Annual Report 2020-2021


By the time a child turns 5 years, 90% of their brain is developed. The first 5 years of a child’s life are critical for developing lifelong social, emotional, and learning skills.

Equipped with this knowledge, First 5 Ventura County (F5VC), an independent public agency largely funded through Proposition 10, works to ensure children are born healthy, thrive in nurturing environments, and enter school prepared and eager to learn.

F5VC staff are leaders and experts, improving outcomes for Ventura County’s 60,000 children age five and under.

Be a Champion for Early Childhood!

Whether it’s volunteering to read, making a donation, or posting on social media using #take5vc, you can be a champion for early childhood! Learn more at

Meet First 5 Ventura County

The vision of F5VC is that all Ventura County children are born healthy, thrive in nurturing environments, and enter school prepared and eager to learn.

The mission of F5VC is to strengthen families, communities and systems of care for children prenatal to 5 years through investments, expertise, and leadership so all children reach their full potential.

First 5 Ventura County’s Year in Review

July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021

We Served

F5VC is dedicated to serving families who can benefit the most, and have the least access to other early childhood services.


To have the greatest impact, we serve the whole family. Over half of the people we serve are adults.

1774 Residents:


English is the primary language spoken among participants, but 1/2 of parents also speak Spanish or Mixteco.

Ethnicity F5VC vs County

More than 3/4 of First 5 participants are Hispanic/Latino. By comparison, 43% of Ventura County residents are Hispanic/Latino.

*Note: Race/ethnicity category is unknown for 5% of F5VC participants.


Of those who disclosed income, more than 1/2 made 30K or less


Of those who disclosed their education, almost 1/2 have had less than a high school education

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Equity and access are key fundamental values in being socially conscious and community minded. Underserved groups include families who are low-income, non-English speakers, and people of color.

Community Education and Professional Development

Locally, F5VC participated in the first Equity Conference hosted by Ventura County of Education. F5VC staff presented the workshop “Rethinking ‘Us’ and Reshaping Our Practices,” the approach early childhood partners are implementing county-wide to increase equitable environments for the youngest learners.

Statewide, F5VC staff participated in Race Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion sessions hosted by the First 5 Association to deepen their understanding in engaging leadership in communities and organizations, cultural humility, capacity-building in communities of color, facilitating conversations about race, systematic racism and becoming an anti-racist organization.

Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)

F5VC funds MICOP, which works to strengthen the Mixtec and indigenous immigrant community in Ventura County, estimated at 20,000 people. MICOP delivers culturally-informed Parent and Child Together classes and family support services to Mixteco families.

We Invested

F5VC invested $4.5 million to provide high quality early childhood experiences and environments. Two key investments illustrate our efforts to strengthen families and systems: the Neighborhoods for Learning and Help Me Grow.

Neighborhoods for Learning Initiative is a Cornerstone in the Community

The First 5 Neighborhoods for Learning (NfLs), offer any family in Ventura County with a child 0-5 years old the opportunity to participate in our signature Parent and Child Together (PACT) classes, receive developmental and health screenings, gain assistance accessing support services, engage in parent education, and connect with local families.

Where We Work

After a year of exclusively providing virtual services, First 5 Ventura County is in the process of opening new and existing NfL sites across the county to ensure equitable access to services for all families. In-person services will be offered at the following locations over the next several months

F5VC Neighborhoods for Learning (NfL) Development

After 20 years of contracting with local partners for the delivery of the nationally recognized First 5 Ventura County NfLs, all operations and implementation of the initiative were brought in-house in July 2021. With F5VC’s established position within the ECE System, running the NfLs directly gives us the ability to:

  • Increase fidelity to the program design
  • Enhance the quality of programming
  • Rapidly innovate with data-informed decisions in
    the face of complexity

All existing NfL staff employed by community-based contractor were offered the opportunity to become First 5 employees, ensuring that families would be able to access services with familiar staff.

We Supported

Parent and Child Together (PACT) Classes Build Secure Bonds and Positive Parenting Skills

PACT classes, an evidence-informed playgroup model, offer a dual generation approach that is carefully designed to allow parents and children ages 0-5 the opportunity to play and learn together with other parents, while teachers model positive parenting skills.

The First 3 Years of a Child’s Life Are the Bricks and Mortar of Brain Development

Evidence shows that when we invest in the first three years, infants and toddlers become healthy children who are confident, empathetic, and ready for school and life — and our communities, workforce, and economy become stronger and more productive.

PACT Served



attended PACT


attended PACT

over 60%

of children in PACT are 0-3 years old.


made up over 80% of adult participants

Healthy Development Services


NfL staff provide a variety of screenings with the goal of identifying health or developmental delays early on, and connecting families to needed support services to be sure children have every opportunity to thrive.


Parents completed Social Determinants of Health


Children completed


Children completed

Care coordination & parent education

Care coordination supports individual family well-being, including family safety, health, and economic stability, to promote child learning and development, and parental confidence.

323 parents

Care coordination

397 parents

Parent Education

PACT Outcomes:

Nearly all PACT Participants reported positive outcomes

PACT Parents Say…

  • “We are learning to make learning opportunities from everyday routines and activities. We are setting expectations for when she begins school and are able to involve the whole family in fun activities.”
  • “I am more patient with my child and recognize that learning is going on in playtime and just doing life activities. I also realize how I can create a routine to help my child improve behavior and transition times.”

  • “Participando en este programa me ha ayudado bastante con como comunicarme con mi bebe. He aprendido como tratarla, como hablarle, como leerle, y como jugar con ella. He aprendido a valorar el tiempo con mi bebe y jugar con ella.”

Virtual PACT

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, F5VC continued to adapt and innovate to ensure that families would still be able to access virtual PACT classes, screenings, care coordination and referrals for families with needs.

attendees for all Zoom Parent and Child Together classes
Facebook Live classes with consistent attendance
individual Facebook posts with information and resources for families
Virtual Care Coordination services supported over 200 families

Activity Kits

NfL staff distributed activity kits to families every 3-4 weeks to provide the materials for their online learning. 

“The classes have been helpful in introducing me to fun and engaging activities to do with my son that are developmentally appropriate. I have also enjoyed seeing him begin to get more comfortable in a social setting, even if it is on Zoom!”

“My child is more engaged with reading and singing. She enjoys zoom school.”

County Library PACT Classes

Ventura County Libraries began offering PACT classes

F5VC partnered with County Libraries to build librarians’ capacity to deliver PACT classes through training, technical assistance, and program implementation support.

Parents and caregivers of children ages 0 to 3 participated in 12-week series that were held at three locations in the County: Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura Community Room, Oak View Library, and Ray D. Prueter Library in Port Hueneme.

“I feel as though I have better tools in understanding what my child needs and anticipating their wants. It’s also been helpful to hear other parents’ experiences too.”

“My patience for my child has grown. I now have better empathy for understanding that my child is experiencing everything for the first time so I need to give my child extra time to absorb the world around them.”

“She’s opening up to others more. She’s picking up books more. I have learned different learning instruments to help guide her. I have a better sense of allowing her to lead while we play. I feel much closer to my daughter.”

Quality Improvement of PACT classes

In partnership with the Ventura County Office of Education, First 5 Ventura County participated in Quality Counts California to improve the quality of PACT classes through an early childhood coach who provided technical assistance, professional development, and coaching.

Parent Leadership

The First 5 Ventura County Parent Leader group developed a Parent Led Project as part of the recently completed Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) training. The book will help parent leaders start conversations with other parents who may be interested in NfL services.

“My experience with the COFI training was one of a kind. It was very informative. I loved the fact that it gave me the motivation to set goals for me and for my community. One of my goals is to make some sort of support group for moms to bring awareness about postpartum depression. The COFI training is actually one of the first things I have finished since my daughter’s birth.”

– Ivy R., Parent Leader

“We all share a vision of connecting parents with each other, promoting and referring them to their local PACT classes while providing them with empowering tools. We want to provide an onboarding process for new parents to connect with each other and be inspired like we were/are and pass the torch to others”

– Parent Leader vision

NfL Parent Advisory Groups

The NfL hosts monthly Parent Advisory Groups designed to support parent involvement in the governance of the programs. Several of our Parent Leaders started out as Parent Advisory participants before joining the Parent Leadership group.

Help Me Grow Ventura County

Help Me Grow is building an integrated, countywide early childhood system to promote early identification of children with developmental and social-emotional needs and to connect them to community resources and interventions.

  • In FY 2020-21 F5VC launched the redesigned Help Me Grow call line.
    • The call line is intended for families and providers (medical or ECE) who may have questions or concerns about a young child’s developmental or behavioral needs.

  • F5VC’s HMG Care Coordinator provides parent education, developmentally appropriate tips and strategies, and resource and referral information.

  • Over the course of the year, HMG staff connected with 48 medical clinics and 30 preschools and child care providers to provide materials and resources to connect community partners and their families to HMG services

National Partnerships

F5VC HMG was one of four First 5s selected in the state to participate in a state-wide project to better support the healthy social and emotional development of young children in California. F5VC has since become a MediCal Administrative Activities (MAA) claiming unit of the county to leverage our investment in HMG with Federal funding.

Triple P

F5VC invests in Triple P Positive Parenting Program, an evidence-based parenting program, providing everything from light touch assistance to parents with minor concerns in a group setting, to individually tailored counselling intervention sessions for intensive behavior problems.

Triple P Served:


parent/guardians in
Triple P: Individual Services


parent/guardians in
Triple P: Group Services

The Majority of Parents Demonstrated Growth in Parenting Practices

 Triple P works with parents’ strengths and to provide a supportive, nonjudgmental environment where a parent can continually improve their parenting skills and decrease problem behavior.

Comprehensive Information and Referral Service for all of Ventura County

F5VC funds 2-1-1 Ventura County to provide information and referral to callers and 2-way-texters and offer families with young children a referral to their local NfL.


Early Literacy

As part of a larger effort to increase the awareness about the importance of early literacy, F5VC provided approximately 1,000 books to local preschool programs and the Las Islas Family Medical Group, so that children can have books to read at home and begin building their home library.

We Advocated

In 2021, F5VC advocated to invest in children as early as possible and address the economic, racial, and health disparities made worse by the pandemic.

Two priority bills were signed into law:
  • SB 395 Vape Tax Aims to discourage vaping, particularly among youth, by taxing vaping products like tobacco. This legislation guarantees F5VC, and First 5s across the state, will receive their tax equivalency to continue funding education programs.
  • SB 65 Momnibus Act This legislation takes a comprehensive approach to closing racial disparities in maternal and infant health in California.
F5’s Whole-Child, Whole-Family Approach

As the pandemic increased disparities within California, there is a need to not only repair, but restructure and improve supports through nurturing the whole child and whole family. F5VC advocated for elected officials to maintain continuous Medi-Cal coverage for children up to age 5, and eligibility for birthing adults till 12 months postpartum. Extending coverage will improve the state’s low preventative care rates, and ultimately save money.

ARPA funds

With the historic opportunity presented by the American Rescue Plan ACT, F5VC continues to advocate for the County of Ventura and local cities to dedicate 5% of ARPA funding to the first 5 years of life. These funds would enable F5VC and our early childhood partners to support families impacted by the pandemic and begin the road to recovery.

We Partnered

F5VC engages in on-going partnerships to align and integrate systems of care to make sure young children and their families have timely and seamless access to supports and services.

ACEs Aware Ventura County

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events in a child’s life that can include abuse, neglect, and other major stressors such as divorce, caregiver mental illness, and household violence. Organizations across the state of California are building and strengthening “networks of care” to respond more effectively to ACEs and toxic stress by engaging community-based health and social support systems.

As part of the ACEs Aware Network of Care planning grant, Help Me Grow staff partnered with the Partnership for Safe Families to develop a referral pathway for children with ACEs.  The goal is to provide holistic support and better treatment plans for those at risk with ACEs.

In partnership with Landon Pediatric Foundation HMGVC helped design and create content for a website to support medical providers in accessing training and resources.

ECE Task Force

Under F5VC’s leadership, the ECE Taskforce (composed of VCOE, CDR, and F5VC) continued to support the local childcare system during COVID-19. The taskforce:

  • surveyed early learning and care providers to understand the challenges providers face in continuing to deliver care during COVID-19, and identify necessary supports to stabilize this vital sector of the economy. (view report)
  • offered technical assistance to complete the Ventura County Business Assistance grant application. 123 childcare providers received these $5,000 grants, totaling $615,000.

Covid 19 Response & Recovery Efforts

Food Share of Ventura County

With support from First 5 California, and in partnership with Food Share, F5VC distributed diapers, masks, and other critical supplies to childcare providers throughout the county. Through these efforts we were able to distribute more than 130,000 diapers to families in need.

F5VC staff has continued to volunteer at Food Share to assist in fighting against hunger in Ventura County.

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