Plan for Spending Revenue
The Sonoma County Child Care and Children's Health Initiative will raise approximately $30 million annually, revenue that will address a set of critical priorities identified by our community. Sixty percent of the revenue will be dedicated to expanding access to child care and early learning in Sonoma County, and the remaining 40% will be directed to support children's health and early development. A local oversight Advisory Council will be appointed by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, composed of parents, experts in children's health and development and early learning professionals.
Based on local needs, the Advisory Council will make annual recommendations about specific strategies to address each area of expenditure to the First 5 Sonoma County Commission, who will administer the revenue. First 5 Sonoma County is an independent public agency that has administered public funding to support programs and services for children, 0-5, and their families since 1998.
Ensure a Living Wage for Child Care & Early Education Providers
Most child care providers and early education teachers in Sonoma County receive low wages and struggle to afford the high cost of living. The sales tax measure will bolster wages for the lowest paid providers and create incentives to stay in the field.
Develop Child Care Facilities Where Parents Live & Work
The cost to develop and maintain safe, healthy & high quality early learning and care facilities is a major barrier to expanding access. The tax measure will make funds are available to co-locate centers in new housing and help meet licensing requirements.
Expand Sonoma County's Child Care & Early Educator Workforce
When providers are supported and compensated fairly, they are more likely to complete a credential program and remain in the early learning field. The tax measure will incentivize workers through paid apprenticeships, increasing quality and retention.
Expand Early Childhood & Perinatal Mental Health Support
Because the brain develops rapidly during infancy and during the earliest years of a child's life, nurturing and secure relationships are critical to a child's resiliency and achieving optimal developmental milestones. Revenue from the tax measure will ensure that new parents and very young children have access to mental health screening and connected to therapeutic supports when needed.
Strengthen Systems for Pediatric Screening, Referral & Treatment
When healthcare systems and community services are well integrated and seamlessly linked to ensure that families can access the services and supports they need, children grow up healthier. Regular well-child visits and screenings for dental health, developmental milestones and social-emotional wellness are critical to intervening early to ensure the best outcomes for young children and prevent lifelong health issues and learning problems.
Prioritize Children Impacted by Homelessness & Other Traumas
The traumatic impacts of homelessness, housing instability, child maltreatment, parental substance misuse and other Adverse Childhood Experiences can cause long-term negative outcomes, interfere with school readiness, academic success and healthy development. The good news is that the impacts of early trauma and toxic stress can be mitigated if identified and addressed early. Supports for Sonoma County's most vulnerable children will be prioritized with the revenue from the Our Kids Our Future initiative.