First 5 Santa Cruz County, a countywide commission established by voters in December 1998, exists to make sure that children ages 0-5 get the services they need to be healthy, able to learn and emotionally well developed. We are dedicated to giving children the opportunities they need to reach their full potential and, by establishing a broad-base of partnerships, the Commission has been able to leverage its funds from state Proposition 10 -- the Tobacco Tax -- and extend its reach into the community.
Through a comprehensive set of research-based solutions and programs, First 5 Santa Cruz County improves the lives of children in the community who need the most support to make sure all children have the early experiences they need to succeed . First 5’s priorities fall in three major goal areas:
Additionally, we lead efforts to make services friendly family and well coordinated through our service integration goal.
Early experiences last a lifetime. The following chart shows the window of opportunity for child development in our first months and years of life and the importance of providing young children with the opporunties they need to develop language, relationships and cognitive abilities. First 5 programs provide these opportunties early in life to chart a lifetime of health and well-being.
While these children’s needs are immediate, calling for urgent remedies, the strategic plan for 2009-2012 also looks to the future to ensure long-term, sustainable supports are in place. This early investment in the fundamental building blocks of healthy development -- health, education and strong parenting -- is aimed at shoring up the foundations of the youngest members of our community. It is a way to strengthen our entire community for generations to come.
The Commission has invested in key programs to support its mission:
Early Literacy & Language Foundations Initiative: Builds literacy foundations by training early childhood educators to enhance language-rich practices in the classroom, encouraging families to read together and by investing in activities, assessments and the development of new instruction practices to better prepare children for kindergarten.
Families Together Differential Response Initiative: Prevents child maltreatment by responding early to reports of abuse and neglect.
Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) Parent Education Services: Improves parent-child relationships through skills training and education.
Healthy Kids Initiative: Ensures children have medical insurance, a medical home, preventive care and dental care.