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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

Our Investments

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.”

Dr. James J. Heckman

Our Goals

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!

First 5 Staff

Our team is determined to see the youngest among us reach their greatest potential.

More on Prop 10

[Link to a short video]

Strategic Plan

Through a comprehensive strategic planning process, we developed our roadmap to achieving better outcomes for San Mateo County’s youngest children. Download our Strategic Plan (.pdf)


Guiding First 5 San Mateo in our mission to promote positive outcomes for children and their families through strategic investments, community leadership, and effective partnerships.


A Statement from First 5 San Mateo County

The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor are tragic reminders of the country’s legacy of racism and discrimination that harm all our communities.

First 5 San Mateo County stands against racism, oppression, and inequality in all its forms.  We stand in solidarity with our fellow First 5s across California and with all who pursue equity, justice, and human dignity.  We know that experiences of bias, social, and systemic racism begin before a child is even born.  The resulting fear, stress, and trauma steal away the full potential from each child and family.

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Society states “Structural racism is more harmful to the health and well-being of children than infectious diseases, including COVID-19.”

Our work is about seeing inequity in the lives of children and families and trying to do something about it.  We look forward to continuing to partner with parents and leaders throughout San Mateo County and at the state to change conditions that affect child development and family well-being.

The mission of First 5 is more important now than ever:  all children have the right to grow up healthy, safe, and with every opportunity.

Kitty Lopez
Executive Director


EmbraceRace provides tools and resources to help us raise children who are resilient, inclusive, and able to address racial equity. https://www.embracerace.org/

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Is my Skin Brown Because I Drank Chocolate Milk?
In sharing a story about her preschool-aged son, Dr. Tatum explains how it is the things we don’t say that find their way into racist dialogue and thinking.

NAEYC, Becoming Upended: Teaching and Learning about Race and Racism with Young Children and Their Families.
Schools, in collaboration with families, have an important role to play in fostering young children’s positive racial identities. Here is an extensive resource for early childhood educators to learn and teach about race and racism.

Teaching for Change.
Teaching for Change provides teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world. https://www.teachingforchange.org/

Cómo Los Padres De Niños Pequeños Están Formando Resiliencia Durante COVID-19

Si sientes que estás experimentando más angustia emocionalmente y dificultades que nunca durante la pandemia de COVID-19, debes de saber que no estás solo. Hablar de tu experiencia puede abrir las puertas para que otros padres hagan lo mismo, y ayudar a construir la conexión y la resiliencia en tu comunidad.

Hoy, te presentamos a Janna, una madre de dos niños menores de cinco años que vive en Pacifica. Janna ha tenido la amabilidad de compartir su historia con nosotros, junto con consejos para practicar el autocuidado y hacer que el aprendizaje sea divertido para los niños pequeños.

Si tú o alguien en tu familia necesita actividades educativas e ideas fáciles y divertidas para realizar en casa con tus hijos durante esta pandemia, te recomendamos a que utilices los recursos que te presentamos abajo.


• First 5 California Centro de Actividades: http://www.first5california.com/es/activity-center.aspx?id=16

• Consejos como hacer videollamadas con niños pequeños: https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/tips-video-chatting-young-children (Inglés)

• First 5 San Mateo County PLAYlist Familiar [por Spotify]: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4uQwvUxli9cxidf40PoV5S?si=O23BS9P3RGuig-Yafw-mJgg (Inglés)

How Parents of Young Children are Building Resiliency During COVID-19

If you feel like you’re experiencing more emotional distress and hardship than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, know that you are not alone. Talking about your experience can open doors for other parents to do the same, and help build connection and resiliency in your community.

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Janna, a Pacifica-based mom of two boys under the age of five. Janna has kindly shared her story with us, along with tips for practicing self-care and making learning fun for young kids.

If you are in need of educational and entertaining activities to do with your young child, we encourage you to take a look at the resources highlighted below.


• First 5 California Activity Center: http://www.first5california.com/activity-center.aspx?id=1 

• Tips for video chat with young children: https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/tips-video-chatting-young-children

• First 5 San Mateo County Family PLAYlist [Spotify channel]: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4uQwvUxli9cxidf40PoV5S?si=O23BS9P3RGuigYafw-mJgg