Commission Demonstrates Renewed Commitment to Focused Decision Making

(photo screenshot courtesy of

(photo screenshot courtesy of

Los Angeles, CA – The First 5 LA Commission today approved new governance guidelines to promote transparency, consistency, and focus in First 5 LA decision-making, budget development and strategic planning.

The guidelines are one of three important activities taking place this year to support greater focus, sustainability, and accountability for the Commission as it begins to adjust its rate of future spending in the face of continued declining tobacco revenues that First 5 LA faces. The other two Commission actions are a recently approved long term financial projection and the upcoming development of First 5 LA’s strategic plan for 2015-20.

“The new governance guidelines will set the tone for the Commission’s work going forward,” said Board Chairman and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “Our fiscal reality demands that we approach funding decisions with discipline and an eye towards sustainability for each investment we make.”

At its meeting in February, the First 5 LA Commission unanimously approved a five-year long term financial projection that indicates the agency must adjust its rate of future spending in the face of continued declining tobacco revenues. Since 1998, First 5 LA’s annual revenues from the Proposition 10 tax on tobacco products have steadily decreased from an average of approximately $180 million annually between 1998 and 2000 to about $90 million for the current year.

“With First 5 LA’s changing fiscal context of declining revenues, the guidelines reflect the Commission’s commitment to transparency and consistency in decision-making, financial responsibility and accountability, and adherence to a clear strategic plan and focus,” said First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé.

The 10 new guidelines address the areas of process, fiscal accountability and strategic planning:


Sequencing of Commission action items
Staff presentations

Fiscal Accountability

Long term financial projection
“Paygo”/funding source for new initiatives
Expiring grants

Strategic Planning (2015-20)

Strategic Plan as decision-making document

Alignment of prior initiatives with new Strategic Plan

Criteria for new initiatives/programsThe new guidelines establish the Commission’s expectations that contractors and grantees not presume First 5 LA funding to be a permanent source of funding and services. For example, the new guidelines clearly state that each First 5 LA contract/grant will have an expiration date and that multi-year First 5 LA services-related investments will end pursuant to the time stated in the original allocation or grant award.

In addition, new sustainability and leveraging guidelines will require future applicants for First 5 LA grant support to demonstrate how they will sustain activity beyond the term of First 5 LA funding and leverage other sources of support. Under the new procedures, Belshé said the Commission could waive certain guidelines to respond to pressing circumstances and needs; such exceptions would require a minimum of 7 of the 9 voting members of the Commission to agree.

Following an initial round of input from Commissioners in January, a revised version of the guidelines was presented to the Board at its February meeting. Additional input was solicited at subsequent Board committee meetings.

First 5 LA staff will now work with the Board’s Executive Committee to incorporate the Governance Guidelines into the appropriate implementation vehicle, such as the Commission bylaws, internal administrative and Board policies, and the 2015-20 strategic plan.

About First 5 LA

Since 2001, First5 LA has invested more than $1.2 billion in activities, services and supports for children from birth to age 5 and their families in Los Angeles County. Some of First 5 LA’s major milestones include the Welcome Baby program that provides primary health prevention and parent education information to mothers of newborns, expanded access to quality preschool for more than 70,000 children in more than 300 preschools throughout LA County and an oral health program that has provided dental screenings and other services to over 53,000 preschool-age children and dental care education to over 38,000 parents and caregivers in L.A.

First 5 LA oversees the L.A. County allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. Funds raised help pay for health care, education and child development programs for children from the prenatal stage to age five and their families. First 5 LA’s mission is to increase the number of young children who are physically and emotionally healthy, protected, and ready to succeed in school.

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