East Coast Pre–K: After introducing a package of bills to increase preschool access in the state (click here for more information on the bills), California Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, along with California Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Tony Thurmond, led a delegation of early childhood education advocates on an early December tour of successful pre–K programs on the East Coast. First 5 LA’s Vice President of Policy and Strategy Kim Pattillo Brownson joined the delegation and traveled to preschool programs in Boston and New Jersey that offer targeted Pre–K for All programs, and New York City, which offers a universal Pre–K for All program. While not an official part of the tour, the delegation finished with a final visit in Los Angeles at Montara Elementary Expanded Transitional Kindergarten program. For more insight on the tour, follow the hashtag #PreK4AllTour on Twitter, or click here for First 5 LA’s “Twitter moment.”
Improving Outcomes for Black Infant Health: First 5 LA recently announced a new partnership with the Pritzker Foundation and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Center for Health Equity to focus on reducing African-American infant mortality rates in L.A. County, where black babies are three times more likely to die in their first year of life as white babies. Melissa Franklin of Growth Mindset Communications was named as a fellow to implement key components of DPH’s black infant mortality reduction plan. Coinciding with the announcement, Franklin co-convened a “kick-off” event in early December co-sponsored by First 5 LA and DPH at the Center at Cathedral Plaza in downtown Los Angeles, which welcomed over 150 participants. Follow #pathwaytoequity on Twitter for images from that event, or click here for KPCC’s coverage of the event.
End Child Poverty: A cross-section of California leaders, including First 5 LA’s Vice President of Policy & Strategy Kim Pattillo Brownson, stood on the steps of the state Capitol on Dec. 3 for a press conference to publicly commit to taking the next steps needed to implement the recently released plan to end child poverty in the state. Pattillo Brownson is the early childhood subcommittee chairperson for the “Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force” that developed the plan. The report concludes that California must significantly increase funding to strengthen early child care and development, housing, health care and the overall social safety net for low-income families. Click here for an article about the event or click here to watch the entire press conference on Facebook video.
Welcome New Legislators: Earlier in the month Policy & Government Affairs team members Jamie Zamora and Anais Duran traveled to Sacramento for the State Legislature swearing-in ceremonies. On behalf of First 5 LA, they congratulated the new members of the Los Angeles delegation, including State Senators Susan Rubio (SD-22), Maria Elena Durazo (SD-24) and Bob Archuleta (SD-32), as well as Assemblymember Christy Smith (AD-38). They also attended a press conference in opposition of the Trump Administration’s proposed “public charge” rule, where Assemblymember Rob Bonta (AD-18), Asian Pacific Islander Caucus members and other lawmakers introduced a resolution to condemn the expansion of the definition of public charge. See below for more on First 5 LA’s position on the “public charge” rule and the press conference.
Pictured L–R: [Top L] Senior Government Affairs Strategist Jamie Zamora; Senator Susan Rubio; Government Affairs Strategist Anais Duran. [Top R] Jamie Zamora; UCLA’s Assistant Director of State Government Relations; Assemblymember Christy Smith; Anais Duran. [Bottom L] Jamie Zamora, Assemblymember Rob Bonta; Anais Duran. [Bottom R] Jamie Zamora; Anais Duran; Senator Maria Elena Durazo.
Public Charge: Since October 10, over 210,000 comments have been submitted to the Federal Register in response to the Trump Administration’s proposal to expand the definition of a “public charge” for immigrants seeking to legally adjust their status or obtain legal permanent residency (Green Card). First 5 LA has submitted comments formally opposing the public charge, believing the rule expansion will have an incredibly adverse effect on child and family stability in L.A. County and California. Since February, First 5 LA has formally opposed the public charge expansion in several ways including signing on to a nationwide opposition letter, signing on as a coalition member of the California Protecting Immigrant Families campaign, releasing a joint First 5s opposition statement, hosting an immigration panel discussion at the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce’s ACCESS DC trip, and recently signing on along with 25 other funders to place a media ad opposing the rule expansion. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will spend several months reviewing all of the comments submitted, as legally obligated. If the rule is approved, an effective date is set at least 60 days after the final rule is approved. The Policy team will continue to monitor the rule as it moves through the regulatory process.
‘Tis the Season: Celebrating the holiday season, First 5 LA’s Public Policy and Government Affairs team have been busy supporting elected officials’ toy drives throughout the County. Kicking off the season, Senior Government Affairs Strategist Jamie Zamora attended Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez’s Annual Holiday Toy Drive and Reception for the children of the Assembly District 52, which includes the committees of Pomona, Chino, Montclair and Ontario. Continuing the celebration, last week Jamie brought a large donation of bilingual books on behalf of First 5 LA for Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian’s Annual Holiday Toy Drive and Reception. The families of Assembly District 46 — which includes the communities of Hollywood Hills, Lake Balboa, North Hills, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys and Universal City — enjoyed a concert of holiday music while picking out books and other gifts at the event.
The Godfather: First 5 LA recently sponsored the Sharefest 15th Annual Gala: “Changing the Odds.” Sharefest was founded with the goal of empowering youth and transforming communities to change their odds. Today, it is a community-based organization that serves the Greater Los Angeles area, with an emphasis on Watts, Wilmington and Central Long Beach. For his care for the community and his historic career, L.A. Dodgers and Baseball Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda was presented with Sharefest’s Community Hero Award. Colleague Bill Gould shared his reflections on the event: “As a baseball fan it was great to interact with 91-year-old Tommy Lasorda, but the real stars of the night were the Sharefest youth who were advancing their lives in significant ways despite having experienced significant adversity.”
Health Equity Now: The American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Expo, held last month in San Diego, focused on the theme “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now.” The event, attended by nearly 13,000 public health professionals, had several engaging sessions focusing efforts around health equity. In one panel, civil rights activist Dolores Huerta encouraged participants to align themselves with the community and with organizing agencies, adding that those most affected by a problem are the same people who have the solution and know what needs to be prioritized. In the closing session, Debra Joy Pérez from Simmons University in Boston left attendees with the message that “applying the social and equity lens is the work – not separate work.”
Continuing the Conversation: Executive Director Kim Belshé recently met with Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (AD-54) at her Los Angeles district office to discuss how First 5 LA can continue to work with her to support and advocate on behalf of children and families. Kamlager-Dove co-authored AB 11 (McCarty), which First 5 LA sponsored. Kamlager-Dove was elected to the State Assembly during a Special Election this past April and has been a long-time early childhood development champion, once serving as the Director of External Affairs for Crystal Stairs.