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Commission Approves Milestone First 5 LA Budget for 2015–16

As First 5 LA transitions from its old Strategic Plan toward implementing its new one, the agency’s Commission on June 11 approved a $229.7 million budget for fiscal year 2015–2016.

The fiscal year 2015–16 First 5 LA budget reflects an organization in progression from the 2009–2015 Strategic Plan ending June 30, 2015, to budget year 1 of the agency’s new 2015–2020 Strategic Plan, Focusing for the Future.

“The budget allocates resources to support First 5 LA’s anchor investments in parent support programs, such as Welcome Baby and Select Home Visitation, and new efforts to advance policy and systems change to ensure that all Los Angeles County children enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life,” said First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé.

“The budget allocates resources to support First 5 LA’s anchor investments in parent support programs, such as Welcome Baby and Select Home Visitation, and new efforts to advance policy and systems change to ensure that all Los Angeles County children enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life.” - First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé.

In 2015–16, First 5 LA is projected to receive $85.6 million in state tobacco tax revenues, short of its $229.7 million in expenditures (many of which are from prior commitments). This difference will result in a $144 million draw on the agency’s fund balance, which is declining. As part of the new Strategic Plan, Belshé noted, the agency will fulfill its goal to “live within its means” by balancing revenues with expenditures by 2020.

The new 2015–16 budget represents a $4.2 million increase over the agency’s 2014–15 projected expenditures. This increase is due primarily to a number of “anchor” investments ramping up to full implementation; delays in current year activity; and data development and the expansion of strategic communications, policy and advocacy efforts.

Out of the $229.7 million, roughly $208.9 million, or 91 percent, is dedicated to programs to strengthen families, communities and systems of services. 

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 $133.2 million of the budget is slated for Legacy Investments, or those 25 investments that represent work approved under prior Strategic Plans 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, which is critical toward determining the effectiveness of programs and policy approaches, will account for $7.6 million of the 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 $20.7 million – or 9 percent – of the proposed budget would be earmarked for operating costs.

In other board actions, the Commission approved the final year of funding for Los Angeles Universal Preschool, or LAUP.

Fiscal year 2015–2016 represents the final year of First 5 LA’s 10-year performance-based contract with LAUP – a contract that 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. LAUP will also 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. 

Finally, as part of First 5 LA’s Expiring Initiative Assessment Process, the Board waived Governance Guideline #7 and approved a six-month extension of the strategic partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) for the Healthy Kids Outreach Initiative (CHOI) through December 31, 2015, for up to $2 million.

In May, the Board followed the recommendations of the Expiring Initiative Assessment Process by waiving Governance Guideline #7 and granting a one-year extension to the strategic partnership with DPH for the Reducing Childhood Obesity Initiative through June 30, 2017, within the current allocation, which would allow DPH to fully implement the work and successfully complete all final deliverables. Concurrently, the board in May granted a one-year extension to 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 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.


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