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.
With news of Gov. Newsom’s revised budget breaking only hours before the May 9 Board meeting, First 5 LA Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Peter Barth delivered a statement at the top of the meeting that applauded Newsom’s commitment to children with a “parent-focused” budget revision.
“The Governor continued to signal and, in fact, doubled down on his commitment to families, including a parent-focused agenda. And he focused not just on one component of what a family’s needs are but the whole child, the whole family,” Barth said to the Board.
Specific highlights of Newsom’s revisions were called out by Barth, including a new tax credit for families, the elimination of diaper taxes, investments in childcare access and spaces funded by the newly legislated marijuana tax, Medicare-matched funds for home visiting and a new focus on black infant and maternal health.
Following this, Manager of Strategic Partnerships Alba Bautista delivered a presentation on the upcoming 2020 Census and the importance of making sure that every child in Los Angeles County is counted, as it relates to First 5 LA’s priorities and mission.
The Census, which takes place every 10 years, is used to apportion seats in the United States House of Representatives and to draw legislative districts at other levels of government. It also determines how much federal funding states and communities receive for the next decade, which includes the funding of federal programs such as Women, Infants and Children and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provide assistance for young children and families.
L.A. County has historically been the most difficult county to count, with an estimated $650 million lost in the last decade due to an under-representation of the population. Misinformation about whether or not children and babies-to-be-born should be included in the count, along with fears around immigration status (with immigrants making up 34.5 percent of the county’s population), are the primary causes.
“Children going uncounted is a national issue, with an estimated 1 million children under the age of 5 being left out of the 2010 Census,” Bautista told the Board. This staggering number alone illustrates how the lack of information surrounding children’s participation can impact the Census count, adding to the need for more public messaging on how and why the Census is done.
After Bautista’s presentation, the Board unanimously approved a new strategic partnership (in the form of $200,000) with the Los Angeles Partnership for Early Childhood (LAPEC). The funding will go towards leveraging resources to circulate and publicize correct information about why every individual, including children and undocumented immigrants, should participate in the 2020 Census with the benefit of making sure all L.A. County voices are heard.
Another future-focused presentation and discussion with visitors from KnowledgeWorks and Capita comprised the second part of the Board meeting. KnowledgeWorks, in partnership with Capita, is currently developing a 10-year future forecast report that will deliberately look at and theorize about how current trends might impact First 5 LA’s work with children and families in the future.
As stated by Executive Director Kim Belshé in her opening remarks, the key trends found by KnowledgeWorks are most important when viewed through an equity lens. “Think about how these trends could potentially exacerbate existing gaps, or how might those trends help ameliorate and address some of the systemic and structural barriers impeding greater progress for the kids we care so much about,” Belshé said to encourage the Board in her opening remarks.
Key trends that are guiding the future were presented as a preview to the full forecast report. Notable positive current trends included more children with health insurance, more funding for preschools, increased attention to postpartum depression, parents spending more time with children and a recent decrease in the number of children whose parents lack secure employment. Negative current trends included poorer health outcomes and increased risk of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) for black and Hispanic children, a decline in trust in the government as well as media and nonprofit organizations, greater financial obstacles for securing child care, stagnant wages and a dramatic increase in depression and anxiety.
Find out more about key trends (both negative and positive) that KnowledgeWorks found to be guiding the future in the preview report materials, available here.
Meant to spark provocative conversation, the presentation led to a discussion by the Board on the role technological advances might play in helping or hindering some of the most crucial issues facing children and families today.
Echoing Belshé’s opening remarks, Romalis J. Taylor added to the discussion, questioning how inequity might affect one’s access to technology and lead to even greater disparities in the future: “When you leave people behind, you create a huge problem for the future. So how do we elevate everyone?”
The full forecast report, to be released later this year, will assist First 5 LA’s Strategic Plan Refinement Process (SPR4) by helping identify strategic implications and considerations needed to respond to the changing landscape.
The meeting ended with a quick note by First 5 LA Executive Vice President John Wagner on the draft of the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019–2020. Highlights of the proposed budget can be found here, along with a summary here. More details concerning the proposed budget will be discussed at the May 23 Program and Planning Committee meeting. Action on the budget’s approval will be taken in the Commission meeting scheduled for June 13.