Highlights from the October 10 Commission meeting include the approval of two new Strategic Partnerships in the area of Communications, a presentation on the Strategic Plan Refinement (SPR4): 2020-2028 Draft Strategic Plan, and updates on the Early Care and Education Policy and Advocacy Fund.

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.

After last month’s off-site Board retreat, the Commissioners were welcomed back to the October 10 meeting with the good news of AB 1004’s recent passing.

AB 1004 –– a First 5 LA-sponsored bill that was authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) –– was signed by Gov. Newsom on September 30 and is the first piece of First 5 LA-driven legislation to become state law. Once in effect in the New Year, AB 1004 will strengthen the oversight of developmental screenings for children enrolled in Medi-Cal.

“This is a recognition of the fact that if our kids are going to be ready to succeed in school and in life, it’s really important to identify any delays and connect early –– the earlier the better –– to developmental services and supports,” Los Angeles County Supervisor and First 5 LA Commissioner Chair Sheila Kuehl said.

“[AB 1004] is a really exciting example of what we can do and how well it works when we work with so many community partners and make our presence known in Sacramento.”Los angeles County Supervisor and First 5 LA Commission Chair Sheila Kuehl

Click here to read our full story covering AB 1004.

Actions of note include approval of two new strategic partnerships in the area of communications with CalMatters and Fostering Media Connections. Each partnership will take the form of $150,000 over a 20-month period, and deliverables will be a variety of in-depth articles, guest commentaries, and other communications and journalistic content focused on issues related to early childhood.

Historically, early childhood has been an underreported topic. While Gov. Newsom’s vocal support of early childhood issues has raised public awareness, more can be done to educate and inform general audiences as well as decision makers and elected officials on the issues that are affecting kids and families.

Both CalMatters and Fostering Media Connections are uniquely suited to accomplish this goal. As trusted non-partisan and nonprofit media organizations, the funding will leverage their established media connections, resources and outlets to share and amplify coverage of early childhood development stories in an effort to create public will and inform decision makers on issues related to early childhood.

Learn more about the partnership with CalMatters here and Fostering Media Connections here.

Next on the Agenda was a presentation on the Strategic Plan Refinement (SPR4): 2020-2028 Draft Strategic Plan given by Learning for Action Founder Steven LaFrance and First 5 LA Vice President of Programs Christina Altmayer.

Since January, First 5 LA staff, in partnership with Learning for Action, have been at work refining the Strategic Plan that will guide the next eight years of First 5 LA’s work.

The Board of Commissioners have played an integral part in shaping the draft and have provided input and feedback throughout each of the four steps that have encompassed the SPR4 process.

The focus of the SPR4 presentation was First 5 LA’s revised strategic priorities. LaFrance and Altmayer gave an overview of this “fresh, but familiar” element of the plan.

Building upon the work that First 5 LA launched in 2015, the strategic priorities have been refined to reflect and better articulate First 5 LA’s specific contributions and acknowledge the integration of the work that exists across community, health, early care and education and family strengthening systems.

The refined strategic priorities also incorporate a focus on building the First 5 LA organization necessary to do this work today and in the future, strengthening capacity, and increasing efficiency and effectiveness as a public entity.

“The priorities will be a new touchstone going forward that draw on the investment guidelines and are infused with the values and oriented towards the results and the North Star,” LaFrance explained.

As interlocking pieces, the four priorities represent the through-line of First 5 LA’s work and answer the question: how does each piece of First 5 LA work together?

To learn more about the strategic priorities and their respective objectives, click here.

The Final Draft of the 2020-2028 Strategic Plan will be voted on for endorsement at the November 14 Board Meeting.

Following the presentation was an update on First 5 LA’s Early Care and Education Policy and Advocacy Fund (ECE PAF) given by First 5 LA Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Peter Barth and Early Care and Education (ECE) Program Officer Jaime Kalenik.

The ECE PAF was launched two years ago as one of the many tactics used by First 5 LA to help reach the organization’s ECE goals. The ECE PAF, however, represented a significant shift in how First 5 LA viewed grantmaking –– instead of being just a funder and manager of grants, First 5 LA stepped into the role of being an advocate as well.

Barth shared lessons learned over the course of the ECE PAF, stating the importance of seeing advocacy as a “long game” but executing it with a daily sense of urgency.

He also emphasized the collaboration between funders and grantees, stating that it is better to be a grantee partner, not just a grant manager, and that funders like First 5 LA should focus on achieving outcomes, not tracking output.

Kalenik and Barth also remarked on the lesson of integration learned from ECE PAF, and how the notion of collaboration is being applied internally, as the Programs Division works with Government Affairs to advance ECE program goals through advocacy efforts.

“It’s not about which department owns which work –– speaking to the four SPR4 priorities that we just talked about –– but that we’re doing this together in an integrated way,” Barth said.

More details on lessons learned and outcomes were later shared at the October 24 Program and Planning Committee.

“One of the interesting things about being here for several years is that it feels like there’s been a real maturation of the whole enterprise, staff and us,” Commissioner Kuehl said in her closing statement.

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is on November 14.