The Power of Local Action

“Funding the Next Generation allows a cross-sector of leaders from our County to work together for funding that prioritizes children. This project provides the opportunity to change outcomes for children and youth and improve lives.”
– Kay Ruhstaller, San Joaquin County

What local dedicated funding streams for children, youth & families can accomplish

  • Provide flexible, sustainable funding for high priority needs of children, youth and families – such as preschool, after-school, health, family support, youth development, and career preparation.
  • Promote the equitable distribution of resources so that young people who have been disadvantaged have expanded opportunities.
  • Create opportunities for innovation, leveraging resources, greater community engagement in policy making, and improved coordination and planning by local governments.
  • Build strong local diverse constituencies for children, which then support ongoing resource expansion for prevention and the reallocation of resources from “downstream” to “upstream” investments.

About the San Francisco Children’s Fund

San Francisco’s Children’s Fund, the national model for dedicated funding, is now over $75 million each year, serving over 47,000 children. It has transformed the service delivery system and has led to the creation of a local Department of Children, Youth and Their Families. As of the election of November, 2014, the Children’s Fund will be in place for 25 more years, and it will serve youth up to age 24.
See the Children’s Fund Fact Sheet

Why work at the local level is so important

The local level provides the brightest hope for new resources as federal and state options dwindle and the public is more supportive of expanding resources over which they have local control.

  • Local funding is required to complement state and federal resources, which are not sufficient to address community needs.
  • Realignment and devolution of policy from the federal and state level require that many needs now be met through actions at the local level.
  • Local funding streams offer greater flexibility, creativity and targeting of priority needs for children, youth and families that have been disadvantaged.
  • Diverse sectors of local communities are often willing to come together to invest in their children when support for other policies may be more polarized. For instance, there have been many successes in all areas of the state in passing measures that support education.
  • Increasingly, members of the public want local control over their resources, and are more likely to support measures where they can see how funds will be spent.
  • The local level is where most policy effecting children and youth is implemented, where young people can best become engaged in the policy making process, and where the building blocks of a state and national movement are created.

The New Localism: How cities and metropolitan areas triumph in the age of Trump

The metropolitan revolution emerged in a vacuum left by gridlocked and balkanized national and state governments. Cities and counties were stepping up to act on issues that higher levels of government could not or would not tackle. They are natural engines of continuous innovation and learning.

The Trump election has fundamentally upended any notion of policy stability. Going forward, cities and counties will be increasingly responsible for investing in our nation’s future, including…the schooling and skilling of children and young adults. What this means is that we need a metropolitan revolution on steroids. Cities and counties are going to be tested like they have never been before. They are going to need to innovate and reform in ways we can scarcely imagine.

It can be more democratic since it puts decision making closer to the ground with more opportunities for participatory engagement. It can be a path back to political comity and sanity since it will restore faith in government as citizens see solutions to pressing challenges actually happen.

Bruce Katz, Centennial Scholar, the Brookings Institution
Read the article