Sac Kids First is the region’s largest grassroots coalition. Our mission is to serve as the unified voice of Sacramento’s youth-serving organizations in the public policy arena. We are engaged in a long-term campaign to increase the well being of children and youth in the Sacramento region, particularly children and youth most affected by poverty, violence and trauma.
We advocate for:
- youth voice and leadership in civic life,
- increased investments in children and youth,
- greater stability in youth funding,
- policies that support children and youth that are research-based and data-driven
We know that investing in children and youth brings multiple benefits to our community. When we increase graduation rates and send more young people to college, we grow our workforce and our economy. When we invest early in infants and children, we prevent many problems from developing down the road. The health of our community depends on our children and young people.
From 2018 through 2020, Sac Kids First organized a campaign to establish a Children’s Fund in the Sacramento city budget. We gathered 39,000 valid signatures to require the City Council to place a children’s fund measure on the ballot. From November 2019 to March 2020, we led the the campaign in support of the children’s fund measure (Measure G). On March 3rd, 2020, 54% of voters voted against Measure G, while 45% of voters approved the measure. Following the election, Jim Keddy conducted an analysis of the vote outcome and the campaign dynamics which showed that voters in neighborhoods of color strongly supported Measure G and voters in more affluent neighborhoods opposed the measure. His analysis of the vote outcome and racialized campaign dynamics may be found here.
The defeat of Measure G represented a tough loss and a temporary setback in our campaign. The week prior to the March 3rd election, Mayor Darrell Steinberg sent a mail piece to thousands of voters in which he promised to place his own version of a children’s fund measure on the November 2020 ballot. On February 25th, 2020, the Sacramento City Council voted to place the Mayor’s youth fund measure on the November ballot. In June of this year, we met with Mayor Steinberg and reached an agreement to postpone the next youth fund ballot measure to 2022 so we will have the time to improve the measure and to build a campaign.
In addition to ongoing work on the ballot measure, Sac Kids First advocated for the City Council to invest a significant amount of the federal stimulus funding (CARES) in youth services, with a focus on serving youth and families impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. To date (July 6, 2020), the City Council has dedicated over $8 million to youth services from the CARES funding.
Later in the year, at the October 27th city council meeting, the Mayor and City Council unanimously passed a Resolution to Redefine Public Safety brought forth by Councilmember Jay Schenirer, District 5. The resolution is the first of its kind at any level of governance in the entire nation. Our partners at Public Health Advocates led the 18 month journey that began with listening sessions with young people throughout Sacramento to ask them: what is your definition of safety? From those conversations emerged a resolution draft that would get passed through city departments for feedback and eventually make its way to a City Council meeting for a vote. The resolution broadens the definition of public safety to include prevention, early intervention, and youth services. This was a major win for kid advocates, by passing the resolution the City declared that a public health approach is necessary for kids and youth in our City to live safe and healthy lives!
In 2020, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 823, a new law that will lead to the closure of youth prisons in California and transfer all responsibility for youth offenders to local counties.Under SB 823, Sacramento County must create a Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, which has the responsibility of overseeing the county implementation plan and will make recommendations for programming that will be available to youth. In addition, there will be the opportunity for our county to receive significant new funding for local counties.
When youth return to Sacramento County, we would like to see this new system be centered on a partnership between Probation and youth-serving community-based organizations; this new system should focus supporting prevention and safe re-entry. We believe that a significant amount of the new funding received by Sacramento County should be invested in youth-serving organizations that are best equipped to help young people transition out of the juvenile justice system back into the local community. We would also like to see the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council seek wider community/youth involvement when crafting our County Implementation Plan.