These Commission Summaries are intended to provide highlights of the First 5 LA Board of Commissioners’ actions to advance the outcome areas of First 5 LA’s 2015–2020 Strategic Plan.
Highlights from the March 8 Commission meeting include approval of the agency’s Long Term Financial Projection (LTFP), mid-year budget adjustments and breakout sessions about county partnerships to advance policy and systems change.
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.
In a somber acknowledgement of declining tobacco tax revenue, the Commission unanimously approved First 5 LA’s Long Term Financial Projection (LTFP), which serves as an important planning tool to help inform the future direction of the organization by providing an updated 5-year forecast of program and operating revenues and expenses.
Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenue, First 5 LA’s primary source of revenue, has been steadily decreasing since fiscal year 2004-05, and is projected to decline an additional 9 percent by FY 2021-22, from the $83.6 million received in FY 2016-17 to an estimated $74.2 million for FY 2021-22, according to the LTFP.
Each year, the LTFP is presented to the Board in advance of the annual budget process in order to provide context in which budget funding decisions will be made. The Board approves a new annual budget each June. More information on the LTFP can be found here.
In an unrelated move, the Board unanimously approved mid-year adjustments to the 2017-18 budget, which included a net decrease of $5.1 million (or approximately 3.5 percent) to the overall 2017-18 Program Budget. One notable difference: this adjustment included an increase of $1.2 million to Select Home Visiting programs as a result of higher than anticipated enrollment.
The mid-year adjustments are a reflection of increased experience and a budget that is being developed in a manner that is more closely aligned with actual experience and resource needs.
Board members then engaged in thought-provoking breakout sessions around the powerful new ways First 5 LA has evolved from a more traditional grant-maker to Los Angeles County agencies to a new role as a thought partner, co-convener and facilitator of innovative solutions to advance aligned policy and systems change goals.
The three breakout sessions allowed Commissioners to learn from First 5 LA staff and county partners through discussion of three examples of collaboration in systems and policy change work: 1) support for the implementation of the county’s Office of Child Protection (OCP) Prevention Plan; 2) Early Identification and Intervention (EII) of children’s development needs; and 3) broad impact and evidence-based practices.
“For the Consortium, the number one concern we have is mental health issues. That’s why the Consortium’s partnership with the county department of mental health is so critical.” -Barbara Andrade DuBransky
The first breakout focused on the implementation of the seven strategies outlined in OCP’s Prevention Plan. OCP is setting up workgroups focused on each strategy and First 5 LA is leading three of these workgroups focused on: early care and education, data and “networking the networks” of services and supports. Among the comments from the discussion:
- Commissioner Barbara Ferrer: “When it comes to quality, should there be a principal set of standards and values agencies should agree to in order to be in the network? Such as culturally respective and ensuring that staff is trained around trauma? We don’t want families going to services that offer poor quality.”
- Commissioner Christopher Thompson: “Some county agencies are not seen as preventative, such as the Department of Mental Health (DMH) or the Department of Children and Family Services. I think DMH can get their foot in the door with home visiting.”
- Commissioner Karla Pleitez-Howell: How do you reach out to families before an issue happens? Families are dealing with a lot. I think about legal aid and access to health care.”
The second discussion focused on First 5 LA’s role as a convener for Help Me Grow-LA (HMG-LA), a partnership of 60 organizations in the county working together to build, connect and strengthen systems of care to identify children early for developmental delays and link them to appropriate services and support. The county’s Department of Mental Health is the organizing entity for HMG-LA. Among the comments from the discussion:
- Commissioner Karla Pleitez-Howell: “There really isn’t an EII system. There are many systems doing pieces of the EII work. The transitions are the hard part. When clients transition between 0-3 systems to K-12, it no longer works for the child. Our challenge is looking at this part of the work (transitions) with an equity lens for kids who won’t get help otherwise.”
- Commission Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl: “We also need to think about equality and equity. Every child does not need the same thing. This should be one of the tenets of the (HMG-LA) system. Everyone should get a warm handoff. Make mental health and public health talk to each other. Everyone needs to have a tailored approach – this is a hard thing to work into systems – systems serve themselves.”
- Commissioner Barbara Ferrer: “Early child care provider training is another piece of this – they need to be able to work with children with special needs and also get training on screening. ECE (early care and education) providers often have a clue that something might not be on track for a child’s development. They see so many children and see the children every day.”
The third breakout focused on broad impact and evidence-based practices, which includes home visiting. With Welcome Baby and Select Home Visiting, First 5 LA is the county’s largest investor in home visiting. The County Board of Supervisors voted in December 2016 to expand and enhance home visiting in the county. Among the partners in the county's home visiting motion is the Los Angeles County Perinatal and Early Childhood Home Visitation Consortium (LACPECHVC, or the Consortium), which is co-funded by First 5 LA. Among the comments from the discussion:
- Commissioner Marlene Zepeda: “Attachment is the underlying foundation of parent-child relationships. One of my underlying concerns of home visiting has to do with the workforce. Who are the individuals in home visiting and how do we support them when they work with high risk families?”
- Family Supports Director Barbara Andrade DuBransky responded to Zepeda: “For the Consortium, the number one concern we have is mental health issues. That’s why the Consortium’s partnership with the county department of mental health is so critical.”
- Commissioner Deanne Tilton: “I see all kinds of reasons to have home visits, especially for prevention of child abuse. There was a mom who was taking care of elderly, infirm parents and a baby at the same time. She snapped and drowned the baby. That would not have happened if the mom had a home visitor.”
Some final takeaways were shared by Commissioners at the conclusion of the breakouts, including a reminder by Commissioner Romalis Taylor to remember to respect cultural differences in implementing our efforts with the county.
In the end, the Board members participating in the breakouts expressed their agreement on the value of First 5 LA’s partnering with the county on systems change. Perhaps Commission Vice Chair Judy Abdo said it best when she defined systems change as “making things work better.”