TITLE: Proposition 10: The Debut of a Statewide Citizens' Initiative

AUTHORS: Max Neiman, Jason Martinez, and Michael Matthews

PAGES: 144      DATE: May 2005

ABSTRACT: In 1998, California’s voters enacted Proposition 10. This measure is transporting billions of dollars into the coffers of state and county “First-Five” commissions to enhance early childhood development in the first five years of children’s lives, so that children are as well prepared as possible to succeed when entering school. This project focuses on how the county commissions created to implement Proposition 10 ramped up to produce programs. Data were gathered by survey instruments sent to county commission executive directors and county commission members. The surveys focused on perceptions of problems and beliefs about accomplishments. Efforts were also made to gather expenditure data on categories of programs. Unfortunately, the amount of missing data was quite high, limiting our ability to assess carefully the causes of different county program responses. The data also included a broad array of standard socioeconomic characteristics, as well as measures of child well-being relative to health and educational achievement.

These are some of the study’s major, tentative findings: (1) County Proposition 10 commissions were generally slow in getting off the ground for a variety of reasons. (2) County commissions appear generally to be supporting programs consistent with the intent of Proposition 10, although that impression is very tentative given the high level of missing expenditure data. (3) Although there is a reservoir of good will towards the state commission, there is some resistance to having the state commission impose standardization in record keeping and evaluation programs. (4) Smaller counties are most concerned about sustainability and base funding for Proposition 10 funding. (5) There is still ambiguity about what authority the state commission has to require a standardized and transparent system of record keeping for county program expenditures. There seem to be positive and belated efforts to standardize at least the program-expenditure records and to enable more systematic evaluations of key programs.

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