In an effort to dig into the key questions about the strategies, results and ways to measure progress in Best Start, First 5 LA’s senior leadership team has journeyed to seven locations throughout Los Angeles County for meetings with members of all 14 of the Best Start community partnerships.
First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé and Chief Operating Officer John Wagner were joined by First 5 LA Commissioner Sylvia S. Swilley, M.D., in meetings in Long Beach and Wilmington and by Commissioner Duane Dennis in the meeting with Metro LA. Belshé and Wagner also attended meetings in Pacoima/Panorama City, Antelope Valley, East LA/El Monte, Southeast LA and South LA. Chief Programs Officer Antonio J. Gallardo was present at several of the meetings.
Parents were the leading voices in these roundtable conversations, talking about the power of having a seat at the table and not just being a receiver of services. They also spoke about how their knowledge of healthy childhood development has been increased, as well as their ability to support the emotional, social and cognitive development of their children.
First 5 LA senior leadership heard a lot about contacts being made: parent to parent and also parent to service organization. Parents recognized the role that mobilized, advocating parents can play in creating change. The communities each shared highlights of their successes and challenges as well as the opportunities they see as Best Start moves forward. They shared about healthy lifestyle events, book readings for children, and more.
“It was important to us that Kim Belshé was there,” said Jackie Chirakian, a member of the Best Start West Athens leadership group. “We also wanted to show that we were there for her and for First 5 LA. We need support to help our children be healthy and ready for school.”