THE FIRST 5 YEARS: Local Early Learning Advocacy & Education

Over the next five years, the Riverside County Children & Families Commission (First 5 Riverside) will invest more than $69 million  to narrow a critical gap in quality early learning programs for Riverside County children through age 5. The Commission is also working closely with countywide agencies to create an early learning master plan, a quality rating and improvement system and a parent education campaign. These efforts align with current quality-focused state and national movements.

“The first 1,000 days of a child’s life – the most critical developmental period – is key to their success and education for the rest their life,” says Tammi Graham, First 5 Riverside’s executive director. “In these early years, research shows that children who participate in high-quality early care and preschool programs have better health, social-emotional and cognitive outcomes than those who don’t.”


One-on-one attention, skilled teachers, age appropriate learning toys and lessons, responsive interactions and rich conversations – all contribute to the “quality” of a child’s early learning experience.

An aspect of quality can also be the teachers and what they can bring to the center or activity, says Toni Rangel, program director for Riverside City College’s Child Development Center.

child playing with shape sorterFirst 5 Riverside funds early learning and care scholarships, professional development and support, as well as materials to increase quality and access throughout Riverside County.

Without such support through the Martha’s Village & Kitchen Child Development Program, more than 100 children would fall through the gaps. Rosa E. Torres, program manager, says families that attend the Indio center face a variety of challenges. They are the homeless, families in transitional programs, teen parents, grandparents raising grandchildren and families facing crisis such as domestic violence or unemployment.

 “These families have been through a lot, some even faced with paying for child care or rent or food,” Torres said. “Here, we provide structure and help rebuild that important family bond lost because of their circumstances.”

Adeline Munoz says First 5 Riverside support has helped her become a working mother. Jessica Castrejon, who recently found herself homeless with five children, said she is grateful for the roof over her head and child care so she can work on getting things done for her family. Meanwhile Leticia Gomez is thrilled that her 4-year-old is learning language, communicating successfully in both English and Spanish when a few years ago, he only knew Spanish.


English/Spanish Checklists: What to look for when searching for quality early learning/child care –

Riverside County Office of Education Resource & Referral: Call 800-442-4927 or visit – for referrals to licensed quality child care in Riverside County based on your needs.

Quality Start – RivCo: Learn more about professional development, coaching, incentives and more to help raise quality in early learning throughout Riverside County.