• 2017 Strategic Plan Update 740x250

Highlights of First 5's Impact Fiscal Year 2013-14 through Fiscal Year 2015-16

First 5 works to create sustainable systems change in Sonoma County. Sustainable systems changes that endure beyond the funded project can lead to improved lives for children and families through increased access to services, improved quality of services, enhanced efficiency of services, and increased consumer/community empowerment.

Systems change refers to “changes in organizational culture, policies, and procedures within and across organizations that enhance or streamline access, and reduce or eliminate barriers to needed services by target populations.” (Linkins & Brya)

Family Walking 200x200To create sustainable systems change, First 5 Sonoma County aims to engage and support three primary stakeholder groups:

  1. Partners: First 5 Sonoma County grantees and other community partners
  2. Service recipients: Children 0-5, families, and providers receiving grantee service
  3. Community leaders and policymakers: Drivers of change in the community

This systems change framework assumes that by building partners’ capacity to provide accessible and high-quality services, and by engaging community leaders to support such services, children and families will experience better outcomes.

The following pages highlight the major achievements of First 5 Sonoma County from FY 2013-14 through FY 2015-16 in its efforts to strengthen systems and programs supporting children and families. Each page is organized by Strategic Plan goal area, illustrating the ways in which First 5 has helped to ensure:

  • Children’s health and healthy development
  • Families are supported and nurturing
  • Early childhood education is of the highest quality

The structure of each section mirrors the design of the First 5 Sonoma County’s systems change evaluation framework (Figure above). For each Strategic Plan goal area, LFA examines the extent to which First 5 has (1) built partners’ capacity to provide services that support positive outcomes, and (2) contributed to improved outcomes for children, families, and providers. Each goal area includes a summary of First 5’s most impactful work under these two approaches. The final section of this summary explores the extent to which First 5 has engaged the community to support First 5-identified services and priorities.

Goal 1: Ensure the health and healthy development of children

First 5 Sonoma County has strengthened health care systems by building its partners' capacity to address children's health needs and ensure that children have access to the services that support their health and healthy development.

96% of stakeholders report that First 5 has significantly supported outcomes-based programs and strategies that promote the health and healthy development of children 0-5.

"The leadership, commitment, and support that First 5 has made to ensure that all children have access to high quality health care has played an enormous role in achieving the goal that all Sonoma County children have health coverage."

First 5 Stakeholder

Girl brushing teeth 200x200Lessons Learned and Future Directions

  • The Developmental Screening Pilot Initiative has helped to surface best practices in integrating routine developmental screening into primary care visits, and positions First 5 to scale this effort countywide.
  • Faced with the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the future of health insurance coverage for children is uncertain. It will be critical for First 5 and its partners to be responsive to rapid shifts in the funding and policy environment in order to ensure that children have access to critical preventive health services. 

Goal 2: Ensure families are supported and nurturing

First 5 Sonoma County has strengthened family support systems by building its partners' capacity to deliver high quality and accessible services, coordinate efforts across agencies, and ultimately support parents in nurturing their child's development.

100% of stakeholders report that First 5 has facilitated collaboration and alignment among family support partners.

"As a result (of First 5's work to align partners), I think we understand each other's basic programs, referral processes, and we work together to reduce redundancy and to serve families where they seek services: in home, schools, preschools, etc."

 First 5 Stakeholder

Dad and Baby 200x200Lessons Learned and Future Directions

  • First 5’s widespread promotion of the Protective Factors Survey has provided a common framework for communication and collaboration among providers serving families across Sonoma County.
  • Building a coordinated system of care for children and families is a priority. To further strengthen collaboration and partnerships among providers, First 5 plans to focus on enhancing data sharing practices among providers and leverage the data monitoring and evaluation resources that First 5 has to offer.

Goal 3: Ensure high-quality early care and education

First 5 Sonoma County has contributed to more effective early care and education (ECE) systems by supporting efforts to make early learning programs more high quality, accessible, and affordable.

93% of stakeholders believe that First 5 Sonoma County has significantly supported outcomes-based programs and strategies that help increase quality of ECE in the County.

"First 5 Sonoma County has been innovative in leveraging its resources to expand facilities and deepen its engagements with both institutional partners and grantees."

 First 5 Stakeholder

Painting 200x200Lessons Learned and Future Directions

  • Quality Counts is an example of effective systems change: early care quality initiatives are now working within a coordinated framework, contributing to both the professional development of the early care workforce and the quality of care provided in the County.
  • With the implementation of Transitional Kindergarten and the investments in preschool facilities, the need has shifted from increasing preschool access to a growing demand for more infant and toddler care.

Goals 4/5: Engaging the community to support children and families

First 5 Sonoma County has increased grantees' capacity to provide high quality services and built community support for children and their families.

84% of grantees report that they increased their program effectiveness through their partnership with First 5 Sonoma County.

"First 5 is THE SPOKESPERSON for the 0-5 population, and since its inception, First 5 has done a great deal to increase awareness of the needs of this population and change norms around parenting and services in the early years."

 First 5 Stakeholder

Newborn 200x200Stakeholder Recommendations for First 5's Continued Work

  • Focus on ”upstream,” evidence-based models that support at-risk families
  • Prioritize policy advocacy work and communicating the importance of investments in early childhood – 94% of stakeholders believe policy advocacy is important for First 5 to prioritize moving forward