$45 million awarded to Orange County health initiatives

February 14, 2012 by  

The Children and Families Commission of Orange County awarded $45 million in funding to various Orange County programs for use in 2012. The commission was founded as the result of a California initiative that directed tobacco taxes toward health and education initiatives for children.

The $45 million is being divided among a number of Orange County groups, providing a wide range of services. It has been allocated to assist in every aspect of the yearly budgets of these organizations, from paying teachers and tutors to offsetting medical costs to flyer printing and advertising to raise awareness about the services available.

The tobacco tax was instituted in 1998, and added 50 cents to each tobacco sale, with the precise purpose of benefiting children’s health initiatives in the state of California. However, the funding was almost taken away from these programs after Governor Schwarzenegger declared fiscal emergency in 2011. The California Congress attempted to pass bill AB 99, which repurposed the funds raised from the tobacco tax for the duration of the fiscal emergency to pay off California’s debts. AB 99 was struck down by the California Supreme Court in November, however, and the Children and Families Initiative was awarded the $45 million as scheduled.

The largest portion of funding, $20 million was granted to provide dental services and increase dental health awareness among Orange County children. The remaining $25 million was divided among a number of children’s well-being groups, including a group which funds autism research, a literacy program, and the funding of multiple homeless shelters throughout Orange County. The initiative also kicked off a partnership with the Anaheim Ducks to raise funding for at-risk children’s programs.