Objective 4.1: Increase the availability of preschool programming that targets working and struggling families.
Objective 4.2: Strengthen the early care and education workforce through professional growth and career development.
Studies confirm the importance of quality early learning experiences to effectively get children ready for school. Research by Nobel Laureate James Heckman shows that investments in high-quality early childhood development and preschool programs for economically disadvantaged children can deliver a 13% annual rate of return on investment by improving health, education, and socioeconomic outcomes later in life.
Likewise, school systems must be ready to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of children to sustain the positive effects of quality early learning systems.
According to the Third Grade Reading Campaign, third grade reading success is one of the best predictors of future school performance. In fact, a longitudinal study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 88% of students who failed to earn a high school diploma were struggling readers in third grade.
The need is not simply to increase the number of preschool slots, but also to increase the quality of preschool slots. The Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) provides a framework that promotes continuous quality improvements by assessing preschool classes against locally adopted standards.
Objective 5.1: Increase opportunities for quality parent-child interaction and activities.
Parent-child relationships form the basis for optimal attachment, bonding, and early development. While interventions by trained service providers and clinicians are necessary in certain situations, the parental role of teaching and advocating for their children is the most sustainable. Empowering parents to be their child’s first teacher involves providing parents with knowledge and supports to promote child development, parenting strategies, early detection of developmental delays, prevent child abuse, and increase school readiness.
The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) is a user-friendly tool designed to assess children at critical developmental milestones. It is a parent-centric approach with inherent ease-of-use characteristics to assist parents in assessing their child’s developmental growth and signal the need for early intervention across the five domains: communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and social emotional.
Objective 6.1: Incorporate the use of First 5 California’s Talk. Read. Sing. campaign in all programming.
Key to effective communication of messaging that emphasizes optimal childhood development is honing in on a “one-voice” message that is agreed upon by partner agencies and uniformly used by all. The First 5 California Talk. Read. Sing. campaign is parent-friendly messaging that uses a catchy jingle with kid-friendly animals to communicate strategies for parents to easily engage with their young children by talking, reading, and singing.
This campaign is communicated to the masses via television, radio, print, and web ads. Billboards, buses, and social media are also utilized. The First 5 California Talk. Read. Sing. campaign will serve as the foundation for a local “one-voice” message and distribution strategies that saturate the county.
Strategic investments will include the dedication of First 5 Madera County staff time and/or fiscal resources to focus on the following: