California has taken money out of the pockets of smokers and placed it in the hands of children’s services. Part of the 50 cent tax increase passed in 1998 on each pack of cigarettes sold goes to a program called Best Start, a Los Angeles based program that focuses on the healthy development of children, pregnancy to age 5. The Best Start program is part of the First 5 California organization.
The Best Start program was developed with community in mind. They have 14 different community action centers defined on their website, beststartla.org. Each of these community links have educational material, parent meetings, community walk opportunities, family craft ideas and “Get Out and Play” activities. Since each is community based, they have community specific information, such as meeting times and places. They also have information that anyone can use, such as links on how to go on a backyard scavenger hunt or how to make ants on a log.
The 14 local communities served by the Best Start program are:
- South Los Angeles/ Broadway-Manchester
- Compton, East Compton
- East Los Angeles (includes City Terrace, Commerce and parts of Monterey Park)
- Panorama City
- South El Monte, El Monte
- Southeast L.A. County Cities (including Bell, Cudahy, Bell Gardens and Maywood)
- Watts, Willowbrook
- South Los Angeles/ West Athens
- Central Long Beach
- Metro L.A.
To find out more about what is happening in your Los Angeles neighborhood, or to find out how you might starting a program like this in your community, visit the Best Start LA website at beststartla.org.