Early Learning

The Early Learning goal is to provide opportunities for young children to maximize their potential to succeed in school. Early Learning programs are intended to: increase access and quality to early care and education; increase early screening and assessments; increase caregiver knowledge and skills, and improve transitions of children from preschool to kindergarten. More than $6.4 million of First 5 Orange County’s budget was allocated to Early Learning programs in Fiscal Year 2017/18. An additional $750,000 in catalytic expenditures were made to support Early Learning programs.

Early Learning Programs:

  • Early Learning Specialists – Provide early care and education opportunities in 24 school districts with a kindergarten enrollment throughout Orange County to meet critically important childhood development needs and maximize potential and success in school.
  • Learning Link Program – Provide an accessible and creative learning environment that helps young children become better prepared for kindergarten and guides parents and caregivers in their role as their children’s first teachers. Learning Link early learning centers offer an interactive place for parents and caregivers to bond with their children, and to support their growth across a range of disciplines, including early education, language development, health and wellness, and family support.
  • Early Developmental Index (EDI) – Population-based measure of early child development and school readiness in the five key domains: physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge. Completed by teachers on kindergarten children in all school districts throughout Orange County.
  • OC STEM Initiative – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Continuum – Provide fiscal sponsorship for the implementation of the Orange County STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative business plan (OC STEM Initiative). The focus is on a full continuum of learning from preschool through college, with the overarching goal that students are college and career ready in STEM fields.
  • THINK Together – Early Literacy & Math Program – Implement early literacy programs countywide with children from birth through age five (0-5) that provide foundational instruction in literacy, vocabulary and math skills.
  • OC Reads (formerly Champions for Children’s Literacy) – A partnership between First 5 Orange County, Orange County United Way and the Orange County Community Foundation that promotes evidence-based literacy programs and interventions for young children 0-8 in communities most at risk of not achieving grade level reading as identified by the EDI and Smarter Balanced test scores.