As Election Day quickly approaches, a number of states and localities will decide whether to dedicate millions of dollars of public revenue to children. Learn about all the efforts to fund children’s services on this fall’s ballot below, and check back after November 8 for a round-up of the election results.

Whatcom County, WA

Ballot Title: Prop 5

Campaign: YES for Whatcom Kids!

What It Will Fund: High-quality, affordable child care and expanded mental and behavioral health services and housing programs for vulnerable children

Projected Amount Generated Annually: $8.2 million

Voters in Whatcom County will decide whether to fund high-quality, affordable child care with a slight increase in property taxes. The funding will lower costs for high-quality early learning and care programs and increase the wages of child care workers, which will allow the county to improve provider quality and staff recruitment and retention. The fund also will provide services to help support new families and expand mental health services for pregnant parents and new parents. If approved, Prop 5 will raise more than $8 million annually through a property tax increase of $0.19 per $1,000 of assessed value or about $7.92 per household per month. The Whatcom County Healthy Children’s Fund would be the first children’s fund in Washington state outside of the Seattle/King County area.

For more information, be sure to check out the following resources: campaign website, Facebook, Instagram

New Mexico

Ballot Title: Constitutional Amendment 1, Land Grant Permanent Fund Distribution for Early Childhood Education Amendment

Campaign: Vote Yes for Kids!

What It Will Fund: Early childhood education and public education

Projected Amount Generated Annually: $150 million (for early childhood education) and $100 million (for public K-12 education)

In New Mexico, voters will decide on an amendment to their state constitution that would provide a significant new investment in early childhood education. The amendment would increase the percentage of revenue taken out of the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund from 5% to 6.25% every year and dedicate the additional $250 million in revenue to public K-12 education and early childhood programs and services. The Land Grant Permanent Fund accrues the profits that New Mexico receives from oil and gas companies that operate on state lands and is currently valued around $26 billion. If approved, the new funding would expand child care and early education programs and home visiting services for tens of thousands of New Mexican families. Passage of this measure would make New Mexico the second state (after North Dakota in 2006) to dedicate a portion of its land trust to early childhood via ballot measure.

For more information, be sure to check out the following resources: campaign website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok

Jackson County, MO

Ballot Title: Question One

Campaign: Jackson County 4 Kids

What It Will Fund: Mental health services for children and youth

Projected Amount Generated Annually: $28 million

In 2016, voters in Jackson County approved a ⅛ cent sales tax to fund mental health supports for children and youth. Since it was established, the fund has awarded over $68 million and supported 64,000 children through traditional mental health services, in-home prevention services, school-based crisis intervention, and more. Through hospitals, school districts, and other agencies, the Children’s Services Fund of Jackson County funds programs that support the mental health needs of children 0-5 years old. Despite its success, the Children’s Services Fund is unable to support 40% of its funding requests and the pandemic has only exacerbated the mental health crisis many children and youth are experiencing. This November voters will decide whether to renew the Children’s Services Fund and double the levy to meet the expanded need in Jackson County.

For more information, be sure to check out the following resources: campaign website, Twitter, Facebook

Sacramento, CA

Ballot Title: Measure L

Campaign: Yes on Measure L Sac Kids First

What It Will Fund: Mental health counseling, youth job training, substance abuse prevention programs, violence intervention, summer and after-school programs, early childhood education, and family support services

Projected Amount Generated Annually: $10 million

In November, voters in Sacramento will decide whether to create a children’s fund by setting aside a portion of the city’s annual budget. If Measure L passes, the city would be required to set-aside a portion of its budget equivalent to 40% of the revenue brought in by the city’s cannabis business tax (approximately $10 million) for a child and youth fund. Previous efforts to create a Sacramento children’s fund in 2016 and 2020 were unsuccessful, but resulted in the development and growth of Sac Kids First, a youth-driven coalition started in 2017, which has led continued efforts to establish a children’s fund.  Several factors point toward the increased likelihood of success for this version of the measure:

  1. While previous measures required ⅔ of the vote to win, this year’s measure only requires a simple majority.
  2. Measure L has moved forward with support from both the mayor and city council.
  3. The measure has support from its broadest coalition of community stakeholders yet, led by Sac Kids First.

For more information, be sure to check out the following resources: campaign website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Monterey, CA

Ballot Title: Safe, Affordable, Quality Child Care in Monterey County Act

Campaign: Yes on Q

What It Will Fund: Early childhood care and education

Projected Amount Generated Annually: $5.5 million

Monterey voters will decide on Measure Q this November, which would provide significant resources to improve the safety and quality of child care and early learning programs, help prevent child abuse, support children at-risk of experiencing homelessness, and provide behavioral and mental health supports. The fund will collect $5.5 million a year and be paid for by a $49 parcel tax. (A parcel tax is typically a flat tax on a property that is not based on its assessed value, unlike a property tax). The Yes on Q campaign has shown that child care is critical for economic development and has won the support of business-oriented groups like the local Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, be sure to check out the following resources: campaign website, Facebook, Instagram

South San Francisco, CA

Ballot Title: Measure DD

Campaign: Yes on DD, Preschool for All

What It Will Fund: Preschool and early education programs

Projected Amount Generated Annually: $68 million

If approved by voters in November, Measure DD will dramatically increase preschool and early care and education in the city. The measure aims to cover all the costs for all families with 2 ½ to 5 year olds who either work or live in the city. It would also significantly increase child care workers’ salaries to 230% of the city’s minimum wage, including benefits and union representation. The measure would raise nearly $70 million and be paid for by a $2.50 per square foot parcel tax on commercial parcels larger than 25,000 square feet, meaning that families and small businesses would not see a tax increase. Measure DD is an ambitious proposal that would help fix the city’s four-year long waitlists for preschool programs and help relieve families of the massive cost of early childhood education, where they pay an average of $20,000 a year per child.

For more information, be sure to check out the following resources: campaign website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Josh Weinstock is a policy associate at Children’s Funding Project.