Policymaker Accountability: State & Local

AirNow’s “Air Quality Index” (AQI), originally created in 1968, is updated daily and available by zip code. The Environmental Protection Agency regularly reviews the pollutants it deems hazardous to health. The AQI is based on the five “criteria” pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. AQI provides a number from 1 to 500, with corresponding color code to signify the levels of health concern.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which operates through voluntary arrangements in 350 communities across 43 states, focuses on one major goal: improving third-grade-level reading proficiency. The campaign, which partners with nonprofits, business, philanthropy, and government, is embarking on a network-wide data platform called the Learning for Impact and Improvement System (LIIS). The new platform will help communities learn from each other about what works and will promote greater accountability for getting to population-level change and closing gaps for children from low-income families.

Children Now’s “2018-19 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being” is an interactive, online report that presents a picture of children’s condition in each of California’s 58 counties. This report provides county-level data visualizations, tracking 30 key indicators of child well-being across counties, over time, and by race and ethnicity. Viewers can see all indicators for a given county or see one indicator across all counties. Rankings indicate how a county stacks up vis-à-vis other counties.

The Children’s Trust’s “The Billion Dollar Bet On A Community’s Future: How the Children’s Trust persuaded the 2.4 million residents of Florida’s largest county to tax themselves during an economic downturn” (Martin Merzer) examines and analyzes the planning and implementation of a campaign in Miami-Dade County to reauthorize hundreds of programs that serve children in the areas of health care, education, and safety.

Common Sense Kids Action’s “California Legislative Scorecard 2018” rates legislators in the California Assembly and Senate based on 56 key “For Kids” and “Against Kids” bills in the 2017 legislative session. The bills address early life, family life, school life, and digital life. Legislators who scored above 90% were awarded a “For Kids” star.

Maryland Governor’s Office for Children on behalf of the Children’s Cabinet’s “Maryland Child Well-Being Scorecard” has been issued annually for more than 15 years by the governor’s office. The tool tracks results from areas known to affect a child’s ability to grow up healthy and secure. The governor’s office describes the scorecard as a “Results-based accountability framework to focus planning, decision-making and budgeting on desired results and outcomes.” This initiative now links with local management boards that exist in each county and the city of Baltimore to serve as a planning and coordinating hub for children and family services.

Santa Clara County’s “Child Impact Statements” were approved by the County Board of Supervisors in 2011 to ensure that children’s needs are taken into consideration in all county decision-making. The county’s Bill of Rights for Children and Youth and the goals of the Children’s Agenda are the basis for assessing impact. The Bill of Rights and Children’s Agenda also form the basis for a detailed annual report of progress by Kids in Common.

STAR Communities’ “Community Rating System” aims to address the needs of U.S. cities, towns, and counties seeking a common framework for sustainability. The initiative is a voluntary, menu-based certification program designed for communities to evaluate their progress against a set of standardized sustainability objectives and evaluation measures. Its seven goal areas and 21 leading indicators were developed in partnership with volunteers representing 50 cities and counties, state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, national associations, universities, utilities, and private corporations. Leading indicators are organized into an online platform where U.S. cities and counties can annually report key sustainability metrics. Communities of all sizes and experience can use the leading indicators to benchmark annual performance and compare their progress with participating communities.

Women’s Foundation of California’s “California Women’s Well-Being Index” (2016) is a web-based interactive tool that shows data and rankings, by county, for how California’s women are faring. The 30 measures encompass health, personal safety, employment and earnings, economic security, and political empowerment. The stated goal is to help provide a basis for policy solutions to advance women’s well-being.