Highlights from the July12 Commission meeting include a unique, interactive “gallery walk” to update and receive input from Board members on First 5 LA’s Impact Framework progress and process, as well as approval of two key amendments, one new strategic partnership and one new agreement that will build upon the Impact Framework project, increase protective factors, promote preschool and enhance children’s nutrition.

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.

What systems are we working to change? How is First 5 LA contributing to improving systems? How will we know we are making progress? What does success look like for children and families in Los Angeles County?

“What are outcomes? What does it mean to be successful?” -Jonathan Sherin

These were the key questions First 5 LA staff posed in an inventive and interactive session designed to engage Commissioners and gain their insights on the agency’s Impact Framework project, which will develop indicators that capture how First 5 LA is achieving its vision of ensuring all children in L.A. County enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life by 2028.

As Executive Director Kim Belshé explained in her Connecting Points post previewing the day’s Board Meeting, “No single answer can satisfy these questions. And, in fact, the answers may change as we move forward, make progress, and learn from experience. But, that is the nature of the work we do to open new channels for families and young children – it’s not a linear process, but one that changes over time.”

County-Level Progress – Indicators of how we are impacting all children in Los Angeles and improving their readiness for school.In the lead presentation of the July Board meeting, Vice President of Integration of Learning Daniela Pineda provided the Board with an overview of First 5 LA’s development of the Impact Framework. She explained that the Impact Framework will develop a comprehensive set of metrics to understand:

  • Outcomes (short and long-term outcomes) – Indicators of progress in changing the systems to better support children’s readiness for school.
  • Monitoring Measures – Indicators of the context and environment for children and families that may impact of our work.

The goal of this this work is to help First 5 LA reach its North Star: By 2028, all children in L.A. County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life.

Previous Board meetings have featured panel discussions on policy, systems change and sustainability learnings from First 5 LA’s Children’s Dental Care Program and from leaders in philanthropy who are working to drive systems change, part of a continuing process to “show the work” by sharing the insights and learnings that are being applied to First 5 LA’s approach to make a greater impact for young children.

While Commissioners’ input is always sought, July’s Board meeting used a unique approach to gain Board members insights.

Following an overview of the Impact Framework process by Pineda, Board members were invited to do a “gallery walk,” where they were engaged in a total of five sessions, each corresponding to a strategy within the Early Care and Education (ECE) and Health-Related Systems outcomes. These outcome areas were chosen because they are furthest along in development of the Impact Framework.

The strategies for ECE included 1) Policy and Advocacy, 2) Workforce and Professional Development and 3) Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). The Health Systems strategies were 1) Trauma- and Resiliency-Informed Systems Change and 2) Early Identification and Intervention (EII).

Prompted by staff presentations, Commissioners asked several incisive questions that encompassed the challenge in measuring changes, the use of longitudinal data, the difference between “outputs” versus “outcomes” and the level of inclusion of parents and community members.

Senior Program Officer Cristina Peña’s presentation on EII focused on efforts to enhance and expand developmental screenings for young children to identify delays and provide early supports, which at First 5 LA includes a partnership in Help Me Grow-LA and investment in First Connections.

“What are outcomes? What does it mean to be successful?” asked Commissioner Jonathan Sherin, who serves as the director of the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.

In the discussion of ECE Workforce Development with Senior Program Officer Debra Colman, Commission Vice Chair Judy Abdo asked what First 5 LA is doing to increase the number of students choosing ECE as a career. As evidenced by the Child Care Needs Assessment released last year, Abdo noted that, financially, “one of the worst jobs is in early childhood care. The temptation is to find something that pays better.”

Coleman said Abdo’s concerns would be elevated in First 5 LA’s work with partners such as the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which convenes an Education and Workforce Policy Development Council.

In the discussion of QRIS, Senior Program Officer Mabel Muñoz pointed out that the effort is targeting 20 percent of the 9,500 licensed ECE providers in L.A. County, including family, center-based and school-based care.

Commissioner Romalis Taylor suggested parents and community members be more involved in this process. “Most people don’t know that 90 percent of the brain is developed by age 5,” he said. “We have to bring the parents into this.”

In her presentation, First 5 LA Senior Program Officer Pegah Faed pointed out the significance of the Trauma-and Resiliency-Informed Systems Change work being done, noting that 60 percent of children in L.A. County experience at least one Adverse Childhood Experience and 12 percent experience four or more Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. The higher number of ACEs, the higher the risk for a wide range of negative health outcomes.

“The July Commission meeting provided a unique opportunity to engage our Commissioners and leverage their insights about our ongoing policy and systems change work.” -Christina Altmayer

Joined within a public-private partnership by the California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, First 5 LA and its partners are calling for a commitment within organizations and systems to help individuals, families and communities all heal from trauma and strengthen their resiliency.

Commissioner Karla Pleitéz Howell asked what “value add” First 5 LA brings to the table that is different from other organizations.

Faed responded to Pleitéz Howell by noting that First 5 LA is moving from initially being a convener to the next phase. She cited a new strategic partnership over two years with the city of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services to serve as the coordinating organization to strengthen a cross-systems, citywide trauma and resiliency-informed approach within the community.

“The July Commission meeting provided a unique opportunity to engage our Commissioners and leverage their insights about our ongoing policy and systems change work,” added Vice President of Programs Christina Altmayer, whose team made presentations to Board Members during the “gallery walk.” “Their questions prompted us to continue to think carefully about the systems with which we are working and to think about how we are engaging parents, community members in this work to improve outcomes for children and families.”

As for next steps, staff will return to the Board in September for further staff reflections and to provide an update on the remaining two outcome areas. In the fall, staff will bring to the Board a proposed set of county-level outcomes and monitoring measures for Board endorsement and propose an approach for how to refine First 5 LA’s current strategic plan.

“It was a lively conversation where Commissioners appropriately raised questions about how First 5 LA is moving to operationalize the Impact Framework, ”Pineda said. “Commissioners’ questions about how we will set appropriate baselines, source the most relevant data, and select the best indicators will inform our current work to refine a measurement plan that lays out these details.”

In other action, the Board unanimously approved two key amendments, one new strategic partnership and one new agreement that will build upon the Impact Framework project, increase protective factors, promote preschool and enhance children’s nutrition.

  • The agreement is for $199,485 for two years with LaFrance Associates, LLC DBA Learning for Action to contribute to all three phases of the Impact Framework project with research, capacity building and technical assistance.
  • The new Strategic Partnership is with Pomona Unified School District (PUSD) to support the “Reinvest in Success” (RIS) Initiative for an amount not to exceed $930,557 over three years, including $374,189 for an initial 11-month contract beginning August 1. RIS will generate a preschool funding model for other school districts in LA County to potentially follow. Funds from First 5 LA will support non-slot personnel costs, non-slot operating costs and parent fees.
  • To obtain further learnings from and testing of Project DULCE (Developmental Understanding and Legal Collaboration for Everyone) Model, First 5 LA is amending a Strategic Partnership with The Children’s Clinic (TCC) and Northeast Valley Health Corporation (NEVHC) for $880,000 for a total amount not to exceed $2,537,300 through June 30, 2020.The amendment will allow TCC and NEVHC, current Project DULCE clinic partners, to expand Project DULCE to an additional clinic site. First 5 LA is investing in Project DULCE as an interdisciplinary practice change model designed to support child development and reduce toxic stress in a critical time for the entire family.
  • The Board also approved a $206,447 amendment with Ecology Center to extend the Market Match voucher program through September 11. Market Match matches fresh fruit and vegetable purchase amounts at participating farmer’s markets in L.A. County for families with children 0 to 5 who participate in Cal Fresh and Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

First 5 LA’s Board of Commissioners will reconvene in September.