Kindergarten Readiness: The results are in


For the last decade, First 5 Alameda County has done a cross-County Kindergarten Readiness Assessment to measure how ready kids are for kindergarten. The most recent results are just in, and they are not good: 56% of our incoming kindergartners arrive in the classroom without some basic academic and social skills such as being able to express themselves, being able to listen, getting along with others, and coping with adversity. And, despite their best efforts, schools are struggling to keep up with their students’ learning needs.

Research shows that kindergarten readiness is correlated with third-grade numeracy and reading scores, high school graduation, and lifelong outcomes in employment and health. So this is not simply an issue of catching children up in the first few weeks; the readiness gap can persist throughout a child’s life.

There is hope within the report, however, as it sheds light on what we can do to better support young children during the early years of rapid brain development. Kindergarten readiness improves with experience in licensed child care or preschool and, not surprisingly, children who are well fed and well rested are more likely to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.

Investments in early learning opportunities yield benefits for generations to come. Kids with access to quality care now will grow up to be healthier, more productive members of society later. Parents who can put their kids in quality early care and education programs immediately benefit from being able to work and take care of their families.

But expanding access to early care and education opportunities isn’t enough. Nearly one in five students (19%) came to school hungry or tired in the first weeks of classes and nearly a third (27%) of children come from families that make less than $35K a year, two factors that are correlated with lower readiness scores. Housing, transportation and food security all affect kids’ ability to learn, and are important aspects of early childhood policy. In a county where the cost of living is making it ever more difficult for families to make ends meet, access to early learning in combination with basic family support are crucial to the health of our communities.

First 5 Alameda County is committed to working with our partners to change policies at a city and county level that will make preparing children for kindergarten easier for parents and early childhood program providers.

We invite you to check out website to learn more about what our communities can do to support our young learners so that all children can succeed in school and beyond.

We thank all of the families who have taken part in these studies over the years and look forward to the day when our County’s success is measured by the well-being of its young kids.

The full Kindergarten Readiness Assessment report is available on First 5 Alameda County’s website this month. 



First 5 Announces Neighborhood Ready For School Grantees


Neighborhoods Ready for School (NRFS) is an innovative new strategy in First 5 Alameda County’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, that uses a place-based approach to promote strong families and school readiness in neighborhoods. Four agencies will serve as the first cohort for Neighborhoods Ready for School grantees and will receive a grant of $470,000 with an initial funding term of March 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. We will use NRFS to inform local policy agenda to partner with County agencies with the goal of sustaining the resident-led strategies for lasting impact. 

The four agencies will receive a maximum award of $470,000 with an initial funding term of March 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019.


  1. ALL IN Alameda County—Oakland, San Antonio
  2. Roots Community Health Center— East Oakland (Eastmont, Elmhurst, Stonehurst, Brookfield, Sobrante Park)
  3. Lincoln—West Oakland
  4. Union City Kids Zone, New Haven Unified School District—Union City

As the collective work of our communities, community based organizations, and public agency partners will be integral to the success of this initiative.

For more information please see the First 5 Alameda County Website:



Policy Update

This year, the First 5 Association state advocacy is focused on increased funding for infant and toddler child care, supporting the CalWORKS home visiting program currently in the Governor’s budget and AB 11 (McCarty), a bill ensuring that all children served by MediCal have access to developmental screenings. The First 5 Association is a cosponsor for AB 11. Check out the other bills we are tracking this year.

On a federal level, programs for young children were well served by the recent budget passed by Congress. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Early Head Start budgets saw increases for FY 2018. In addition, Congress reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV ) program. 

Locally, early childhood is on the ballot this year. Measure A  is a county initiative on the ballot in June that will improve access to early care and education by raising the sales tax by a half-cent. The City of Oakland is considering putting the Children’s Initiative on the November ballot. It would bring preschool to more 3 and 4 - year olds and offer college scholarships to low-income Oakland youth through a parcel tax.  


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