For First 5 LA, the journey toward sponsoring its first state legislation did not begin in a conference room, at a power lunch or anywhere near a Sacramento lawmaker’s office.
It began late last fall in the back seat of a rented Nissan Altima on a winding, two-lane highway between Monterey and San Jose.
As Public Policy and Government Affairs Director Peter Barth drove back to the San Jose Airport from the First 5 Association Conference in Monterey, Senior Policy Strategists Becca Patton and Charna Martin shared a set of earbuds during a fortuitous telephone call with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and his staff.
The phone meeting provided Martin and Patton the opportunity to discuss with McCarty the importance of early screenings for developmental delays in children. It’s a challenge the two knew well through First 5 LA’s First Connections and Help Me Grow-LA work. Through this policymaking in action, the wheels began rolling toward the creation of Assembly Bill 11, a bill to improve developmental screening rates for low income children age 0-3.
In the coming weeks, Martin worked closely with AB 11 co-sponsors Children Now and the First 5 Association to help McCarty shape new legislative language for the bill, which the lawmaker introduced this January. AB 11 became the first bill ever sponsored by First 5 LA.
The milestone marked the first time that First 5 LA helped craft legislation in the earliest moments possible, a turning point guided by First 5 LA’s policy and systems change agenda approved by its Board in November 2017. The legislation also marked the first time First 5 LA was listed as a public supporter for a bill at the start of a legislative session.