San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and members of the city school board today announced $690.4 million in funding over the next two years for expanding after-school and summer programs and others targeting children and youth.
The funding, made possible by the November 2014 Cities and Families First charter amendment, known as Proposition C, will also strengthen the San Francisco Unified School District’s rainy day reserves, bringing the total reserve to $36.5 million, according to Board member Hydra Mendoza.
Mendoza said the funding has the potential to have an immense impact on the lives of San Francisco children and their families, especially with the announcement that $2.5 million will go to clearing the waitlist for after-school programs and $1.8 million toward clearing the waitlist for summer programs.
In addition to the rainy day reserves, Lee’s proposed two-year budget provides $140 million in funding to the district, $127 million in funding to the Department of Youth, Children and Their Families Children’s Fund revenue, $61.5 million to fund Preschool for All and increased investment of $325 million through the Children’s Baseline and new Transitional Age Youth Baseline programs.
Mendoza said funding will be provided to all summer programs that have waitlists to ensure that all families that want them can get in.
She said providing after school and summer programs allows parents to go to work and children to stay in an environment where they can participate in physical activities and receive academic support.
Transitional age youth in the city, individuals between 18 and 24 years old and in need of academic or professional guidance, are also going to see an increase in services available, according to Lee.
“They may have deep, deep poverty barriers to climb out of,” Lee said.
He said innovative services would be geared toward creating pathways to success through supportive employment and training opportunities coupled with educational support.
Mendoza and other members of the board of education are perhaps most enthusiastic about the Our Children Our Families Council, a voter mandated advisory body led by the mayor and district Superintendent Richard Carranza with representatives from city departments such as planning, health and transportation, as well as various community members.
The council will aim to increase data-sharing between all city departments to improve coordination of efforts, especially for those children and families most in need.
“It isn’t just the schools,” Lee said. “We must work on many fronts.”
Lee said he believes the council “institutionalizes successful partnerships across the city and in the school district.”
Mendoza said the council will solve one major problem, which is that some students are seeing a handful of social workers from places such as the Human Services Agency, Department of Public Health or the school district, but that the social workers have, until now, been unable to share the data they collect on students.
“So this poor kid, is experiencing multiple adults that are trying to help but the adults aren’t combining their efforts,” Mendoza said.
The social workers, Mendoza said, are not necessarily connecting or sharing data because of federal obligations, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Now, with the creation of a council with shared data agreements, all those barriers can now be knocked down, Mendoza explained.
Lee said these investments and collaborative efforts would help students thrive in school and help them enter the talent pool for jobs in the city after graduation.
The voter’s approval of Proposition C renewed the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund to support these increased investments.
Lee said the city is recruiting community members to join the Our Children Our Families Council. Applications are being accepted through June 5, 2015. Anyone interested in more information about the council can go to: http://www.sfmayor.org/index.aspx?page=16.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News