The Need for A Children's Agenda

Each year our community invests hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the lives of children and families in Santa Clara County. In spite of this investment, competing priorities, fragmented and unstable funding, complex and siloed systems, and historical practices have led to adverse outcomes for many children in education, health, child welfare, and the juvenile justice systems. These harmful outcomes disproportionately impact children of color, immigrant children and low-income children, perpetuating a cycle of inequity of opportunity and intergenerational poverty.

This inequity can be seen in the data. For example, while making up only 38% of the population, 77% of youth arrested are Latinx or African Ancestry. As a proportion of the population, 10 times more African Ancestry and 4 times more Latinx children enter foster care than white children. In 2017, nearly 2,300 students did not graduate on time, and 84% of those who did not graduate on time are Latinx or of African Ancestry.

It is clear no single program or institution can singlehandedly solve the complex, largescale barriers that get in the way of the success of our children, youth and families. Improving children’s lives at scale requires a commitment by cross-sector leaders to focus together on the complex issues, particularly
root causes, that lead to harmful and inequitable outcomes. With a focus on cross-sector collaboration, continual improvement and the use of data to hold ourselves accountable for community-level outcomes, we can achieve better results for Santa Clara County children.

The Children’s Agenda establishes a framework and common language to help policy-makers, funders, nonprofit and business leaders to collectively address child development and well-being broadly, from birth to young adulthood, through innovative and sustained collaboration that cuts across bureaucratic silos. Working collaboratively, we are able to align efforts across sectors and among organizations working at different stages of a child’s development and move from fragmented action and results to deep and durable impact. Through the Children’s Agenda, we commit to work together to achieve collectively what we cannot do alone.

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