first5-historyFirst 5 Santa Barbara County (First 5) was established in 1999 after California voters passed Proposition 10, a state constitutional amendment. Proposition 10 imposed a 50 cent sales tax on tobacco products and directed that those revenues be used to support early childhood development focusing on prenatal to age five.

A driving force behind the passage of Proposition 10 was decades of compelling scientific research into the development of the human brain proving that proper growth and development in the earliest years of life was the factor most affecting our children’s achievement in their health, education, and success in later life. Additionally,
extensive research and longitudinal studies have provided practitioners with evidence about what programmatic strategies work best to support child development in the earliest years and to deliver an exponential return on investment for society, taxpayers, and philanthropy.

Each year, roughly $400 million in revenues are collected statewide as a result of Proposition 10, and by law, 80% of those funds are distributed proportionately to each of California’s 58 counties, based on each county’s annual birth rate. The law directed counties to establish independent public commissions to oversee how Proposition
10 dollars are spent and to provide public oversight, accountability and reporting on the effectiveness of those expenditures.

Since its founding in 1999, the Santa Barbara County First 5 Commission has distributed more than $65 million dollars to programs that support the health and physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of local
children and their families. First 5 invests in early childhood development, health, and family support programs and services that directly respond to the needs of local children prenatal through age-five and their families. In this way, First 5 represents a highly effective model for investing taxpayer dollars with local control, flexibility, transparency,
and accountability to the public for the outcomes intended to be achieved.

Download our current strategic plan here