By Assemblymember Marie Waldron
In 1998, Proposition 10 established the First 5 program to provide early childhood development programs and services in each of California’s 58 counties.
With 90% of brain development occurring by age 5, the importance of early childhood development cannot be overstated. The First 5 program focuses on four main areas: health, learning, family and community. Through First 5, our youngest children receive developmental screenings, high-quality preschool, dental care, parenting workshops, and more.
Last year, First 5 San Diego helped more than 54,000 young children and their families. A few of the services provided included screenings of almost 18,000 children for developmental delays, which resulted in treatment for over 5,000 children. In addition, almost 24,000 children and 6,800 pregnant women were screened for oral health, and high-quality early education was provided for 14,000 children. All told, First 5 invested more than $37 million in San Diego County into services for children and their families.
In Riverside County, last year First 5 programs reached over 15,000 children and 40,000 parents, spending over $9 million, $6.5 million and $3 million respectively on early learning, child health and family strengthening programs. Total program expenditures in Riverside County last year exceeded $20.6 million.
First 5 programs in each county are administered by a 5 member commission of County residents. Members must include a County Supervisor who served as Chair of the Board of Supervisors in the previous calendar year. Other board members are picked from local government and other organizations involved with child care, childhood development, at-risk families, behavioral health and other related fields. Therefore, programs are managed by residents of the region served.
First 5 funding is well spent. The program is an outstanding example of locally-based and controlled programs that really work to provide critical services for our youngest citizens.
Minority Floor Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.