My mission is to improve lives for all children and families and provide equal opportunities to thrive and get ahead economically. The residents of this Valley must have equal access to health care, equitable education including affordable quality childcare through college, livable homes, and well-paying jobs and training.
Taking into consideration the profound impact of COVID-19 and the expanded movement for racial justice and equity, what do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
I believe the top three issues affecting our children and families are the housing crisis, health care and mental health care, and education. Our state faces a serious housing crisis - families are being pushed out and priced out. Our children can’t afford to buy a home or even rent, where they grew up. As a grandmother who wishes that her grandkids lived nearby – it’s a problem I know all too well. We need to make sure the people can refinance their mortgages in a way that is fair and has due process, and I believe the government must help renters and small landlords by subsidizing rent and extending the eviction moratoriums.
Additionally, I believe we need to expand access to quality, affordable health care, standing with the millions of Californians who are losing their health care because they are losing their jobs. It is important that every family and child has access to dependable, reasonably-priced and easily available health and mental health care - no matter their socioeconomic status. And, we must expand access, training and subsidies for quality dependable childcare service to low income families, as well, to support everyone getting back to work.
We know, and it is more acutely obvious, that there is vast economic inequity in our valley which is impacting children’s access to equal quality education. We must close the digital divide throughout our state to assure that children have access to affordable, high-speed Internet service. Broadband internet is not a luxury, it is a vital service – one that’s needed for learning, for tele-medicine, for working from home. I also believe the state must prioritize training & retraining programs.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
I am very conscious of the budget shortfalls in our state, and the priorities I mentioned in the first question reflect a crisis in our state and would have to be the most important expenditures. Clearly, there are many issues that we will need to address including climate change and fires. But now is the time to prioritize addressing the housing crisis and homelessness, access to quality affordable health and mental health care, and education in order to assure that every child has an equal chance to live and get ahead in our community.
What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?
I have always believed that we must prioritize access to quality and affordable childcare for families, no matter what. I believe that the state must provide funding to increase the supply of quality childcare through funding quality improvement initiatives and address affordable child care for low-income and English language learners through supporting alternative payment programs and alternative contracts with center-based and family day-care umbrellas. Many of our essential workers are low-income minorities and they need access to quality, dependable childcare in order to be able to work - we must find ways to provide childcare that follows best practices to minimize exposure to COVID for the child, family, and the caregivers. We need to have more training for people to become childcare providers and tax benefits and incentives for people to set up childcare centers at their homes in order to increase the accessibility to childcare for everyone. I would support new legislation to diminish barriers to commingling head-start funding with state preschool and general child care. I believe we need to invest in preschool, in the same way - there needs to be more training for preschool teachers and investment in programs, with an emphasis on providing bilingual services to account for those who are English language learners.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
I strongly believe that we need to prioritize including and improving outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities - our government must work for each and every one of our children, and I have always fought for that. I believe that inclusion of children with special needs or disabilities into state-funded preschool and child care programs can be implemented by adopting many of the head-start policies such as waiving income guidelines and by encouraging inclusion with an enhanced reimbursement for children with disabilities that are included in preschool programs, as well as offer grants for technical assistance for inclusive programs that would provide training in such areas.
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?
Because this issue is one that I care deeply about, I would address the issue of the student achievement gap by listening to the experts in this area, looking at the facts and data, and by prioritizing children’s issues and education when making budget decisions and formulating legislation. I strongly support the funding of programs for providing access to healthy food and housing, and expansion of preschool, together with more training of teachers and provision of tutors and providing enrichment activities to all children. And I would seek expert advice to fund additional programs that would not only address these issues, but those also which are shown, through outcome studies, to have a positive impact on the opportunity gaps for low-income children and families and children of color.