First 5 LA's Five Reasons to Feel Good About 2022:

Stories Celebrating Community-Driven Change, Collaborative Efforts and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

1. South L.A. Residents Push for Parks to Address Inequities and Promote Community Healing

Community-led change to address long-standing racial and social inequities — such as lack of park access — continued to be a major theme in 2022. Community Coalition, partially funded by First 5 LA’s Built Environment Policy and Advocacy Fund (BEPAF), made progress to help remedy this issue in South L.A. with a new park project in Broadway-Manchester. With the support of resident and family advocacy and input, Community Coalition was able to apply for grants that will support the creation and improvement of parks and spaces that support family health and community healing in South L.A. 

“Before COVID-19, community members had already been lifting up the need for more green spaces. These community priorities are not new,” First 5 LA Communities Program Officer Natasha Moise stressed. “But what is new is the way that systems are changing to address those needs and bring community voice into the fold from the beginning. And BEPAF illustrates how we can — and why we must — create stronger avenues through which those priorities can be heard, addressed and implemented.”

2. L.A. County Supervisors Declare April 8 As Home Visiting Day

Good news arrived earlier this year when a flourish of signatures from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors proclaimed April 8 as Home Visiting Day. The act cemented the county’s state and national leadership in programs shown to reduce child abuse, improve school readiness and strengthen families. The proclamation highlighted the important role home visiting plays in supporting families, as well as First 5 LA’s major role in launching, promoting and expanding the program. As a result of coordinated efforts to increase funding, the L.A. Department of Public Health now holds the title of biggest county funder, administering over $40 million in different funding streams for home visiting from both state and county dollars.

“The purpose of this proclamation is to bring awareness to the benefits associated with home visiting, such as reduced family stress, improved family mental health, strengthened parent-infant attachment, improved child development, reduced child abuse, and connections to community resources that help parents have healthy births and give their children the best start,” long-time champion of expanding home visiting in L.A. County and the proclamation’s author Supervisor Hilda L. Solis stated.

3. The Legacy of First Connections: Twins, Triumphs and Testimonials

This year, we celebrated First Connections, a program born out of the recognition that the earlier children receive intervention for a developmental delay, the better their outcomes. Created in 2014 by First 5 LA, First Connections worked with community partners to implement innovative approaches to embed developmental screening and strengthen referral processes. First Connections changed systems to work better for kids and families, leading to more than 60,000 screenings, connecting families to services and increasing awareness of the importance of early identification and intervention. While First Connections ended this fall, its legacy lives in the lives of the program’s participants and in the way it informed the recently-launched, Help Me Grow LA

“The big picture is that we found patients through screening that we didn’t find through the old process,” Northeast Valley Health Corporation Quality, Health Equity and Innovation Director Debra Rosen said of First Connections. “It was amazing. We were able to screen our patients and identify areas of developmental delays early on and make those referrals externally or internally to our care coordinators. If you find these delays early and you get help for that family, it often helps that patient be ready for school.” 

4. Wilmington's Decorative Crosswalk Underscores the Importance of Community-Driven Change

Community engagement and community-led advocacy was a winning strategy this year, and Best Start members from Wilmington — with support from First 5 LA’s grantee LA Walks — were an example of its effectiveness when they advocated for safer streets in their neighborhood through the creation of a decorative crosswalk. The story behind the crosswalk is a three-year-long saga that underscores how community-led advocacy, boosted by training and guidance from First 5 LA and its partners, can push through the red tape and the slow-moving wheels of government bureaucracy.

“It would’ve been so easy for this to never happen,” said Christina Hall, a program officer for the Nonprofit Project — First 5 LA’s regional network grantee working in Best Start Region 4, which includes Wilmington and Long Beach. “It was way out on L.A. DOT’s (Department of Transportation) priority radar. It’s a testament to community engagement and empowerment.”

5. Amplifying the Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Through Celebrations and Recognitions

This year, First 5 LA celebrated the diversity of voices and perspectives that make up First 5 LA — as well as the communities that First 5 LA serves in L.A. County — through its recognition of a heritage months and diversity celebrations through the sharing of staff-written blogs, stories, community events and resources. 

Highlights from the year include the celebration of Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, Juneteenth, Pride Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month and Filipino American History Month

It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity, there is beauty, and there is strength.


       – Maya Angelou