In 2009, the Central California Children's Institute completed a study that examined resident's views of the most pressing issues facing children and families in the Central Valley.
Four priority issues surfaced from the study:
- the need to promote early psychosocial and emotional development of children,
- the importance of reducing risky youth behavior (involvement in violence, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy),
- the importance of effective parent engagement in the lives of youth, and
- the need to reduce poverty and its effects upon Central Valley families.
In addition, numerous health, education and human services professionals were polled about strategies for addressing these issues. These professionals endorsed the idea of developing a regional children's agenda that will promote policies, practices and applied research that would serve the interests of children and families in the Central valley. These professionals also indicated that the next step should be to bring child-serving agencies and professionals together to learn from one another, unite around common goals, and work together towards solutions.
Hence, the mission of the Central California Children's Institute became clear: to promote research, policies and practices that support the well-being of children and families, using a regional children's agenda as the guiding framework.
A structured process for developing a regional children's agenda was crafted, and a Regional Children's Agenda Leadership Team was formed in the fall of 2009. The Team was composed of 20 leaders from around the region representing early childhood, K-12 education, health, social services and others. This Team met monthly to begin the work of framing a regional children's agenda and developing action-oriented strategies.