First 5 Orange County and the City of Garden Grove are entering into a partnership to help the city improve its early childhood development strategies.
Earlier this month, First 5 Orange County approved $125,000 to be used over the next 2 ½ years to fund programs and resources that improve the lives of young children in Garden Grove and give them the tools necessary to be ready for kindergarten.
The Garden Grove City Council voted this week to approve the partnership and accept programs and support for children ages 0 to 5 through First 5 Orange County’s Engaged Neighborhoods initiative.
“While we recognize that not everyone gets the same opportunities, all children in our local communities deserve to have the chance to grow up healthy, happy and successful,” said Kim Goll, President and CEO of First 5 Orange County. “We look forward to working with the City of Garden Grove’s families to identify the needs of their young children and help them reach their full potential.”
As part of its Engaged Neighborhoods strategy, First 5 Orange County looks to strengthen local early childhood systems, expand access to resources, and increase engagement with parent and community leaders.
First 5 Orange County relies heavily on Early Development Index (EDI) data that measures children’s readiness for school and can alert communities to potential development problems and learning gaps for children. The index measures five areas: physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language/cognitive skills and communication skills/general knowledge.
Initial plans for the City of Garden Grove include working with two family resource centers, Buena Clinton and Magnolia Park, that engage with families from its most at-risk communities. By collecting more data around what is happening in those communities, the city can better understand what is lacking and what gaps need to be filled to give children the early learning opportunities they require.
“With the support from First 5 Orange County, we’re able to further the goals of enhancing the lives of our youth,” said Garden Grove Community Services Director John Montanchez. “Buena Clinton and Magnolia Park serve Garden Grove’s most ethnically-diverse and youth-populated neighborhoods, and the City is committed to providing families with vital resources.”
Before approving funding, First 5 Orange County worked separately with Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC) and the Garden Grove Community Collaborative to discuss the city’s young children and the creation of an early childhood task force.
In addition to Garden Grove, First 5 Orange County also currently employs its Engaged Neighborhoods strategies in the cities of Santa Ana, La Habra and Anaheim to great success. The “Santa Ana Early Learning Initiative,” or SAELI, was established in that city to help drive system-wide, sustainable changes for early childhood and significantly improve outcomes for young children.
In La Habra, one of the ways that city helped prepare its young children was through its Readiness Building Blocks program, which gave them the opportunity to visit places such as banks, a farm, police and fire departments to learn more and connect with their community.
In Anaheim, community leaders used EDI as a guidepost to engage stakeholders in policy development focusing on early childhood, implementing a citywide plan and collaborating with partner agencies to create systems change.
To learn more about Engaged Neighborhoods and EDI, visit first5oc.org/edi.
About First 5 Orange County, Children and Families Commission
First 5 Orange County, Children and Families Commission oversees the allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. In fiscal year 2019/20, First 5 Orange County provided children ages 0 to 5 years and their families more than 2.1 million services. Funds help pay for early education, pediatric primary and specialty health care, children’s dental care, homeless prevention, and child development programs for children from the prenatal stage to age 5 and their families. First 5 Orange County’s vision is that all children reach their full potential. For more information, visit first5oc.org.