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 October 8 Commission meeting, highlights include a Fond Farewell to a Founding Father at First 5 LA, a Milestone for Best Start Communities, Approval of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and a Legislative Session Recap.

A Fond Farewell to a Founding Father at First 5 LA

Commissioner Marvin Southard, who has served on First 5 LA’s Board since its first roll call, received grateful good-byes from fellow Commissioners, Executive Director Kim Belshé and staff as he attended his last Board meeting.

Dr. Southard, who will retire as Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health in November, has received numerous awards during his decades of social service. This meeting was no exception, as staff presented him with a framed “word cloud” representing his impact on First Five LA. While the frame was filled to the brim with words like “Visionary” and “Inspirational”, a number of Southard’s Commission colleagues were eager to add a few words of praise of their own for Southard:

  • Deanne Tilton: “What you represent most is honesty and approachability, critical and creative thinking, collegiality and collaboration. You are a really good friend to the children of this county.”
  • Duane Dennis: “I appreciated your rational approach and embracing personality.”
  • Nancy Au: “I truly appreciate Marv’s leadership. You brought to the agency a foundational perspective coming from the mental health community.”
  • Jane Boeckmann: “I’m going to miss you a lot. We love you and you are in our hearts.”
  • Philip L. Browning: “You have been a critical player on this Commission and for children and families in L.A. County.”
  • Executive Director Kim Belshé: “Seventeen years is a remarkable commitment to public service. You are an exemplar of public service.”

Southard thanked his colleagues, with whom he shared his view of the three most wonderful things about First 5 LA:

  • “The commitment for all kids to have better lives.”
  • “Learning with staff about all the different things an organization can go through.”
  • “Looking towards the future, we are now positioned to use place-based work to really invest in communities.”

Best Start Marks a Major Milestone

Best Start’s community capacity building investment has reached a significant milestone with the launch of community-identified projects across all 14 Best Start Communities.

In a presentation to the Board, Best Start Communities Director Rafael González and Antoinette Andrews, Assistant Director of Planning and Implementation for Best Start Communities, highlighted the common priorities, key progress and next steps for these projects.

Common Priorities

There is commonality in the priorities identified across the 14 Best Start Communities. These priorities include:

  • Strengthening parent/resident leadership to lead and sustain community-change efforts
  • Connecting parents to community resources to ensure access to quality services and supports
  • Strengthening social connections to develop supportive, positive social relationships that provide a buffer from stressors
  • Improving the quality of interactions between organizations and parents by building the capacity of organizations to engage parents in ways that foster mutual respect and partnership
  • Improving information-sharing and coordination between organizations to promote peer learning and collaboration to improve services and supports
  • Promoting advocacy to address systems change by strengthening parent/resident leadership and educating community on the policies, structures and practices that impact families with children prenatal to age 5

Overall, the Best Start Community Partnerships – comprised of parents, residents, organizational representatives, and other community stakeholders – are leading efforts to ensure that parents/caregivers with children prenatal to age 5 advocate for and have access to quality services and supports, participate in positive social networks, and are engaged in the civic life of their communities.

Key Progress

In conjunction with these common priorities, each Best Start Community Partnership has selected community-identified projects to achieve specific desired results based on their community’s unique characteristics, experiences and perspectives. As a result, First 5 LA staff have issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to organizations to work in collaboration with each Best Start Community Partnership to implement the strategies and activities necessary for each project.

To date, the Commission has approved contracts for three Best Start Community Partnerships (Central Long Beach, Metro LA and Panorama City & Neighbors). RFP’s for the 11 other Best Start Community Partnerships have been released.

For details on each community’s priorities, strategy, activities and RFP’s, click here.

The community-identified projects not only support the ongoing and evolving work of Best Start, they lay an important foundation for the new work moving forward in the Communities Outcome area of the new 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.

Next Steps

Staff is working to complete the procurement process to select in the next few weeks the organizations to work with the Community Partnerships to implement community-identified strategies and activities. Those RFP’s that go before the Board for approval in November will have a contract start date of December 1.

Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Approved, Applauded for “Clean Audit”

The Commission unanimously approved First 5 LA’s Proposition 10 Commission Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the Year ending June 20, 2015.

The vote was accompanied with praise from Commissioners Ybarra and Southard for the First 5 LA Finance Department, which earned First 5 LA a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association – the seventh year in a row the certificate has been bestowed to First 5 LA.

A draft copy of the CAFR is available for reading here.

Annual Report, Evaluation Activities Approved

The Board unanimously approved the 2014-2015 First 5 LA Annual Report to First 5 California, which included a summary of the following evaluation activities that point to the effectiveness of several First 5 LA investments:

  • Best Start Developmental Evaluation
  • Welcome Baby Studies
  • The First 5 LA Family Survey
  • Los Angeles Universal Preschool Studies
  • The Oral Health Portfolio Review
  • The Black Infant Health Evaluation
  • Formative Evaluation of the Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative
  • Descriptive Study of the 211 Developmental Screening and Care Coordination Project
  • Report on the Early Development Instrument (EDI)’s use and results in Los Angeles County

For key findings from these evaluations, click here.

Legislative Session Recap

With the end of the legislative session in September, First 5 LA’s Director of Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Peter Barth noted that Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 11 to sign, veto or not do anything with bills sent to him. Gov. Brown has already taken action on a number of bills First 5 LA is tracking and paying attention to, Barth said.

Barth went on to frame First 5 LA’s legislative activities, which include setting core policy goals aligned with the new Strategic Plan, using criteria to focus legislative efforts and aligning activities with core advocacy partners and the statewide First 5 community so that there are not 58 policy agendas in conflict with each other, but that we are working closely together on key issue areas. Barth pointed to several recent example areas of movement in each of these issues:

  • Family Strengthening – Still pending the Governor’s action is Assembly Bill 50, which would create a process to bring state departments together to make sure all mothers in California have access to home visiting. [Editor’s Note: Brown vetoed the bill.]
  • Early Identification and Intervention – First 5 LA was supportive in the passing of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 77, which brought legislators together to highlight the importance of developmental screenings in the state.
  • Quality Early Learning – First 5 LA supported Assembly Bill 47, the Preschool for All initiative. [Editor’s Note: Brown vetoed the bill.]
  • Oral Health – Given First 5 LA’s past investment in dental care for young children, First 5 LA backed a successful push for a joint legislative audit of Denti-Cal.
  • System Sustainability and Reach – Support of AB 1321, which will add funds to a First 5 LA supported program, Market Match. [Editor’s Note: Brown signed the measure into law.]

Looking forward, Barth said 2016 it will be a big ballot year filled with many propositions. First 5 LA is paying attention to four particular initiatives of importance to the First 5 community:

  • Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act – A proposed property tax adjustment that would fund preschool and home visiting services throughout CA
  • School Funding and Budget Stability – An extension of Proposition 30, the temporary income tax
  • Invest in California’s Children Act – Another way of looking at extending Prop. 30 with an emphasis on services for young children, not just K-12
  • Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research and Law Enforcement – Would leverage a new $2 tax on tobacco as well as e-cigarettes

As we look to future policy priorities, Barth said, the policy department will be updating the First 5 LA policy agenda to be more reflective of the activities outlined in the new Strategic Plan; pursuing annual legislative agendas; work in collaboration with other First 5s to support multi-year strategic policy initiatives, develop advocacy coalitions and campaigns supporting priority outcomes and coordinate with other First 5s, the First 5 Association, First 5 California and other child advocacy organizations.

Barth concluded his presentation by addressing SB 94, which was discussed in the September Commission meeting and involves prioritization of child care for foster care children. Following some concerns over a language change in the bill, the Assembly budget committee pulled SB 94, Barth stated. Now stakeholders on all sides – including First 5 LA, child care and child welfare advocates – are working together to find a proposal that could be introduced in the next legislative session that works for everyone.

Commissioner Deanne Tilton restated how SB 94 is a priority for the Board and its Chair, Los Angeles County Mayor Michael Antonovich, a sentiment shared by Commissioners Judy Abdo and Patricia Curry, the latter of whom said that Los Angeles County is experiencing a “crisis” in finding potential foster parents because they cannot afford to pay for child care. In the second quarter of the year alone, Curry said, there was a 70 percent increase in the number of children under the age of 2 being taken to local emergency shelters because of a lack of foster homes.

Commissioners Philip L. Browning and Duane Dennis both reaffirmed First 5 LA’s involvement to help resolve this issue. Barth said he will continue to provide updates to the Board on SB 94.

Expiring Initiatives Process: Fall 2015/Spring 2016

Per the Board approved Governance Guideline #7, First 5 LA staff are required to review and report to the Board on expiring initiatives in order to successfully close out and capture lessons learned from these investments.

The Expiring Initiatives Review and Board Report encompasses six principal components.

To capture lessons learned, the Report examines:

1. Whether the initiative is time-limited and/or has a capacity-building focus

2. The success of the initiative in completing its intended deliverables and achieving outcomes

3. The initiative’s impact on a countywide or population level (if applicable)

In addition, the Report considers:

4. Whether the initiative has a clear, viable sustainability opportunity

5. Whether the initiative aligns with the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan (at the outcomes, strategy, and investment guidelines level)

6. Relevant changes in the current landscape and environmental context

The Expiring Initiatives Review Process was completed and reported to the Board in spring 2015 and included all initiatives ending in FY14-15 and FY15-16.

Timeline: Fall 2015

Because Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) has two distinct programs ending at different times – Rental Assistance (ending March 2016) and Capital Development (ending November 2017) – First 5 LA staff determined PSH needed to go through the review process this fall in advance of the rental assistance program’s end date.

During the Board meeting, a number of housing advocates and PSH participants provided public comments in support of PSH.

First 5 LA staff will present the review and report for the PSH investment at the October 29th Special Meeting of the Board of Commissioners Program and Planning Committee.

Timeline: Spring 2016

A review and Board report for expiring initiatives listed below will be presented in spring 2016:

Initiatives ending by June 2016

  • Information Resource and Referral
  • Workforce Development- CARES Plus
  • Workforce Development- ECE Workforce Consortium

Initiatives ending by December 2017

  • Early Identification and Intervention- Autism and Other Developmental Delays
  • Parent Child Interaction Therapy

Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director Kim Belshé highlighted the sharing, learning and overall success of the First 5 Association of California’s Staff Development Summit during September in Los Angeles.

Belshé began by thanking First 5 LA Commissioner Philip L. Browning for helping to “set the stage” for a “very positive summit” that was focused on policy, systems change and sustainability. With First 5 staff from throughout the state attending, Belshé said that the summit was a good reminder that First 5 LA is part of a much broader community, with much to share and a lot to learn. Belshé also acknowledged the help of First 5 LA staff who worked behind the scenes of the summit, including Jessica Mercado, Marissa Carlos, Myrna Gutierrez and Monica Nolasco, as well as senior management who served on the various panels.

Secondly, Belshé praised summit keynote speaker and University of Southern California researcher Dr. Manuel Pastor for speaking about the implications of changing demographics and economics and connecting macro trends with the work of First 5s. In particular, Belshé pointed to Pastor’s remark that “it is not enough to work to change the odds of an individual child’s life, we need to shift the odds for all children” and how he challenged First 5s statewide to do the same.

Finally, Belshé said the summit affirmed the direction taken recently by First 5 LA’s Commission in adopting its new Strategic Plan. In particular, Belshé noted how more First 5s are working to partner with health plans, partners and HMOs to reach a significant number of children; how more First 5s are recognizing that the path to sustainability in the face of declining revenues is to work with other agencies; and how First 5s have a leadership role to play, particularly in the area of developmental screening.