New, Regional Structure of Best Start Communities Intended to Help Amplify Voices for Young Kids

LOS ANGELES – Acting on broad-based input gathered from the communities it serves, First 5 LA announced the next phase of its place-based Best Start communities effort. The action is intended to strengthen First 5 LA’s partnership with community members working to amplify the collective voice of parents, residents and leaders to help create lasting change in their communities.

Proven research reveals that families do better when they live in strong, supportive communities. First 5 LA’s Best Start effort provides the opportunity for parents, residents, organizations, non-profits, elected officials and other stakeholders to collaboratively improve neighborhoods, so young children have the opportunity to enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. First 5 LA created Best Start community partnerships eight years ago — within 14 targeted communities — to support collaboration around a shared vision for young children.

Three years of design and development included input from more than 100 community members and stakeholders, guidance from First 5 LA Commissioners, a grantee proposal request and review process, and the creation of a selection team made up of parents and residents from the 14 Best Start community partnerships. Their work culminated in the architecture of the regional and local network structure at an initial investment of $16.5 million through June 2019.

“Throughout history, the heartbeat of change has always been people.” Antoinette Andrews-Bush

“Throughout history, the heartbeat of change has always been people,” said First 5 LA’s Communities Department Director Antoinette Andrews-Bush. “This is the beginning point of a much larger effort to build a network of organizations and individuals all working together to advance a shared vision.”

The new structure is intended to support residents in Best Start communities in their efforts to create lasting change at the regional and local level. In this next phase, First 5 LA’s 14 Best Start communities will transition to a new regional and local network structure that will expand resources and offer parents, families and community members stronger voices and new opportunities to further shape the vision and agenda for young children.

“First 5 LA is clearly moving forward with investing in the self-determination of Best Start communities, seeding important structures and movements that empower families and residents with their own change-making agenda,” said Michelle Byerly, acting executive director of The Nonprofit Partnership, the Best Start Region 4 network grantee under the new structure.

“We are going to be stronger. With this transition, we will be able to share our opinions more and be able to share the challenges we are facing. And together, we can come up with solutions that will benefit the community,” said Alejandra Castillo, who represented the Best Start Metro LA community partnership on the selection team.

Working together, the regional and local network organizations will focus on areas such as learning, resource mobilization and advocacy. The regions will provide direct operational support to their respective local networks. The regional network grantees for each region are:

  • Best Start Region 1 – Para Los Niños
  • Best Start Region 2 – Community Health Councils
  • Best Start Region 3 – El Nido Family Centers
  • Best Start Region 4 – The Nonprofit Partnership
  • Best Start Region 5 – Children’s Bureau of Southern California

“Para Los Niños expects that through this regional model, infrastructures will be designed and supported by residents in ways that make community change more accessible and responsive to community needs,” said Para Los Niños President and Chief Executive Officer Drew Furedi. “Residents and community stakeholders will also be able to draw down from a swath of external expertise for support in their endeavors.”

By the end of First 5 LA’s current 2015–2020 Strategic Plan, the new regional and local network structure is anticipated to meet the following goals:

  • By 2020, community partnerships have a structure that reflects the capabilities, values and approach required to cultivate strong collaboration between parents, residents and organizations around a shared vision for children prenatal to age 5 and their families.
  • By 2020, the community partnerships are positioned with the relationships, skills and resources needed to drive a community change agenda that advances policy and systems changes in their community.

“The intent is that these networks do not remain static,” Andrews-Bush said. “The intent is that the network grows and evolves to provide more regional and local opportunities for parents and community members to collaboratively improve neighborhoods so that young children can thrive and enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life.”

For more information on the Best Start Regional Network, visit