To date, First 5 Kern has allocated more than $160 million dollars to support child development programs throughout Kern County. These programs have help ensure that all children are healthy and prepared to enter school. Funding for these programs is obtained through Proposition 10 tobacco tax dollars, which First 5 Kern administers.
Proposition 10 was passed by the voters of California in November 1998 and the Legislature codified the Proposition as the California Children and Families Act of 1998. This initiative added a $.50 per pack tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, and created a trust fund for the revenues collected. Revenues are used to fund local health, childcare and education programs that promote early childhood development for children ages prenatal to five. The focus on these important years is based on current early brain development research showing that a child’s brain develops 80 percent by age three. These early years of life are critical developmental years. Children exposed to healthy, loving, learning environments have a greater chance of becoming healthy, well-adjusted adults.
On December 5, 1998, the Kern County Children and Families Commission, known as First 5 Kern, was established by the Kern County Board of Supervisors and nine commissioners were appointed. Beginning in January 1999, revenues from the tax were collected at the state level and allocated to the counties based on the number of live births in each county. First 5 Kern receives approximately 10 million Proposition 10 dollars per year. These revenues are expected to decrease over time as smoking decreases.
In February 2001, the Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Development in Kern County was developed and adopted. This plan provides the Commission with a means by which they can identify the diversity of needs and suggest actions and policies to improve early childhood development services throughout Kern County. As mandated by the law, the Strategic Plan is reviewed annually and revised, if necessary. The 2016-17 Strategic Plan, along with the Five-Year Financial Plan, guides the funding priorities for the next three to five years.