First 5 CaliforniaJune 11, 2012
| While every county in California has a local Proposition 10 commission (like First 5 LA), there is one such commission that funds children's programs and conducts outreach statewide - and is now facing the potential loss of nearly its entire revenue stream next year.
First 5 California receives 20 percent of the tobacco tax imposed by voters in 1998 when Proposition 10 passed. The remaining 80 percent is split among the county Proposition 10 commissions based on birth rate.
While the Proposition 10 commissions are well acquainted with funding redirection attempts by lawmakers, the most recent effort is directed only at First 5 California. Gov. Jerry Brown's May Revise budget proposal includes an $80 million redirection from the California Children and Families Trust Fund (First 5 California) to fund Medi-Cal and the Early Start Program.
In a letter sent to state lawmakers on May 31, First 5 California Executive Director Kris Perry said that the $80 million is a significant chunk of next year's expected revenue of $86 million. "Adjustments to the financial commitments made by First 5 California could result in work stoppage of the Commission's critical programs and services. Additionally, the county First 5 commissions depend on and leverage state dollars in support of local early childhood development programs including teacher salaries and daily education services to vulnerable children," Perry wrote (the entire letter can be seen here).
Although First 5 California contributed more than $329 million to the Early Start and Healthy Families programs over the last four years, the money was drawn from unallocated funding on the condition that it would not be used to supplant state or local General Fund money, Perry wrote. The fund redirection proposal appears to violate the Proposition 10 provisions against supplantation and would have "potentially serious program, legal and policy ramifications," the letter adds.
First 5 California, which is overseen by a seven-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the governor and legislators, develops and funds programs to ensure that young children throughout the state thrive and succeed in school and life - especially at-risk children and those in low-income families. Through its Child, Parent and Teacher signature programs, First 5 California works with local county commissions and other partners to ensure that children grow up healthy and reach their full potential.
Proposition 10 created the local Children and Families First 5 commissions, and directed that the statewide commission also be created to conduct outreach and fund programs for California's 1.5 million parents to young children, according to First 5 California Chief Deputy Director Marsha Jones. For example, First 5 California has a very popular Kit for New Parents, the Hands-On Health Express that makes stops around the state and a recently updated parent's website. On the website, parents can find videos featuring some well-known faces, like former Los Angeles Lakers star Derek Fisher, talking about such things as healthy eating, early literacy and smoking cessation, as well as resources, activities and tips to help parents get the best start for their kids. First 5 California is also responsible for statewide public education and advertising campaigns - which is why First 5 California billboards, bus shelter posters and newspaper ads are often spotted around Los Angeles County.
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