During a recent meeting of the Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé spoke strongly about the importance of working together to reduce child abuse and neglect in L.A. County.

“No one agency can prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Belshé. “Rather, it will take a coordinated and collaborative effort. First 5 LA has been and continues to be a part of such efforts.”

During her testimony before the Commission, Belshé discussed a number of First 5 LAfunded programs and initiatives emphasizing child abuse prevention, including the county’s 2-1-1 program, Welcome Baby and Partnerships For Families. But she also noted the importance of going beyond simply funding programs, especially in light of decreasing revenues for all First 5 Commissions.

“If we are to contribute to meaningful and measurable change in the life trajectory of our county’s youngest children, it won’t be exclusively through funding of services,” Belshé said, “but rather through sustaining and extending the reach of evidence-based programs. Making a difference in the lives of children will require policy change.”

An audio recording of the meeting can be found on the Blue Ribbon Commission website.

Formed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in June 2013, the Blue Ribbon Commission focuses on systemic, comprehensive countywide approaches to reducing child abuse and maltreatment. Commission members are tasked with reviewing previously delayed or failed efforts to implement reforms; systemic, structural or organizational barriers to effective performance; and child protection failures.

In an interim report to the Supervisors released on December 30, the Blue Ribbon Commission presented Supervisors with an initial set of recommendations, including a requirement for all county departments to “target combined resources and high-quality services, including prevention services, toward children under the age of 5.” A more comprehensive set of recommendations is slated for release in April.