About Us

Who We Are

Early Childhood OC is a community collaborative that was formed to develop Orange County’s Early Childhood Policy Framework in order to ensure that young children reach their developmental potential and are ready to succeed in school and life. The Framework ensures adults are knowledgeable, nurturing, responsive and interact effectively with other adults, children and the family unit and environments that impact children are safe supportive, stable and healthy. Through implementation of the Framework, Orange County will attain economic and social benefits.

Vision

All children are valued, nurtured, healthy and thriving.

Mission

Growing and elevating partnerships and communities to advance the Early Childhood Policy Framework and use our collective strengths for greater impact on early childhood outcomes.

Core Principles

1. Children and Families thrive regardless of income, language and culture.
2. Supports and services are coordinated and integrated across settings and sectors.
3. Policies and practices are family centered.

Early Childhood OC Staff

Sandy Avzaradel, MS | Director

Nicholas Jakel,  MA | Communications Associate

Steering Committee

Lisa Burke | Vice President of Learning and Integration
First 5 Orange County

Barry Ross | Regional Director, Community Health Investment
Providence St. Joseph Health

Michael Arnot | Executive Director
Children’s Cause Orange County

Kate Bono, PhD | Associate Dean
California State University Fullerton

Linda Hunter | Sr. Project Director
Pretend City Children’s Museum

Sofia Martinez | Chief of Children’s Services 
Reimagine OC

Judy Rose | Chief Program Officer
Human Options

Communications Committee

Michael Anderson
First 5 Orange County

Rebecca Hernandez
Help Me Grow

Linda Hunter
Pretend City Children’s Museum

Anna Romiti
YMCA of Orange County

Candice Staples
Families and Children Together (FaCT)

Diana Torres
Children’s Home Society of California

Outreach and Engagement Committee

Kate Bono
California State University Fullerton

Carrie Buck
Homeless Intervention Services

Nikki Buckstead
Family Solutions Collaborative

Kimberly Didrikson
Learning Motherhood

Denielle Espejo
Pathways

Elida Garcia
Orange County Department of Education

Susie Grimm
PBS SoCal

Brett Patterson
Progressive Interventions

Maridet Ibanez
Orange County Health Care Agency

Alison Wright
Community Leader

Arezoo Shahbazi
Human Options

Policy & Advocacy Committee

Tiffany Alva
First 5 Orange County

Michael Arnot
Children’s Cause OC

Maura Byron
Family Support Network

Fritzi Gragg
Local Planning Council

Sophia Martinez
Reimagine OC

Jamie McDonald
American Academy of Pediatrics, OC

Christina Nigrelli
Zero to Three

Gregory Mathes
Children’s Health Initiative of Orange County

Michelle Murphy
Orange County United Way

Mike Odeh
Children Now

Ashley Portillo
Child 360

Rachel Rolnicki
CHOC Children’s

Judy Rose
Human Options

Iliana Soto-Welty
Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies

Hannah Thompson
Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children

Kaitlyn Truong
Comfort Connection, Regional Center of Orange County
 

Colleen Versteeg
Orange County Head Start

Resource Development Committee

Michael Arnot
Children’s Cause Orange County

Jill Bright
Orange County Social Services Agency

Karen Francis
Child Guidance Center

Nikita Ganatra
Kumon, Foothill Ranch

Mara James
Extraordinary Lives Foundation

Andrea Pronk-Dunn
MOMS Orange County

Michelle Silva
Families Forward

Leticia Sanchez
First 5 Orange County

Organizational History

The desire to create a community framework to help young children thrive grew out of the screening of the documentary, The Raising of America. This film demonstrated the importance of early childhood, and how a strong start for all young children can lead to better individual outcomes and healthier, safer, more prosperous communities. Beginning in 2017, a group of more than 40 individuals representing 30 organizations in Orange County met for over two years to develop the Early Childhood Policy Framework. This Task Force patterned Orange County’s Early Childhood Policy Framework after a similar, successful model in Colorado, called Early Childhood Colorado.

Founding Early Childhood Policy Framework Members

Brandman University

California State University Fullerton

Children’s Bureau

Children’s Home Society of California

Community Action Partnership of Orange County

Costa Mesa Family Resource Center

Early Childhood Mental Health Collaborative

Families Forward

Family Solutions Associates

First 5 Orange County

Fullerton School District

Help Me Grow Orange County

Human Options

Kuman Math and Reading Center, Foothill Ranch

Little by Little Early Literacy Project

Michael Arnot Consulting

MOMS Orange County

Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children

Orange County Child Care and Development Planning Council

Orange County Department of Education

Orange County Head Start Inc

Orange County Health Care Agency

Orange County Social Services Agency

Orange County United Way

Passionate Community Leaders

Pretend City Children’s Museum

Regional Center of Orange County

Santa Ana Early Learning Initiative

St. Joseph Hoag Health

Western Youth Services

Women Infants & Children (WIC)

Zero to Three

What We Do

  1. Increase education and awareness of the Early Childhood Policy Framework
  2. Engage and maintain strategic partnerships
  3. Provide Early Childhood Policy Framework implementation support
  4. Drive early childhood policy change
  5. Change the funding landscape to include an early childhood focus

Why We Do It

To Create
Thriving
Communities

where young children reach their developmental potential and are ready to succeed in school and life.

where adults are knowledgeable, nurturing, responsive and interact effectively with other adults, children and the family unit.

where environments that impact children are safe, supportive, stable and healthy.

so Orange County attains economic and social benefits by prioritizing children and families.

How We Do it

Strategies for Action

  • Promote and share knowledge
  • Identify and eliminate barriers
  • Build community capacity
  • Make data-informed decisions
  • Encourage public-private approaches
  • Advance adequate and sustainable funding
  • Implement quality standards
  • Embed continuous quality improvement
  • Ensure coordinated messaging

To learn more about Early Childhood OC, click on the link to a summary of our Strategic Plan