Every year California’s state policy leaders make decisions impacting young children and their families in Los Angeles County, from allocating funds in the state budget to changing laws to establishing the rules and regulations that guide local program implementation.

Leveraging our experience advancing systems change in L.A. County, First 5 LA works with others to ensure state policymakers and their decisions reflect the needs of young children and families in our communities.

A significant state-level change for 2019 was a change in leadership: a new governor, Gavin Newsom, who took office in January. Though governors do not control all aspects of state policymaking, they play a significant role in setting priorities for the state budget, have the authority to veto legislation or sign bills into law, and are responsible for overseeing the state agencies and departments responsible for implementing policies and programs.

From his first days in office, Gov. Newsom has followed through on his commitment to elevating early childhood priorities in his administration, from appointing senior policy leaders focused on early childhood to making a parent agenda the primary focus of his budget proposals.

In addition to Gov. Newsom, legislative champions continued to prioritize early childhood policy in 2019, and as a result the Legislature passed and the governor signed into law a state budget directing more than $2.8 billion toward First 5 LA-aligned policy priorities. Among the highlights of the budget include $135 million to further expand funding for home visiting programs, $105 million to increase rates of developmental and adverse childhood experiences screenings, and $871 million to improve the quality of and expand access to early learning programs.

First 5 LA was also proud to support legislative champions who carried important early childhood development legislation outlined in our 2019 advocacy agenda. Among the bills supported by First 5 LA are six bills ultimately signed into law by Gov. Newsom:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 225, authored by Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), which will allow non-citizen residents to serve on appointed Boards and Commissions.
  • SB 234, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), which will streamline local rules to reduce barriers to families operating licensed home-based child care programs.
  • SB 464, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), which will require implicit bias training for all health providers serving pregnant women.
  • Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 1, authorized by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), which affirms California’s opposition to federal public charge rule changes reducing access to services for immigrant families.
  • Assembly Bill (AB) 378, authored by Assemblymember Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara), which will allow family childcare providers the right to unionize.
  • AB 1004, authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and co-sponsored by First 5 LA, which will require developmental screens for young children on Medi-Cal in accordance with federal guidelines and require the state to collect data from Medi-Cal funded health plans on screening rates for young children.

Beyond new budget and legislative wins for children in 2019, however, First 5 LA also prioritized engaging with state leaders implementing budget and legislative wins from prior years. This engagement ranged from workgroups focused on implementing home visiting funds to advisory committees on issues varying from early learning to health services.

Participating in this type of administrative advocacy will be increasingly relevant for First 5 LA and other early childhood advocates in the new year.

In addition to focusing on implementing the budget and legislative advances achieved in 2019, Gov. Newsom will:

  • Prioritize the development of a state master plan for early childhood development in 2020
  • Launch the Early Childhood Policy Council, and
  • Finalize his proposed waiver from the federal government to support innovative practices in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program ensuring low-income families.

Child advocates will need to continue to elevate the needs of families in these and other state policy conversations in 2020, and First 5 LA looks forward to working with our partners to elevate our work in L.A. County to inform an agenda that ensures a strong California for all.