First 5 funds programs to prepare children for school. An example is The Starlight Infant/Toddler Program, collaboration between Santa Cruz Community Counseling Centers Early Head Start and First 5 Santa Cruz County, provides bilingual services for expectant parents and families with infants and toddlers in the Watsonville area. The program aims to create a learning community that promotes early literacy and social emotional skills to help lay a solid foundation for school readiness.
Services include pre- and post-natal support to ensure healthy outcomes, assessments on health, nutrition, and developmental areas, ongoing parent education workshops, individualized home visits and goal-setting, infant and toddler play groups, and referrals to community resources.
Another example is the PVUSD Summer Pre K Academy which provides an intensive summer learning experience for children who have had little or no preschool experience. First 5 also funds Raising a Reader. Raising a Reader fosters brain development and a love of books by engaging the whole family in shared book experiences and story telling.
Transition to School Workshops informed parents about kindergarten registration requirements, choices of language programs, how to support their child in school, and ways to ensure that their child's entry into school was a pleasant and smooth transition.
In their first years of life, children's neural pathways are being developed and cemented as a foundation for a life full of learning. Quality early childhood experiences help to foster better language skills, higher cognitive functions, as well as improving sensory pathways, according to the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child. Therefore, literacy promotion doesn't begin in preschool; it starts much earlier, even in daily interactions with young babies.
Children are supported to develop in the following key areas: