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Q & A with Los Angeles County Supervisor and First 5 LA Board Chair Sheila James Kuehl

In the interview below, Supervisor Kuehl discusses her greatest concerns for Los Angeles County children, her aspirations for First 5 LA during 2016 and her dream team for every child

What does the opportunity to become First 5 LA’s Board Chair mean to you?

“I’m very honored and pleased to Chair the First 5 LA Board. I’ve known about and been a fan of the opportunities and the programs of First 5 all the way back when they passed Prop 10. This is a critical time for First 5 LA. While it is good that fewer people are smoking, it also means we need to use First 5 LA money in a more strategic way.”

What are your greatest areas of concern among children prenatal to 5 and their parents in Los Angeles County? Why?

 “Early childhood education, homelessness and trauma. I’ve spent most of my life trying to protect people. It became really clear that the most vulnerable population is our children, particularly our youngest children who have been abused and neglected. We see families in crisis every day. Families that are homeless and raising kids in their car, kids in foster homes, parents who are drug addicted. It’s one reason why I wanted to run for county supervisor. This is the place we can have a very positive impact on children.”

"My dream is that every child can have a team that addresses their medical, physical and housing needs" -Sheila James Kuehl

“My three greatest areas of concern: Early childhood education because it gives children the best chance in life; homeless families because children are placed in unsafe situations, and when they have a roof over their heads, children feel so much safer; and trauma. We are beginning to hear a lot about services provided through trauma-informed care. I’m very interested in that, because there are a lot of studies that indicate that children suffering trauma may suffer effects as adults. The consequence of trauma can be mitigated by actions we take at First 5 LA to give children the best start they can have.”

What are your priorities and aspirations this year for First 5 LA?

“I am committed to promoting First 5 LA’s new Strategic Plan. This is a critical moment to secure the future of First 5 LA and the programs it supports. In addition, I’m going to be very focused on taking partnerships with the county and First 5 LA to new levels. For example, the Homeless Initiative the county adopted in February will have a specific impact on homeless families. John Wagner, our COO, is already collaborating with our county offices to see how First 5 LA’s priorities can help with the county's homeless initiative goals for young children and their families. 

“My dream is that every child can have a team that addresses their medical, physical and housing needs. I think this vision is consistent with the protective factors framework at First 5 LA, like Welcome Baby and Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT). It is all about professionals providing parents with the tools they need to help children thrive.”

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