In 1998, Californians voted to dedicate tobacco taxes to local health and education programs for young children ages 0-5 which created First 5 commissions in each county across the state. First 5 funding for children’s programs is based entirely on local planning and decision-making specific to families’ needs in the county and not on state mandates.
Research shows that a child’s brain develops most dramatically during the first five years of life. During this critical period, a window of opportunity exists to help shape how a child’s brain matures and to lay the foundation for all of the years that follow.
While the early period in children’s development is absolutely critical to their future success, it is also where public investments are lowest. FIRST 5 provides all children ages 0-5 with programs and services that ensure children are born and remain healthy, receive more from their education, and become productive adults.
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County (FIRST 5) is making a difference for our local children by investing millions of Proposition 10 tobacco tax dollars each year towards effective programs in early education, health, and family support. FIRST 5 is committed to achieving real and sustainable results towards the successful future of young children and their families.
Using a a cumulative risk factors map, FIRST 5 makes strategic investments in neighborhoods where children are exposed to the greatest risk for poor developmental outcomes. FIRST 5's comprehensive System of Care enables FIRST 5 to focus on providing intensive, tailored services to children and families experiencing the highest level of need, while also working toward shifting community norms and systems that affect the health and well-being of all young children in Santa Clara County.
It is the intent of the California Children and Families Act of 1998 to facilitate the creation and implementation of an integrated, comprehensive, and collaborative system of information and services to enhance optimal early childhood development and to ensure that children are ready to enter school.
Learn more about how and why FIRST 5 started by listening to interviews with three pioneers of California's early childhood movement: Kris Perry, Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, and Jolene Smith.