A $228.2 million budget for First 5 LA has been proposed for fiscal year 2015-2016, the first budget under the agency’s new, five-year Strategic Plan.
This budget is a critical step toward helping First 5 LA improve how it contributes to positive and lasting change for children prenatal to age 5, supporting parents and caregivers in their efforts to get their children ready for kindergarten and beyond.
The proposed budget presented at the May 14 Commission meeting represents a $2.7 million increase over the agency’s 2014-15 expenditures. This increase is due specifically to a number of “anchor” investments ramping up to full implementation and the expansion of strategic communications, policy and advocacy efforts.
The fiscal year 2015-16 First 5 LA budget reflects an organization in transition from the 2009-2015 Strategic Plan ending June 30, 2015 to budget year 1 of our new 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, Focusing for the Future. It is a transition to a reduced focus on direct services to a strategic focus driven by policy and systems improvement strategies.
Out of the $228 million, roughly $207.5 million, or 91 percent, is dedicated to programs to strengthen families, communities and systems of services so that all children in Los Angeles County enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life.
A total of $68 million – or 30 percent – of the proposed budget falls under the new 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. This includes:
- $53.6 million for “anchor” activities outlined in the Strategic Plan that are already in progress and ramping up to full implementation, including Welcome Baby and Select Home Visiting Family Strengthening investments, as well as the community capacity building investments in the 14 Best Start communities.
- $3.1 million for new investments related to anticipated Year 1 activities in the following four new Strategic Plan Outcome Areas: $636,000 for Families; $1,093,750 for Communities; $370,000 for Early Care & Education Systems; $546,250 for Health, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Systems and $490,000 for other/cross-cutting activities.
- $7.5 million to support key policy and advocacy efforts and strategic communications and marketing approaches to advancing the four outcome areas of the new Strategic Plan.
- $3.6 million in existing investments potentially aligned with the new Strategic Plan, including Healthy Kids and Information Resource and Referral
Another $131.5 million – or 58 percent – of the budget is proposed for Legacy Investments, or those 25 investments that represent ongoing work of the Commission that is expected to end according to the terms of the initiative or project approval. Among these investments are children’s dental care, children’s vision care, healthy food access, peer support groups for parents and reducing childhood obesity. Further details on these and other Legacy Investments can be found here.
Research and Evaluation will account for $7.9 million – or 3 percent - of the proposed budget. This includes work on projects that align with and contribute to the new Strategic Plan outcomes and strategies, as well as ongoing projects aligned to Legacy Investments.
The remaining $20.6 million – or 9 percent - of the proposed budget would be earmarked for operating costs.
A copy of the presentation to the Board is available in the agenda packet here. The Commission will vote on the proposed budget at the June 11 Board meeting.
As part of First 5 LA’s Expiring Initiative Assessment Process, the Board granted one year extensions to the Reducing Childhood Obesity Initiative and 211 LA County and agreed to Los Angeles Universal Preschool’s retention of a $30 million balance in June, 2016.
As part of the implementation of the new 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, First 5 LA staff has embarked on an assessment of programmatic investments expiring during the new 2015-2020 Strategic Plan period. Components of the assessment include identifying remaining resources, evaluating the alignment of each initiative with the new Strategic Plan, and making recommendations to the Commission about continuing, revising or sunsetting the effort.
Based on the Expiring Initiative Assessment Process, staff found four initiatives that required board action prior to June 30, 2015.
During the May 14 Board meeting, the Commission waived Governance Guideline #7, adopted in March 2014, which states that each First 5 LA contract/grant will have an expiration date and that multi-year First 5 LA services-related investments will end pursuant to the time stated in the original allocation or grant award. In response to pressing circumstances and needs, however, the Commission may waive Governance Guideline #7. This requires a minimum of 7 of the 9 voting members of the Commission to agree.
By waiving Governance Guideline #7 on May 14, the Board was able to take the following actions:
- Approved extending the Strategic Partnership with 211 LA County for the Information Resource and Referral (211) Initiative through June 30, 2016 for up to $1.2 million. This initiative was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2015. This extension allows the continuation of telephonic information resource and referral services connecting families to concrete supports. This one year extension provides staff the time needed to further explore the potential role of telephonic Information Resource and Referral in advancing the outcomes of the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.
- Approved extending the Strategic Partnership with DPH for the Reducing Childhood Obesity Initiative through June 30, 2017 within the current allocation. This initiative is scheduled to end on June 30, 2016. This extension would allow the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to fully implement the work and successfully complete all final deliverables.
- Endorsed the ability of Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) to retain the remaining balance from First 5 LA’s original $580 million allocation. This balance is estimated to be between $30 million and $40 million. First 5 LA staff will work with LAUP to develop an expenditure plan that aligns LAUP use of remaining funds with First 5 LA’s and LAUP’s new strategic directions.
Fiscal year 2015-2015 represents the final year of First 5 LA's 10-year performance-based contract with Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) – a contract which is scheduled to end on June 30, 2016 and has focused on support for quality early learning slots in Los Angeles County.
The proposed FY 15-16 contract reflects LAUP’s continued work in direct funding of preschool spaces. LAUP has chosen to direct the majority of the proposed $60.3 million final budget for 2015-2016 to maintain support for roughly 10,700 slots in this final year.
At the same time, consistent with its new Strategic Plan, LAUP will begin the “pivot” from direct service to a new business model that emphasizes supporting ECE quality and building partnerships to advocate for public financing of quality early learning for all of LA County’s young children.
As part of the anticipated alignment between LAUP’s Strategic and Business Plans and First 5 LA’s new 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, key changes have been made to several target outcomes. These changes include:
- LAUP will utilize the findings from the teacher retention study to inform their future policy and program planning.
- LAUP will incorporate strategies from its Strategic Plan and Phase II of its Business Plan to support the organization’s new strategic direction.
- While there will no longer be an aligned research agenda between LAUP and First 5 LA beginning in FY 15-16, LAUP will continue a robust research and evaluation effort to inform program development efforts, provide data and evaluation findings to support grant applications, inform the early education policy agenda at all levels, and to support LAUP’s business development team.
- LAUP’s new strategic direction will focus on broadening access to quality early learning to all of LA County’s children, and not just the 4-year-olds who were served under the LAUP Master Agreement.
The Commission will be asked at the June 11 board meeting to approve the $60.3 million budget proposal for the final year of LAUP’s contract.
The Raben Group conducts policy and advocacy work on behalf of First 5 LA in Washington, D.C. Joel Packer, Principal with the Raben Group, provided a review of what happened in the federal policy landscape in policy areas concerning First 5 LA in 2014-15 and a preview of what will happen in 2015-16.
The Raben Group effectively positioned First 5 LA as a valued, trusted, and credible voice and contributor at the federal level. This included First 5 LA’s attendance of the White House Early Learning Summit; meeting with the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; collaborating with key groups (First Five Years Fund, Zero to Three, etc.); participation in key coalitions (PEW Home Visiting Coalition, the Strong Start for Children Campaign, etc.) and advocacy on budget/sequester plans: reauthorizations for Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
Legislative victories included: a nearly $1.5 billion increase in spending for early learning; Reauthorization of MIECHV and CCDBG (including a First 5 LA provision on safe sleep practices).
In 2015-16, the Raben Group will, on behalf of First 5 LA:
Continue to advocate for robust preschool program in (ESEA) reauthorization and implementation of early learning programs; focus on increasing federal support for early learning programs in FY 2016 and FY 2017 appropriations; work in coalition to raise sequester funding caps; align First 5 LA’s Strategic Plan and Federal Policy Agenda to include expanding policy messaging and advocacy to cover Trauma Informed Care and developmental screenings; advocate for inclusion of HV, ECE, developmental screenings and trauma-informed care policies in presidential candidates' policies, parties’ platforms for 2016; and develop relationships with the presidential transition team following the election.
Executive Director Kim Belshé highlighted three items to the Commission:
- Belshé introduced Peter Barth as First 5 LA’s new Director of Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs and Gabriel Sanchez as the agency’s new Director of Communications and Marketing. Both are no strangers to Sacramento, where First 5 LA is concentrating its focus to collaborate with lawmakers and children’s advocates to create policy and systems change to benefit young children and their families. Sanchez served in top communications roles in the offices of then-Governor Gray Davis and then-Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, while Barth comes from Third Sector Capital Partners, a nonprofit advisory firm that works with government, funders and providers to address public issues through social innovation financing. Previously, Barth was assistant secretary for program and fiscal affairs for the California Health and Human Services Agency.
- Noting how First 5 LA is gaining national attention for its leadership in Home Visiting, Belshé pointed out that First 5 LA staff recently shared and learned about best practices in and the promise of Home Visiting at The Pew Charitable Trusts’ fifth National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Conference in Washington, D.C.
- As the Commission meeting fell upon the same day that California Governor Jerry Brown released his May Revision of the proposed 2015-2016 state budget, Belshé noted that despite a $6.7 billion growth in revenue, the governor’s proposal for minimal investment in high quality early learning is “less good news for Pre-K”. To that extent, Belshé noted that First 5 LA had joined the Early Childhood Education Coalition in releasing a statement expressing their disappointment and calling on the Assembly and Senate to take a stand for our youngest learners.