Mayor London Breed Announces Children First Ballot Measure
Charter Amendment for June ballot will create groundbreaking reform and accountability measures to better serve children and families
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced a new Children First Ballot measure that will make San Francisco a national model for how cities can improve the well-being for children. The measure will reform how the City delivers services to children and create accountability measures to ensure the San Francisco School Board focuses on kids, not politics.
Children First will be introduced at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, December 14th, with the goal of being on the June 2022 ballot. It requires a majority vote by the Board to be placed on the ballot, with a deadline for that vote being in February 2022.
"This pandemic has really impacted our kids, but we have to be honest that we've been struggling to efficiently and effectively provide quality services to young people and their families for years," said Mayor Breed. "By streamlining how we deliver services, by bringing more collaboration and transparency to our programs, and by creating real accountability for City Departments and the School Board, we can make a transformative difference for our young people. This City showed what it can do during the pandemic when our schools were shut down and Departments and service providers moved mountains to create our Community Learning Hubs program, which was stood up in a matter of weeks to serve over 3,000 kids who needed it the most. We've shown we can do better, so now is the time to make real and lasting change."
The Children First Ballot measure will focus on two key areas:
Consolidating City Services to Better Serve Families
Children First will reform a system that too often consists of siloed City Departments and School District, lack of shared vision, disparage and inconsistent community engagement, no meaningful structure for collaboration, unstrategic resource allocation, and misaligned incentives.
To address this, Children First will form a Children's Agency to streamline how the City delivers funding and services from birth through transitional age youth, require one City Plan across all Departments for how it will serve youth and family, and bring a new level of transparency to the $200 million dollars the City spends on children and youth services.
Focus on Effective Governance at the School Board Level
Children First will create accountability by requiring the School Board to make serious changes in the way they operate — to govern and not micromanage — or they will lose access to millions of dollars provided annually by the City.
To achieve this, Children First will require the School Board to meet certain goals around strategy, fiscal oversight, separation of duties, community engagement, governance standards, professional development. The School Board will be required to submit an annual report to the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors showing that the key activities have been met.
"As a SFUSD parent, I felt abandoned by the school board last year. I had a problem with the Board focusing on political issues rather than the kids and getting them back into the classroom. It's time to move forward; this initiative will help the Board to do better for our kids," said SFUSD parent Chanel Blackwell.
"This will provide the reform and public accountability that parents have been calling for over the last few years, as we have struggled to be heard by the Board of Education. For too long, parents have felt left out of a process that only serves the loudest voices. This measure will change how they operate so they can stay focused on the needs of students and the quality of education for all San Francisco kids," said SFUSD parent Xiaoying Xu.
"I am happy to support this effort to rationalize San Francisco's delivery of services to children and their families," said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. "As a former SF kid myself, I am excited to help pass the Children's Amendment, to ensure that our city puts children first."
"San Francisco voters have consistently directed the school district and city government to focus on the needs of children, but the structures that exist to serve the city's children are siloed and not always aligned," said Rachel Norton, Former SFUSD Board Member. "The proposed initiative streamlines all of the services and investments that San Francisco makes in its children, and makes clear that governance is the core responsibility of our school board - hiring and evaluating the Superintendent and focusing on student achievement, fiscal responsibility and community engagement."
"We at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco are encouraged by Mayor Breed's announcement today and are thankful that the City is listening to youth serving nonprofits from across San Francisco," said Rob Connolly, President, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco. "We believe that consolidating services for youth under one agency will greatly improve the effectiveness of the City and its nonprofit partners, and will make it easier for families and caregivers to navigate city-funded programs."
"This is a groundbreaking initiative that will bring much needed coordination to the many agencies and organizations serving kids in San Francisco," said Mario Paz, Executive Director, Good Samaritan Family Resource Center. "It will support the work of organizations like Good Samaritan Family Resource Center and allow us all to work together toward the same goals - helping families and children in this city."