Why We Do It

Our urgency is driven by a simple biological fact: Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5. We focus our efforts on this critical period between the time when parents are expecting a child until children turn 5, to build the foundations that will affect how they learn, react and interact with the world around them for the rest of their lives.

Investing in these first years of life is much like constructing a new home, elevating, step by step, and helping every interaction in their young life – whether with a parent, in child care, at a park, or with a health provider – to aid and develop their brain in preparation for entering school.

In contrast, negative interactions like stress and trauma can weaken and damage a child’s brain, hampering its ability to grow and function. Chronic stress in a baby can literally stop the brain cells from growing and forming connections – leading to learning problems, behavioral issues and even physical and mental illness as an adult.

As part of our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, First 5 LA prioritizes the importance of policy and systems change in achieving our goals for the future of L.A. County’s youngest children. The plan provides a roadmap for increasing the agency’s contribution to these goals by strengthening families, the communities in which they live and the systems that support them.