First 5 Santa Barbara County (First 5) was established in 1999 after California voters passed Proposition 10 which imposed a sales tax on tobacco products and directed that those revenues be used to support early childhood development focusing on children prenatal through age five.
A key driving force behind the passage of Proposition 10 was decades of abundant, consistent, and compelling scientific research into the development of the human brain proving that proper growth and development in the earliest years of life was the factor most affecting our children’s achievement in their education, health, and success in later life. Additionally, extensive research and longitudinal studies proved that specific evidence based strategies to support child development in the earliest years were highly effective and delivered an exponential return on investment for society, taxpayers, and philanthropy.
Each year, roughly $400 million in revenue is collected statewide as a result of Proposition 10, and by law, 80% of those funds are distributed proportionately to each of California’s 58 counties, based on each county’s annual birth rate. The law directed counties to establish independent public commissions to oversee how Proposition 10 dollars are spent and to provide public oversight, accountability and reporting on the effectiveness of those expenditures.
Since its founding in 1999, First 5 Santa Barbara County has distributed more than $60 million dollars to programs that support the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of local children and their families. This work has depended upon an influential group of partnering agencies, nonprofits, businesses, community organizations, philanthropic leaders, and individuals and experts from many fields and all walks of life. Much has been accomplished to serve children and families directly while also building and sustaining a stronger and more efficient and effective system of support for local children prenatal through age five and their families.