Governor Signs Transformational Budget; Increases Historic Investment in Community Schools
Advocates praise Governor Newsom and the Legislature for additional funding for Community Schools, building on last year’s historic investment
(Sacramento, CA) - United Ways of California and the Children’s Defense Fund - California applaud the Governor and Legislators for agreeing to invest an additional $1.1 billion in funding for Community Schools in the Fiscal Year 2023-24. This budget agreement is a testament to the shared commitment of the Newsom Administration and the Legislature to build out a more holistic approach to address decades of inequities and help support students and families.
As organizations that have advocated for their creation and funding for years, United Ways of California and Children’s Defense Fund-California know that the California Community Schools Program is a historic initiative by our state to provide more than just a pathway to graduation for our children and youth. It is an opportunity to build healthy families and reshape communities that have been decimated by racism, policing, poverty, and the COVID-19 Pandemic.
We know that Community Schools are designed to provide precisely the kind of programming and services our children, youth, and parents need right now to reduce gun violence, unemployment, suicide, domestic violence, houselessness, and food insecurity. Instead of being punished for problems outside their control, students and families will receive tools and resources to support them. Community Schools will fundamentally reshape and improve health, education, and social service delivery for hundreds of thousands of California children and their families.
The California Community Schools Program is based on a cost-efficient, successful program, Healthy Start, that rapidly improved reading and math scores, immunization, mental health, family well-being, and reduced substance use disorders in California during the 1990s but was defunded during recessions. With this additional funding, Community Schools can reach communities that desperately need coordinated resources to support families and reduce the impacts of trauma and toxic stress rooted in poverty and structural racism.
Children’s Defense Fund and United Ways appreciate the efforts of the California Department of Education and their willingness to collaborate, and we look forward to continued conversations about the subsequent phases of implementation. We share concerns about truncated timelines and the overall application process and will continue to advocate for the most effective and equitable implementation of Community Schools.
“We are excited that California is doubling down on Community Schools and continues to pursue the promise of whole-child-centered quality education,” said Peter Manzo, President, and CEO of United Ways of California. “ Our network of local United Ways is happy to see the continued uplifting of community-based organizations and the pivotal role they play in the Community Schools model to help meet the needs of students and their families. We thank the Governor, Legislature, and Department of Education for their continued support of this transformational program. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund to ensure implementation of this program truly meets the needs of our most vulnerable students.”
“It is a simple concept: trusted community leaders supporting families to receive services close to home,” observed Thomas Harvey, Executive Director, Children’s Defense Fund-” California. “But the results are dramatic. In places marginalized by racism, poverty, and policing, communities can shape schools to meet their needs. This investment moves California closer to high-quality, trauma-informed mental health and health care for children from birth through age 25. We are grateful for the commitment of our author, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, and our partnership with United Ways of California on reviving this proven approach.”