What happened: Shelby County Commission voted 8-3 on June 6th to defund the county Office of Early Childhood and Youth (OECY). Commissioners Brooks, Bunker, Ritz, Shafer, Harvey, Thomas, Roland, Ford, Chism voted to defund the Office. Voting against was Mike Carpenter, Melvin Burgess and Walter Bailey. In the end, these commissioners voted to sacrifice $6 million in state and federal grants awarded the Office of Early Childhood and Youth to serve Shelby County kids because it would rather cut $400,000 from its budget.
What happened just prior to the vote to stand against the children of Shelby County: Shelby County Commission voted to fun their catering budget of $25,000 and travel budget of $12,500.
Here is what we lose:
-$4.2 million grant from the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services. This multi-year grant will provide pre-natal care for pregnant teens at Memphis City Schools, ensuring that babies are born healthy, stay healthy and are enrolled in quality early childhood programs. The funds would have gone to hire 6 master-level social workers whose only job is to recruit and follow ALL pregnant and parenting teens in Memphis high schools set to start this fall, in order to link them to quality pre-natal care, case management, home visitation services, Head Start, and Pre-K.
$1,674,320.00 from the State of TN to provide oversight and accountability for community providers of pre-natal care and infant mortality reduction efforts.
-$500,000 to fund hard-to-find resources like diapers, breast pumps, cribs, car seats, etc. $300,000 would have funded a Community-wide, multi agency, case management tracking software to follow families and improve the service delivery system.
-an invitation by the Department of Justice to receive $2 million for the Defending Childhood Initiative, Shelby County being 1 of only 3 communities across the United States to receive this invitation
-the improved coordination of children and youth resources, led by this Office along with its many community partners. This Office has partnered with over 200 agencies across Shelby County over the past 3 years.
These are examples of how the Office has leveraged a very small budget of $396,795 in fiscal year 2011 to attract millions of state and federal dollars. This funding would not have been available to our community without the coordination of the Office of Early Childhood and Youth. OECY secured funding that benefits evidence-based programs, that serve clients directly. Funding goes directly to the community.
We the undersigned ask?
Is catering lunch to Commissioners more important than reducing our teen pregnancy rate or high infant mortality rate or child abuse rate?
Do you not yet realize that by improving health, education, safety, and support for children that you are building your future taxpaying community?
Do you not understand that you are hurting my program and the families we serve by defunding this office?
Restore funding Immediately!
We need your help! Restore funding to this office, that has leveraged a mere $370,000 of County funding to bring in millions of dollars, to address such community ills as teen pregnancy, poor parenting, infant mortality reduction, child car seat safety, childhood exposure to violence, and in serving as the single point of coordination within government for all of these programs, so folks are not out there fragmented, un-coordinated, but are working toward building a quality system-of-care for families who usually fall through the cracks.
Congratulations and Thank You!
We won! Monday marked a turning point for those of us in Shelby County who believe we should Put Children Before Politics. The County Commission voted 9-2 to restore funding to the Office of Early Childhood and Youth.
How did we achieve this success?
-Over 1200 people signed the petition to restore funding to the Office of Early Childhood and Youth
-Over 600 phones calls were made
-Over 100 people were in attendance at the County Commission meeting on June 20th
Standing together these last few weeks has proven that we are a powerful voice and advocate for the interests of our most important asset, our children.
On June 6, 2011, the Shelby County Commission voted 8-3 to end funding for the Office of Early Childhood and Youth (OECY), an office responsible for coordinating programs to increase government knowledge, support and commitment to provide funding and resources for children and families in the Greater Memphis area.
Established in 2005 by former Shelby County Mayor, A.C. Wharton, OECY utilizes child impact statements to implement initiatives that address Child Passenger Safety, Teen Pregnancy, Parenting Success and Infant Mortality.
In 2011 alone, the office leveraged $396,795 in County funding, which in turn brought in millions of state and federal dollars to address community ills that impact children with the goal of building a system-of-care. Their objective is to mainstream consideration of child well-being in the legislative process and improve statistics related to the aforementioned areas.
Stand for Children, a national, grassroots child advocacy organization with a growing membership base and support network in its Memphis chapter knew we could not allow the Commission's vote to cut funding for OECY to be made permanent. Immediately following the announcement, organization members and leaders began mounting the Put Children Before Politics" campaign to encourage community residents and leaders to speak out against the Commission's recent decision. It was successful! Thank you all!
The services that this office provides are invaluable and the loss of them would have had a devastating impact on many families in our community. Our Commissioners put politics before children by jeopardizing more than six million dollars in funding that is being directed to our county to support the critical work of the OECY. Keeping this office open ensures that the health and safety of our children is protected.
The victory is only the beginning of what Stand for Children believes can turn into a movement, to Put Children Before Politics! We know through your words and actions that many of you feel the same. We want to continue the resolve to put children first in all our political decisions, especially in those we feel to be of extreme importance.
In the upcoming months there will be monumental decisions made concerning our schools. Since the referendum on March 8th, not much progress has been made towards planning a successful transition. This is our time and as a community we must lead the way toward Unification and Healing. Our schools in the city and county are essential for our children's success. Therefore, we want to ensure the decisions made will be the right ones; and, ones informed by the community.
Please continue to Stand for Children and let your voice be heard around this next important issue.
Here are 3 things you can do now to take a stand:
1. Sign and forward our survey to capture the community's voice around the transition process https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2MJJ3RT
2. Join our Stand For Children list serve to stay informed of upcoming actions and events by emailing Memphis@stand.org
3. Learn more about Stand for Children or become a member @ www.stand.org.
Also check us out - we made the Commercial Appeal!
Standing with you,
Kenya, Jennifer, Ryan, Jaclyn, Mark, and Henry
Stand for Children is working hard to improve the lives of Children in TN.
Give a Click to help Tennessee Stand for Children win the Vivint Gives Back contest. It's free and takes just a few seconds.
1. Go to http://www.vivint.com/givesbackproject/charity/1103
2. Log in to Facebook and click ENDORSE.
3. Repeat tomorrow through Saturday. That's it!
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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