In the coming weeks the Sacramento City Council will make a decision that could affect thousands of children and youth in our city.
Last winter and spring, children’s advocates and youth leaders gathered more than 38,000 signatures from voters in support of the Children’s Fund Act of 2020 and were successful in qualifying the measure for the ballot.
The measure is now in the hands of the City Council. By Dec. 3, the City Council will decide whether or not to place the Children’s Fund ballot measure on the March 2020 ballot or to delay until November. We urge the Council to do what is best for kids and place it on the March ballot.
The Children’s Fund ballot measure represents a big step forward in how the city invests in children and youth in at least three ways.
First, it will require the city to set aside a modest amount of funding each year, 2.5 percent of its general fund, to support children and youth services. Though modest, this fund will provide a stable, reliable funding source for summer and after school services, mental health support and other critical youth services. Funds will be allocated to both public agencies and nonprofits through a competitive process. The measure does not raise taxes.
Second, it will require the City Council to appoint a volunteer Planning and Oversight Commission responsible for developing a 3-year strategic plan based on data. Currently the city has no such plan. The City Council often spends funds on services for children based on the politics of the moment or in response to a problem that has grown out of control. This is the first time we will invest funds in prevention based on a plan developed through an analysis of real need and where we will get the most for our money.
Third, the measure requires the commission and city staff to develop an annual evaluation. As taxpayers, we’ll be able to review our progress each year in supporting the healthy development of children and youth. We’ll be able to identify the highest impact programs and to steer funding toward those programs.
On the other hand, if the city delays until November, the city will not have the time to prepare for the program launch. We’ll have a rushed, messy and incomplete launch that will not do right by kids or by taxpayers.
City leaders have done an amazing job building the physical infrastructure of our city, with a vibrant downtown, sports arenas and restaurants. Now, it’s time we invest in our human infrastructure with the same degree of diligence and careful planning. The Council can support such an investment by getting behind the Children’s Fund Act and by placing it on the March ballot.