First 5 LA advocates for practice change to strengthen systems that serve children ages 0 to 5 and families to help all Los Angeles County children achieve their optimal development and overall well-being. Our goal is to ensure early timely access to quality screening and intervention services in order for families to navigate programs, services and systems to support their children.

Early identification, which involves a combination of routine surveillance and screenings, greatly increases the likelihood that a young child with or at risk for developmental and behavioral delays will be identified and referred to prevention and early intervention services. This is essential, as one in four children ages birth to 5 are at risk for developmental and behavioral delays, and would benefit from early intervention services and supports. 

There are many systems that conduct screening, referral and intervention in L.A. County including health, mental health, early learning, child welfare and community-based organizations, as well as Regional Centers and school districts. However, navigating these systems is difficult. A lack of systems-level coordination, complex eligibility and referral processes, and obstacles to data sharing make it hard for providers and families to navigate. Breaking down these barriers is essential in helping families access the services and supports they need. Click here for a fact sheet on our early identification and intervention (EII) strategy. 

First Connections – The program promotes innovative approaches for community-based providers to embed developmental screening and strengthen referral processes within their practices. The goal is to better identify children with or at risk for developmental delays and connect them and their families to culturally and linguistically appropriate early intervention services and supports as early as possible.

Help Me Grow Los Angeles (HMG LA) – Help Me Grow is a national effort that promotes local cross-sector collaboration to bolster early identification of developmental and behavioral delays. HMG LA will coordinate existing systems that serve children to implement and strengthen early identification, and link children and their families to appropriate intervention services and supports. The Promoting Children’s Optimal Development recommendation report from HMG LA planning members guides and informs the next phase of planning for HMG LA. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is partnering with First 5 LA to launch, test and refine the core components of HMG LA. Pilots will be held with L.A. Care Health Plan and within select learning collaboratives for a phased, data-driven rollout of HMG LA.  

L.A. Care Pilot – L.A. Care Health Plan and First 5 LA are partnering to develop a pilot for EII improvements. The pilot will engage providers and practices in integrating early developmental-behavioral screening and referral protocols into practice workflow and will increase community and family awareness of the importance of EII. The pilot will address multiple levels of the health care sector, including: 1) communities/families; 2) health providers; 3) clinics/practices; and 4) managed care plans. The partnership with L.A. Care represents an important element of HMG LA’s Child Health Provider Outreach core component strategy, which seeks to raise EII standards across all health service sectors. L.A. Care’s scope and reach make them a valuable partner to influence system change and increase the countywide impact of HMG LA.  

HMG LA Pathways – As part of HMG LA implementation, First 5 LA is funding a three-year investment that brings together agencies and programs that provide EII services and supports. This investment focuses on supporting diverse cross-sector community collaboratives to strengthen and expand referral pathways through technology, infrastructure and practice changes to ensure all young children with and at risk of behavioral and developmental delays are linked to and accessing supportive intervention services as early as possible. Each community collaborative will plan, test and refine approaches related to referral pathways within a given geographic region based on the community’s need.