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County Adopts Bill of Rights for Children and Youth

Bill to Provide a Framework for Decisions and Policies

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— Today the Board of Supervisors adopted a Bill of Rights for Santa Clara County’s Children and Youth.

Today’s action represents a pledge by local leaders to keep the needs of children and youth in the forefront when decisions are made in terms of policies, budgets and government practices. It encompasses a plan for action to protect the rights of children and youth with reliable partnerships, resources and cohesive efforts.

“With childhood obesity and dropout rates at such high levels, we must do more to protect the future of our children,” said County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors President Ken Yeager. “By endorsing the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth, we emphasize the need to keep the children of this county a priority as we make our decisions.”

The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in Santa Clara County has the full support of local organizations well known for their advocacy on youth issues, such as the Child Abuse Council and the Children’s Agenda Vision Council, which was developed by hundreds of community partners under the leadership of Kids in Common.

Major challenges threaten the development of children and youth in Santa Clara County. Among them, The Children’s Agenda points out that: each year, nearly 3,000 students in grades 9-12 drop out of high school; more than 1 in 4 children have significant development needs when they enter kindergarten; only 8 percent of middle and high school students have the developmental assets they need to thrive; nearly 25,000 students who are eligible for free or reduced cost lunches are not receiving this support; and only half of third grade students perform at grade level on reading tests.

“Children are entitled to fundamental rights that should never be taken for granted,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, Chairperson of the Board’s Children Seniors and Families Committee. “I wholeheartedly support this Bill of Rights, because it will be a constant reminder of our shared commitment and accountability to our children and youth.”

Santa Clara County’s Children’s Agenda provides the community with an explicit set of goals and methods for measuring the well-being of local children, based on 13 explicit indicators. These indicators, collected and monitored over time to track programs and ensure children are safe, healthy and successful in school and life include: Access to healthcare; healthy lifestyle; early childhood social and emotional development; school readiness; third grade reading proficiency; eight grade math proficiency; children in the thriving zone of developmental assets; children fluent in 2+ languages; high school graduation rates; children living in safe and stable families; and children and youth reporting they feel valued by the community; children experiencing hunger; and juvenile arrest rates.

The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in Santa Clara County will help local leaders, organizations, communities and families stay focused on children and youth as a priority, so that:

•     They have a healthy mind, body and spirit that enables them to maximize their potential.
•     They develop a healthy attachment to a parent, guardian, or caregiver and an ongoing relationship with a caring and supporting
      adult.
•     Their essential needs are met – nutritious food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and accessible transportation.
•     They have a safe and healthy environment, including homes, schools, neighborhoods and communities.
•     They have access to a 21st century education that promotes success in life, in future careers and a love of life-long learning.
•     They have training in life skills that will prepare them to live independently, be self-sufficient and contribute to their community.
•     They have employment opportunities with protections from unfair labor practices.
•     They have freedom from mistreatment, abuse and neglect.
•     They have a voice in matters that affect them.
•     They have a sense of hope for their future.

Background:

An International Children’s Bill of Rights was proclaimed in 1990 by the United Nations. The State of California approved its own Children’s Bill of Rights in 2009, modeled after the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth of San Mateo County. The Santa Clara County Children’s Agenda urged all County and local agencies, parents, guardians and community organizations to join in support of the Bills or Rights for Children and Youth.

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119
Posted: February 9, 2010