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California Cities Adopt National League of Cities’ Platform for Strengthening Families

Every day, mayors and city council members are reminded that strong cities are built on a foundation of strong families. Local officials recognize that public safety, economic development, workforce strength and fiscal stability are intricately linked to the well-being of children and families.

That is why communities in California and across the country are adopting the National League of Cities’ (NLC) City Platform for Strengthening Families and Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth as a framework for local action.

Developed by NLC’s Council on Youth, Education and Families (YEF) in 2005, the platform challenges cities to take action on behalf of children, youth and families, and outlines the “essential infrastructure” or processes and mechanisms necessary for sustained progress. A community’s quality of life can be measured by the opportunities available to help children and families succeed, and this platform provides a blueprint for cities to create the opportunities that can help all of our families thrive.

The cities of San Jose, Long Beach, Temecula, Lancaster and Duarte have formally adopted the platform with city council resolutions or mayoral proclamations, highlighting the platform’s value as a tool to guide local action in cities and towns of all sizes.

These cities have demonstrated strong municipal leadership in areas ranging from promoting early childhood success to creating alternative high school options for students who struggle in traditional schools. The platform is helping each of them guide and assess progress in a number of areas.

For instance, the City of Duarte has made commitments to establish and support mentoring initiatives, continue joint use agreements with the school district to turn schools into centers of community life, and support or sponsor financial literacy courses for local residents.

In Temecula, the city plans to implement several of the platform’s recommendations through its out-of-school time program for children ages 7 to 15, a teen council that helps plan city-sponsored events and activities for youth, and a city-school task force to prevent drug and gang activities.

The City of Long Beach announced its adoption of the platform at a forum sponsored by America’s Promise — The Alliance for Youth, held in Long Beach from June 8–9, 2006. The regional forum offered municipal officials and other community leaders an opportunity to learn about best practices in meeting the needs of young people, and the unique roles they can play in supporting collaboration within their communities on behalf of youth.

The first section of the two-part platform identifies four essential tasks required for a sustained community investment: 1) identifying needs, opportunities and priorities; 2) building city-school partnerships; 3) promoting youth engagement and leadership; and 4) measuring progress over time.

The second part offers specific actions that communities can take in seven areas:

  1. Early childhood development;
  2. Youth development;
  3. Education and afterschool;
  4. Health and safety;
  5. Youth in transition and at risk;
  6. Family economic success; and
  7. Neighborhoods and community.

“Making certain our children and our parents have all the resources they need is crucial for children to become healthy, vital, responsible adults in our community,” says Daun Hester, vice mayor of Norfolk, Va., and 2006 chair of the YEF Council.

The National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families and the League of California Cities are working together to give every community in California the opportunity to adopt the platform.

Increasingly, local government leaders recognize that improving outcomes for children, youth and families is a central concern that affects all aspects of our communities. Cities and towns are using the platform’s recommendations to achieve common goals of prosperity, safety and vitality.

To read, download and adopt the platform, municipal officials should visit and complete the response form. The website also contains sample proclamations and resolutions from cities that have already adopted the platform. Response forms, resolutions and/or proclamations can be e-mailed to or faxed to (202) 626-3043.

For more information, contact Michael Karpman at NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families at (202) 626-3072 or

This article appears in the September 2006 issue of Western City
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