About the Children's Agenda
Working together to achieve what we cannot do alone.
The Santa Clara County Children’s Agenda is a county-wide network of public, nonprofit, K-12, higher education, business, philanthropic and community leaders committed to working together to improve outcomes for children, youth and families. We accomplish this collectively, by sharing knowledge, aligning and coordinating resources, and using data and research to inform decision making, guide program and policy improvement, and drive results.
Every child safe, healthy, successful in learning, successful in life.
Kids in Common believes children need a strong public voice that promotes and protects their best interests. Kids in Common is that voice and challenges leaders to act in the best interest of children.
By promoting policies, investments and practices centered on children’s needs and success, and by fostering cross-sector, data-driven partnerships, we work to create a community where every child is safe, healthy, successful in learning and successful in life.
Kids in Common provides backbone support to the Santa Clara County Children’s Agenda. For more information about the Children’s Agenda, please contact Dana Bunnett at DBunnett@KidsinCommon.org.
The Need for A Children's Agenda
Each year our community invests hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the lives of children and families in Santa Clara County. In spite of this investment, competing priorities, fragmented and unstable funding, complex and siloed systems, and historical practices have led to adverse outcomes for many children in education, health, child welfare, and the juvenile justice systems. These harmful outcomes disproportionately impact children of color, immigrant children and low-income children, perpetuating a cycle of inequity of opportunity and intergenerational poverty.
This inequity can be seen in the data. For example, while making up only 38% of the population, 77% of youth arrested are Latinx or African Ancestry. As a proportion of the population, 10 times more African Ancestry and 4 times more Latinx children enter foster care than white children. In 2017, nearly 2,300 students did not graduate on time, and 84% of those who did not graduate on time are Latinx or of African Ancestry.
It is clear no single program or institution can singlehandedly solve the complex, largescale barriers that get in the way of the success of our children, youth and families. Improving children’s lives at scale requires a commitment by cross-sector leaders to focus together on the complex issues, particularly
root causes, that lead to harmful and inequitable outcomes. With a focus on cross-sector collaboration, continual improvement and the use of data to hold ourselves accountable for community-level outcomes, we can achieve better results for Santa Clara County children.
The Children’s Agenda establishes a framework and common language to help policy-makers, funders, nonprofit and business leaders to collectively address child development and well-being broadly, from birth to young adulthood, through innovative and sustained collaboration that cuts across bureaucratic silos. Working collaboratively, we are able to align efforts across sectors and among organizations working at different stages of a child’s development and move from fragmented action and results to deep and durable impact. Through the Children’s Agenda, we commit to work together to achieve collectively what we cannot do alone.
Governance and Structure
Children’s Agenda Network: A cross-sector membership network that meets 3 to 4 times a year in order to support:
Common Language and Framework for Improving Outcomes
Developing Shared Knowledge of Best Practices
Culture of Continual Improvement
Kids in Common provides “backbone” support to the Children’s Agenda Network.
Aligned Action Networks (AANs): Structured, data-driven workgroups focused on a specific indicator and/or targeted population with the goal of improving results. Currently two AAN’s are supported by Kids in Common focused on education and career outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system and another focused on youth in the child welfare system.
Stewardship Group: Provides oversight and decision-making for the Children’s Agenda, the Stewardship Group is composed of leadership of Aligned Action Networks and other workgroups (e.g. Policy Workgroup, Data Workgroup) and cross-sector leaders who are able to leverage resources to support the work.
The Children’s Agenda Network works to achieve better outcomes for children and youth by working together so that:
Bridges are built between siloed systems;
Relationships and trust develop among partners leading to identification of opportunities for collaboration that improve results for children;
Knowledge of best practices is shared with a focus on building upon what works and driving action to improved outcomes;
A culture of continual improvement is built through the use of data to inform and guide action;
Organizations and Individuals “Skill up” so they can perform their individual roles optimally while collaborating with each other effectively;
Cascading levels of collaboration create multiple ways for people to participate, communicate lessons and coordinate efforts;
Enabling conditions for systems change and improved results are seeded and sustained;
A common framework is created to drive work and collaboration among cross-sector partners to improve results for children;
There is shared accountability across sectors and among organizations for improved results for children and youth; and,
Stakeholder accountability results as individual agencies and organizations understand how their work contributes to the community level outcomes.
Values and Principles of Action
Every Child Matters: Every child should have an equitable pathway to a healthy and successful life. We cannot allow race, poverty or zip code to be a barrier to success nor define opportunity. The potential of our children is a resource we cannot afford to waste.
Focus on Families: Children thrive in healthy families and our work should be focused on strengthening families to support the healthy development of their children. Healthy families build the next generation of healthy children and families.
Community: We focus on what connects us rather than what separates us and communicate to each other with transparency and integrity.
Courage: We have the tough conversations that no one likes having and take risks in pursuit of improving outcomes for children, youth and their families.
Principles of Action
Targeted Universalism: We have common goals for all our children and recognize the need to redesign our structures to address the specific barriers to opportunity that exist between differently situated populations.
Strategic Action: Aligning efforts and resources to magnify impact within my organization and in partnership with other organizations.
Results Focused: Using data and evidence to tell us whether we are successful in our individual organizations’ work as well as at the community level.
Continuous Improvement: Disciplined and relentless commitment to improved results and to narrowing racial and economic disparities.
Equity: We must recognize and address structural and institutional racism, discrimination, harassment, and biases across systems that contribute to inequitable outcomes for children and their families.
Stakeholder Engagement: Ensuring those affected by the decisions are involved in making them.