This month marks the 15th anniversary of Proposition 10, the ballot initiative that created First 5 commissions in California. Although November 1998 seems like another era, even back then there was a wave of research that revolutionized the understanding of how early experiences affect the developing brain.
Armed with this knowledge, Hollywood director and producer Rob Reiner took a bold step and proposed a ballot initiative that even now seems impossibly ambitious: tax cigarettes at 50-cents-per pack and use the proceeds to create a system of programs for children 0 to 5 and their families in every California county by establishing independent commissions to provide oversight and allocate funds.
The initiative barely passed, with 50.5% of the electorate (51.72% in Contra Costa County!). Prop 10 opponents, almost entirely tobacco companies, outspent supporters by three to one. Two years later, those same opponents would put forward another initiative to repeal Prop 10, which was rejected by 78% of the voters. Later, there were other failed attempts to de-fund First 5. But these efforts never distracted us from our mission: to improve the lives of Contra Costa’s youngest children.
We’re Celebrating 15 Years for Kids!
It’s been 15 years since California voters approved Proposition 10, the California Children and Families First Act, and created a guaranteed revenue stream to fund health and education programs for children birth to age five – the most important developmental years for children.
For the past 15 years, First 5 Commissions in every California County have strategically invested Prop 10 funds to help children grow up healthy, nurtured, and ready for school.