ACEs Aware Series

Investing in our Children / Invirtiendo en Nuestros Niños

More programs

The Starlight Infant/Toddler Program, Raising a Reader, Summer Pre K Academy and Transition to Kindergarten



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:


Social-interpersonal skills

  • Interactions with adults
  • Relationships with familiar adults


  • Language comprehension
  • Responsiveness to language
  • Communication of needs, feelings and interest
  • Reciprocal communication


  • Interest in literacy
  • Recognition of symbols


  • Over 5,000 children


  • 100% of pregnant women kept all prenatal appointments and kept all postpartum follow-up visits and first newborn doctor visits.
  • 100% of pregnant women made a positive lifestyle change such as decreased caffeine intake, quit smoking, increased exercise and increased knowledge of health and wellness issues.
  • 93% of participants in the migrant summer Pre-K Academy (who attended at least 14 sessions) increased their letter sound recognition by at least five letter sounds using the cognate alphabet.
  • On average, Pre-K Academy students quadrupled the number of letter sounds that they recognized.
  • Parents in the Raising a Reader program increased the amount of time they read to their children each week.