Fraser Hammersly | First 5 LA Digital Content Specialist

October 27, 2022

First 5 LA’s Meeting of the Board of Commissioners convened virtually on Oct. 13. The agenda included a vote to approve the Annual Comprehensive Fiscal Report, Independent Auditor’s Report and submission of the First 5 LA annual report to First 5 California; information on proposed amendments to First 5 LA’s bylaws, governance guidelines and mid-year budget adjustment processes; and presentations on Strategic Plan review and refinement as it relates to long-term and short-team system outcomes.  

The October 13 Board of Commissioners meeting began with L.A. County Supervisor and Board Chair Sheila Kuehl reflecting on the work and mission of First 5 LA in light of her upcoming retirement that will be taking effect at the end of the year.  

“I just wanted to express how impressed I am, and how I think other organizations could really learn from the self-assessment that First 5 LA does to really try to figure out: How do we accomplish a nearly impossible mission? And how do we think about that mission so that it says exactly what we think — through a dynamic set of actions —really needs to be done for our kids and their families?” Kuehl remarked.  

Executive Director Kim Belshé, noting that the October meeting was her second-to-last Board meeting as First 5 LA’s executive director, added to Kuehl’s comments, stating that the fall season is inspiring her to reflect on times of transition.  

“I understand that changes of any nature can be fraught and full of uncertainty and contribute to discomfort — and I want to acknowledge that this fall is a season of considerable change for First 5 LA in the context of the leadership transition that we’re speaking to,” Belshé said.  

“While bittersweet, I also view this moment for me at First 5 LA as a time of reflection and learning, and a time of tremendous pride — not just in where we’ve been but where we are — but more importantly, where we’re heading.” 

The agenda included several action and information items related to First 5 LA’s finance, business and governance processes, including a presentation and vote to approve First 5 LA’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and the Independent Auditor’s Report for fiscal year 2022-23. 

Finance Director Raoul Ortega presented on First 5 LA’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and the Independent Auditor’s Report for fiscal year 2022-23. According to Ortega, First 5 LA received a clean audit from Eide Bailly LLP, the independent CPA firm that conducted the audit. He also provided an overview of First 5 LA’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, sharing revenue and expenditure highlights that totaled in at $68.6 million and $94.4 million respectively.  

For more information, click here. 

The Board voted to approve both the Auditor’s Report and Annual Comprehensive Financial Report in anticipation of their submission to First 5 California and the State Controller’s Office, as well as their incorporation into First 5 LA’s Long-Term Financial Plan. 

Additionally, Ortega shared an information item related to streamlining First 5 LA’s mid-year budget adjustment processes to a more efficient approach for both First 5 LA staff and the Board. The streamlined approach will be voted on at the November Board of Commissioners meeting.  

For more information, click here. 

Chief of Staff Peter Barth presented an item on proposed amendments to First 5 LA’s bylaws and governance guidelines — a routine process that is typically done in response to changed operating procedures. The proposed changes will be presented for action at the November Board meeting.  

For more information, click here. 

Building on discussions and presentations that occurred at the July and September Board meetings, the remainder of the October meeting was dedicated to Strategic Plan review and refinement.  

Chief Transformation Officer Antoinette Andrews Bush, Early Care and Education Director Becca Patton and Chief Government Affairs Officer Charna Widby led the discussion, with the focus of the October meeting being centered around First 5 LA’s overarching systems change goal, proposed long-term system outcomes (LTSOs) and draft short-term system outcomes (STSOs). 

At the July Board of Commissioners meeting, First 5 LA unveiled a proposed reframed North Star that reads: “Every child in L.A. County will reach their full developmental potential throughout the critical years of prenatal to age 5.” Widby explained how this refined North Star reorients First 5 LA’s work to be explicitly focused on systems change efforts.  

“Now that we have a proposal for this North Star, we have to ask: How do we actually achieve that North Star? And what changes in our orientation are needed to aim our telescope and align our navigation there?” Widby said.  

According to Widby, with the refined North Star comes a new way of operationalizing First 5 LA’s work and First 5 LA team members are proposing an overarching systems change goal that will replace the four results for kids and families that were previously outlined in First 5 LA’s 2020-28 Strategic Plan.  

“We’re focused on a vision of transformed systems that center the perspectives and experiences of families. Our theory of change in this work and what we’re bringing today is grounded in the hypothesis that changing systems is how First 5 LA can — at a scale worthy of L.A. County’s children — advance longer-term population level outcomes for families and children,” Widby explained.  

The proposed overarching systems change goal reads: “Public systems most critical to children’s development prenatal to 5 advance belonging and justice for communities which experience significant inequities.” With this context in mind, Widby shared the four proposed LTSOs — 1) accessible, 2) equitable, 3) power sharing and 4) financing — that First 5 LA will seek to create within public systems in order to achieve its overarching systems change goal.  

“Overall, these four longer-term systems change goals are descriptions of the characteristics we want in systems so that they support [kids and families] in the earliest moments. Achieving them is how we know we are well on our way to ensuring our overarching systems change goal and North Star, and ultimately ensuring that systems promote optimal child development,” Widby said.  

For a complete description of LTSOs, see presentation slide 14 here. 

The second half of the meeting was focused on the draft STSOs — or the short-term outcomes First 5 LA will seek to advance on the way to achieving its LTSOs. Patton shared how the STSOs are connected to the LTSOs, as well as previewed the public systems that First 5 LA will prioritize when it comes to focusing its systems change efforts.  

“These STSOs are where the rubber starts to meet the road. They are the outcomes that will have immediate impacts on how prioritized systems operate and function, ultimately getting us closer to the place where systems meet  diverse family needs and overcome the historic disparities that we know cause inequities even before birth,” Patton said. 

The STSOs — which will not be voted on for Board endorsement until 2023 — were presented categorically under the LTSOs. (See presentation slides 16-17 for the list of STSOs here.) The first group of STSOs related to the LTSOs of accessible and equitable — or how families get into the system and experience the system, while the second group of STSOs related to the LTSOs of power sharing and financing — or how systems are designed. 

Like the LTSOs, Patton explained how the STSOs are also interconnected and interrelated, and progress in one area such as the STSO of “diversity” directly impacts other STSOs, such as “choice.” Lastly, the initial thinking around which public systems First 5 LA would prioritize and why was shared with the Board. This included healthcare, child care, and basic needs such as income, food, housing, and transportation. The rationale of why these systems were selected was given, including examples of how meeting the LTSO and STSOs of public systems for each of these sectors contributes to family well-being and stability.  

For more information, see presentation slide 19 here.  

At the Nov. 10 Board of Commissioners meeting, the Board will endorse the refined North Star, overarching systems change goal and proposed LTSOs. Over the course of the next year, the First 5 LA team, alongside the Board, will continue to clarify First 5 LA’s work given refinements to the Strategic Plan.  

Please visit 72-hours in advance of the date for more information on the November 10, 2022 Board of Commissioners meeting.