The Board of Commissioners meets on the second Thursday of each month at 1:30 p.m., unless otherwise indicated, at the First 5 LA offices. All meetings are open to the public, and agendas are posted on our website at least 72 hours in advance. Please check our Commission Calendar for all updated meeting information and click here for Commission meeting packets, agendas, summaries and meeting notes

“I think this is going to be a really interesting and, I hope, really positive year for us,” Commission Chair Sheila Kuehl said in her opening remarks at the February 13 meeting, which was the first time Commissioners had gathered since breaking for the holiday in November.

“There is so much attention being paid, in some areas I think for the first time seriously, to understanding the needs and the even more than the needs, the solutions to what is needed to aid our prenatal to 5 population and their families,” she said.

As is procedure at the first board meeting of the year, Commissioners voted on Chair and Vice Chair seats and Commission Chair Sheila Kuehl and Vice Chair Judy Abdo were elected to maintain their respective roles.

Following the vote, Executive Director Kim Belshé greeted staff and Commissioners, echoing Kuehl’s sentiments that 2020 would be a year of opportunity for First 5 LA and early childhood development.

“There is a lot going on: legislatively, fiscally, and more importantly a theme you’ll see in a lot of our conversations, the administrative opportunities,” Belshé said.

In a unanimous vote, the Board approved the consent agenda. A notable item was the approval of a 12-month contract, in the form of $400,000, to Community Partners to design a Learning Consortium which will act as a peer learning structure for First 5 LA’s Communities Department and help improve community capacity efforts in the five regions and 14 Best Start communities.

To learn more about the Learning Consortium, click here.

The remainder of the meeting was divided into three informative presentations: (1) the fiscal outlook; (2) Strategic Plan implementation planning; and (3) the state and federal policy context.

Financial Director Raoul Ortega presented on the fiscal outlook, giving Commissioners background on the potential future establishment of an “Act Now” fund –– a one-time, $5 million fund to use in the event of an emerging opportunity or threat –– and First 5 LA’s decision to adopt a long-term financial plan in place of the long-term financial projection previously used by the budget and finance committee.

To learn more about the “Act Now” fund and long term financial projection plan, click here.

Next, Programs Vice President Christina Altmayer and Strategic Plan Project Manager Kaya Tith presented on Strategic Plan implementation planning.

Last November, the Board endorsed First 5 LA’s 2020-2028 Strategic Plan which will guide First 5 LA towards its North Star goal: by 2028, every child in L.A. County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed at school and life.

“The purpose of implementation planning is to develop a plan that identifies our short-term markers of progress for our objectives over the next three years of implementation. This will inform our long-term financial plan as well as (the) year-one, fiscal year 2021 budget,” Tith explained to the Board.

“We are right now making this pivot, as we started from 2019 on our planning process, to really thinking about how we ensure that our commitment to our strategic plan is reflected in the day-to-day work that we’re doing. That our strategic plan isn’t really additive, it’s not a project that’s on the side, but it’s embedded in our work,” Altmayer said.

Along with outlining the implementation timeline, Altmayer highlighted examples of how First 5 LA will turn its strategic plans into meeting its goals.

“A new focus that we have in our strategic plan is really expanding our influence and impact with data,” Altmayer said, noting that this was a key piece of input received from the Board during the Strategic Plan Refinement Process that is now part of the 2020-2028 plan.

Other examples highlighted by Altmayer included: partnering with health plans to increase access to development services and home visiting; working with state administration to address early childhood priorities; and increasing partnerships within our 14 Best Start communities for the expansion of developmental readiness data, while leveraging the connections in these communities to launch First 5 LA’s built environment work.

“We need to keep our eyes on the prize and I think elevating the voice of parents has to be a very big priority because that’s where you get the issues of equity, and for me, that’s really, really important,” said Commissioner Marlene Zepeda.

In the coming months, First 5 LA staff will continue to provide updates to the Board on Strategic Plan implementation process. To learn more, click here.

Lastly, Policy and Strategy Vice President Kim Pattillo Brownson and Public Policy and Government Director Peter Barth gave a presentation on First 5 LA’s policy and advocacy efforts in the coming year.

Summarizing Governor Newsom’s proposed 2020-2021 budget, Pattillo Brownson explained how the proposed funding has made way for ample planning, governance and administrative opportunities for L.A. County to join the table in Sacramento in the creation of Newsom’s Department of Early Childhood Development, the Master Plan for Early Childhood Development and an Early Childhood Policy Council.

“Our strategy on the Early Childhood Policy Council was very explicitly to try and make sure that there were lots of strong L.A. voices. Many of us wrote letters of recommendations, put in phone calls to the Governor’s office, to the Speaker’s office, to the Senate Pro Tem’s office and Senate Rules Committee,” Pattillo Brownson said. “And what we see are actually very robust representations: six of the eight L.A. representatives named up there are grantees of First 5 LA.”

“And for those of you who didn’t pay attention to the details on that last slide, Kim is being humble as our very own representative on the Early Childhood Policy Council for First 5 LA, so a big ‘congratulations’ to Kim,” Barth added when it was his turn to speak to the Board.

For further analysis of Newsom’s proposed budget, view Barth’s blog here.

Moving on to the overview of 2020 legislative efforts, Barth explained how we are presently in (the second half of) a two-year legislative cycle, and that many of the state bills we supported last year are being brought into 2020.

These bills include AB 125 and SB 174, which would create a unified early care and education reimbursement rate system and SB 66, which would allow “same-day” Medi-Cal billing for health clinics to reduce health care access barriers.

Turning the focus to First 5 LA’s federal policy priorities, Barth highlighted how First 5 LA plans to 1) implement the federal budget wins from the prior year, 2) advance new federal budget priorities, influence administrative policy priorities, development and implementation, 3) advance “two-year bills” previously approved on First 5 LA’s 2019 Advocacy Agenda and 4) engage in new legislation introduced in 2020.

Barth also added that this work included opposing federal policies, calling out that First 5 LA would continue to oppose federal regulations that harm L.A. County families, such as the ones that target immigrant families and low-income families and policies that decimate Medicaid.

“We are working with our county partners and also our state partners to make sure that the California message is loud and clear that we need these resources to support our families,” Barth detailed.

“I want to thank Kim and you guys for your vigilance on this policy issue, but I want to make sure we don’t lose sight on dynamics that are going on in the next budget that the federal government is haggling over; that we can maintain our vigilance for the protection of children and families,” Commissioner Romalis Taylor commented.

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for March 12th.