Highlights from the March 14 Commission meeting include: approval of a strategic partnership with L.A. Care Health Plan to implement and evaluate a pilot involving early identification and intervention; approval of the Mid-Year Budget Adjustment; an update on partnering with Los Angeles County on prevention efforts; and directional endorsement of Investment Guidelines for the Strategic Plan Refinement Process.
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.
(Editor’s Note - This Commission Meeting Summary is divided into two sections: Actions and Presentations)
In a unanimous move to advance developmental screenings in L.A. County, the Commission approved a $1.2 million strategic partnership with L.A. Care to pilot and launch an early identification and intervention effort around developmental delays known as Help Me Grow.
This work builds upon First 5 LA's investment in First Connections, as well as L.A. Care's own research on barriers to appropriate screenings and referrals, and the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s environmental scan of practices and county programs relating to early identification and intervention. Further details on the strategic partnership are available here.
Additionally, the Board approved a directional endorsement of proposed investment guidelines for the Strategic Plan Refinement Process (SPR4). The investment guidelines serve as criteria for decision-making for all major components of the strategic plan and as ongoing policy guidance for Board and staff during implementation.
As a result of previous input from Commissioners regarding the importance of equity and sustainability, two new components were included in the investment guidelines, which are listed below:
More often than not, First 5 LA will:
• Prioritize children, families and communities in our target population that our work has the greatest potential to impact, advancing our North Star (new investment guideline)
• Embed sustainability strategies within all of our work (new investment guideline)
• Focus on prevention
• Focus on system/policy change and implementation to impact the most children and families
• Prioritize scaling up evidence-based practices, balanced with investments in innovative and promising approaches to address community needs
• Engage partners throughout planning, development and execution of our work
Finally, the Board approved an upward adjustment of $2.3 million to First 5 LA’s programmatic budget, resulting in a revised total budget for fiscal year 2018–19 of $142.2 million. A mid-year budget adjustment occurs every year in March. More details can be found in last month’s Commission Meeting Summary.
Updating the Board on First 5 LA’s partnership with L.A. County in multiple areas of prevention, Executive Vice President John Wagner joined Vice President of Programs Christina Altmayer and Senior County Systems Strategist Reid Meadows in presenting two panels that highlighted this work.
A high-level overview of county partnership bridging multiple systems, the first panel featured Wagner, Meadows, county Office of Child Protection (OCP) Assistant Executive Director Carrie Miller and Friends of the Family Executive Director Susan Kaplan.
Among the key takeaways from the first panel, which focused on the development and implementation of the OCP’s countywide prevention plan:
- Through its staff, expertise and ability to engage community, providers and parents, First 5 LA has been a key partner in the development of the OCP’s countywide prevention plan, Miller said.
- Within one of the plan’s six strategies – networking the networks – First 5 LA has aided the OCP in going out into communities to vet a series of recommendations that will be brought back to the county, Miller said.
- First 5 LA's evaluation and research team was helpful in creating a draft set of metrics around the area of prevention as a first step towards looking at, as a county, how we measure child protection, Miller said.
- First 5 LA is acting as a bridge between disparate systems including county institutions, NGO/CBO systems of care, county residents, universities, foundations, businesses and law enforcement, creating structures that enable a variety of personalities and work styles to work collectively, Kaplan said.
Digging deeper into how our prevention work with the county informs local practice and influences state systems, the second panel featured Altmayer, Center for Strategic Partnerships Director Kate Anderson and Jacquelyn McCroskey, John Milner Professor of Child Welfare and Co-Director of the Children’s Data Network at the USC School of Social Work.
The second panel looked specifically at two prevention areas: home visiting and early care and education (ECE). Among the key takeaways:
- First 5 LA helped to provide consultation and resources to create a strategic plan for the Office for Advancement of Early Childhood Education, McCroskey said.
- First 5 LA has supported a comprehensive financial landscape analysis of subsidized ECE service funding that flows into the county – and not only into county government, McCroskey said.
- First 5 LA provided funds to do focus groups capturing parent voices talking about how incredibly difficult it is to negotiate the ECE system, McCroskey said. This analysis will be part of a report due out in April.
During the discussion, Commissioner Linda Aragon – who also serves as acting director for the county division of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health – noted how amazing it was to partner with First 5 LA.
“One of the things that’s been amazing for us in working with First 5 LA is that we're starting to be very intentional in how we create this comprehensive system of care,” Aragon said. “And it's not just a comprehensive system of care for ECE, home visiting or developmental screening – it’s all of it.”
See this blog in this month’s Early Childhood Matters newsletter for more information about our work with the county. The full transcript of the panel discussion will be available in the April Board meeting agenda.
The Board also welcomed its newest member, Wendy Garen, who was attending her first Commission meeting. She will serve as an Ex-Officio member.
Appointed by the L.A. County Commission for Children and Families, Garen is President and CEO of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, where she worked for more than 20 years. Prior to joining the Parsons Foundation, Wendy was Executive Director of the Los Angeles Child Care and Development Council, Program Manager at Children’s Home Society of Orange County and a founding staff member of the children’s nonprofit Crystal Stairs. She currently serves on the advisory board of the Center for Philanthropy and Public Policy at USC. She is Vice Chair of the L.A. County Commission for Children and Families and the State of California commission Volunteer California.
Garen is on the board and immediate past Chair of Southern California Grantmakers, a regional association of 300+ foundations, corporations, government grantmakers and philanthropic advisors that is a leadership hub for members, helping them to connect, learn and act independently and collaboratively to increase the impact of philanthropy. Wendy is a frequent speaker and panelist at local and national meetings for philanthropy. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and has a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA.