In the first convening of its kind, First 5 LA and the National League of Cities brought together mayors, city councilmembers and other officials from 10 cities throughout Los Angeles County on November 7 to learn how other cities in the county and the nation are investing in early childhood development and inspire them to take similar action in their municipalities.
The event, Cities Take The Lead: A Discussion on Giving Kids the Best Start, drew more than two dozen participants — including four city councilmembers from the city of Los Angeles alone — to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where they heard from a panel of experts and elected officials about how they are working to improve their city’s capacity to be a place for families and young children to thrive.
In her opening remarks, First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé pointed to the agency’s clear, overarching goal, or North Star: By 2028, all children in L.A. County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. This can only happen, Belshé stated, by partnering with parents, government, residents, service organizations, businesses and elected officials in communities in order to change policy and systems in order to improve outcomes for young children.
“I really hope that our elected officials and staff here look to this as the beginning of a conversation with First 5 LA with an eye towards how we can help young children and families at a local level to be successful,” Belshé said. “Because the fact is, what helps young children is going to help all of us today and in the future.”
These sentiments were echoed in the opening remarks by L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who also serves as the second vice president of the National League of Cities. He praised First 5 LA for its Best Start partnership work in the communities he represents of Watts and Wilmington and noted that his fellow L.A. City councilmembers in attendance — Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian and Mitch O’Farrell — “collectively feel that giving our kids the best start is so critical in the communities we represent.”