July 9 Commission Summary of Actions

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.

These Commission Summaries are intended to provide highlights of the Board of Commissioners’ actions and presentations to the Board, many of which involve legacy investments and key actions and investments related to our new 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. Please check our Commission Calendar for all updated meeting information and click here for Commission meeting packets, agendas, summaries and meeting notes.

At the July 9 Commission meeting, highlights include approval of a contract for a new Welcome Baby Hospital, update on a pilot project with LA Care, a presentation of two studies on Los Angeles Universal Preschool, a state legislative update and public comments from Best Start partnership members.

New Welcome Baby Hospital Among Key Contracts and Agreements Approved

The Commission unanimously approved the following two contracts and one new agreement for a total of $2,032,718:

  • A $1,094,222 contract with Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital to implement the first year of the Welcome Baby program in the Best Start communities of Watts-Willowbrook, West Athens and Compton-East Compton. Total cost of the program – which would run through June 30, 2020 – is $4.5 million. Through First 5 LA’s free, voluntary Welcome Baby Initiative, pregnant women and new moms in the 14 Best Start Communities receive information, support and a trusted partner to help them through the journey of pregnancy and early parenthood. With the addition of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital, 14 hospitals in Los Angeles County now participate in Welcome Baby. Working with a hospital liaison, nurse and parent coach, each Welcome Baby participant receives phone calls, home visits and an in hospital visit to evaluate the child’s health and development, screen for maternal depression, encourage bonding and provide tips on everything from breastfeeding to home safety.
  • A $688,581 contract with Koreatown Youth and Community Center to implement strategies and activities selected by the Best Start Metro LA community partnership to increase social connections in the community by reducing violence inside and outside the home. The contractor proposes to do this by envisioning and promoting a culture of respect across the community. The activities include training of partnership members, communications support, outreach support and community event support.
  • A $249,915 agreement with the Rand Corporation over 1.5 years to conduct a psychometric study to examine whether the Modified Bridges for Newborns Screening Tool is accurately assessing risk within the population of mothers giving birth in Welcome Baby hospitals near or in the 14 Best Start communities. This psychometric study will examine both the reliability and the validity of the Modified Bridges for Newborns Screening Tool.

Highlights Presented From Two LAUP Educational Outcomes Studies

The Commission was presented with an overview and key findings from two studies involving the educational outcomes of children who attended Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP): the LAUP Longitudinal Outcomes Study by Mathematica Policy Research for First 5 LA and LAUP’s own Outcomes Study.

Key findings included:

Mathematica Policy Research LAUP Longitudinal Outcomes Study:

  • In 2nd grade, differences between LAUP and non-LAUP participants on state test scores slightly favor LAUP students. These differences are not present in 3rd grade.
  • LAUP students attend and are enrolled in school for a couple more days than non-LAUP participants and have fewer reported suspensions

LAUP Outcomes Study:

  • LAUP students were more economically disadvantaged
  • LAUP students performed better in 2nd grade reading and math
  • These differences held in 3rd grade only for reading

A link to the full presentation on both studies can be found under Item 5 in the agenda packet here.

Update on Pilot Project with LA Care

Staff updated the Commission on how it has initiated conversations with LA Care to explore opportunities to repurpose approximately $9 million in remaining funds from the Healthy Kids-LA Care contract, which is set to expire in December, 2015. Discussions with LA Care include the implementation of a pilot directed toward improving access to, and utilization of, priority preventive services, such as developmental screening and oral health services

Given LA Care’s significant reach, covering an estimated 38 percent of the total 0 to 5 population in L.A. County (242,000), staff believe that LA Care is uniquely positioned to serve as a qualified platform to achieve broader impact. In particular, staff has identified the following opportunities: developmental screenings (a component of Help Me Grow in First 5 LA’s new Strategic Planning Efforts); oral health care for children covered by LA Care (including the extension of the virtual dental home model) and vision care (leveraging the state’s vision pilot program).

In the coming months, staff will continue to work with LA Care to further explore opportunities, and will present new information and items to the Board as early as the September 2015 Special Commission/Program and Planning Committee meeting. The goal, pending Commission approval, would be to repurpose funds and launch the pilot project as early as December, 2015.

State Legislative Update Provided

Even though the 2015-16 state budget has passed, First 5 LA Policy Director Peter Barth pointed out that there are still many items the Policy team is tracking in Sacramento. A few priority issues include:

  1. The Legislature is in a special session focused on revenue solutions to support longer-term infrastructure and healthcare needs. While these issues do not necessarily impact First 5 LA directly, we want to remain diligent in understanding the priorities of the Governor and legislature moving forward.
  2. Even though the budget includes funding for new slots, we want to make sure that L.A. County is eligible to receive a fair share of funding. Working with our excellent partners at the Advancement Project and Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, Trailer Bill language has been introduced to clarify that the formula used last year by the state Department of Education to allocate slots – which was just looking at the total percentage of need across an entire county – also be balanced by subcounty data or a county’s total need in real numbers. While this isn’t a guarantee that L.A. County will receive more slots, we will work with our advocacy partners to track budget implementation and will come back to the Board with allocation estimates for L.A. County as we learn more.
  3. The Policy team is tracking is First 5 LA’s legislative agenda, which the Board approved in April. Since April, we have added two bills and one resolution to our agenda:
  • First, at the recommendation of the Board, we added Senate Bill 277, sponsored by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), requiring child immunizations. This bill was signed by the Governor into law last week.
  • Second we added Assembly Bill 47, sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), which would ensure that all children eligible for the state preschool program have access to the program by 2017. This bill is an effort to implement the intent language in last year’s budget bill, which set a goal of providing preschool to all low income children in California, even though no date or financial commitment was set at the time.
  • Third is Assembly Concurrent Resolution 77 introduced by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) which states the intent of the legislature to ensure all children receive appropriate developmental screenings and support services. This effort has been led by the state First 5 Association and Children Now, and is directly aligned with our new strategic plan.

Right now, Barth said, policy committees in the Senate and Assembly are reviewing bills and deciding whether or not to refer them to an additional committee or a floor vote, which is when the Legislature takes final action on whether to approve or deny a piece of legislation.

In conclusion, Barth emphasized how important it has been for First 5 LA to be involved in the legislative and budget discussions in Sacramento. Not only do the decisions made in Sacramento directly impact the children of LA County, as we see with the expansion of Medi-Cal and increased funding for preschool and child care, we support other organizations who share our policy aspirations so they can do the significant and important work of making sure our government leaders understand the impacts of their decisions, and the needs of their communities.

Partnerships Air Concerns During Public Comment

Community members from Best Start Northeast Valley and South El Monte/El Monte Community Partnerships gave public comment to express their concerns over the expiration of contracts for facilitation support. They also expressed a desire to have a more inclusive process for making decisions that impact Best Start Community Partnerships. Commissioners joined Executive Director Kim Belshé in acknowledging their concerns, explaining the procedural obligations of First 5 LA as a public entity and voicing their intent to continue to work together with the partnerships in the future to strengthen families and improve child outcomes.