SOURCE: First 5 LA

July 13, 2012 12:50 ET

First 5 LA Makes Major Investment in Services for Young Children

New Plan Will Result in Anti-Obesity, Health, Dental Care and Vision Care Services and Shelter for Thousands of Children 0-5 Through a New, Comprehensive Funding Strategy

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 13, 2012) - The First 5 LA Commission today approved a spending plan that will enable it to spend millions of dollars of funds more quickly, and culminate in providing nearly $400 million in desperately needed services for children 0-5 in Los Angeles County.

"In these times of budget cuts and reduced revenues, First 5 LA is stepping up to make a significant difference for our youngest children," said Los Angeles County Supervisor and First 5 LA Commission Chair Zev Yaroslavsky. "Los Angeles County kids need these health, dental, vision and other services, and our Commission has taken a bold step in approving these actions today."

By combining nearly $200 million from its 2012-13 programs/operating budget approved in June with the $110 million for long-term contracts for existing programs and $70 million in new long-term investments approved today, the new First 5 LA funding strategy will accelerate the expansion and implementation of new and existing programs and start providing desperately needed services almost immediately. The elements of the plan approved today include:

  • A multi-year master agreement with Los Angeles County to fund and implement $87.2 million of existing initiatives in the following areas:
    • Reduction of childhood obesity
    • Parent Child Interaction Therapy
    • Substance abuse treatment services
    • Healthy Kids health insurance coverage for children
  • Multi-year agreements totaling over $22 million to fund another component of the Healthy Kids program and existing dental health initiatives
  • A new allocation of $40 million to fund an expansion of First 5 LA's dental care program for children 0-5
  • A new allocation of $4.1 million to implement a countywide vision services plan for children 0-5
  • A new allocation of $25 million to provide Permanent Supportive Housing for women and families with children 0-5

Funds for a broad package of multiyear programs will be advanced to the County of Los Angeles and other partner agencies to allow them to immediately qualify for future matching fund opportunities

The multi-year agreements with the County of Los Angeles, a major partner in First 5 LA's countywide projects, will allow additional projects to be added in the future without changes to those agreements. This will speed up the process of implementing new projects.

Focusing on services, the First 5 LA funds will be used for a wide variety of programs ranging from vision and dental screenings for some 200,000 young children to additional housing options for women and families with children 0-5 at risk of homelessness as well as trainings and other support for service providers. Yaroslavsky, who called for the new strategic funding effort, added, "We expect there to be other opportunities to do this in the future with other investments."

For nearly two years, First 5 LA was forced under AB 99 to hold on to over $400 million of funds which were under threat of a state government takeaway. The law calling for the redirection of $1 billion in First 5 funds statewide to the state was signed by Governor Brown in early 2011. However, following a successful court challenge invalidating the law last November, First 5 LA and other First 5 Commissions are no longer at risk of losing these funds. The litigation formally concluded in March of 2012, allowing this spending plan to move forward. The Commission begins the current fiscal year with only $191 million in unrestricted funds and expects that total to drop to only $90 million by 2016 as existing long term commitments are funded and new programs are developed. "Our Expanded Strategic Funding Plan is a reflection of the positive culture change at the Commission and shows a 'pressing of the reset button' as far as our approach to investments," Yarosolavsky said.

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