Since 1998, First 5 LA has played several critical roles in improving outcomes for children prenatal to age 5. We have been Advocates. Conveners. Collaborators. Catalysts and Communicators of child and family needs and strategies that make a difference in their lives. 

To promote greater impact, First 5 LA established a new strategic direction in 2015 as an agent of systems change. In partnership with public and community partners, we help systems — including health, early childhood education (ECE) and local supports — work better for families. 

Building upon our role as a systems change agent and as part of our 2020-2028 Strategic Plan, our systems change work centers on three approaches

Policy Change: 

Activities that promote meaningful changes to the rules governing institutions (both public and private), practices and resource allocation.  

Practice Change: 

Efforts to change the expectations, skills, habits and capacities of systems.  

Will Building: 

Initiatives that build and sustain the will, relationships and networks to change norms, attitudes, behaviors and beliefs. 

 As part of these three approaches, First 5 LA is focusing on four strategic priorities that affirm our roles and contributions: 

Strengthen Public and Community Systems

In recent years, state and local leaders have begun to recognize the urgent need to improve outcomes for young children. This gives First 5 LA and other early childhood advocates a unique chance to work with public and community systems — in early prevention, intervention, learning and more — to improve and expand their capabilities so that they better meet the needs of young children and families. 

Our Role: Improve, integrate and expand systems of early prevention, intervention and early learning to become more family-centered, child-focused and equitable. 

Expand Influence and Impact with Data

Mobilizing leaders and changing systems require accurate and reliable data, compelling stories, and the means to communicate with both authenticity and effectiveness. With over 22 years of experience, First 5 LA is well-positioned to help gather, analyze and disseminate data, and to amplify the voices of parents and communities, so that we can achieve the four Results for all children and families in L.A. County. 

Our Role: Expand the availability, use and power of data and parent voice to call attention to disparities, amplify advocacy, and drive policy change, practice change and will-building. 

Advance and Build on Community Experience

Since 2010, First 5 LA has invested in 14 geographic areas to create a platform for lifting up the voices of local community leaders and parents. Today, these Best Start geographies present an ideal setting to demonstrate impact at a local level. We are strengthening connections and coordination among First 5 LA county partners and philanthropic investments in focusing essential resources and infrastructures in these 14 areas across L.A. County. Our goal is to demonstrate pilot strategies that can be implemented in broader systems change while amplifying community voices to make sure they are heard and part of decision-making in this process.    

Our Role: Connect, maximize and coordinate public resources, relationships, and local assets and relationships within our 14 Best Start geographies. 

Optimize Our Effectiveness

Changing systems requires increasing and improving our own knowledge, skills and capacities. To reach our North Star, First 5 LA will prioritize adapting our business processes and organizational structure as needed to promote systems change. 

Our Role: Heighten organizational performance to enhance our impact.  

Changing systems is complex work. It requires ongoing collaboration between multiple partners across multiple sectors, working on a multitude of elements within the different systems. Reflecting our experiences over the past five years, First 5 LA is working today across multiple fronts — policy, program and public will — in order to create meaningful changes in local, state and national systems. These changes, in turn, will produce long-lasting improvements in the health, school-readiness and safety of L.A. County’s youngest children and their families.  

To find out more about our systems change work, please read First 5 LA’s 2020-2028 Strategic Plan

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