When Children and Youth Thrive, Sacramento Thrives

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,
  • racial and social equity in the city’s policies and resource allocations
  • 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.


Mayoral Candidates Forum

On January 27th, 2024, Sac Kids First brought together 512 young leaders and adults at Hiram Johnson High School to hold the city’s largest mayoral candidate’s forum. This youth-led event was attended by all the major candidates and all the candidates committed to 1. making the implementation of the Sacramento Children’s Fund a top priority if elected and 2. meeting with SKF leadership on a regular basis.

A Big Win for Sacramento Kids: The Sacramento Children’s Fund

In 2022, in partnership with Mayor Steinberg and many other civic and political leaders, we led a campaign to create a Children’s Fund in the city budget. In July of 2022, the City Council voted to place our measure on the ballot. On November 8th, 62% of voters approved the measure.  Going forward, this measure will require the City to spend the equivalent of 40% of its local cannabis tax revenues on child and youth services (about $9 million annually, in addition to what the city currently spends on youth services). The goals of the measure are:

  1. To prevent and reduce child and youth homelessness
  2. To support the mental and emotional health of children and youth
  3. To prevent youth violence
  4. To prevent and reduce youth substance abuse
  5. To support the healthy development of children ages 0 to 5

The measure will also require the city to create an advisory planning and oversight commission that will be responsible for shaping a 5 year strategic plan and an evaluation strategy.  The plan will prioritize children and youth most impacted by poverty, violence and trauma. The City Council will have the final say over all funding allocations and all expenditures will be subject to financial and performance audits.

In August of 2023, Youth Forward, Sac Kids First and Councilmember Mai Vang brought together over 70 local child advocates and policy experts at Luther Burbank High School to discuss the Children’s Fund and to start the process of developing recommendations for the Oversight Commission and for the City Council. Based on feedback from that session and on some follow-up meetings, Sac Kids First developed a set of guiding principles for the Children’s Fund. To review these principles and an overview of the policy convening, please click here.

History of Sac Kids First

Sac Kids First was established by a group of young Hmong leaders active in EBAYC Sacramento in 2017. These young leaders started the process of surveying youth to identify their concerns and needs and to build a coalition with the goal of establishing a stable funding source for children and youth in the city budget. From these early efforts emerged the Sac Kids First Coalition.

During the pandemic, 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. As a result, the City Council dedicated over $8 million to youth services from the CARES funding.

Also in 2020, 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?  The resolution broadens the definition of public safety to include prevention, early intervention, and youth services.

Sac Kids First Advocacy to Improve the Juvenile Justice System

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 young people involved in the criminal justice system to local counties. To implement the law, Sacramento County created a Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, which has the responsibility of overseeing the county implementation plan and of making recommendations for programming that will be available to youth. In addition, the County is receiving millions in new state funds to implement the law.

Since 2021, Sac Kids First has led a strong effort to influence the implementation of the new state law by advocating for a partnership between Probation and youth-serving community-based organizations and for a juvenile system that focuses on prevention and safe re-entry. In 2022, in partnership with the Youth Law Center and the law firm of Baker McKenzie, Youth Forward brought forward a lawsuit against Sacramento County and the Probation Department with the goal of requiring the Probation Department to follow the state’s open meeting law (the Brown Act). In December of 2022, the County agreed to follow the Brown Act, settled the lawsuit and is currently holding its meetings and carrying out its decision-making with public input.