WHAT IS THE CHILDREN’S FUND?
In 1991, San Francisco voters passed an amendment to the city charter which created one of the country’s first dedicated local funding streams for children’s services. This was a groundbreaking achievement, led by Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, and became a national model. The measure was placed on the ballot by petition of 68,000 voters. The Children’s Fund was re-authorized by the voters in 2000 by 74% and is scheduled to sunset in June, 2016. There is currently a plan by the Mayor’s Office to place the Children’s Fund on the ballot in November, 2014.
The Children’s Fund has stabilized and transformed the children’s services delivery system in San Francisco. The Fund, created by a 3% set-aside of local property tax dollars, will be approximately $50 million annually in the coming years. Over 250 programs are funded, serving 47,000 children. The Fund serves children under age 18 for: Affordable child care and early education; Recreation, cultural, after-school and arts programs; Health services; Training, employment and job placement; Youth violence prevention; Tutoring and educational enrichment; and Support services for families of children receiving other services from the Fund. The Children’s Fund has not only resulted in many new programs, new populations served, new neighborhoods served, and innovative models, but it has leveraged millions in additional dollars.
The charter requires a 3 year cycle planning process for children’s services, mandating a community needs assessment and a transparent allocation plan for funding children’s services, as well as program evaluation, an oversight advisory committee and community input.
WHAT ISSUES ARE AT STAKE?
The re-authorization of the Children’s Fund is an opportunity to keep improving the children’s services delivery system in San Francisco. The re-authorization in 2000 added many new improvement – a citizen oversight committee, the expansion of services to include parents, and a 17% increase in funding. Continued improvements are now possible – expanded services, greater accountability and coordination of all services city-wide, a formal role for service providers, more meaningful community engagement, refinements in time frames and the allocation process, meeting the highest priority needs and strengthening the voice and role of young people.
WHAT IS THE COMMUNITY COALITION?
In June, 2012, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth and Margaret Brodkin and Associates convened a series of meetings with CBO leaders interested in the re-authorization of the Children’s Fund. The effort quickly took off and the Children’s Fund Community Coalition was formed. Over 50 agencies have participated in Coalition meetings. The three co-chairs are:
Mario Paz, ED, Good Samaritan Family Resource Center
Diane Gray, ED, Bayview Association for Youth
Sarah Wan, ED, Community Youth Center
The Coalition goals: 1. Educate and energize children’s service providers and advocates about the Children’s Fund. 2. Provide an independent community forum to engage diverse stakeholders throughout the city and recommend policy that will ensure the success and future of the Children’s charter amendment. 3. Educate the public and build widespread support for the Children’s Fund
The Children’s Fund was created and sustained by a broad community-led movement. Let’s keep San Francisco’s Children’s Movement strong and renew the Children’s Fund!