LOS ANGELES – First 5 LA, a leading public grantmaker and early childhood advocacy organization, launched a new, innovative Family Strengthening Public Awareness Campaign and Parenting website on July 7 at the City Terrace Park here. The first phase of the multiyear campaign focuses on raising awareness and understanding of parenting challenges, helping parents and caregivers in Los Angeles County build social connections. Caregivers will be encouraged to implement positive changes in their day-to-day interactions with their child, social networks and community.
First 5 LA (www.first5la.org) was created in 1998, by California voters to invest Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenues in L.A. County.
In partnership with others, First 5 LA strengthens families, communities, and systems of services and supports so that all children in L.A. County enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. The organization believes that the first five years of life establish the foundation for the future success of our children. First 5 LA has invested more than $1.2 billion in efforts aimed at providing the best start for children from prenatal to age 5 and their families.
“Parents and caregivers are at the heart of a child’s development,” said First 5 LA executive director Kim Belshé, “and we want them to know that they are not alone in their efforts.” The campaign, she added, is built on research about what type of resources the parents and caregivers of L.A. County would find beneficial and would support the positive outcomes we all want for L.A.’s kids.
The new parenting website (www.First5LA.org/Parenting), also launched July 7, was built with mobile users in mind, making all of the features accessible and easy to use on smartphones and tablets. (Most parents use smartphones far more frequently than laptops, desktops or tablets to receive information.)
The site is an online resource hub designed for parents and caregivers. It features a calendar with free and low-cost family-friendly events, exclusive coupons for kid-friendly venues such as the L.A. Zoo and California ScienCenter, and originally-written and researched articles on a variety of early childhood development topics. The website also offers an “Ask a Parent Coach” feature where parents and caregivers can submit questions and get advice tailored to their needs on 20 topics.
“All parents and caregivers want information they can trust and depend on,” stated First 5 LA Board of Commissioners vice chair Judy Abdo. “We also know young parents look to the internet and social media for guidance and support. This campaign offers information parents can trust and its mobile-friendly version makes it even more accessible.” She asserted that reaching younger parents is a critical part of their work and “the launch of this campaign and website is an important step for us.”
Research shows that parents and caregivers rely on both personal sources such as friends, family, pediatricians and digital sources such as parenting sites, sites sponsored by trusted organizations, and Facebook to receive information about parenting. Parents learn about reliable digital sources from
their personal networks including friends and other parents.
Joining the launch from Washington, D.C., was Matthew Melmed, executive director of ZERO TO THREE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping infants and toddlers thrive. The agency works to ensure all babies and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development.
“If we care about very young children,” Melmed remarked, “we must care about, listen to and meet the needs of their parents. It’s exciting to see the learnings behind our national parent survey being applied to the development of practical tools.
We’re pleased to be part of the launch of First 5 LA’s Family Strengthening Campaign, an excellent example of how we can support parents to strengthen families and give children their best start in life.”
This nonprofit recently commissioned a national survey to gain a clear and in-depth understanding about the challenges that parents face, the help they seek and how satisfied they are with the support they receive. Since 1997, ZERO TO THREE has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professional and policymakers.
Rafael González, Director of Best Start Communities for First 5 LA, is responsible for implementing Best Start’s “Building Stronger Families” which strengthens family-supporting communities that contribute to better outcomes for children. He introduced partners Alma Rodriguez from Best Start Panorama City, and Saul Figueroa from Best Start Compton/East Compton. González commended the strong presence of members/advocates from those two communities from opposite ends of town: Panorama City in the San Fernando Valley is about 21 miles north of Los Angeles while Compton/East Compton is about 15 miles south.
First 5 LA’s strategic plan puts parents at the center of its work. The Family Strengthening Public Awareness Campaign draws from what research has shown is the pathway to building stronger families. The five Protective Factors that support healthy children and families, according to Belshé, include (1) parent resilience and stress management; (2) the presence of positive social connections; (3) a better understanding of how children develop and how to best support them as they grow; (4) the ability to raise children in a nurturing environment; as well as (5) a caregiver’s ability to access support in times of need.
In addition to a countywide presence, campaign ads will appear in locations within First 5 LA’s 14 Best Start communities – acting as a complement to ongoing program and services currently being offered to families. Other unique aspects of the effort include messaging for diverse populations with advertising created in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.