Measure K increases support for young children

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“Children’s talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.” — Maya Angelou

It’s easy to believe children are resilient, but in truth, negative experiences in the early years can have an indelible impact on their future, and on ours. While many Yolo County children grow up in stable, loving homes, far too many local children live in untenable circumstances.

Nearly one in five Yolo County children live in extreme poverty, and only 52 percent of families can afford basic living expenses. Untreated mental health challenges, scant prenatal care, toxic stress, and undetected developmental delays severely weaken the chance for what could be healthy, productive lives later on.

Why are the earliest years so important? It’s simple. Ninety percent of brain development occurs by age 5. Given the importance of these foundational years, we should all speak up on behalf of young children. Thankfully that’s just what California voters did 20 years ago by passing Proposition 10, an additional tax on tobacco. This funding gave birth to the leading institutionalized voice — First 5 — for those who are prenatal to age 5.

Locally, First 5 Yolo, a volunteer commission of nine members, has invested almost $40 million over two decades to improve the lives of our youngest citizens. As First 5 Yolo celebrates this anniversary year, it operates with even greater efficiencies, expanded community partnerships, and new initiatives to continue its advocacy for children. Because of this activism and the forward thinking of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, your June ballot contains a rare opportunity to change the way we welcome babies into our world.

Measure K will tax cannabis businesses in unincorporated Yolo County in order to mitigate the unintended impacts of this emerging enterprise. A portion of these revenues will be dedicated to early childhood prevention and intervention support services.

By employing evidence-based, high-intensity services such as home visiting, parent education, and early childhood mental health programs, First 5 Yolo knows we can succeed at a critical time of life, when the return on investment is at its highest. Consider these benefits:

~  More mothers will receive prenatal care in the first trimester.

~  Fewer babies will be born preterm and low birth weight.

~  More children will have well-baby checkups.

~  Mothers and fathers will experience reduced stress levels.

~  Families will understand children’s developmental milestones and needs.

~  Parenting perspectives during pregnancy and the child’s first years of life will be more positive.

~  Parental confidence, parenting practices, stability in times of crisis, and successful parent-child relationships will increase.

~  Parent reports of substance abuse, harsh parenting, neglect, physical abuse, and psychological abuse will decline.

~  Rates of substantiated child maltreatment and entries into foster care will decrease.

~  High-quality early learning will expand.

Your June ballot provides a chance to renew the vision voters expressed 20 years ago. Now is the time to ask yourself: how do you wish to use your voice?

We hope you’ll add it to ours and use your vote so that children do not have to endure bleakness as the basis of their existence. Vote yes on Measure K to alter the trajectory of fragile lives, strengthen families, and elevate our entire community.

LOIS WOLK

California Senator, Yolo County Supervisor, and First 5 Yolo Chair, Retired

HELEN M. THOMSON

California Assemblywoman, Yolo County Supervisor, and First 5 Yolo Chair, Retired

SUFEN CHIU, MD, PhD

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Fellow American Academy Pediatrics

ANNETTE FINEBERG, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology

MELISSA MARSHALL,  MD

ANDREA MCKENNA, MD

SALLY BROWN, MSW, PhD, Commissioner, First 5 Yolo

SONYA GODINEZ, WJUSD Teacher

JAN SCHUBERT, Winters Business Owner, Bee Happy Candles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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