Highlights from the October 11 Commission meeting include: a fond farewell to Commissioner Jane Boeckmann; a welcome for a new alternate commissioner; proposed Results for Children and Families and Monitoring Measures for First 5 LA’s Impact Framework; and a review of the state and federal budget and legislative year.
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“Deeply committed. Gracious. Honest. Caring.”
These words rang true to the nearly two decades of service to First 5 LA provided by outgoing Commissioner Jane Boeckmann, whose tenure as one of the longest-serving commissioners was honored in a special ceremony during the Board meeting.
Boeckmann was presented a word cloud from staff to share top of mind words that captured her service, which began the year after Proposition 10 was passed in 1998 that created First 5 LA.
“I frankly really like the ‘endurance’ word because you, along with Deanne Tilton, are the two founding members of the board back in November of 1999,” First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé said. “I’ve joked about how Jane must have been a marathon runner at some point in her life. Twenty years is quite an extraordinary accomplishment.”
Along the way, Boeckmann brought a deep concern for children, particularly those most vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
“I’ve had the pleasure to spend a lot of time with Jane,” Tilton said. “Jane definitely has strong opinions, feelings and convictions about children and families and certainly how the system treats them and how our Board has been able to help them and she has confronted impediments along the way, as I have, in trying to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
Although a successful businesswoman, publisher and member of a number of boards, Boeckmann belied any braggadocio with a quiet demeanor that drew praise for her thoughtfulness and insight.
Los Angeles County Supervisor and First 5 LA Board Chair Sheila Kuehl praised this “quiet certainty” in the three years they have served together on the Commission.
“I have always been impressed with the way you participated and the knowledge that you brought to the Board,” Kuehl said. “Boards like this, which are really volunteer boards, do not function without wonderful people like you.”
Vice Chair Judy Abdo thanked Boeckmann for “the continuity you’ve brought to the Board, because it’s hard to understand — without having all the years of history — exactly why we are where we are and why decisions were made along the way. It has been very helpful to me to hear your perspective on where we are right now.”
When it came time for her to speak, Boeckmann’s soft voice echoed with emotion that touched many in the boardroom.
“It’s like you’re all family,” she said. “I’m going to miss you all. It’s been a wonderful number of years. I will continue to be by your side and hopefully help in everything you are doing in one way or another. Please know that I care very much about this organization, about the people and especially about the work being done. It’s so very, very important.”
The First 5 LA Board of Commissioners is comprised of 17 members (nine voting, four ex-officio, four alternates). The Board includes voting members appointed by each of the Los Angeles County supervisors and the L.A. County departments of Children and Family Services, Public Health and Mental Health. The Chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors also serves as Chair of the First 5 LA Commission. The Board also includes representatives from other educational, children and families organizations throughout the county.
As one door closes and another door opens, so did the Board welcome new Alternate Commissioner Arturo Valdez, Chief Academic Officer for L.A. County Office of Education. Valdez, who replaced Joseph Ybarra on the First 5 LA Board, has been in education for more than 32 years, serving in positions of teacher, coordinator, assistant principal, principal and director in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In her welcome of Valdez, Kuehl said “he is intent on developing a plan that focuses on three specific areas: unwavering focus on academic achievement; school culture, climate, and infrastructure; and leadership that supports high achievement for students and staff.”
In other news, the Board also received a presentation of the proposed Results for Children and Families and Monitoring Measures for First 5 LA’s Impact Framework, a process and a tool that will help First 5 LA update its approach to measuring progress and propose future refinement of its Strategic Plan in 2019.
As a process, First 5 LA’s Impact Framework is a robust effort to capture changes by prioritizing measurement at three distinct levels:
- Results for Children and Families – Child- and family-level changes that reflect progress towards First 5 LA’s North Star: By 2028, all children in L.A. County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life
- Systems Outcomes (Services and Supports) – Improvements in systems so that they work better for families and children
- Monitoring Measures (Environment) – A set of measures to track trends that impact children, families, and our work
Following months of criteria-driven work by staff with feedback from Commissioners during a July “gallery walk” on the Impact Framework and subsequent follow up presentations, Vice President of Integration and Learning Daniela Pineda and Director of Measurement, Learning and Evaluation Armando Jimenez outlined the following recommended Results for Children and Families:
- Families have the resources, opportunities, relationships and environment to optimize their child’s development
- Children enter kindergarten without any previously unidentified developmental delays and connected to developmentally appropriate services and supports.
- Children are safe from abuse, neglect, and other trauma
- Children have high quality ECE (Early Care and Education) experiences prior to kindergarten entry
The Results for Children and Families outlined represent a holistic picture of the collective impact of First 5 LA’s Strategic Plan work and go beyond measures of success for a single strategy or initiative.
The presentation also revealed a list of proposed Monitoring Measures that would help First 5 LA “keep a pulse” on the environment that affects children, families and its work.
Following the presentation, Commissioners asked a number of discerning and insightful questions about the proposed results and monitoring measures: What tool will be used to measure if children are safe from abuse and trauma? How will parents — who are often their child’s first teacher — be instructed to look for key indicators of success? How many children will finish the first grade after we influence the system?
Staff will review this feedback and present a revised list of Monitoring Measures at the October 25 Special Program and Planning Committee Meeting, where Commissioners will also have an opportunity to further review and reflect upon the Results for Children and Families. The Board will have the opportunity to approve the proposed Results for Children and Families and the Monitoring Measures at the November Board meeting. Pending approval, measurement and reporting plans would be developed during spring and summer of 2019.
In the realm of policy and advocacy, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Peter Barth thanked the Board for their leadership and support of the agency’s first ever policy agenda last November, which allowed First 5 LA “to do a lot more this year” on behalf of young children and their families in Los Angeles County and beyond.
This was reflected in Barth’s presentation on the state federal budget and legislative year in review, which included more than $1 billion in new funding for early childhood in the state budget and $200 million increase in Head Start and the passage of five First 5 LA-supported bills in the state legislature signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.
This hard work drew praise from the Board. Kuehl, who was the author of 171 bills signed into law during her tenure as a state lawmaker in Sacramento, extolled First 5 LA for “not giving up” on prioritizing young children, adding that” $1 billion is a real positive outcome for our kids.”
Commissioner Karla Pleitéz Howell echoed that sentiment: “For those of us that work in advocacy, First 5 LA showed up deep, strong and smart. This would not have happened without First 5 LA.”