In November 1998, California voters passed Proposition 10, the “Children and Families Act of 1998” initiative. The act levies a tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to provide funding for early childhood development programs. Revenues generated from the tobacco tax must be used to enhance the early growth experiences of children, enabling them to be more successful in school and ultimately to give them an equal opportunity to succeed in life. Revenues must be used for the following specific purposes:
Tobacco tax revenues are collected at the state level. Eighty percent of these funds are then allocated to the 58 counties according to annual birth rates. The remaining twenty percent of the money is allocated to First 5 California to support statewide programs, research, and media campaigns.
1. Improved Child Health: Healthy Children. Children who are healthy in mind, body and spirit grow up confident in their ability to live a fulfilling, productive life. Healthy children have sufficient nutrition, health care, nurturing and guidance, and mental stimulation, and they live in families and communities that value them.
2. Improved Child Development: Children Learning and Ready for School. The importance of preparing children to succeed in school is critical. Skills that allow one to problem solve and think creatively are developed in early childhood education settings and nurtured through community and parental reinforcement.
3. Improved Family Functioning: Strong Families. Successful and strong families are those that are able to provide for the physical, mental and emotional development of their children. Young children are entirely dependent upon caregivers for survival, and nurturing parents and caregivers provide the foundation for a child’s ability to create successful relationships, solve problems and carry out responsibilities.
4. Improved Systems: Integrated, Consumer-Oriented, Accessible Services. Many parents and caregivers with young children have difficulty in accessing existing forms of assistance, much less being able to learn about and utilize new services that are introduced. Services must be made available in a culturally competent manner, embracing the differences in cultures and languages within the county. The system of children and family services should also recognize the challenges faced by families whose children have disabilities or other special needs, and work to make services more accessible to these families.
When voters passed Proposition 10, they launched a new model of responsive public agencies. In each of the 58 counties, the First 5 Commission, made up of local community leaders, experts, and advocates, provides oversight for the First 5’s activities.
The State Commission initiates and funds statewide early childhood development projects, conducts research, and sponsors large media and public education campaigns. Learn more on their website.
The Association is a nonprofit public benefit corporation, organized as a social welfare organization under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4). The work of the Association is also supported by a separate organization, the California Children and Families Foundation, which is a nonprofit public benefit corporation organized for charitable and educational purposes under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). The Foundation conducts regional and statewide projects that assist county commissions and the children and families they serve, complementing the activities of the Association.