Submitted by Billie Jo Smith, Vice Chair
Children’s Trust of Lincoln County
CHILDREN’S TRUST OF LINCOLN COUNTY TO BE ON MAY 21 BALLOT
Voters will find the Children’s Trust of Lincoln County on their ballots again this May. At their Yachats meeting on March 6, the County Commissioners voted to place a revised 5 year levy before the voters, which will lower the requested property tax to 19 cents per thousand of assessed value. The levy would cost owners of a $100,000 property $19 per year and would provide approximately $1.2 million per year for children’s programs throughout the County.
The measure will establish a County fund completely dedicated to providing grants to programs which can benefit all children. The County is the fiscal and legal agent for the funds – responsible for collecting the taxes, verifying the legality of the grants, and writing the checks to programs. The Children’s Trust of Lincoln County (CTLC) non-profit organization will manage the funding process, and will appoint a CTLC Fund Distribution Committee which represents all parts of the County. This committee will review the grant requests and determine where the money will be spent. The Fund Distribution Committee meetings will be public.
The CTLC Board and the CTLC Fund Distribution Committee will be volunteers. One part-time staff person will be hired by the non-profit CTLC to manage the funding process, program reviews, and communication with the public, keeping management costs to an absolute minimum.
Accountability is clearly specified in the measure. All dollars from the tax levy can only be used for the Children’s Trust. The Fund and programs receiving funding will be audited/reviewed annually, and the CTLC will publish a report which shows how the funds were used and the effectiveness and success of the funded programs. Oversight by the CTLC Board and the CTLC Fund Distribution Committee, plus the County legal reviews and the official audit of the fund will assure that the levy dollars are used appropriately.
In their discussion of the measure, the Commissioners recognized that the programs currently serving our children are seeing drastic reductions in their funding sources (from foundation grants, charities, and state and federal grants), as the needs for these vital programs are increasing tremendously. An example was the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, which advocates for children in foster care. A child with a CASA volunteer stays in foster care about half the time as a child who does not have an advocate. This need is most severe in Lincoln County, as we had over 200 children in foster care last year, compared to only 50 in much larger, Benton County. The state funds only 12% of CASA’s costs, and this funding is in jeopardy as the state budget is being developed.
More than seventy programs have been identified which will be eligible to apply for the funds. The programs fall into three categories: Early childhood education and childcare; Child abuse prevention and intervention; and Outside-of-school child development, which includes after school and summer programs, tutoring, mentoring, the arts, athletics, nutrition, mental health and substance abuse programs for children and youth.
Patti Littlehales, Board Chair of the CTLC, stressed that the Levy funds will benefit all children. This is evident in the list of over 70 programs eligible to apply for funding that she presented to the Commissioners. This list will be published to help voters understand the huge impact the Children’s Trust can have in our communities. “These programs can help all of our children become successful”, she said.
CHILDREN’S TRUST OF LINCOLN COUNTY
BILLIE JO SMITH, VICE-CHAIR