Last week, First 5 LA announced Karla Pleitéz Howell as the next executive director of an organization that funds dozens of early childhood education and home visiting programs in Los Angeles County.
“First 5 LA is leading the way on systems change, enhancing the power of county partnerships and community voices to help our youngest children realize their potential, and we know that Karla will skillfully continue this work,” L.A. County Supervisor and First 5 LA Board Chair Sheila Kuehl said in a press release.
Pleitéz Howell has long been an advocate for children. Most recently, she was a branch chief for the Child Care Development Division in the California Department of Social Services. Before that, Pleitéz Howell served as director of education and chief of policy and programs at Advancement Project California (now Catalyst California). She will replace current Executive Director Kim Belshé, who announced in June that she would step down as leader of First 5 LA.
“I look forward to building on the great work that Kim Belshé has so strategically led to achieve the highest impact for L.A. County’s children and surging ahead with bold innovation that will ensure opportunities for our families and youngest children, especially within communities experiencing deep poverty and health and education inequities,” Pleitéz Howell said in the press release.
First 5 LA is one of 58 local commissions that use tax revenue from tobacco to support early childhood development through programs that emphasize child health, parent education, child care and other priorities for children from the prenatal stage to age 5. Since the inception of the effort more than 20 years ago, First 5 LA has allocated more than $2.5 billion in support of its goal of making sure that all children in Los Angeles County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life.
In 2021-22, First 5 LA spent $76 million in grants to support dozens of programs in the county. The organization also advocates across the county for quality child care programs, economic supports for families, early intervention and greater investments in services at the community level.
Pleitéz Howell will step into her new role in January.
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