To guide its investments through June 2015, the First 5 LA Commission in 2009 adopted a new strategic plan, "Strengthening Families and Communities in Los Angeles County."
This decision marked a significant evolution in First 5 LA's fundamental approach to grantmaking.
For the first time, a substantial portion of funding was committed to what is known as a "place-based approach." Unlike more traditional initiative-based funding, First 5 LA would provide a continuum of support for high-risk children and their families, from pregnancy to kindergarten, within specific geographic communities.
This resulted in the creation of 14 "Best Start" communities, from El Monte to Panorama City, Watts to Metro LA. Each of these communities is comprised of a leadership partnership of parents and other family advocates who work with program officers at First 5 LA to research community needs, develop strategies to address these needs and implement the strategies.
This place-based approach is paired with the improvement of countywide systems to ensure each child in the most high-risk communities has every opportunity to be born healthy, maintain a healthy weight, be safe from abuse and neglect, and enter kindergarten ready to learn.
In 2013, the First 5 LA Commission adopted the "Building Stronger Families Framework" to better guide the future of the agency's place-based efforts. This framework incorporates Strengthening Families Protective Factors: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and social and emotional competence of children.
This framework will help guide the First 5 LA Commission as it sets out this year to create a new strategic plan from July 2015 to 2020.