Katie Kurutz-Ulloa | First 5 LA Communications Specialist

March 28, 2023

In honor of Women’s History Month and this year’s theme, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” First 5 LA is celebrating the amazing journalists who continually highlight the challenges and triumphs of young children, their families and the communities who support them.  

Early childhood as a journalism “beat” is relatively new, with very few major outlets dedicating a reporter to the issue. We reached out to several of these star journalists whose outlets have chosen to focus on early childhood to ask what brought them to the beat, what’s changed over time, and what they would like to see in the future.  

Below is a gallery spotlighting seven reporters who are trailblazers in the field, covering early childhood at their respective outlets. To view their full bio and answers, click on their image or the link below their quote. We encourage you to read all of the thoughtful responses and join us in celebrating them for their important coverage!

Deepa Fernandes, co-host of NPR’s Here & Now

Deepa Fernandes is an award-winning radio and print journalist. She pioneered the early childhood beat in 2012 for KPCC (now LAist 89.3) and has served as a mentor for reporters interested in working the beat.   

“When we listen deeply at the community level, we hear the real story, the way things are truly playing out. It is our job as reporters to illuminate that, even if it is uncomfortable.”

Click here for Deepa’s full responses.  

Mariana Dale, early childhood reporter at LAist89.3 

Mariana Dale explores and explains the forces that shape the lives of kids prenatal to age 5 and their families, from mom’s health to kindergarten and just about everything in between. 

“Every major issue, from housing to climate change, touches the lives of young children and their families. Some of our deepest inequities are rooted in challenges that families face during pregnancy and early childhood, whether it’s the high rate of Black maternal deaths or the disproportionate discipline of Black preschoolers.” 

Click here for Mariana’s full responses. 

Jackie Mader, senior reporter at The Hechinger Report 

Jackie Mader is a senior reporter at The Hechinger Report. In 2021, she was one of two American journalists chosen for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma’s Early Childhood Development Fellowship. 

“I was drawn to the early childhood beat because it is a time where I believe I can make the most impact through reporting. Knowing that the majority of brain development happens in the first few years, the programs and policies that I write about feel especially urgent, and I love being able to bring this information to public consciousness.” 

Click here for Jackie’s full responses. 

Stefanie Ritoper, early childhood engagement producer at LAist 89.3 

Stefanie Ritoper is a multimedia journalist whose goal is to break down barriers so that people can engage with newsrooms and local civic institutions. 

“I work to bring voices from parents, caregivers, and educators into our newsroom. Some days I share resources with families by mail and others I distribute cameras to parents and child care providers.”  

Click here for Stefanie’s full responses. 

Emily Tate Sullivan, senior reporter at EdSurge 

Emily Tate Sullivan is a senior reporter at EdSurge covering early childhood and K-12 education. She writes about the education workforce, mental health, trauma and inclusive school models. 

“Although I was assigned to this beat at the outset, it is by choice that I stayed. I saw how few reporters were covering the field and how many stories were going untold as a result. And I was captivated by the early educators who were doing this thankless but invaluable work — and, of course, by the young children in their care.” 

Click here for Emily’s full responses. 

Karen D’Souza, senior reporter at EdSource 

Karen D’Souza covers arts education, literacy, and early education for EdSource. She is a four-time Pulitzer juror, and her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times and American Theatre Magazine. 

“My hope is that the pandemic raised awareness of how important parenting, child care and early education is to health and welfare of not just individual families but of our entire civilization.” 

Click here for Karen’s full responses. 

Daisy Nguyen, early childhood education and care reporter for KQED

Daisy Nguyen covers Early Childhood Education and Care for KQED. For 21 years, she previously covered breaking news for The Associated Press.  


“This beat intersects with so many pressing issues, including socioeconomic, gender and racial disparities in our society. I hope more coverage will lead to better awareness — because “women’s issues” should be everyone’s issues — and people recognizing the importance of early childhood development.” 

Click here for Daisy’s full responses.