February 2015
Note from Margaret: 

Too many children's service providers are just plain exhausted from trying to do "more with less" -- particularly in the face of California's mounting child poverty rate and the rising number of people who need services and opportunities.  Help is not likely to be on the way from the federal government any time soon. And one more grant often gets us in deeper - we promise to change the world for a pittance, and then have to end up spending more money than we have. YIKES. Time for a different approach. 

Local government has to step up - pundits are declaring that that's where real innovation is happening. Well, having enough money to serve our children may not sound sexy, but it IS what we need. And what's innovative about it will be that it actually happens. It's easy for folks with money to declare "it's not about money," but it is - maybe not ONLY about money, but certainly the change we want won't happen without money. Seriously. Maybe that means reallocating existing money. Maybe it means passing measures that create new funding streams. And it often means having activated community members start by asking questions and understanding exactly where money is currently being spent - and creating a Children's Budget.

But as you know, nothing just happens - it takes, as Margaret Meade said, a group of "dedicated citizens who can change the world."  That's where we all come in. And that's what Funding the Next Generation is all about. Check out our new website. Become part of the movement to get kids and their families their fair share.

Margaret Brodkin
Founder and Director
Funding the Next Generation
Sonoma County's Preschool Expansion Planning
Board of Supervisors Requests Funding Options


Sonoma County's Cradle to Career initiative made a big step towards seeing an increase in funding for children's services this past December.  The main Sonoma County newspaper, The Press Democrat, covered the story:


Sonoma County supervisors are considering funding options for a preschool expansion for "thousands of 3- and 4-year-olds, a move touted as critical to improving health outcomes, increasing high school graduation rates and strengthening the region's economy. The initiative, formally proposed before the Board of Supervisors in December, would cost $19.3 million a year for instruction, and nearly $50 million to create 98 new classrooms.  The effort to provide universal preschool, outlined in a 2013 report called "Health Action," could take years to implement, but supervisors have elevated the plan to a top priority."


"Officials said other counties are looking at Sonoma County as a model for how local governments can increase access to education. The "Health Action" report, as well as the "Portrait of Sonoma County," became centerpieces in a summit last year when superintendents from each of California's 58 counties gathered in Sonoma County and lauded the local preschool initiative."


Margaret Brodkin joined the presenters during the line of public comment for this report - highlighting the multitude of counties working on similar goals, urging the Board to take bold action for children.  


Members of Cradle to Career are now working on a variety of funding scenarios including a dedicated facilities fund and local revenue stream options to present to the Board of Supervisors in six months. 

Article written by Leah Benz, First 5 Sonoma County. 



Dan Blake, Director of Innovation & Partnerships, Sonoma County Office of Education and also the Vice Chair of Cradle to Career, our Collective Impact County initiative around educational attainment testifying before the Sonoma Board of Supervisors on importance of funding for preschool. 


Realignment Reality for Children's Advocates: 

Local Control Demands Local Organizing



Funding the Next Generation is working to increase funding for children, youth and families in local budgets.  A part of this work is ensuring that existing dollars available to cities and counties are spent in ways that protect our future.  Our newsletter will have a series of articles about local budget strategies.  The first is from Reed Connell, seasoned policy advocate and co-founder of Social Change Partners. His article focuses on understanding the importance of "realignment" and its possibilities for funding prevention programs

The Big Fix - Over the past several years, Governor Jerry Brown has deployed a dizzying array of strategies to restore California's $27 billion deficit into the revenue surpluses, rainy day funds, and a growing General Fund budget we are experiencing today. 2011 Realignment was just one part of the Governor's big fix, but for children's advocates, it is crucial to understand how it transformed planning and policy for child welfare and health programs. Realignment reduced the role of the Legislature and provides counties with both flexibility and proportionate revenue growth.


Basically, under Realignment, decisions that used to be made in the State Capitol are now made in the Board chambers and public agencies of California's 58 counties. Most foster care and child welfare programs, all children's health programs funded through Medi-Cal, most community mental health programs for adults, and Adult Protective Services were all transformed. The money that pays for these programs now bypasses the State General Fund entirely - and thus the Legislature's budgeting process. Instead, a proportion of Sales Tax and Vehicle Licensing Fee revenue now flows through a state special fund and is distributed directly to the counties according to a complex set of allocation formulas. Before Realignment, the sections of the budget summary that described the included programs ran to dozens of pages. Since Realignment, they're not included at all.


New County Control - In exchange for taking on additional fiscal responsibility, the counties successfully argued for new flexibility to manage programs according to local priorities and protection from new statewide mandates. They're still on the hook for all the federal mandates that come with federally funded programs, but many state programs were made optional. Perhaps the clearest example of the new flexibility is that counties can now reduce or eliminate optional programs and redirect the funds to other purposes.  Furthermore, counties can invest growth as they see fit. In 2011, Realignment revenue totaled about $5.5 billion across the state; the Legislative Analyst's Office estimated that by 2014-15, there'd be some $6.8 billion total, and by 2016-17, $7.6 billion total - and it looks like growth has outpaced even those estimates. As each county is allocated a proportion of the total, much of this growth has flowed directly to the local level.


Transparency An Issue - California's county-administered social system is inherently complex - 58 counties have 58 Boards and hundreds of departments among them. And the Realignment legislation didn't provide for much transparency, so it's now extremely difficult to know what's going on. There's no website that consolidates information about Realignment revenues, allocations, and actual transfers to counties, so it's hard to estimate growth. The Legislature requires only minimal retrospective reporting on Realignment, so it's almost impossible to track how counties are using their new found flexibility. You simply can't Google your way to an understanding of how much money is available or how it's being spent. You've got to go straight to your county leadership and ask.


Powerful Tool for Advocates - Of course, the combination of growth and flexibility provides a powerful tool to develop new approaches and make new commitments to serving our communities' most vulnerable kids. In the context of ongoing economic growth, I believe that Realignment should be thought of as a huge opportunity for local children's programs. We - California's children's advocates, including the Funding the Next Generation communities - can influence how our counties take advantage of Realignment, but it simply has to happen through sustained local organizing and advocacy.


Reed Connell is a co-founder of Social Change Partners, and a member of Funding the Next Generation's Advisory Committee. Contact him atreed@socialchangepartners.com 


GOOD NEWS: Reed will be coaching counties at the March 27 meeting of our Learning Network.

If you are interested in learning more about Funding the Next Generation and helping your city or county explore the potential of a dedicated public funding stream for children, youth and families, please contact:
Margaret Brodkin
Founder and Director 
Funding the Next Generation         Logo Funding Next Generation

phone: 415-794-4963 
Getting to the Nuts & Bolts: 
Funding the 
Next Generation 
Learning Network 

March 27, 2015


The California Endowment

Oakland, California


The semi-annual meeting of the Funding the Next Generation learning network is getting closer. We are determined to make this meeting "on target" to address the needs of communities aspiring to create a children's budget or enact a funding measure for kids. We know this work is not easy, and requires lots of fits and starts.  If you are stuck, we will help you. If you have questions, we will help you. If you are feeling discouraged, we will help you. If you have something you want to share, that will happen.  If you want to engage a new ally, bring them and we will nurture their hopes and aspirations. 


To register for the March 27th meeting, please click here.  If your community has not ever been part of the network and community members are considering participating, e-mail Margaret Brodkin: margaret@fundingthenextgeneration.org

Check Out Our 
New Website! 

Funding the Next Generation
Funding the Next Generation Napa Launches Community Outreach
On February 3rd Funding the Next Generation Napa introduced its work to the public for the first time as part of a community wide event featuring the groundbreaking documentary The Raising of America, Early Childhood and the Future of our Nation. With an audience of 350 nonprofit, business, government and community members and leaders, questions were plentiful for Project Coordinator Sara Cakebread (pictured above) who hosted an information table highlighting the goal of creating a sustainable public funding stream to support Napa County's children and families. During the pre-screening reception, Sara shared Funding the Next Generation Napa's vision and how it will impact struggling families like those they will "meet" in the movie. Although there is a lot more to come from this new effort, table visitors walked away with an understanding of why children's programs need sustainability and support, how Funding the Next Generation can make it happen and how individuals can get involved.

The movie itself was a perfect complement for the effort as it features an array of scientists, doctors and economists whose knowledge and research combine to make a clear case for how a strong start for all our children can lead to a healthier, stronger and more equitable America and why we can't wait to make that happen.

Following the movie, Napa County Director of Public Health Dr. Karen Smith welcomed a panel of speakers to the stage who echoed the sentiments in the movie and expressed our need to become politically and individually active on behalf of our children. According to Dr. Kristie Brandt, Director of the Napa Parent-Infant & Child Institute, the time is right to show the world that we are crazy about our kids. In closing, Dr. Smith encouraged the audience to take action, including getting involved in Funding the Next Generation Napa, one of her personal favorites, by joining a committee, staying informed and supporting it in the long term.
MarinKids Released 
2014 Data and Action Guide

MarinKids, a large collaborative working to improve the well-being of children, just released its 2014 Data and Action Guide, detailing the challenges facing young people in the County of Marin.
This is part of the strategy to keep the momentum going as they move toward placing a revenue measure on the ballot in 2016. To read the new Guide, click here
Collaborative Work in 
Stockton Featured
at White House Meeting

Stockton is participating in Funding the Next Generation's Learning Network and they have been featured at a White House meeting in December 2014 for building strong collaborative work on behalf of children and literacy.

Ralph Smith, who leads the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for the Annie E. Casey Foundation was asked to discuss a community whose efforts on behalf of children and literacy he has found particularly impressive. He chose to talk about Stockton, CA. Ralph Smith said "I remember Stockton, and it has made a difference in the way I do my work and why I do my work." Click here to see his presentation (Smith's comments on Stockton are at the 3:17:10 mark). 

NOTE: It is this type of collaborative culture in our service delivery system that can lay the foundation for dedicated funding measures for children, youth and families.
Children's Defense Fund (CDF) released a report entitled Ending Child Poverty Now. In addition, CDF-California released a companion report with specific state policy recommendations on how child poverty can be reduced in the state. These reports will be helpful as we make the case for increased spending on children, youth and families.
Funding the Next Generation

The nation's first initiative to help communities develop local public funding streams for children, youth and families.

Collaborating Partners
- California Child Care Resource and Referral Network
- California Coverage and Health Initiatives
- California Network of Family Strengthening Networks
- California School-Age Consortium
- Children Now 
-  CA Children's Defense Fund 
- First 5 Association of California
FM3 Research
 - Prevent Child Abuse California 
- Kidango
- Tramutola Advisors
- The Children's Partnership 

Pro-Bono LegalTeam
  Orrick Public Finance Group 

The California Endowment
S.H. Cowell Foundation