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First 5 Santa Cruz County continues to work closely with the Health Services Agency and Human Services Department, as well as other stakeholders, to ensure the success of the Thrive by Three fund, and maximize the opportunity it represents to develop a comprehensive system of care in support of the long-term well-being of Santa Cruz County’s youngest and most vulnerable children.

Thrive by 5
 Investing in Santa Cruz County's Youngest Children


Thrive by 5 originated in January of 2017 as Thrive by Three when the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s request to establish the Thrive by Three Early Childhood Fund. Thrive by Three was established to invest in the earliest years of childhood, support evidence-based two-generation approaches, and develop an integrated and comprehensive prenatal – 3 system of care. The outcomes of this approach was to ensure that babies are born healthy, families have the resources they need to support children’s optimal development, young children live in safe, nurturing families, and children are happy, healthy, and thriving by age 3.

Using a systems of care approach, Thrive by Three partners representing home visiting, health care, early care and education, County Health and Human Services, and City government have leveraged resources, increased capacity and coordination, implemented innovative approaches, and supported local and state policies that address and link the CORE Conditions for Health & Well-being for young children and their families. First 5 Santa Cruz County has provided backbone support for this initiative since 2017 by coordinating the Thrive by Three Advisory Committee and Leadership Team, administering the Early Learning Scholarship program, and overseeing the initiative’s evaluation.


In 2022, the Thrive by Three Advisory Committee and Leadership Team worked with First 5 Santa Cruz County to expand the Thrive by Three framework to “Thrive by 5,” creating a greater alignment with other existing early childhood systems and initiatives that focus on the first 5 years of life. In May of 2022, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved this expansion to Thrive by 5, which was inclusive of an expansion of the Advisory Committee membership to be increasingly inclusive of community voice. This approval also established Thrive by 5 as the countywide structure dedicated to the well-being of all children prenatal to 5 (PN-5) and their families. 

A dedicated website as well as communications strategies which encompass Thrive by 5's systems work and collaborative efforts are in development. In the meantime, past Thrive by Three documentation can be found below.

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