Fraser Hammersly | First 5 LA Digital Content Specialist

May 26, 2022

First 5 LA’s Board of Commissioners Meeting convened virtually on May 12. The agenda included a presentation on First 5 LA’s FY 2022-23 proposed budget with adjustments to the long-term fiscal plan (LTFP); the approval of two strategic partnerships related to First 5 LA’s Help Me Grow LA work; and information on amendments to strategic partnerships related to First 5 LA’s data strategy, county partnerships, and early care and education efforts. 

During remarks from the Commission Chair, L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl spoke on First 5 LA’s mission to serve children from birth to age 5 and the importance prevention plays when it comes to this often-overlooked special population. 

“Thinking about all the things happening in the world, very little attention is paid to this age group, as a separate age group. They’re part of a family, perhaps fleeing war; they’re part of a family, perhaps breaking up. They are not yet generally in a place where there are other eyes on them aside from their families,” she said. 

“To me, that makes our mission evermore important because we are completely focused on this population, and I think that the importance of carrying through so much of what we are talking about every month, so much of what the budget is for, but also the programmatic ways that we approach in terms of organizing First 5,” she said. 

On the topic of First 5 LA’s budget, First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé’s remarks were focused on First 5 LA’s fiscal year 2022-23 proposed budget, an item that would later be presented at the May meeting. 

“Our conversation today, I know, is about numbers, but we’re going to endeavor in the presentation to put more of a human face and a family face and a community face on those budget numbers,” Belshé said. “Budgets are a reflection of values, and I think this budget speaks to our commitment to bold goals, our willingness to lean into some hard systemic issues, and to leverage the precious resource we have as strategically as possible.”

The consent agenda was unanimously approved. Notably, two new strategic partnerships were approved as part of First 5 LA’s recently-launched Help Me Grow LA initiative — an effort led by First 5 LA and the L.A. County Department of Public Health to ensure that all families in the County have the connections and services they need to support their child’s development. 

The strategic partnerships — one with the City of Long Beach Department of Public Health and the other with San Gabriel Pomona Regional Center — will serve as Help Me Grow LA’s unifying agencies, supporting the coordination efforts between local community clinics within specified regions to connect kids with services following a developmental screening. 

For more information on First 5 LA’s partnership with the City of Long Beach, click here. For more information on First 5 LA’s partnership with San Gabriel Pomona Regional Center, click here.

Following the consent agenda, members of First 5 LA’s Finance Team, as well as from the Center for Child and Family Impact (CCFI), Office of Government Affairs and Public Policy (OGAPP) and Office of Data for Action (ODFA), presented a draft of First 5 LA’s FY 2022-23 proposed budget, highlighting the ways in which First 5 LA is strategically deploying resources to advance its strategic priorities in the face of the agency’s declining Proposition 10 revenues. 

Finance Director Raoul Ortega and Financial Planning & Analysis Manager Daisy Lopez kicked off the presentation by sharing an overview of the FY 2022-23 proposed budget, noting that the budget continues to focus on long-term sustainability goals dictated by the Long-Term Financial Plan (LTFP), including $5.3 million in expenditures that will be offset by non-First 5 LA funding. 

The budget also includes an overall 4 percent reduction in spending when compared to the revised FY 2021-22 budget. Lopez shared that this reduction was the net result of a 5.3 percent decrease in programmatic spending and a 1.3 percent increase in operating costs, the latter primarily due to increased personnel services, consultant services, and travel expenses.

Diving into the programmatic component of the budget, Center for Child and Family Impact Executive Vice President John Wagner shared highlights from each of the Teams and Centers that make up CCFI. While reductions are being made to align First 5 LA’s expenditures with its revenues, Wagner shared that the decreases are also a result of CCFI’s move toward greater efficiency and strategic impact. For more details, see slide 7 here.

Team members from CCFI, OGAPP and ODFA gave high-level examples of how their respective teams are increasing efficiency and impact despite reduced budgets, including working together more across Offices and Teams in more integrated and aligned ways — both in resource and capacity sharing — to accomplish First 5 LA’s objectives. For more details, see slides 8-12 here. 

To close out the presentation, Lopez explained how the proposed FY 2022-23 budget is adhering to the spending limits established by the LTFP and shared information on how adjustments to the LTFP have been made given the actual spending reality of FY 2021-22 and the FY 2022-23 proposed budget. A vote to approve the FY 2022-23 proposed budget and adjustments to the LTFP will be held at the June 9 Board of Commissioners meeting. 

When it came time for discussion, Commissioner Romalis Taylor offered his appreciation for First 5 LA staff, stating, “This is great work. I want to thank you for that. It shows that we’re focusing on the fact that we do have a reduction in revenue and dealing with our stewardship across the whole organization.”

“Kudos to everybody,” Commissioner Jacquelyn McCroskey added. “I could not only see the outcome in terms of budget decisions but the kind of collaboration that [First 5 LA] is doing across the different program sections. I could really hear the through-line of strategic work with the County and with other external partners. Collaboration is always easy to say and hard to do … so I’m in great admiration of what you’ve done.” 

To view a draft of the 2022-23 proposed budget, click here.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to sharing new information with the Board, starting with Ortega, who returned to present “Updating the LTFP in the Context of First 5 LA’s Fiscal Reality.”

At this time, Ortega explained, the LTFP is a fixed 10-year framework enacted in 2018 to align First 5 LA’s expenditures with its revenues through the 2020-28 Strategic Plan and to account for First 5 LA’s fiscal reality of declining Proposition 10 revenues. 

“However,” added Ortega, “Our fiscal reality and stewardship responsibilities require us to look beyond fiscal year 27-28, which means transitioning from a 10-year fixed plan to a rolling LTFP that is updated consistently to reflect 10 outer years. 

“As we move from a fixed plan to a rolling plan, staff is thinking through key considerations for updating the LTFP in the context of both our fiscal reality and the outcomes we are holding ourselves accountable for.”

The item was presented for discussion and will be brought back to the Board at a later date. For more information, click here.

Following Ortega’s presentation, two additional items were presented to the Board as information ahead of a scheduled vote at the June 9 Board of Commissioners meeting. 

The first was a proposed amendment to a strategic partnership with the Regents of the University of California in the form of an additional $1.1 million to continue supporting First 5 LA’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) work. First 5 LA’s Early Care and Education (ECE) team is recommending Board approval of this amendment so that the Regents of the University of California can continue offering technical assistance support to the school districts that collected data as part of the KRA strategy before the partnership sunsets in June 2023. For more information, click here.

The second item was a proposed amendment to a strategic partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) to utilize the remaining $1.9 million in grant funds received from the Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive (IMPACT 2020) initiative for the Quality Start Los Angeles (QSLA) initiative. 

First 5 LA was originally awarded IMPACT 2020 funds from First 5 California in 2020. At that time, the Board approved the use of the funds for a strategic partnership with LACOE to advance First 5 LA’s priorities around improving the quality of early learning environments. 

If the proposed amendment is approved, the funds will be used to support the goals of the QSLA’s consortium, including embedding the Dual Language Learner (DLL) training into QSLA program delivery models, adding additional non-English translations of the DLL trainings, and serving additional program sites with a focus on home-based care. For more information, click here.

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for June 9, 2022. Board materials and details on how to access the meeting will be posted at 72 hours in advance of the meeting.