San Diego Involves Entire Community in Improving Children's Well-Being

From 1996 to 1998, the United Way of San Diego County in a collaborative effort of the Children's Initiative in San Diego County, Calif., engaged individual citizens and community institutions in improving the health, safety, and well-being of local children and families.

The grants were later transferred to the San Diego Community Foundation, which oversaw the program from 1998 to 2001.

The existing system for delivering health, education, and human services in San Diego County—the fourth most populous county in the United States—was fragmented, causing duplication of some children's services while leaving gaps in others.

In 1991, five local organizations formed the Children's Initiative to identify ways of improving the care of the county's youth.

Key Results

  • The project:

    • Established ongoing community task forces to address each of the following:
      • Healthy development of children aged six and younger.
      • Safer communities and reduction of youth violence.
      • Youth dialogue on issues and ideas facing young people.
      • Helping neighborhoods become more effective in meetings the needs of youth and families.

      The task forces range in size from 15 to 30 members and include community leaders from health, business, education, health, justice, law enforcement, and social services.
    • Completed a study of regional collaboratives and initiatives affecting children, youth, and families.
    • Decentralized the services of San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency into six geographic regions, each with a service center to support families and children. The new system was designed to simplify access to services and make multiple services available in single locations.
    • In collaboration with other organizations, hosted an August 1997 event for teenagers on the problems of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal-drug use and ways to address them.
    • Established community organizations in each of the six Health and Human Services regions to focus on decentralization and services planning.
    • Created the San Diego County Regional After-School Consortium to improve after-school services for young people.