Local Financing Efforts
We exist to help communities close equity & opportunity gaps for children and youth by effectively leveraging existing funding, generating new revenue, and developing collaborative infrastructure to administer funds in a coordinated fashion.
How can we sustainably fund child and youth services that close opportunity gaps? What does comprehensive strategic financing take? The Children’s Funding Project classifies its approach into four policy levers - Find, Align, Generate, and Activate - that leaders can pull to improve financing for children and youth in their locality.
Does your community have a clear picture of its full set of investments in children and youth?
Pulling the ‘Find’ lever involves developing the capacity to rigorously identify, track, analyze and forecast funding sources and needs. The main ‘Find’ activities are: creating a children’s budget or fiscal map from a child-centered (not department-centered perspective), which involves data collection, visualization and analysis; and convening budget holders for conversations about shared outcomes, target populations and priority services and programs.
How do we make policy decisions that encourage the most efficient and effective use of the funding we already have?
To pull the ‘Align’ lever, localities must identify barriers to efficient and effective use of funding and create solutions. This often necessitates convening a diverse group of budget holders, policymakers and funding recipients to determine where barriers to alignment and flexibility exist and how policy changes can impact those barriers. Current use of funding must be examined for opportunities to blend, braid, and seek waivers within funding streams, and budget holders must make tough strategic adjustments in how funding is allocated, managed and accounted for within and across agencies.
We have big gaps in our federal, state and private funding, how do we generate new local resources?
Localities across the country have come up with a myriad of innovative methods of generating new funding for children and youth. When trying to generate new funding, localities must: research potential new revenue sources and funding mechanisms; build a case around the needs of youth and children in their community and gaps in their current budget; and build a coalition of engaged stakeholders to influence and advocate for their initiative. When generating new revenue, it’s also necessary to plan for the strategic administration of this new funding and design an accountability infrastructure.
Adopt measures to ensure maximum impact of funds.
Once funding has been secured, localities must decide on how to best use the funds. Depending on the source and type of funding, this may involve developing long-term strategic investment plans, designing an accountability infrastructure, and coordinating multiple stakeholders. It also commonly involves evaluating impact using data on the flow of funds, performance of programs and services, and trends in child and youth outcomes in a locality.
What's your role?
Many different stakeholders can and should play a role in comprehensive strategic financing for children and youth, but the activities within FIND, ALIGN, GENERATE, and ACTIVATE won't look the same for everyone.