Investing in forever.

Programs & Initiatives


Funding (awarded through a Request for Proposal process) targets areas that are determined to meet the needs of children and families in the community. Funded agencies include nonprofit, private and government organizations for projects and services that enhance the health and wellness, education and care of children prenatal to 5-years-old, and their parents.

First 5 Kern aims to award funds that enhance existing services, and are not intended to supplant existing resources or create service duplication.

First 5 Kern’s funded contracts are fully evaluated to ensure the programs are making a difference in the lives of children and families they serve.

The First 5 Kern Program Staff work with programs to set goals and monitor and evaluate progress. Fiscal Staff work with programs to assure allocations and expenses are allowable as outlined in the approved budgets. Site visits and evaluations take place regularly to ensure fiscal and program viability. Communications Staff provide outreach support to assist with community education and awareness about the programs and the First 5 investment in communities.

Many contractors have been identified as model programs that have demonstrated innovative ways (and best practices) towards reaching and helping children.

Click here for more information on the programs we currently fund.



First 5 Kern is actively involved in and supports initiatives that contribute to the overall mission of First 5 Kern across the state. These efforts and groups are made up of community residents, organizations, individuals, businesses, government agencies, educational entities, and nonprofits.

Help Me Grow Kern County – All children develop at their own pace, but how do parents know they are on the right track? Using the Ages & Stages Questionnaires, Help Me Grow Kern County aims to keep parents apprised of their child’s development. The developmental screening assessment tools can help parents identify potential areas of concern in cognitive and motor skills, as well as social-emotional development, and recommend services available to families to address any concerns. Help Me Grow is a national program, and the Kern County chapter is an affiliate of Help Me Grow California.

Resilient Kern – This program began in 2018 and continues to be funded in part by a grant from Kaiser Permanente in an effort to create a more trauma-informed approach to services throughout the county. With multiple yearlong cohorts, online training sessions and several dozen participating agencies, non-profits and corporations, Resilient Kern continues to work with partners and the community to address sources of trauma and toxic stress in the lives of Kern County’s families.

ACEs Aware planning grant – In 2021, First 5 Kern was awarded a grant to fund the creation of a countywide Network of Care that will train and support local medical providers to screen for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and, where needed, connect with local community partners to meet the non-medical needs of families under stress from poverty, food insecurity, lack of transportation, social and cultural isolation, and racism. Research shows the link of a high ACE score to significant health risks, such as severe asthma, Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. First 5 Kern will execute the grant through its Resilient Kern program, which is a collaborative effort to help enhance the resiliency of residents throughout the county by providing trauma-informed care.

Community Collaboratives – An effort of the Kern County Network for Children, 21 Family Resource Centers in communities throughout Kern County provide family support services, networking, and integrated services. Most sites provide case management, parenting classes, health screenings and referrals, and promote parent knowledge of developmental milestones and connect families who are vulnerable and/or in crisis with appropriate resources.

Talk.Read.Sing. – Research has found that providing children from birth to five with consistent, language-rich experiences – such as talking, reading, and singing – can have important benefits on their brain development and future school success. However, many families lack access to the types of resources that can help them make the most of these language building experiences. This creates a gap in the quantity and quality of words that children learn, which directly impacts their opportunities to succeed in school and later on in life. First 5 California developed the Talk.Read.Sing effort to help enrich a child’s early language experiences by providing research-based tips for talking, reading, and singing with young children every day beginning from birth.

Community Health Initiative (CHI) – Working with Dignity Health, CHI ensures all children prenatal to 5-years-old are connected to health and dental care. The CHI community partnership works to provide uninsured individuals and families with access to comprehensive health insurance and dental care – and establish health and dental homes. An outreach program is in place to connect eligible families to programs such as Medi-Cal and Covered California.


Kaitlyn’s Law / Purple Awareness Month – An effort of the Kern County Department of Human Services, events and awareness opportunities strive to educate the community about the risks and dangers for children in and around vehicles. Purple Ribbon Month is held each July, in memory of its namesake 6-month-old Kaitlyn Marie Russell who passed away when a babysitter left her unsupervised in a car. Passed by voters in 2001, Kaitlyn’s Law makes it a citable offense for parents to leave children under 6-years-old unattended in a motor vehicle without the supervision of someone at least 12 years of age.

Safe Sleep – Founding agency and host of the Safe Sleep Coalition of Kern, the effort seeks to provide consistent community education about safe sleeping practices to save babies’ lives. The safest sleep situation is to place a baby on their back (by themselves in the same room as an adult), in their own cribs or beds (not an adult bed, sofa or soft surface) with no blankets, bumpers or soft animals.

Safely Surrendered  – The Safely Surrendered Committee, hosted by First 5 Kern, works to educate the community about the option to surrender a baby and reduce the risk of infants being abandoned in unsafe environments. The Safely Surrendered Baby Law allows a parent to surrender a newborn to any emergency room or fire station within 72 hours of birth –  no names, no questions asked. Between 2001 and 2015 more than 770 newborns were surrendered in California; 169 were abandoned (representing an 80% decrease in abandoned infants). Since 2001 65 infants have been surrendered in Kern County.

For more info for providers