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.
Due to the general annual contract renewal cycle that coincides with the end of the Fiscal Year and rules around Strategic Partnerships, an unprecedented number of contracts, amendments and Strategic Partnerships were unanimously approved in a single action by the Board at the June 13 Commissioner meeting.
The Contract Consent Calendar included two new agreements, 66 renewals and three amendments. The details of each and how they relate to First 5 LA’s specific outcome areas can be found in the Consent Calendar Attachment A.
Building on presentations and discussions from the May 9 Board meeting, a Strategic Partnership with California Community Foundation Community Initiative Fund –– the fiscal sponsor for the Los Angeles Partnership for Early Childhood Investment Baby Futures Fund –– was formally approved in the form of $200,000 to leverage resources to ensure an accurate count in the 2020 Census of all babies and children.
Amendments to ongoing Strategic Partnerships were also approved. Notable items included First 5 LA’s education outcome area, in the form of $3,800,000 for Child360 to continue serving Quality Start LA (QSLA) through June of next year and $3,700,000 for Los Angeles Unified School District to continue expansion and implementation of the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and develop action plans to address data results.
Additionally, a Strategic Partnership with Dignity Community Care was amended in the form of $265,002 through June 2020, to support the Department of Health Services’ (DPH) MAMA’s Neighborhood Program expansion for another year. To learn more, please see this memo.
Following the consent agenda, Financial Planning and Analysis Manager Daisy Lopez gave a presentation on the Fiscal Year 2019–2020 (FY 19/20) Budget. This presentation marked the final step in the FY19/20 budget review process and concluded with a request for the Board to approve the proposed budget of $133,717,358 –– a 6% decline from the FY18/19 budget of $142,239,688.
Discussions about the FY 19/20 budget have been ongoing since early May, as the financial planning team, executives and Board have worked together to create a budget that reflects the realities of First 5 LA’s declining revenues.
“The staff and our board have worked both smart and hard –– smart because we’re seeking opportunities for sustainability, and hard because we have declining revenues,” remarked
Commission Vice Chair Judy Abdo, whose comments preceded Lopez’s overview.
Lopez’s presentation also included information on the calculated Administrative Cap Limit of $13.5 million, which is identified each year per the mandate of First 5 LA’s Financial Management Guide. Per Government Accounting Standards Board Statement 54 (GASB 54), in her overview Lopez also provided a breakdown on projected fund balance categories.
“Our long-term financial projections continue to reflect declining revenues,” Lopez noted in her presentation. “We will continue to explore and identify new public and private revenues that could help support and advance our strategic goals. SPR4 [Strategic Plan Refinement Process] is one of the vehicles we use to address these matters.”
The FY 19/20 budget was unanimously approved by the Board. Lopez indicated that this budget will be used as the foundation for First 5 LA’s long-term financial projection analysis, a process that will begin this fall.
When the time came for public comment, a group of community leaders from Best Start Long Beach and Wilmington took center stage. Each speaker echoed a recurring theme of gratitude for First 5 LA’s investments in Best Start and the effect that participating in advocacy and community leadership has on the individual and the community.
“I want to share the impact Best Start Wilmington has had on me,” said one mother and Best Start community leader. “It has raised my confidence and helped me combat my postpartum depression… I’m very grateful for the existence of these programs. I look forward to being of support to the future development of all children in our community.”
Another Best Start community leader and mother shared this with the Board: “I was a very timid person, and I was very depressed, but Best Start Long Beach helped me come out of that.”
“When we are together, we can do a lot of things,” concluded the last mother and Best Start community leader who gave a public comment.
Their remarks were greeted by a round of enthusiastic applause by all in attendance.
Next on the agenda was a presentation on the progress of home visiting system-building and policy change implementation. The presenters were Director of Family Supports Barbara Dubransky, Senior Policy Strategist for Public Policy and Government Affairs Charna Martin and Blue Shield California Promise Health Plan Senior Medical Director Chris Esguerra.
This presentation came a week after the success of the annual Home Visiting Summit. To learn more about the summit, please read this article covering the event.
According to Dubransky, First 5 LA, in partnership with others, has made significant progress over the last two years in implementing a universal, integrated system of home visiting at the county and state levels. This progress is significant in meeting First 5 LA’s strategic goals, as research shows that home visiting is a critical means of connecting families with resources and services that support prevention, including the prevention of child abuse and poor mental and physical health outcomes.
“By having a form of a universal system in place in Los Angeles County, it has really garnered support to bring in more intensive services for these families that need it, because those who can invest in those intensive services know we have a means to make contact with families who are often isolated, by connecting with them at birthing hospitals,” Dubransky stated.
Notable systems changes and policy work covered in the presentation included an increase in state contributions for home visiting services from 0% to 40% of total funding for L.A. County, while dependence on First 5 LA funding decreased from 43% to 26%.
This expansion of state resources was made possible in part due to state policy changes that First 5 LA helped bring about by providing information from the L.A. County home visiting pilot programs, which in turn influenced state policy to be more flexible in requirements for receiving home visiting services through CalWORKs and the Mental Health Care Act.
More about First 5 LA’s work in strengthening systems through home visiting can be found in the Spring 2019 issue of The Future of Children, recently released by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution. Please refer to the chapter entitled, “Strengthening Home Visiting: Partnership and Innovation in Los Angeles County,” authored by Dubransky and Vice President of Programs Christina Altmayer.
First 5 LA has also been expanding home visiting services through the strategic approach of partnering with the health care sector. The most recent manifestation of this was the launch of a pilot program in the Antelope Valley to establish automatic referrals into home visiting through a partnership with Blue Shield California’s Promise Health Plan.
While home visiting is typically offered at hospitals following a birth, this model refers mothers to First 5 LA as soon they receive a positive pregnancy test at their primary care clinic. This decreases the burden of figuring out what service is best for them by allowing First 5 LA to connect the mother with the appropriate network.
Esguerra concluded the presentation by reaffirming the efficiency of the pilot model’s approach, stating, “This should be the standard in health care, period.” According to Esguerra, the pilot program is in the process of being mapped out for full expansion.
Closing the discussion on home visiting, Commission Chair Sheila Kuehl remarked on the importance of programs such as home visiting in helping women feel less alone in their responsibility to raise and care for their children:
“Women should understand that they are not in this alone. This is not just your baby. A culture will recognize that. We call them ‘our children,’ not just ‘your kid.’”
A final highlight from the meeting was a presentation from Altmayer and Steven LaFrance, founder and CEO of Learning for Action (LFA), on the preliminary findings from county partner interviews and community engagement sessions, which will inform First 5 LA’s SPR4 process.
Notable preliminary feedback from the community engagement sessions included a recurring notion that First 5 LA should be a part of campaigns and social media communications to raise awareness and education for early childhood issues, while helping elevate the voice of parents and caregivers by helping bring to the table their perspectives and definition of success in conversations at the county level.
From interviews conducted with county partners, LFA found a greater need for First 5 LA to act as connective tissue across organizations in the county. “When work is aligned across partners with common strategies and common goals and outcomes, so much more can be achieved,” LaFrance reported. “The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. First 5 LA is a great example of that, with home visiting being the recurring [example].”
County partners also remarked that First 5 LA could maximize county-level efforts through the sharing of data in three areas: helping to ensure sustainable funding, driving equitable outcomes and supporting efforts that are prevention-focused.
To learn more about these findings, please refer to LFA’s presentation.
The next step in the SPR4 process will be surveying stakeholders and grantees from the Center for Effective Philanthropy. This will take place at the end of June.