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First 5 California Dual Language Learner Pilot

In 2016, the First 5 California (F5CA) Commission approved funding of $20 million between fiscal years 2016–17 through 2020–21, to support a Dual Language Learner (DLL) Pilot. The purpose of the DLL Pilot is to examine culturally and linguistically responsive and effective teaching practices and strategies for the development of DLL children ages 0 to 5 in early learning settings. This effort is aimed to better support DLLs across California and to recommend scalable, implementable, and effective models and practices. F5CA’s DLL Pilot will increase early educators’, families’, and the general public’s awareness about the benefits of bilingualism and home language through the participation of Pilot sites, the Talk.Read.Sing. ® campaign, and F5CA’s parent website. It also will share assessments of effective DLL practices and provide content for early childhood education preparation programs.

The DLL Pilot Study is implemented in three phases: background (phase 1), in-depth (phase 2), and expansion (phase 3). A summary of the research questions and study design, along with how the study was adapted to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on early learning settings, are highlighted in the DLL Pilot Study Overview document.

DLL Pilot Evaluation

In October 2017, F5CA contracted with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to carry out the DLL Pilot evaluation. For more information about the research team and study design, please see AIR’s website at

DLL Pilot Study Findings

Phase 1, Background Study findings are summarized in the report titled, The Early Learning and Care Context for Dual Language Learners in California.

Phase 2, In-Depth Study preliminary findings are provided in the document, Quick Facts: The Landscape of Early Learning and Care Programs Serving Dual Language Leaners in California.

The reports are available on the AIR’s web site at

DLL Pilot Expansion Phase

F5CA released the DLL Pilot Expansion Request for Application (RFA) in July 2019. The expansion phase of funding is available to the 16 counties involved in the in-depth phase activities. The funding offered through this RFA hones the DLL Pilot investment to help counties focus on effective and scalable strategies for serving DLL and immigrant children and families during the COVID-19 public health emergency and through recovery from pandemic.

Counties are implementing strategies to build the capacity of early childhood professionals to support young DLL children and their families, and engage DLL families to promote the importance of bilingualism, support literacy activities at home (including the distribution of age-and language-appropriate books), and help families recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. This information is available in the Summary of DLL Pilot Expansion Phase Projects document.

DLL Pilot Expansion Phase Documents and Forms

Links to Additional DLL Resources:


Early Edge California – DLL Resources: DLL reports, publications, and policy and advocacy efforts, along with various DLL resources, including links to bilingual and multi-lingual books.

First 5 California’s Parenting Website: Resources and activities for children ages 0 to 5 , and free downloadable books in multiple languages.


DLL Resource Guide – January, 2020: A compilation of research, and best and promising practices for supporting young DLLs in California.
Link: DLL Resource Guide

Getting Down to Facts II: Early Childhood Education in California. PACE, Stanford University. (2018): This report reviews and analyzes California policies that are designed to support early learning in children from birth through age five.

California English Learner Roadmap. California Department of Education (2017): A guide to assist local educational agencies to implement California’s 21st century college-and-career-ready standards, curriculum, instruction programs, and assessments.

Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2017): Educating dual language learners and English learners (ELs) effectively is a national challenge with consequences both for individuals and for American society. Despite their linguistic, cognitive, and social potential, many ELs—who account for more than 9 percent of enrollment in grades K-12 in U.S. schools—are struggling to meet the requirements for academic success, and their prospects for success in postsecondary education and in the workforce are jeopardized as a result.

When More Means Less: Mapping the Gaps between Expert and Public Understandings of Dual Language Learners. Frameworks Institute. (2017): This report represents the first stage of research. Its purpose is to establish the conceptual goals for efforts to build public understanding of dual language learning and to identify the obstacles in public thinking that make those concepts difficult to communicate.

California's Gold: An Advocacy Framework for Young Dual Language Learners. Heising-Simons Foundation. (2017): This Advocacy Framework is a call for coordinated action to integrate preschool with the early primary grades and improve DLL/EL education throughout these grades.

Small Population County Funding Augmentation

First 5 California’s Small Population County Funding Augmentation (SPCFA) program provides funding to augment annual tax revenues to local First 5 Commissions in counties with small populations and low birth rates.

Originally initiated in Fiscal Year 1999-2000, the First 5 California Commission provided additional funding of up to $200,000 to small population counties to help ensure the implementation of Proposition 10 was truly a statewide effort. On January 26, 2017, the State Commission approved up to $8.625 million in additional funding over four years (July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2021) for 20 small population county commissions with low birth rates and to ensure core operations and services are sustained for children and families residing in these communities

In order to participate in SPCFA, counties agree to terms outlined in a Local Area Agreement framework to implement successful local systems, measure outcomes and monitor progress, and demonstrate quality improvement in three focused investment areas:

  • Developmental and Health Needs
  • Engaging and Supporting Families
  • High-Quality Early Learning/Early Educator Support and Effectiveness

For more information, please see the link below regarding documents related to SPCFA funding, FAQs, reporting forms, and an evaluation tool kit. If you would like to submit a question or comment regarding the SPCFA, you can do so by sending an email to In the subject line, please reference the specific county and program corresponding to the inquiry (e.g., re: Mono County dental health program).

SPCFA Documents

Home Visiting

Evidence-based early childhood home visiting (HV) has proven to help vulnerable children and families overcome barriers to health and well-being. With the rapid release of significant new funding from the State Budget for HV, and expectation to target the most vulnerable families through evidence-based programs, it is imperative California has a well-trained and supported workforce and that local agencies coordinate HV services to maximize impact on family well-being.

In July 2019, the Commission approved up to $2 million over a two-year period for a contracted evaluator to conduct a study of the current HV workforce, project future workforce needs, and recommend policy and infrastructure investments to address the workforce gap. In February 2020, Child Trends was awarded a contract to carry out the workforce study. Read more about the Home Visiting Workforce Study in HVC Documents, below.

Further, in October 2019, the F5CA State Commission approved up to $24 million in funding for fiscal years 2019–20 through 2024–2025 to help counties create a sustainable, unified local HV system that supports families with the services they need and to maximize available funding to serve more families. A Request for Application (RFA) for HV coordination (HVC) funding was released in Spring 2020.

As of January 1, 2021, 50 counties are receiving F5CA HVC funding and Technical Assistance (TA). See HVC Documents, below, for information about the TA, RFA, and resources to support deliverables.

County implementers should check for additional resources within the HVC Data Portal.

For questions or additional information about F5CA HVC, please email the HV team at

HVC Resources

Prior First 5 Program Investments and Evaluation Reports

Since 2000, First 5 California (F5CA) has invested over $492 million in improving the quality of early learning settings and supporting the quality of the early childhood workforce in California. Research shows high-quality early learning programs improve school readiness and lead to better long-term academic achievement. High-quality early education helps reduce unemployment, drug or alcohol abuse, high school dropout rates, and crime. In particular, teacher effectiveness, and quality of adult-child interactions, are among the most important factors impacting the quality of early learning programs.

In 2000, F5CA launched its first investment in improving the quality of early learning through the Comprehensive Approaches to Raising Educational Standards (CARES) Program. CARES was developed to support the retention and the professional development and education of the early childhood workforce. The program transitioned into CARES Plus in 2011 with an emphasis on training and support for effective teacher-child interactions. From 2011 through 2016, CARES Plus served 16,600 participants by providing incentives, support systems, training, and technical assistance for early childhood educators, improving their education and increasing participation in targeted professional development. Evaluation of CARES Plus showed: 1) participants highly valued the program; 2) counties participating in the program collaborated with local partners to improve access to training and education; and 3) evidence-based training and coaching improved the quality of teacher-child interaction as assessed by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System® (CLASS®).

In 2005, F5CA launched another effort to support the quality of early learning through the Power of Preschool (PoP) Program. PoP supported high-quality preschool in areas with low performing schools and provided tiered financial incentives based on meeting quality factors. In 2012, the program transitioned into the Child Signature Program (CSP) and expanded to serve high-quality infant-toddler programs. CSP annually served approximately 24,000 children in 1,300 classrooms during 2012–2015. CSP provided enhanced supports integrating proven elements from other successful F5CA programs and drew on F5CA’s partnership with the Educare quality learning model. Evaluation of CSP showed participating classrooms were of high quality as assessed by Environment Rating Scales and CLASS®.

In 2015, the F5CA State Commission transitioned from specific investments in the Child and Teacher Signature Programs (CSP and CARES Plus) to broader systems support through a five-year $190 million investment in First 5 IMPACT (Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive) (link to page). First 5 IMPACT supports the early learning workforce and quality improvements in early learning settings through quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS). This effort expands partnerships and creates new opportunities with an enhanced focus on sustainability by engaging the entire early learning site in continuous quality improvement.