About First 5


First 5 Madera County, legally recognized as the Madera County Children and Families Commission, is an independent public entity that was created by the passage of Proposition 10 in 1998.  Proposition 10, also known as the Children and Families First Act of 1998, added a 50-cents tax on tobacco products sold in California in order to fund programs and services expressly for children prenatally though age 5 and their families.  Since inception 20 years ago, First 5 Madera County has become a valued collaborator and funder.  In these roles we offer the community expertise on the importance of early childhood development and the conditions that children and families need to thrive.  First 5 cultivates strong relationships with community partners and support innovative and promising practices that are shown to improve outcomes.  This is to ensure that all parents, particularly those living in poverty, understand the importance of their role as their child’s first teacher.  This new strategic plan supports a “system-level perspective” that promotes seamless cross-agency coordination and improves the family experience and child outcomes.




Studies repeatedly show that a significant amount of brain development occurs before age five[1].  The foundations for physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral health are laid during the first years of life. Children develop these capacities through interactions with responsive and loving caregivers in safe environments.  Stable, nurturing relationships literally build children’s brains in ways that foster healthy emotional expression, self-regulation, impulse control, and social interactions. Parents and other caregivers are better able to build warm and consistent relationships with children if they themselves feel secure in their lives. Parents who are experiencing mental health issues, substance abuse, violence, social isolation, or the stress of being unable to meet their family’s basic needs face more barriers to providing a nurturing environment for their children.

Research identifies four major building blocks that contribute to a child’s likelihood

of thriving in school and beyond as Behavioral and emotional health, Physical health, Social skills, and Academic skills. Children who arrive in elementary school well prepared in all four of these building blocks are over three times more likely to be reading at grade level in third grade than children who need additional support in all areas[2]. In fact, healthy behavioral and emotional development at kindergarten entry is just as important as academic skills in predicting future success. Given our charge to foster optimal development for children prenatally through age 5, First 5 Madera County aims to play a unique role in ensuring that communities prioritize the needs of young children and their families.


First 5 Madera County has a commitment and mandate to improve outcomes for Madera County’s children 0-5 years old.  To respond to that mandate and remain accountable to the community, First 5 Madera County has developed a strategic framework that identifies what we aim to achieve and how we aim to achieve it.  (Left figure)  Specifically, the strategic framework contains the following:

  • Three Focus Areas as prescribed in the Proposition 10 legislation;
  • Five Guiding Principles, or values that govern decision-making;
  • Six Long-term Goals, or outcomes to be seen in the community;
  • Twelve Objectives, or strategies defining how outcomes will be achieved in the community; and
  • Strategic Investments, or funding methods towards achieving defined goals.


[1] Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

[2] Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

grandma with baby and super pup