By Kim Belshé, Executive Director, First 5 LA

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.

Not a day goes by that I don’t consider the scope and complexity of our work at First 5 LA; and I never underestimate the importance of our commitment to Los Angeles County’s young children, prenatal to age 5, and their parents. I’m the first to tell you that the depth and breadth of effort and commitment from our grantees, partners, stakeholders, staff and Board are unimaginably difficult to condense into a deeply informative but succinctly meaningful snapshot of the progress we are making. Given the intended impact our work can have on behalf of young kids and their families, I believe it’s important to highlight the connections between the activities and actions of First 5 LA and the changes in policies and systems to improve child well-being through initiatives for families, communities, early care and education, and health-related systems. This is a new effort for us and we’ll learn as we go; to start, I intend to highlight for you agenda item briefs that we are putting before the First 5 LA Board of Commissioners so that you know what stands at the forefront of the agency’s work throughout the year.

Connecting Points is a snapshot of top initiatives. My goal is for you to have ready access to the Agenda, Commission materials for the upcoming Board meeting, the Executive Director’s Report for the month’s recap on grantee, policy and partnership initiatives that I deliver at each Commissioners Board meeting, as well as quick reads on items scheduled for presentation or Board action. I encourage you to make Connecting Points a part of your effort to stay up to speed on First 5 LA.

Not a day goes by that I don’t consider the scope and complexity of our work at First 5 LA. – Kim Belshé

Stay tuned for outcomes from the April 12 Board meeting when we will ask for Board approval of the Strategic Partnership with UNITE-LA for Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and the Communities Outcome: Approval of Proposed Best Start Regional Network Grant Awards.

The Communities Outcome: Approval of Proposed Best Start Regional Network Grant Awards investment is to cultivate strong collaborative efforts among parents, residents and organizations so that, together, they are a powerful catalyst for change to achieve and sustain positive outcomes for children and families in their communities. With Board approval, the current 14 Best Start communities will transition to a consistent regional model that will facilitate the continued evolution of the Best Start community partnerships, support long-term sustainability of their work, and advance First 5 LA’s Strategic Plan Communities Outcome: Increase community capacity to support and promote the safety, healthy development and well-being of children prenatal to age 5 and their families.

The proposed Strategic Partnership with UNITE-LA for Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) is fundamental to First 5 LA’s North Star that all children in Los Angeles County enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. The need for a tool to measure kindergarten readiness is essential. Our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan makes adoption of a KRA a priority goal to help inform and drive First 5 LA’s early care and education policy and systems change goal to improve access to affordable, quality, sustainable ECE. First 5 LA will support UNITE-LA to work with L.A. County leaders and community stakeholders as they use the KRA data to inform and drive changes in school policies and systems. In partnership with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, we began an effort to explore the possibilities of adopting a uniform KRA for L.A. County. The development of the L.A. County Stewardship Group for Early Childhood, which UNITE-LA will support, will utilize Pilot Communities’ emerging data from the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a population wide KRA tool, to identify trends in school readiness assets and gaps and to inform recommendations for policy and system changes and resource allocation to improve school readiness and educational equity.

I hope Connecting Points quickly becomes your go-to for staying current on First 5 LA initiatives. Before each month’s Board of Commissioners meeting, I will shine a light on our efforts to help you gain new insights on how each contributes to the greater goal, and that key to the continuity we emphasize across our key areas of families, communities, early care and education, and health-related systems are the collaborative relationships we value with county and community partners who are likewise committed to the future of L.A. County’s young children. Connecting Points is about more than reflecting on the work behind us. It is about keeping a steady light focused on the work that’s still ahead.

Let us know what you think. Your feedback is an important part of helping us make this new tool the best that it can be.

Again, welcome to Connecting Points – a great new way for you stay informed.

Always wishing you and our kids the best,