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Policy and Advocacy


First 5 San Mateo strives to foster deeper understanding and inclusive decision-making at all levels, from parenting to policy. It has been proven that we can generate significant and lasting returns on the investment in our children. However, in order to create sustainable change young children must be prioritized in all policies.

Policy Focus

We are working to ensure that everyone recognizes the importance of early childhood and embraces their role in helping children reach their potential. Our policy agenda aligns with the First 5 Association, who is working in parallel on the state level. To see policies that First 5 is currently engaged in and supporting in San Mateo County click on our Policy & Advocacy Platform.

Oral Health

Across the country, agencies at the county, state and federal levels are recognizing the need for additional resources to assure access to dental care, improve oral health, and integrate with overall health efforts. First 5 San Mateo has funded a dedicated Oral Health Initiative since 2012, and has been purposefully investing in the development of county-wide solutions using both capacity-building and collective impact strategies. Click here to learn more.

First 5 was one of the many contributors to the countywide Strategic Planning effort, which was a first and critical step in determining additional goals and strategies to help address oral health needs of children at a systemic level. This countywide effort led to the development of the San Mateo County Oral Health Strategic Plan 2017-2020. The Oral Health Strategic Plan is a roadmap to increase access to quality dental services in San Mateo County, particularly for vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities or special needs. The success of this plan will depend on the commitment of the health community and its partners. Financial resources must be identified to implement the plan and make oral health a reality for every San Mateo County resident. 

To support the efforts of the Oral Health Coalition, contact Emily Roberts at eroberts@smcgov.org.

ACEs Aware

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic experiences that children are especially vulnerable to. ACEs represent a public health crisis. Prolonged exposure to ACEs, as well as things like racism and community violence, can create toxic stress, which can damage children’s developing brain and body and affect long-term health. However, screening for ACEs, assessing for toxic stress, and responding with evidence-based interventions can significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and families. 

The statewide ACEs Aware initiative offers Medi-Cal providers training, screening tools, clinical protocols, and payment for screening children and adults for ACEs. As an ACEs Aware grantee, First 5 is working to increase the number of providers trained and offering ACEs screenings. Learn more about ACEs Aware here.

Build Up for San Mateo County’s Children

A new initiative designed to grow and improve the supply of child care and preschool facilities in San Mateo County. San Mateo County has a child care shortage crisis affecting families’ economic opportunities and children’s learning during critical development stages from birth to age 5.  According to Brion Economics 2017 Report, 10,789 spaces are needed for children ages 0 – 4, and 5,000 spaces needed for low-income children in San Mateo County. To support efforts of the Build Up for San Mateo County’s Children Initiative, contact Michelle Blakely at mblakely@smcgov.org. Click here to learn more.

Quality Affordable Child Care

In 2015, child care facilities in San Mateo County had the capacity to meet just 68% of the demand for care. By 2025, this number is expected to go down to 62%. First 5 San Mateo County has a strong history of working with other organizations to address the shortage of quality early care and education in San Mateo County. To support efforts to increase quality affordable child care, contact Michelle Blakely at mblakely@smcgov.org.  Click here to learn more.

First 5 Association of California

The First 5 Association of California unites all 58 First 5 county commissions around a common agenda that prioritizes key impact /policy areas.

First 5 Association Network Strategy

Be A Champion for Kids

First 5 Association Legislation and Bill Tracking

Take Action

  1. Join us on social media.
  2. Let your elected officials know early childhood must be a priority.
  3. Is your employer family-friendly? What policies do they have in place? We’d love to hear your story. Email us!