What We Do
Why we are doing this work
Once a leader in caring for its children, California now has the highest child poverty rate in the nation,* and is ranked 40st in the country in child well-being.** With more than a quarter of California’s children living in poverty, and with deep disparities in the welfare of children and youth based on income, race, geography and family status,*** it has never been more important to provide services and opportunities that support the next generation.
Safeguarding the future of our state will require increased, equitable and stable funding for services that support families; ensure health and safety for all children and youth; prepare children and youth for success in school and career; promote wholesome social development; and foster youth leadership, creativity and civic engagement. Currently, the allocation of resources is weighted heavily toward punishment, rather than prevention. Young people are calling for “counselors, not cops” and “schools, not jails.” Funding the Next Generation wants to see that destructive imbalance corrected.
*Source: Children’s Defense Fund California; **Source: Kids Count Data Center, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation; ***Source: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
- Build local commitment and capacity to provide opportunity for children, youth and families, particularly those who have been disadvantaged.
- Develop new dedicated revenue streams to fund effective and equitable services for children, youth and families in cities and counties throughout California.
Building Local Capacity
“Wow – that was a great webinar!! – I couldn’t take notes fast enough!”
– Kim Thomas, Solano county (regarding a Funding the Next Generation webinar on state funding streams controlled at the local level)
Many communities have not fully explored local revenue options for children and youth services. Advocates, service providers and others have not always had the information, skills, organizational structure, and mobilized constituency to promote successful strategies. This project assists interested communities in developing these assets, while recognizing that the cities and counties of California have very different civic cultures, political landscapes, social problems, and economic and fiscal realities. Support and technical assistance is tailored to the unique dynamics of each interested community, and includes providing speakers, convening community meetings and assessments, strategic planning for new dedicated revenue, as well as guidance in organizing, messaging, and more.
Through our work, we are building a new field of endeavor, the study of, and advocacy for, local revenue strategies for services for children, youth and families and for a balance between expenditures on punishment and expenditures on prevention and opportunity. We create and disseminate new tools and materials throughout the state and country. Our local work also enables us to develop proposals for statewide policies that will facilitate revenue raising in all cities and counties.
The costs to the US of allowing so many of its children to grow up in poverty, poor health, poor schools and poor housing are staggering.
A shocking proportion ends up serving time in prison – especially in the case of non-white poor children. Even those fortunate not to fall into the trap of America’s vast prison system often end up unemployed and even unemployable, without the skills needed to obtain and keep a decent job. Americans have been blinded to these calamitous mistakes partly by a long history of racism, as well as by a misplaced faith in “rugged individualism.”
For example, some white families have opposed public financing for education, because they believe that their tax money goes disproportionately to help poorer non-white students. The result, however, is that everybody loses. Schools underperform; poverty remains high; and the resulting high rates of unemployment and crime impose huge financial and social costs on US society.