Our Early Intervention efforts ensure that families have access to prevention and early intervention supports that foster the optimal development of all children.
Regular, evidence-based screenings that lead to connecting families to needed services can change children’s developmental trajectory. Early identification leads to timely intervention during the most critical time of a child’s development. Research shows prevention and early intervention can not only improve lifelong outcomes for children, but also yield long-term economic benefits.
First 5 Contra Costa builds the capacity of professionals and the systems they work within to adopt proven prevention and early intervention approaches.
First 5 Contra Costa operates the local Help Me Grow model which promotes regular developmental screenings of children and connects them with the services they and their families need. Evidence-based developmental screenings help identify developmental, behavioral, and social-emotional concerns that, if left untreated, can result in poor academic and health outcomes.
Help Me Grow works with a variety of public and private agencies and families to increase awareness of the importance of early identification and intervention. Through the Help Me Grow hotline, families and providers have access to a robust, up-to-date database and dedicated personnel to support families’ understanding of the support services available.
One of the most potentially harmful factors in a child’s development is the effect of trauma and toxic stress, which can lead to children facing lifelong physical, behavioral, and emotional challenges. The effects of toxic stress are detectable as early as infancy and can be associated with failure to thrive, growth delays, sleep disruption, developmental delays, and mental health challenges.
First 5 Contra Costa works with public and private healthcare and social service providers to build their capacity to prevent, screen, treat, and heal childhood adversity and toxic stress. Through the Contra Costa Network of Care, an online learning and networking community of providers, First 5 Contra Costa provides training and builds connections between health and social service providers to foster the adoption of trauma-informed, healing-centered practices that bolster families’ resiliency.
Young children’s earliest experiences and relationships shape the architecture of their brains, creating a foundation for their lifelong development. Children who engage with responsive, nurturing caregivers and who live in safe environments have a strong foundation for positive mental health, which fosters their physical, cognitive and social development.
To reach their full potential, young children and their families need access to prevention services, early identification, and treatment that support their mental health. First 5 Contra Costa works to highlight emerging research on the importance of early childhood mental health, advocating for practice and system changes, and increased investment in preventative approaches.