Watching out for God’s little ones

By Elisabeth Román

Every day, Yolanda Bosch leaves her home, two children, and husband to embark on a 50-mile drive to Los Angeles, California, where she spends her day working close to Latino children and their families. Bosch is the chief administrative officer of  First 5 LA, a publicly funded organization that works to improve the lives of California’s children and families through effective coordinated programs that provide young children a better start in life.

“First 5 LA is basically a public agency devoted to children’s advocacy. First 5 LA was established in 1998 by the vote of the people; it was an initiative put on the ballot and operates with funds from taxes,” Bosch explains. “For every live birth in the county, the State gives the organization a certain amount of money.”

The organization works with pre-school programs, health insurance, keeping children from being abused, and ensuring live healthy births. “We have taken these tasks and put them into four goals: 1) Children will be ready for kindergarten; 2) Children will be safe from abuse and neglect; 3) Children will be born healthy; 4) Children will maintain a healthy weight,” Bosch said. “We basically serve as a foundation, which funds programs across the counties that provide these services for us.”

Bosch is an attorney and a former prosecutor who worked on convicting child abusers. Prior to entering law school, she worked for the American Heart Association. “Becoming a lawyer was really interesting, because it was not something I thought I would have done, but I honestly feel it was a call from the Lord to help children,” she added.

Bosch’s passion for helping children led to her job as a prosecutor. “I did this for a little bit, then realized it was a very stressful job; prosecuting someone is stressful work. When you’re around people who don’t like you and want to kill you all the time, it is very difficult. I won every case I had, so I put a lot of people in jail. It got to a point where I was being threatened, having to be put under house security, and it just got to be too much. So I went back to working in a non-profit.”

Bosch arrived at First 5 LA nearly a decade ago. “It’s exciting work. We can all agree that the first five years are critical to a kid’s development. If we can do early intervention and prevention, if we can really help kids get on the right track when they are young, then we have a better chance of those kids becoming all that they can be,” Bosch said.

While her job as a prosecutor also entailed helping children, Bosch believes that First 5 LA encompasses every fiber of her being. “I am a wife, a mother, and hold a very senior position within the organization; I am responsible for a whole lot of stuff, including an $850 million budget that must be spent properly; and that’s a lot of effort, but I have no doubt that God does not give me more than I can handle. There are times when I am just exhausted, and yet I go home and I have to be a mom, help with homework, and cook dinner; but God gives me the ability, patience, and strength to find a balance. At the end of the day, I find my strength and my peace in God.”

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