California’s first children’s Governor


Candidates in May 2018 at the California gubernatorial debate hosted by Silicon Valley Community Foundation and NBC Bay Area

On Monday, Jan 7, Governor Gavin Newsom delivered an inaugural address with his two-year-old son Dutch standing beside him, after Dutch unexpectedly left his seat and joined his dad on stage. While holding his son in his arms, Newsom vocalized his vision for the state; “All kids should have a good life in California...we will support parents so they can give their kids the love and care they need, especially in those critical years when so much development occurs.”

Three days later, Newsom gave another tangible indication that he will be a champion for young children with the release of his first proposed state budget. In it he asked the legislature to appropriate $2 billion of new investments in early childhood programs and is proposing a dramatic increase in the state’s Paid Family Leave program. His budget proposal focuses on tackling the breadth of challenges that California families with young children face and also attempts to address the root causes of the challenges, namely the affordability crisis.

Before his inauguration, Newsom hosted a children’s celebration at the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Thousands of children and families enjoyed a beach-themed dance party with an all-kid DJ lineup, virtual reality experiences, do-it-yourself workshops, and cuisine from all over California. There were also trains, and a perceptible sense that this Governor would be leading the state with a different set of priorities than his predecessors.

For the past two and a half years, SVCF’s Center for Early Learning has worked to engage with and educate California’s gubernatorial candidates to ensure that California’s next governor is a champion for young children and families, regardless of who they are or what their party affiliation is. We built relationships with candidates and advocates from around the state, conducted polling to highlight the importance of early childhood issues, constructed an ambitious policy agenda with support from the early childhood field, and hosted public events including the only statewide televised debate of the 2018 election cycle.

The children’s event, inauguration and proposed state budget are all indicators of seismic shifts from the status quo in our state. California has never had a champion for young children occupy the Governor’s office. We are honored to have played a role in bringing the issues of early childhood education to the foreground of the campaign and we look forward to working with the Newsom administration to build a California that supports all of our babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their families!


Pete Weldy, Mei Wu and Avo Makdessian of Silicon Valley Community Foundation's Center for Early Learning, and a scene from the pre-inauguration children's event