First 5 California Children and Families Commission

Research shows that a child’s brain develops most dramatically
during the early years of life. In fact, more than 80 percent of brain
growth and neuron connectivity is completed by age 3. The moment
babies come into the world their brains are forming the connections
that will determine how they learn, think, and grow. The vision of
First 5 California is that “all California’s children receive the best
possible start in life.” Through statewide systems building, quality
improvement, and public education and outreach efforts, First
5 California, along with First 5 county commissions and numerous
other partners, represents an important part of California’s effort to
nurture and protect its most precious resource — its children.

More than 10 percent of children ages birth to 5 in California have a
disability or special need that will affect how they grow and develop
and may impact their ability to play and learn. First 5 California
ensures that parents and caregivers know they are not alone by
working with First 5 county commissions and other partners in the
early identification of children with special needs, including children
who don’t qualify for mandated services, to secure the resources,
services, and support they need.

First 5 California also works with county agencies to help parents
and caregivers learn the early signs of developmental delays or difficulties
and collaborates to get a child help when it is first needed,
ideally as early as from birth to age 3. Early intervention can make
a big difference as a child grows and might prevent more serious
problems later on.

Current efforts at First 5 California include the development and
implementation of integrated programs and resources designed
to benefit three target audiences — the child, the teacher, and the
parent — in the focus areas of nutrition, early literacy and language
development, special needs, and smoking cessation.