This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.
This information was provided for a project that took place from November 1999 – January 2004. More »
The goal of the Civic Engagement Project for Children & Families (CEP) is to build long-term partnerships among a wide diversity of communities and public policy-makers — promoting the collaborative development and implementation of public policy on behalf of young children and families. The aim is to include new, and often unheard, voices in policy development — for example: parents and grandparents, low-income communities, pregnant and parenting teens, ethnic minorities, urban and tribal American Indian communities, migrant and new immigrant populations, and the faith and business communities. CEP is founded on the belief that community involvement in the policymaking process results in more effective, equitable, and relevant policy decisions and practices that best respond to community needs.
The work of CEP is shaped by three guiding principles:
By engaging the broadest diversity of public input into the formation and implementation of Prop. 10 policy, the project also promotes broader public awareness of early childhood development issues overall. These efforts include documenting the experiences of CEP partner counties through various mediums and, gathering lessons applicable to other Prop. 10 counties with the potential of applying them to other policy arenas.
In October of 1998, representatives from several California foundations, UC Davis University Extension, and other institutions, gathered to consider the question of “whether organizations representing civic investing, public journalism, and civic education could jointly undertake a project that would create or improve civic engagement or civic dialogue in Northern California.” Five months later, the group chose California Proposition 10 as an ideal opportunity for citizen input to guide public policy. County commissions willing to follow the CEP design for “engaging the public” were invited to submit proposals for administrative funding and eight were chosen to participate in the two-year program: Contra Costa, Monterey, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Yolo.
CEP was officially launched in November of 1999. The State’s deadline for strategic plans for using the first-year Prop. 10 monies was initially set at June 30th, 2000. The CEP counties were to use the intervening time for Stage 1, the public input phase of the CEP, and Stage 2, the public deliberation phase, in order to design their local Prop. 10 strategic plans that represented the values and concerns of the people for whom the funds would be used — and who are rarely consulted in the usual course of events.
From its inception, the Civic Engagement Project for Children & Families has worked to complement the work of each partner county as they strategize, design and implement programs, services and policies to better serve young children and families with Prop. 10 funds. This has taken the form of grants, brokering resources, technical assistance, and ongoing county-specific support of each county’s strategy to build long-term partnerships between a wide diversity of communities and policymakers. The underlying premise is that the juxtaposition of people who do not normally come together creates new possibilities, solutions and approaches to familiar problems — which can have positive impact on the design and implementation of Prop. 10 policy.
Over the course of the project, the CEP’s framework and approach in supporting partner counties has shifted in response to the evolving needs of its partner counties. During the first two years, the CEP promoted “deliberative dialogue” as a primary format for each partner county’s civic engagement strategy. This strategy was chosen due to the CEP Steering Committee’s familiarity with, and interest in, this form of civic engagement. During this time, the CEP worked to test the potential and limitations of “deliberative dialogue,” seeking to understand and document the successes and lessons learned among the eight partner counties. In its beginning stage, “deliberative dialogue” — as a strategy of engagement — proved useful as each county’s Prop. 10 Commission sought public input and participation in their local Prop.10 strategic planning processes.
In the second half of Year 2, most partner counties had completed their Prop. 10 Strategic Plan and were beginning their “implementation” phase which required the use of multiple strategies of community engagement. As a result it was necessary to re-evaluate the applicability of CEP’s model in a post-strategic planning context. Partner counties and the CEP Steering Committee sought a more comprehensive guiding framework to support the discovery and implementation of the many community-driven strategies of civic engagement that were emerging outside of the “deliberative dialogue” format. Through a series of planning meetings (June – September 2001), CEP Staff, Steering Committee members, and partner counties collaboratively revised the project’s framework to guide the identification and development of strategies on which to focus.
This process resulted in the current CEP framework, which now focuses, not on one strategy (as was the initial framework of deliberative dialogue), but instead on many. Within this framework, the CEP supports civic engagement strategies that fall within three general guidelines:
These guiding principles support each county in building on locally-based practices that have proven successful and in addressing the particular challenges faced in the context of their county. As guiding principles, they also provide for a common framework from which to share best practices.
The Civic Engagement Project for Children and Families began as a two year pilot project — and in its success the funders granted a third and fourth year. It has always been the intention of the project to come to a close after providing the initial infrastructure, support, and guidance necessary for partner counties to develop a sustainable civic engagement approach to their First 5 activities. Although the final evaluation will be completed and posted in September 2004, our preliminary assessment is that the CEP project was extremely successful. We hope this work will continue to spread to the other First 5 Commissions as well as other organizations. Thank you to all participants and collaborators!
The FIRST 5 Association of California has become the generous host of these web pages which have been retained as a resource to those who continue the work of civic engagement.
Be sure to check out the final evaluation of this project.
The Civic Engagement Project for Children & Families was collaboratively developed by the:
Representatives from each of these foundations, and several independent civic engagement specialists, serve on the CEP Steering Committee, providing leadership and resources to the project's overall mission.
The project staff — the CEP Executive Director, the Lead Consultant, and the Project Associate — provide project coordination, resources, and technical assistance to eight partner counties. The project also includes a team of Evaluators, a Video Documentation team, an extensive consultant pool, and numerous community partnerships.