Why First 5?

Investments in the early years, when children’s brains are developing and taking permanent shape, are the best investments we can make.

Early childhood investments last a lifetime: children are learning from the moment they’re born. The first five years are the most rapid period of brain growth, with nearly 90% of brain development occurring by age 5. This remarkable growth happens in response to a baby’s experiences. Experiences in the early years affect the physical structure of the brain and shape the capacities children will have for the rest of their lives.

Nevada County children will thrive because they are valued; they will grow up in nurturing environments that are safe and supportive; they will have access to resources and education; and they will enter school healthy and ready to learn.

In partnership with the community, First 5 Nevada County creates, fosters and supports programs that promote health, wellness, and child development for children ages 0 to 5 and their parents.

Private: NEWS


Governor Newsom’s budget reflects science of early childhood

Lindsay Dunckel
The Union – Other Voices
January 20, 2019

Our children are our future: and the very architecture of their brains is being built each day of their young lives. Ninety percent of lifetime brain development takes place by a child’s sixth birthday — so early investments pay off.

Gov. Newsom has embraced the science of early childhood development in his proposed budget, which includes $2.4 billion in early childhood investments, including significant funding for health care, home visiting programs, early developmental screening, high-quality early learning and paid family leave.

California has the highest child poverty rate in the nation. You read that right. The great state of California, sixth largest economy in the world, home of Silicon Valley and 144 billionaires, has a larger percentage of children living below the federal poverty level than any other state, more than 1 in 5 children (23 percent). And though children in Nevada County fare better, with about 15 percent living below the federal poverty level, a decade ago that number was 9 percent. For context, the federal poverty level for a family of four was $25,100 in 2018 which is about one-third of the self-sufficiency standard for a family of four in Nevada County. Additionally, about 1 in 4 Nevada County children live in food-insecure households, where they cannot count on having enough to eat. Poverty and food insecurity take a toll on child development and compromise our future.

Nevada County is home to about 4,500 children birth through age five and each one of them is a local treasure! Birth rates are declining; here in Nevada County, we have the oldest average citizens of any of the 58 counties in California. Here, only about 23 percent of households have children, compared with 37 percent of households in California overall. Today’s children are tomorrow’s workforce, volunteers, civic leaders, home buyers. With Gov. Newsom’s proposed investment, we can begin to make sure that each one of them is equipped to contribute to making Nevada County a wonderful place to live in the future.


Lindsay Dunckel, PhD, is the executive director of First 5 Nevada County.

First 5 Celebrates 20 Years!

First 5 turns 20 this year – we’re still investing in the first 5 years, when 90% of brain growth happens. And we’ve learned some things along the way – like investing in making systems work better for families makes the biggest difference with our limited funding, that partnering with other agencies helps us stretch our investments, and that, no matter what, our little ones are our future and are always a good investment.

First 5 Nevada County Executive Director, Lindsay Dunckel, sums up what makes First 5 unique.

Parent Resources

Local Resources

Dial 211 Nevada County

Dial 2-1-1 from any phone in Nevada County (including cell phones) and get help finding health and human service resources, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Wondering where to turn? Call 2-1-1.

Partners Family Resource Centers – Western County

The PARTNERS Family Resource Centers are located in Grass Valley, Penn Valley, and on the San Juan Ridge. Each one provides a place for families – to drop in and play, to join a playgroup, to take a parenting class, to check out the lending library or use the internet, and to get connected to needed resources.

Family Resource Center of Truckee

The Family Resource Center of Truckee is building community, one family at a time. They provide family advocacy, early learning and parenting support, mediation and legal assistance, and health outreach.

Sierra Nevada Children Services

Sierra Nevada Children’s Services (SNCS) provides referrals to child care to all families and provides child care subsidies to qualifying families. They also have a lovely drop-in play space, an extensive toy and book lending library, and a Community Chest that can fund special needs.

Nevada County Infant Program

The Nevada County Infant Program provides services to children who are 0 – 3-years-old and have developmental delays and differences.

Wondering about your child’s development? Find a free developmental screening tool here for your infant through 5-year-old – and 2-1-1 can follow up with you as needed.

State and National Resources

First 5 California

First 5 California has a great site for parents with information about child development, parenting, early learning, and playing with your child.

Fussy Baby Network

Do you have a baby that cries and cries? The Fussy Baby Network can help with ideas and resources.

24 Hour Child Abuse Helpline

The National Association For the Education of Young Children


Zero to Three

Contact Us

First 5 Nevada County
(530) 274-5361
Mailing address:
380 Crown Point Circle
Grass Valley, Ca 95945
Physical Address:
250 Sierra College Drive
Grass Valley, CA 95945