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[whitespace] Local groups get infusions of new funding from Prop. 10

Willow Glen--Parents and children in Santa Clara County will soon benefit from Proposition 10, a statewide resolution passed in November 1998. On Dec. 13, the Children and Families First Commission (CFFC)--a nonprofit, nongovernment organization--awarded $1.8 million to 210 child care facilities in the county.

Four of the facilities that applied for and received funding are located in Willow Glen: a preschool and three day care centers. Mulberry School could receive as much as $7,650, Tanya's Day Care could receive $8,538, Carolyn's Childcare Service could receive $575 and Children Under the Rainbow Day Care could receive $4,500. These grant amounts won't be official until each recipient meets with CFFC commissioners later this month.

The allocations will be used for equipment and materials, renovations and office supplies that fit CFFC's definition of "program enhancement" for children, ages 5 and under. Not included in this requirement are teaching curriculum, personnel salaries and building overhead.

According to Karen Blinstrub, executive director of CFFC, the driving force behind the allocations is the principle that "every child deserves a safe, healthy, nurturing environment, whether it's at home, school, or in child care.

"Research has been done and shows that the most brain development occurs between ages zero and five," says Blinstrub. CFFC targets the improvement of child care for this early age.

Each facility submitted a written proposal that included funding requests, ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. A grant proposal committee of mostly non-CFFC members handled the 181 proposals of $9,000 or less. Higher amounts were decided by a separate committee and categorized as "barter loans." In return for funding, facilities will offer services, such as free day care to families with low incomes, free ESL programs, and help to fledgling child-care programs.

The funding is one of the first in a series of allocations to be made every two to three months. CFFC has also agreed to contribute $2 million annually for three years to reach the goal of getting health insurance for every child in the county, regardless of economic status.

Any facility in the county could apply, with the only request requirements being that it "must be family child care and center-based [and] must enhance the quality of the childcare center," according to Blinstrub. CFFC also gave funding to family cooperatives, which the Social Services Department cannot do.

The child-care allocation project is the culmination of interaction between CFFC and the community. CFFC's director of program services, Julie Duncan, says that there were "hundreds of meetings" that took place this past year, at different times in the day or evening, some culture-specific, to hear parents' feelings on what improvements need to be made.

Proposition 10, which increased the tax placed on all tobacco products by 50 cents, is expected to generate approximately $700 million statewide each year for the enhancement of child-development services. Twenty percent of this revenue goes to the state-sponsored projects, such as anti-smoking campaigns, while the rest is divided up proportionally--by number of births--between the 58 counties. As a result, Santa Clara County will receive a total of $27 million throughout each year, allocated in various phases.

CFFC, on a statewide and countywide level, emerged out of Proposition 10 legislation. The commission was formed to manage Proposition 10 revenues to benefit families in California.

In Santa Clara County, CFFC is independent of government organizations in its operations, while in other counties CFFC is run by the government. Spokesman Dan Orloff points out a merit of being an independent commission--the lack of politics in the use of Proposition 10 money. "Removing the politics from the money speeds the delivery of the funds to the citizens of Santa Clara County who most need it," says Orloff.

According to Duncan, CFFC has a number of other projects up its sleeve. They include forming family resources centers, establishing educational programs for parents, and expanding neighborhood services, such as babysitting and tutoring. This strategic plan, dubbed "A Chance for Every Child," consists of 11 main strategies for the next three years.

"We are also in the process of forming an advisory committee with community members--parents, professionals and others," says Duncan.

Orloff finds plenty of benefits in dispersing the Proposition 10 revenue. "You'll see moneys going into education, all kinds of programs to improve life for children ages zero to five."
Gloria I. Wang

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