George Halvorson describes what first five means to him.

What do you like most about First 5?

First five is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Californian children. We have been charged with the mission of helping children get the best possible start, focusing especially on being learning ready when they get out of school. We have a challenge right now in California, where most of the children who get to first grade are not learning ready, and we need to change that. First 5 needs to help change that by communicating to all of the parents in California, that if you talk, read, and sing to your children in the first months or years of life, they are much much more likely to be ready to learn when they get to school.

What are some best practices that you have implemented to empower your families?

One of the things we’re doing now that’s particularly interesting is we’re helping fathers. Many organizations don’t focus on fathers as part of the parenting process and we know the children do better when fathers are in the picture. We know that fathers are happier and feel better about their parenting role when they are supported and understand that role better. We’re working hard to figure out ways of helping fathers with parenting.

What have been some highlights of the summit so far for you and your agency?

At this summit, we had four really good sessions focused on father roles. We brought together some absolutely magnificent experts and scientists who were here talking about brain development. The gentleman who ended the conference, Dr. Felitti, is internationally famous for doing the most important research that’s ever been done on adverse childhood experience. Ending with Dr. Felitti’s wisdom, and opening with the research from the University of Seattle on brain science, was wonderful. It was a great, great conference.

CA Children and Families Commission