First 5 LA’s priorities are driven by our vision and commitment for all children of Los Angeles County families to enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. First and foremost, we recognize the essential and critical role families play in their child’s development. When families are strong and communities are supportive, children have a far better chance of achieving their optimal development and acquiring the skills necessary for success. It’s why we recognize that families are at the center of our work.
We believe that First 5 LA can achieve this vision by focusing on a core set of principles, known as our investment guidelines, which provide an overarching direction for all of our work. Underscoring our emphasis on prevention, these guidelines help strengthen families and build services and supports that can best contribute to children’s healthy development from their earliest moments in life. Rather than trying to intervene and remediate negative experiences, preventing poor outcomes for children is the most important role for First 5 LA.
Secondly, given L.A. County’s population of over 650,000 children prenatal to age 5, we know that the best way for us to make an impact on all children is to focus on the publicly funded and community-level systems and policies that impact families. Our Policy and Systems Change Agenda articulates the goals of our collective efforts.
Our focus on health systems, for example, plays a key supportive role in children growing up healthy and receiving the medical and behavioral services that they all should receive. Unfortunately, evidence indicates approximately 70 percent of children ages 0–6 in California are not receiving recommended developmental and behavioral screenings as documented in the 2017 report, Promoting Children's Optimal Development, creating barriers to accessing early intervention that could address developmental delays.