As we usher in the New Year, I want to convey my gratitude to the people and partners whose passion and dedication for young children made the successes of 2023 possible. Thank you!
Looking ahead to 2024, our focus remains steadfast on improving outcomes for children and families and fostering collaboration among system stakeholders, with Orange County’s young children and their families at the center of everything we do.
Here is what First 5 Orange County will be prioritizing this year.
Greater family and community engagement: We have doubled the number of family ambassadors who are embedded in various programmatic workgroups within our organization and will continue our in-depth partnerships with the Engaged Neighborhoods. We are poised to bring on a new senior program officer dedicated to growing our engagement with families and communities in Orange County.
We are also focusing our early learning work with school districts to expand community engagement efforts.
This includes building a stronger connection to community-based early learning centers and family child care homes to increase kindergarten readiness and ease transitions to school programs when families are ready; and, empowering parents by engaging them as their child’s first teacher to create strong family participation starting in the earliest years of a child’s educational journey.
Earliest connections and interventions: We are introducing new and expanded pathways for families to engage prenatally, from doulas to Family Wellness Plans to prenatally-focused education and social connections.
Concurrently, we are deploying innovative strategies to increase quality infant and toddler child care including the critical element of workforce development. Our ultimate goal is to support young children with seamless, effective, and appropriate services that meet families where they are at.
Cultivating collective will to better serve young children and families: You will see us leaning in on convenings and collaborations like the Countywide Home Visiting Collaborative, Detect & Connect OC (focused on children’s screenings and linkage to services), Child Care Collaboratives (to increase access to quality infant and toddler care), and the emerging countywide visioning effort for young children’s mental health.
We will also intensify our efforts to advocate for crucial initiatives, policies and funding for things such as affordable and accessible child care, continuous eligibility for Medi-Cal, and access to developmental screening and prenatal-to-three care tailored to the unique needs of families.
As we welcome 2024, we look forward to the collaborative endeavors that will shape the future of Orange County’s early childhood services. We are enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead and are excited to jump in.
President & CEO