Conditions for Children to Thrive

Smiling dad and baby

First 5 Orange County believes that for children to thrive, the following set of situational and environmental conditions are needed:


Early and ongoing health and development


A safe, stable and nurturing home


Neighborhoods that support young children and families


Equitable distribution of resources

These conditions reflect our conviction that the entities surrounding children — parents, caregivers, communities, and early childhood systems such as health care and child care — bring strengths and supports that directly influence their development and are linked.

Early and Ongoing Health and Development

Decades of research support the benefits of early intervention for children and the importance of physical and mental health. When met, the Health and Development condition looks like this: children prenatal to age 5 and their families receive support to optimize children’s physical and mental health and cognitive development; and a planned progression of quality services is available at a variety of natural interaction points with systems of care.

For example, a mother might receive breastfeeding education, a depression screening, and support if needed for a healthy pregnancy during a prenatal visit. Or a child might receive a developmental screening and their family could be connected with services during a pediatric well visit appointment.

A Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Home

The value of nurturing environments for young children to build resiliency and protective factors is well documented. A child’s family is its first and most influential setting, and well-equipped parents and caregivers provide foundational relationships and emotional stability. When the home condition is met, parents and caregivers have access and capability to meet their own mental health and can provide positive, responsive parenting to the young children in their care.

Neighborhoods that Support Young Children and Families

Beyond the home, the community surrounding a child also influences their growth and development. Children thrive when they have safe places to play, access to quality early learning opportunities, such as child care or libraries, and other supports such as family resource centers, comprehensive mental and physical healthcare, and access to healthy food. When this condition is met, neighborhoods have the infrastructure to support children and the capacity to sustain healthy social relationships.

a dad lying on the couch with his baby on his chest

Children thrive when they have safe places to play, access to quality early learning opportunities, healthcare, and access to healthy food.

toddler hands playing with colorful blocks

Equitable Distribution of Resources

A condition for all children to achieve their full potential is a society where inclusion, diversity, and equity are a value and a priority. Policies and practices must be put in place to address the structural barriers that perpetuate equity gaps and racism. When this condition is met, parents and families are put at the center and supported to co-create and advocate for solutions to the pressing issues facing them. First 5 Orange County prioritizes reducing disparities in access to equitable, quality services and positive outcomes