Program Area: Early Learning and Care
First 5 California has funded programs and research to improve the quality of early learning programs:
- The Power of Preschool program increased child developmental assessment scores and parents indicated a high level of satisfaction with the program.
- The Child Signature Program funded quality essential staff to ensure access to needed services by high-risk children and families in participating early learning sites. Sites met high standards for quality of physical environment and interaction between teaching staff and children. Children showed improvements in development, especially in classrooms with access to quality essential staff.
- As of 2015, over 2,700 early learning sites have received quality ratings. First 5 currently partners with the California Department of Education on the CA-QRIS framework to assess quality in early learning centers.
- Transitional Kindergarten (TK) students in California are better prepared for kindergarten than their non-TK counterparts. Specifically, TK students have better problem-solving skills, mathematics knowledge, and literacy skills. The TK program also greatly improved the English language skills for children whose primary language is not English. First 5 California co-funded a multi-year study examining the impact of TK on school readiness at kindergarten entry.
Program Area: Effective Interactions and Teaching
Positive, supportive teacher-child interaction is a key element of high quality early learning settings. First 5 California designed a program with higher education, training, and coaching to provide early educators with professional development. Training and coaching resulted in improved teacher-child interactions.
- The CARES Plus program provided 16,000 early educators with multiple resources to help in their professional development. These resources included stipends, training, coaching, and higher education courses to facilitate teacher child interactions. The goals of the program were to increase teacher effectiveness and help them develop professionally. Participants receiving coaching and/or training showed the greatest improvements teacher quality ratings between the fall and spring.
Program Area: Positive Parenting
Parents are the primary role model for young children. Parent-child interactions during the first five years of life affect all aspects of development: cognitive, social-emotional, and physical. First 5 California has addressed positive parenting by a media campaign and research.
- The Talk.Read.Sing. media campaign encourages parents to increase communication with their children. 87% of parents surveyed recalled seeing or hearing a message about the campaign. Almost three quarters of the parents increased the amount of time they connected with their children, and nearly 40% used the First 5 website to obtain additional information.
- Between 2003 and 2012, the percent of parents who sang, read, or went out with their children on a daily basis increased significantly and the number of children with health insurance coverage and access to dental care increased for low-income families. However, preschool participation rates dropped during this time. First 5 California has provided funding for California Health Interview Survey to assess well-being of the state’s children.
Program Area: Tobacco Cessation
A child’s brain develops more rapidly during the prenatal period and first several years than any other time, making the detrimental effects of second-hand and third-hand smoke more profound. First 5 California funds tobacco use cessation efforts.
- The hotline (1-800-NO-BUTTS, www.nobutts.org) provides individuals with information and tools to help them quit smoking. In 2015–2016, the helpline provided services to over 4,000 parents of children between the ages of 0 and 5 years, as well as pregnant women.
- In the CARES Plus program, early childhood educators completed an online course about smoking cessation, tobacco effects, and skills to encourage parents to quit smoking. Almost 80% of educators found the training useful and indicated increased confidence and knowledge to talk with parents or coworkers about the effects of smoking and providing resources for quitting smoking.