. Learn more on their website.
California Children and Families Foundation
The Association is a nonprofit public benefit corporation, organized as a social welfare organization under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4). The work of the Association is also supported by a separate organization, the California Children and Families Foundation, which 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 county commissions and the children and families they serve, complementing the activities of the Association.
California voters approve Prop 10, creating First 5.
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County launches Healthy Kids program, expanding insurance to children in families with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level, and accepting members regardless of immigration status. Healthy Kids expands to 28 counties.
First 5 starts expansion of voluntary home visiting in CA to expecting families and those with newborns, eventually reaching over 40 counties.
FIRST 5 Mendocino brings Triple P, an evidence-based parent education curriculum, to CA. Over time, it expands to 22 counties.
First 5 Orange County brings Help Me Grow early identification and intervention system to CA. First 5 is now rolling out the HMG system across the state.
First 5 San Francisco implements standards to plan, provide, and evaluate services at family resource centers, which are later adopted nationwide.
First 5 Sacramento begins 10-year investment in community water fluoridation and starts building the first of six kids’ dental clinics.
First 5 Fresno launches countywide, 2000+ member “Children’s Movement” to promote early childhood in budget decisions, establishes annual “State of Our Children” breakfast.
Parent Information Campaign
First 5 California launches Talk. Read. Sing.® campaign to increase parent awareness of the importance of early brain development via mass and social media and a parent website.
First 5 Association creates Care, Cope, Connect booklet with Sesame Street in Communities, to help parents comfort kids during times of stress.
First 5 Turns 20
First 5 Center for Children's Policy
First 5 Center for Children's Policy, a research and policy think tank for children ages 0-5, is established as a sister agency to the First 5 Association. The Center creates All Together Now, a statewide messaging campaign run by early childhood advocates.
First 5 Association, First 5 LA and Children Now co-sponsor AB 1004, a bill to ensure young children receive the developmental screenings they are entitled to under Medi-Cal. It is signed into law in late 2019.
Supporting Families During Covid-19
First 5s around the state organize diaper and food drives; create pop-up child care; move home visiting and parent groups online; set up emergency funds; organize online resources; and advocate for political leaders to help families struggling during the pandemic.