In the fall of 2018, Sara Jacobs became the Founder and Chair of San Diego for Every Child: The Coalition to End Child Poverty. Currently, she concentrates on developing the organization, determining overall strategy and funding the infrastructure for the initiative for the first two years. Jacobs also helped launch the initiative’s San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund, donating $500,000 to the organization, with every donation matched 3:1 when the fund was first launched. Overall, she has contributed over a million dollars to support children in San Diego County.
As a believer in harnessing the power of technology to solve big problems, Jacobs is dedicated to fighting for children’s causes. A collaborative effort, the initiative covers a wide range of local, state, national and international organizations, with partners including the YMCA and Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS). Community partners, including the Center on Policy Initiatives, LISC San Diego, Parent Institute for Quality Education, San Diego Grantmakers, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego Workforce Partnership and others have defined children as the number one priority, according to Jacobs.
Jacobs has served in policy positions at the U.S. State Department during the Obama Administration, UNICEF, and the United Nations. She also served as a policy advisor to Secretary Hillary Clinton during 2016. A candidate for the 53rd Congressional District in San Diego, she will be on the General Election ballot in November 2020.
The focus of the San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund is threefold: providing food for children who are food insecure, much needed childcare services for equitable distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. San Diego for Every Child participated in the San Diego Emergency Child Care Task Force, which put forth a plan for supporting existing childcare services.
Many families in the San Diego area struggle with limited access to school lunches, reliable childcare and technology services necessary to support schoolwork since schools and libraries have closed.
San Diego for Every Child provides a connection to resources for families continuing to work in essential service positions, critical to our health and safety. These include first responders, grocery store workers, health care and medical workers in need of childcare for extended hours.
Families can apply for micro-grants in amounts of $575 for childcare or $100 for groceries and diapers provided by the San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund. Jacobs shared that families in need are receiving funds as quickly as possible. Funds are also directed to childcare workers in need.
The San Diego Foundation has donated $100,000 to Child Development Associates (CDA) and the YMCA Childcare Resource Service (a sub-set of the YMCA) in support of the fund.
The U.S. Census Bureau reveals 40 percent of San Diego County’s children under 12 lived below 200 percent of the poverty level in 2017. Before the COVID-19 crisis, there were approximately 200,000 children experiencing unequal access to healthy food, stable housing, reliable healthcare and quality childcare in early education in San Diego County.
In the San Diego military community alone, statistics support that out of 100 children, 63 are underserved.
“In a county as wealthy as San Diego, it is simply unacceptable that so many of our kids are experiencing poverty,” said Jacobs.
Rick Richardson is President and CEO, of Child Development Associates, (CDA). He joined CDA as a retired U.S. Army Colonel following 24 years of service. Richardson has a deep connection to children’s causes due to his personal experience with childhood poverty and his mother’s struggles as a single parent. He currently serves as the Board President of the California Alternative Payment Program Association, (CAPPA) and is connected to other childcare organizations as well.
Recognized for his commitment and outstanding work to social services in the 79th district for “Men Making A Difference,” by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, Richardson continues to champion and advocate for families and caregivers, creating an awareness and working towards the prevention of child poverty. Through San Diego for Every Child, Richardson has called on the community at large to become involved, offering an opportunity for learning, volunteering and brainstorming with the goal to cut child poverty in half by 2030.
Richardson shared that every day he thinks about how to care for vulnerable families during crisis. He supports “Parents earning and children learning,” stating that currently 9,000 children and 5,000 families are being served through CDA’s subsidized childcare programs. This is why he is currently continuing to work 7 days a week.
San Diego for Every Child has received over 1,600 applications for emergency funds, with CDA and the YMCA Childcare Resource Service working together to quickly get the funds in the hands of those in need, according to Richardson.
CDA and the YMCA each donated $10,000 for in-kind-services, offsetting administrative costs for the program. Ongoing donations fund the program directly.
The San Diego COVID-19 Children’s Fund supports first responders, essential workers in hospitals and grocery stores holding together the fabric of our society. Although the list of support organizations within the coalition is extensive, Richardson stated that San Diego for Every Child is dependent on donations, with the need growing daily.
“Our goal is to end child poverty 50 percent by 2030. It will not be easy, but it’s not impossible,” said Richardson.
Richardson explained that there are multiple opportunities for the public to help those in need through the San Diego for Every Child website.
San Diego for Every Child envisions a community in which every child has access to healthy food, stable housing, reliable healthcare and quality childcare in early education. Both staff and volunteers with San Diego for Every Child are doing the work of the angels during this most challenging time of COVID-19.
San Diego for Every Child invites us all to participate in becoming community champions, advocating for an end to child poverty. For a list of resources and to donate, visit www.sandiegoforeverychid.org/covid19.