Research supports the critical role of strong, coordinated, and responsive systems in supporting families and improving outcomes for children prenatal to five. Systems-focused strategies can improve the formal structure through which services to young children and their families are delivered. System building opportunities include public policy, education system linkage, resource coordination, workforce development, data integration, access to information resources and referrals and other efforts.
Enhance Communications and Engagement
First 5 Sonoma County will conduct a robust communication and engagement campaign to cultivate champions of early childhood and educate residents and community leaders about the importance of investing in early learning. The success of collaborative efforts that lead to systems-change are largely driven by the individuals who lead and comprise the effort, so authentically engaging the community is essential. First 5 should ensure that staffing reflects the skill sets necessary for strong engagement. Coordination and alignment of messaging about early childhood and leveraging related communication efforts is essential.
Expand Legislative Advocacy Efforts
As Prop. 10 is a statewide revenue source for programs and services supporting children prenatal to five, every county’s First 5 Commission is being impacted by the revenue decline. Legislative advocacy at the federal and state levels is critical to ensure lawmakers are aware and champion the value of investing upstream. First 5 Sonoma County should be strongly engaged in efforts to persuade and build alliances with legislative representatives, advocate for specific legislation that supports the goals of First 5 Sonoma County and statewide, as well as coordinating with and leveraging the power and focus of First 5 Association’s legislative advocacy work.
Utilize the Grant Making Press to Drive Systems Change
Funders have the opportunity to create incentives to drive organizational and system behavior through competitive funding processes, scoping of contractor work and grant monitoring. First 5 will utilize Request for Proposals and contract development as tools to institutionalize integration of key frameworks, including the Strengthening Families Framework, trauma-informed approaches and other emerging and best practice.
First 5 will utilize the procurement and contract management processes to drive consistent practices, strengthen provider communication and collaboration, and institutionalize universal and centralized referrals across funded services to ensure critical needs are met, such as ensuring developmental screening and enrollment in health coverage.