Bolstering Early Childhood Mental Health

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 help young children reach their full potential, they and the adults in their lives need access to prevention, early identification, and treatment services that will bolster their mental health. 

How we support caregivers’ mental health

First 5 Contra Costa works to support the mental health of parents and caregivers through several different approaches:

Parent/Caregiver Support Groups

First 5 Contra Costa is a partner in the Everyday Moments Program which offers  one-on-one parenting advice and parent support groups to families with children birth to age 6 throughout the county. The program aims to help parents/caregivers turn even the most difficult everyday moments into opportunities. The program is a partnership between several organizations, which each offer their expertise. To learn more about the Everyday Moments Program, call 925-391-9240 or email

Parenting Education

First 5 Contra Costa funds a nonprofit called Counseling Options & Parent Education (COPE) to provide free evidence-based parenting classes, called Triple P (Positive Parenting Program). The classes are offered free of charge in English and Spanish online and at locations throughout the county to families with children ages birth to 5. These classes help parents and caregivers to be emotionally healthy, maintain safe and nurturing environments, foster positive childhood experiences, and participate in their children’s early learning and development. The program has demonstrated effectiveness in decreasing parental distress and reducing children’s challenging behavior. 

How we advance systems change

First 5 Contra Costa coordinates a county-wide, multi-disciplinary coalition of early childhood mental health community-based organizations, social service agencies, and county departments. The group, called the Contra Costa Early Childhood Prevention and Intervention Coalition (ECPIC), advocates for system changes to enhance the availability and impact of mental health services for children under age 6. 

The coalition meets monthly to track opportunities to influence county and state systems related to early childhood mental health. Since its inception, the coalition has authored several reports on topics such as local needs for the early childhood mental health landscape, emerging best practices, and recommendations for addressing young children’s needs through the county’s Mental Health Services Act funding from the state.