July 13, 2021

First 5 LA Awards L.A. Care a $1.2 Million Grant to Help Increase Developmental Screenings


LOS ANGELES – California ranks 43rd in the nation when it comes to conducting developmental screenings for infants and toddlers. In fact, only 21 percent of children in the state receive timely developmental screenings for language, movement, thinking, behavior, and emotions. Those numbers are especially disturbing when you realize that timely developmental screenings and early intervention lead to kindergarten-ready children. That, in turn, has shown to lead to successful independent adults. L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly operated health plan in the country, and First 5 LA are pleased to announce a partnership that aims to increase the number of developmental screenings and interventions in Los Angeles County.

First 5 LA has awarded L.A. Care a grant of more than $1.2 million dollars, as part of Help Me Grow LA, for a four-year partnership that will help clinics across the county integrate developmental screenings and monitoring protocols into their workflow. 

Education is going to be a key component of this pilot. We will work to educate providers, members and the community through a wide variety of programs and projects,” said John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO. “We must make everyone aware of just how important early developmental screenings are, and the impact they have on a child’s life. We owe our youngest members of society the best possible start in life.”

Much of that education will happen through provider trainings, information on L.A. Care’s website and member newsletters, and at the network of Community Resources Centers that it jointly operates with Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan all across Los Angeles County. 

As part of the countywide Help Me Grow LA effort, families have shared stories of how challenging it can be to navigate a system of referrals and to find the right services as early as possible to support their child’s development,” said Tara Ficek, Director of Health Systems at First 5 LA. “L.A. Care and First 5 LA have a long history of working together to support young children and their families, and through this partnership we aim to address these family experiences by improving early identification and intervention standards across all health service sectors, especially in family-serving clinics. Together with L.A. Care, we are committed to changing systems and increasing the countywide impact of Help Me Grow LA so that all families in L.A. County have the support they need to help their young children get the best start in life.”

The partnership between First 5 LA and L.A. Care is a foundational step to building a connected and robust system of care across L.A. County to make sure every child receives support and resources to benefit their development and growth. 

Help Me Grow LA is a collaboration between First 5 LA and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to improve connections between providers and families/caregivers to strengthen healthy child development. For more information about Help Me Grow LA, please visit First5LA.org/Help-Me-Grow

About L.A. Care Health Plan

L.A. Care Health Plan serves more than 2.3 million members in Los Angeles County, making it the largest publicly operated health plan in the country. L.A. Care offers four health coverage plans including Medi-CalL.A. Care Covered™L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and the PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan, all dedicated to being accountable and responsive to members. As a public entity, L.A. Care’s mission is to provide access to quality health care for L.A. County’s low-income communities, and to support the safety net required to achieve that purpose. L.A. Care prioritizes quality, access and inclusion, elevating health care for all of L.A. County. For more information, follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.

About First 5 LA

As the state’s largest funder of early childhood, First 5 LA works to strengthen systems, parents and communities so that children are ready to succeed in school and life. An independent public agency, First 5 LA’s goal is to support the safe and healthy development of young children so that by 2028, all children in L.A. County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. Learn more at www.first5la.org for latest news and information, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Media Contacts

Penny Griego

L.A. Care Health Plan 

(213) 694-1250 x4560

(310) 613-8309 

[email protected]

Marlene Fitzsimmons

First 5 LA

(213) 482-7807

(626) 825-4636

[email protected]