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First 5 San Mateo is entrusted with the strategic investment of nearly $7 million of public dollars each year specifically earmarked to help children and families in our county succeed. We work on behalf of the more than 53,000 children ages 0-5 living here to ensure their every need is met, their families are supported and their future is a priority.

Child with curly hair reading a book in mom's lap

Early Learning

90% of your baby’s brain grows in the first 5 years. Early experiences shape their future.

Young boy toddler wearing blue plaid shirt smiling at a card game being shown to him by a young girl

Healthy & Happy

We’re making sure families have important resources and knowledge so kids grow up happy and healthy in San Mateo County.

Blonde baby boy playing with toys beside his mom

Family Connections

Parents and caring adults make the biggest impact on a child’s development. Your involvement makes all the difference.

Success for Every Child: Improving Oral Health

When a pregnant woman has a dental disease, her baby is also at an increased risk of developing a dental infection. Research has shown that without proper oral health practices and good nutrition, dental decay can begin soon after babies get their first teeth. Pain from dental disease impacts nutritional intake and tooth loss, damaged teeth, and other dental issues erode self-esteem and confidence, leading to diminished success in school.  read more…

The Work of Nurturing

By Mai Le, First 5 San Mateo County Program Associate.

I recently joined the First 5 San Mateo County staff as a program associate, a diverse, flexible role supporting the program team. No two days here are alike, as I jump from preparing contracts, to coordinating meetings, to updating our social media and website. Prior to coming to First 5, I worked at a community-based organization providing training and consultation to health and social service providers on delivering more culturally responsive services. In addition to working at First 5, I am also a full time graduate student. I am in my second (and last!) year of the Master of Public Health program at San Francisco State University. My program emphasizes health equity and social justice, which relate closely to the work we’re doing at First 5 to ensure success for every child.

The work of nurturing and guiding a child to their full potential is enormous. I am very aware of this both from my work, and from my personal experience as the mom of a two-and-a-half-year-old child. My daughter is gaining more independence and copying everything we say and do! My partner and I are in the thick of dealing with tantrums, boundary setting, and helping our toddler with her big emotions. Nothing has really prepared me for this. As a young adult I struggled with depression and worked with mental health professionals to manage the condition and regulate my own emotions. That was, and sometimes still is, hard. But trying to understand a toddler is a whole new challenge. I know I’m not the only parent navigating this, so I try to read a mix of expert advice, observe how friends and family manage it, and see what works for me. Even with the best intentions though, being the parent I want to be is hard when someone is screaming, the house is a mess, and I can’t find the one toy my daughter wants right now. What I’ve realized though is that no matter the situation, I am the most patient and grounded when I feel good with myself– when I’ve had some sleep, decompressed from my work day, or eaten something. Self-care is not selfish; it is truly the best thing I can do for my family.

I don’t want to suggest that self-care is easy though. My family is privileged in a lot of ways, which gives me more freedom to take care of myself. My partner and I both have professional jobs, with benefits like health care and paid leave. If I don’t feel well, I can take time off work, see a doctor if needed, and still be able to cover our expenses for the month. We bought a home last year in Daly City, and are no longer vulnerable to steep rent increases that could throw off our budget. We can afford family vacations once in a while to recharge and reconnect. We have quick access to parks, beaches, libraries, and other safe community spaces, making it easier to keep the whole family active and engaged. Because of our jobs, we have predictable, consistent leisure time to spend together with our little one. I’m acutely aware this is not the reality for many families.


These are just some of the equity issues that I reflect on in my work. Parenting is never easy, but for some, systemic barriers make it much harder. What works for me might not work for another parent, and vice versa. As professionals concerned with supporting children and families, we should let people tell us what they need to thrive within the contexts of their own lives. And we should simultaneously commit to lifting the floor so that everyone can access basic structural supports. Things like paid time off, health insurance, quality childcare, and safe neighborhoods should not be considered luxuries. These are essentials for a healthy, equitable community. They are the best investment we can make for the future.





Spotlight on Success:  Toddle & Build Up SMC

Heather Hopkins didn’t set out to become a childcare provider. But when her daughter’s flexible care facility closed, the part-time working mom saw a gap in the market that sparked an entrepreneurial journey and created a passionate advocate for quality early childhood education.
read more…

Spotlight on Success:  Healthy Homes & Family Partnership

Lexie Munevar met Henry* and his mother Celia* when they first came to a Parent-Child Activity Group she was running at the San Mateo Medical Center back in January 2016. Henry was a shy four year old, who did not make eye contact and always sat facing away from peers during circle times. Celia suspected her child was autistic but had not been able to get a formal diagnosis. She was determined to figure out how to best support him. read more…

We’re sharing knowledge, leveraging resources, generating awareness and taking action.

We fund a network of passionate providers who support young children and families.

Together we are transforming the early childhood system and guaranteeing better outcomes.

Open opportunities

Program, Operations and Planning Committee Meeting
December 3, 2018


Click to access meeting documents.

Meeting packets are available for download 72 hours prior to the meeting. For meeting information call 650-372-9500.


101 Twin Dolphin Drive
Superintendent's Conference Room, 2nd Floor
Redwood City, CA 94065


December 3, 2018, 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Young jubilant boy riding a yellow and red baby swing