Policy and Advocacy

The First 5 Association plays a key role in advancing HMG and identifying additional early identification and intervention systems improvement needs. Working with other early childhood advocates and all the First 5 commissions, the First 5 Association’s Comprehensive Health and Development Policy Agenda recommends that California utilize a multi-level approach to:

  • Ensure all pregnant mothers and children ages 0–5 have affordable and comprehensive health insurance.
  • Increase use of essential Medi-Cal services, especially dental, mental health, and vision services.
  • Increase coordination across systems of care to connect young children to screening and early intervention, including through the expansion of Help Me Grow.
  • Expand availability and geographic spread of health care providers and professionals. 

Help Me Grow California provides a bridge across county systems to deliver a unified message that California must do a better job of ensuring all children receive developmental and behavioral screenings as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

California’s leaders must make developmental and behavioral screenings a policy priority by:

  • Requiring universal developmental screening and referral in all pediatric settings
  • Ensuring children’s health insurance plans provide developmental screenings that are covered at no cost under federal and state law
  • Expanding early identification efforts in preschool and early education sites
  • Increasing accessibility and use of online developmental screening tools 
  • Investing in child-centered care coordination to allow sharing of data to reduce duplication of services