Investing in Our Children with the Children’s Trust

Every day in the Black community in Orange County, Florida, there is street and domestic violence, and the causalities are our children. With extremely high rates of poverty, homelessness, and incarceration among Orange County’s children, it is easy to look the other way.

As our leaders and politicians have no answers, who should we blame?

Everyone is pointing the finger at someone else, and sayings don’t blame me. It is easy to blame single mothers, and poverty stricken neighborhoods are blaming the school system. Politicians blame the budget and not enough funding, but our children are left to struggle and can barely survive.

An investment in our children is an investment in our community, our county, our state, and our future. The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue derived from property taxes established by voter referendum. With the Children’s Trust, we envision a community that works together to provide the essential foundations to enable every child to achieve their full potential.

The idea of a Children’s Trust is not new, and has been discussed in various forms for 20 years, and it is on the table again in 2018 in Orange County. This campaign is chaired by former legislator and longtime children’s advocate, Dick Batchelor, and a broad coalition of community, political, and business leaders.

Children’s Trust – sometimes called children’s councils – already exist in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties. These councils bring in $6 million to nearly $114 million in revenue, and each has its’ own list of priorities.

“I have witnessed what other communities in Florida have done with a similar Children’s Trust, and the difference is remarkable. Working hand in hand with local schools and non-profits such as the United Way, YMCA and Boys & Girls Club, they are filling the gaps, resulting in more babies being born healthy, more children safe from abuse and neglect and more kindergartners ready when they enter school,” Bill Sublette – Chairmen of the Orange County Public School Board.

In order to make the Children’s Trust campaign a reality, the county commission must be persuaded to place language on the ballet that creates a children’s services council and increase local property taxes for the purpose of funding the initiative. The Campaign is asking the mayor and commissioners to place the issue on the ballot this fall, and give voters the opportunity to vote on the Children’s Trust and property tax increases.

The Children’s Trust is looking to raise $58 million a year in Orange County over the next 10 years. The estimated financial impact on a $250,000 home in Orange County would be less than $100 per year.

The statute establishes a volunteer 10-member board, including the Orange county Mayor or county commissioner and other local officials including the OCPS Superintendent and a local juvenile judge, who will administer the funding and programs. Five other members of the board are nominated by the county commission and confirmed by the Governor.

“Much of the new funding from the Children’s Trust will be spent in communities of color. These communities have been neglected for far too long. Is it fair to ask children to wait?” asked Dick Batchelor?

This Children’s Trust campaign is about letting the voice of the people shape policy when it comes to children in Orange County. Children’s Trust can create many high quality programs for thousands of children in communities where they are needed, because – “All Children Are Our Children.”

For more information regarding this important and most needed campaign, please visit the website at www.ourchildrenourchoice.com. 

Author  Roger Caldwell
Top