We are in our 12th year of investment in early childhood development and education in Fresno County. The dollars are significant, nearly $160 million of the tobacco tax dollars allocated to Fresno have been invested in training, systems and program support focused on children from 0 to 5 and their families.
As our Commission moves forward particularly in light of the fiscal realities of our state and county, we are more conscientious than ever to develop ways we can continue to build on the outcomes and intelligence that we've generated over the last decade. The research is clear. For every dollar invested in early childhood development and education taxpayers save $13 in additional costs mainly attributed to crime and unemployment. At the recent national Children's Defense Fund conference, Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke quoted that the annual rate of return adjusted for inflation on money invested in early childhood development is 10% or higher. Where else do we see that kind of return on our money today? What's incredible is that in light of that economic evidence we do not see the public will in support of early investment and prevention. All too often our headlines read about the latest threat to funding for child care, health insurance and education programs for children.
First 5 Fresno County believes that building the public will to demand that children be a priority in Fresno County is one of the most important contributions we can make to extending the history of our investment. We believe The Children's Movement of Fresno is the way to do that. In a county where one in four children live in poverty the time is now to move from a deficit spending strategy to an asset based strategy. In Fresno, we grow a lot of things...but, the most important thing we grow is our children.
TCM Leadership Team Member
Executive Director, First 5 Fresno County