Who We Are
First 5 San Mateo County generates significant and lasting returns on the investment in our children. Our vision is success for every child.
In 1998 voters passed Proposition 10, adding a 50-cent tax on tobacco products to create a guaranteed revenue stream for children. Prop 10 funds established First 5 California (state commission) and 58 independent First 5 county commissions that provide locally-approved programs. By voter mandate we are committed to improving children’s health, school readiness and family functioning. Click to learn more about the work we have done in the past 20 years.
First 5 San Mateo County has developed a deep understanding of the complex and evolving issues around early childhood development in our community. We leverage knowledge and funding to mend gaps in service, awareness and access – ensuring a comprehensive and effective early childhood system
Since our inception in 1998, First 5 San Mateo County has invested more than $127 million in comprehensive programs for early childhood development, family strengthening, and other support services. We support evidence-based programs in childhood health, early learning and family engagement to strengthen what’s working, fix what’s not and to ensure equity for all. This is accomplished through a combination of focused financial investments and systems-level work, as well as targeted funding to support community partnerships, policy development, and leadership on issues related to children from the prenatal stage to age 5, and their families. More about our Policy Platform
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Who We Serve
First 5 San Mateo County serves children prenatally through age 5—infants, toddlers and preschoolers—as well as their parents and caregivers. First 5 supports children of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and income levels according to their developmental needs.
Early Childhood: A Guaranteed Return on Investment
Children who enter school with the basic knowledge of math and language skills are more likely to experience academic success, attain higher levels of education and obtain employment.
A wealth of research proves that early childhood investments offer the greatest return—for the child, the family and the community. Nobel Prize winner Professor James Heckman calculates a return of at least 7-to-1 on early interventions.
Children are the future of society. Helping them reach their full potential is the most fundamentally sound investment we can possibly make, but that investment must begin early. When we invest in our community’s children early, we all reap enormous dividends throughout their education, their careers and their lives.
To view the California Children and Families Act go to www.ccfc.ca.gov
“More than anything else within the scope of human influence, the future of our families, communities, cultures, economies, and nations depends on our children’s learning. The world will become what our children learn it to be.”
Ensure all children will be healthy.
Prepare kids to enter school ready to achieve their greatest potential.
Support healthy parent-child relationships recognizing that parents are their child’s first teacher.
Investing in Our Kids
Since its inception, First 5 San Mateo County has invested over $120 million in local programs. These dollars have been used to serve over 63,180 children ages 0-5, and 36,130 parents and expectant parents locally. Through our funded programs and agencies, approximately 15,000 children and primary caregivers are served every year!
More on Prop 10
[Link to a short video]
May 1, 2019
Executive Director, Kitty Lopez, visited Peninsula TV Voice to update the community about First 5 San Mateo County’s investment in the community over the last 20 years and where it is headed in the future.
America has long prided itself on being a land of equal opportunity and upward social mobility, a place where those from even the humblest of backgrounds can flourish on the strength of their hard work. But we don’t always stop to think deeply about what it means to give every child in our communities the opportunity to reach their potential. We may think about financial aid for college, mentorship programs for middle-schoolers, or equitable funding for public schools. But access to opportunity starts much earlier than that. It starts before children enter preschool. It starts with parents who have health insurance, enough food, and stable jobs with decent pay. In our society, unequal opportunity is evident even before a child is born.
The California Strong Start Index is a new tool designed to explore the geographies of opportunity into which children are born. Developed by the Children’s Data Network, the Index is built from twelve health, financial, family, and service indicators that are universally captured on California birth certificates. By examining the average Index scores for geographies such as census tracts, it is possible to identify locations where babies are more likely to be born into families and communities that lack some of crucial resources children need to thrive.
San Francisco and San Mateo Counties have the highest average Strong Start Index Scores in the State, at 9.9 out of 12. But if we only look at the county average, we will miss the very inequality of opportunity the Index intends to uncover. In San Mateo County, nearly one in three babies (31%) is born with fewer resources than average. And one out of every five (20%) is born into a low-asset neighborhood, where large proportions of families are struggling against great odds to create opportunities for their children to blossom.
If we truly believe that that every child in every community deserves an equal chance to build a life that is productive, fulfilling, and joyful, we must commit to a more meaningful understanding of “opportunity.” A society where some children come into the world already behind because their parents can’t afford health care or find a job that pays a living wage is not a society that embodies equal opportunity. It is up to us to acknowledge this moral imperative and develop the political will to make it right.
While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see a dentist when their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday, for many families in San Mateo County, accessing dental care is a real challenge. Cost, distance, schedules and unfamiliarity can all act as deterrents. The Virtual Dental Home (VDH) seeks to address all of these. A signature investment of First 5 San Mateo County (F5SMC), the VDH helps to improve and maintain the oral health of children and the community by providing dental care in places where people live, work, attend school, receive social services, and beyond. Since F5SMC began funding the program in 2012, more than 1,125 children have been served.
One of the ways that the VDH program provides services to children in San Mateo County is by bringing dental services to them. Schools enrolled in the program are given the option of having a dental hygienist and a program navigator set a schedule based on the number of children being served. A part of the VDH model includes the signature “big red chair” that is used during dental visits. This, along with bringing dental care to schools, was put in place to be more inviting and provide services to children who may have a fear of seeing a dentist out of their comfort zone.
Take for example four-year-old Henry.* Henry received the preventive dental care he needed from the VDH right at his very own preschool. Henry was once terrified of dental equipment and not very comfortable going to the dentist, but with the help of patient and reassuring VDH staff, and the “big red chair”, he got over his fear and even participated in his own examination. Getting exposure to early dental care in a comfortable place was a critical step for Henry, who is now connected to regular care after graduating from the VDH program.
San Mateo’s transitional housing facility First Step is one of several locations where VDH currently provides services. There, three-year-old Jacob* complained about the extreme pain he was having in his preschool classroom. A visit from the VDH allowed program staff to learn about the severe and rampant decay in Jacob’s teeth – it was apparent that Jacob needed urgent care. But as a single mom working two jobs, it was difficult for Jacob’s mother to accommodate the time needed for his additional dental work.
Without hesitation, the VDH team and site dentist shifted their schedules to accommodate the family and successfully complete Jacob’s dental treatment. Run by the Ravenswood Family Health Center, the VDH has provided dental services in 11 locations in the last year alone, serving 650 children.
Thanks to VDH, families in San Mateo County can receive the dental care services they need and establish a healthy dental routine for their future.
*Names changed to protect privacy.