A Brief History
In the late 1980s, recognizing that the needs of children in Miami-Dade County far exceeded the resources and support systems available, a cadre of committed individuals spearheaded a drive to address the problem. Using a Florida statute that allowed for such an initiative, the group generated a two-part referendum in 1988. Voters overwhelmingly recognized the need to help area children, but declined to fund the remedy through tax revenues.
Retired Miami Herald Publisher David Lawrence Jr. ("Founding Board Chair," please see below) spearheaded a new initiative a decade later. Given this second opportunity and with a much better funded campaign, Miami-Dade voters in September 2002 approved an independent special district, a dedicated funding source for children entitled "The Children's Trust." The vote was 2-1 in favor. One key difference between the 1988 and 2000 campaigns was that the latter emphasized a commitment to all Miami-Dade children, while still clearly recognizing that some children are more at risk and therefore need more help. A "sunset provision" required that the initiative be returned within five years for voter approval.
That vote took place Aug. 26, 2008. Despite the difficult economic climate, Miami-Dade voters decided in overwhelming numbers - 86 percent - to reauthorize The Children’s Trust.
Dave Lawrence Jr., Founding Board Chair
In recognition of his "untiring efforts on behalf of The Children's Trust" from its inception through the successful authorization campaign, Dave Lawrence Jr. was honored as a "Founding Board Chair 2002-2009." The honorific title, approved unanimously at The Trust's board meeting on Jan. 12, 2009, invites Mr. Lawrence to attend all board meetings and to serve as an advisor "to continue to lead and guide the organization," but confers no voting status on Board matters.
A Commitment to Collaboration, Accountability and Results
The Children's Trust, our staff and 33-member board remain committed to funding programs that offer the highest possible quality services, with the goals of implementing best practices and improving the lives of children and families in our community. In 2010, The Trust board and staff, together with community participation, developed a Results-based Strategic Plan for Investments for 2011-2015.
This plan identifies four major goals or results that The Children’s Trust seeks to achieve in collaboration with community partners: Children are healthy physically and emotionally; supported by safe, nurturing families and communities, ready to succeed when entering school; and succeeding in school and society.
Revenues based on property values declined for four consecutive years, and the Children’s Trust's budget dipped from a all-time high of $161 million in 2008 to $99.1 million for 2011. Yet despite the downturn in revenues, in most cases, the quality and efficiency of programs funded by The Children’s Trust have improved and increased. This coming year, due to a slight increase in property values, The Trust anticipates a 1.9 increase in funding, which results in an additional $4 million to spend on children and families in Miami-Dade County. The total budget for FY 2012-13 is projected to be $103,409,690.
Our revenues from taxes are based on a 0.5000 mill property tax (the maximum allowed by voter referendum). A person owning a home assessed at the median-taxable-value, minus the homestead exemption, in Miami-Dade County will pay $40.88 for this fiscal year.
The Children’s Trust emphasizes collaboration and partnership in order to provide the programs and services needed by children and families and to effect community-wide change. As we have since our inception, The Children's Trust encourages creative approaches to coordinating, integrating and funding services across and within the areas of health, safety, development and to promote increased parental and community involvement on behalf of all our children, while stressing accountability and results.