First 5 LA is committed to the pursuit of our North Star: by 2028, all children in Los Angeles County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. Progress toward this North Star, however, requires more than publicly funded, professionally delivered services. Family and community experiences and environments greatly influence the development of a child’s brain and ultimately impact the ability to enter school ready to learn and succeed. With a commitment to achieving outcomes at a community level, First 5 LA acknowledges the important role that neighborhoods and communities play in supporting a child’s growth and development. Children thrive and families flourish in strong, safe, healthy, and Engaged Communities where people develop strong and lasting relationships, support each other, and act together to give children the best start possible.
Best Start is First 5 LA’s signature investment for engaging communities in a common vision and intention for children and families to thrive. Through Best Start, our goal is to catalyze, strengthen and elevate empowering and innovative approaches that improve the lives of children prenatal to age 5. Working primarily within 14 local geographic areas across Los Angeles County, First 5 LA’s work in communities provides the platform for parents, residents, community-based organizations, and advocacy groups to build stronger relationships, mobilize, and act together to directly support the well-being of children, and to advocate for improvements in the policies, services, and investments that benefit young children and their families.
Parents and communities are critical voices in policy and systems change. Working in partnership with families and communities helps shape and inform First 5 LA’s advocacy work at county, state and federal levels. Our work provides the platform for parents and communities to realize and exercise their power to effectively drive and contribute to policies that impact families and neighborhoods. Through Best Start, parents, communities, and local and regional decision-makers are helping to affect important policy change – advocating for the well-being, safety, and healthy development of all children and families in L.A. County.
It is a transformational moment in L.A. County to catalyze public policy and investments in the built environment for the benefit of young children and their families. These public investments provide significant resources to increase access to and availability of quality food and clean water, improve parks and open spaces, and provide nearby transportation and better mobility. In partnership with others (e.g. community stakeholders and advocacy groups), our work builds awareness of built environment issues and leverages the collective will of communities to mobilize and seek policy changes to improve the neighborhoods and communities where young children and their families live, learn and play.
The complex issues that affect families and communities require collective, community-developed and community-owned solutions. That is why First 5 LA is committed to Best Start as a vehicle to strengthen community leadership and collaboration across sectors. To support the agency of communities acting on their own behalf, First 5 LA invests in the implementation of Best Start Regional and Local Networks in the 14 geographic areas. These are networks of parents, organizations and other community advocates working together to elevate their voices and collectively identify and address community challenges that affect the healthy development and well-being of children. Each Network identifies priority results for their communities’ young children and their families that members are committed to achieve, and develops and implements strategies to affect these results. Through Best Start, First 5 LA is working to bridge the gap between decision-makers and those with lived experience.
As community leadership and collaboration evolves, there should be opportunities for parents and communities to be meaningfully involved in decision-making on issues related to young children and their families. First 5 LA continues to improve its practice by modeling and championing the meaningful engagement of communities through our Best Start Networks — by advocating for and supporting their essential participation in local, regional and countywide policy and systems change efforts, as well as our own. We invest in and partner with communities, non-profit and community-based organizations, and advocacy groups to help them stabilize, scale and integrate their efforts on behalf of the communities they serve. And, we work with our public system partners to develop innovative approaches that incorporate authentic parent and community engagement.
Each Best Start Network brings together parents and caregivers, residents, organizations, businesses, government institutions and other stakeholders to collectively build a vision and develop strategies to create the best possible community for young children and their families…