Santa Clara County Voter's Guide On Children's Issues

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, District 4

Susan Ellenberg

Everything begins with children and the families that raise, nurture and support them. While not everyone has children, everyone is someone's child. For our communities to thrive, we must invest in every child and proceed as though our own lives depend on it. As Supervisor, I will continue this work.

  1. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?

    1. Stable and secure housing. 2. High quality health care, including behavioral and mental health care. 3. High quality early childhood developmental and educational experiences. These issues form the basis of my campaign- fighting for all children and families. When vulnerable children and families are served well, our entire community thrives: neighborhoods are safer, the workforce is better prepared, and our economy is more stable. I will address these issues in an integrated fashion, partnering with multiple county agencies and nonprofit, as well as schools and industry, to ensure that these needs are met for every child and family.

  2. How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?

    I will advocate for the prioritization of these issues and work to identify funding streams within the existing budget to provide these critical services. My approach will be to look for gaps and redundancies in the budget, assess how services can be provided effectively and efficiently, and champion the need to pay competitive wages and allocate sufficient staffing positions to do the work meaningfully. I will also direct investigation for additional grant opportunities from state, federal and private sources. If we invest more in children and families, fewer dollars will be needed for remediation, emergency services and punitive measures.

  3. 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?

    San José Unified is one of ten public school districts participating in a pilot program to expand access to preschool for low income families. I was an advocate for this and legislation of the Individualized County Childcare Subsidy Plan which allows counties to determine their own eligibility criteria instead of relying on state. As Supervisor, I will continue to work to secure more funds at the federal, state, and county level for Headstart, First 5, child care, entrepreneurial training and look to private-public partnerships like the Boys & Girls Club to utilize existing but dormant spaces to house ECE programs.

  4. What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?

    I’m already engaged and to which I’m deeply committed on this issue. Under my leadership, SJUSD has completed an overhaul of our special education program, focusing on greater inclusion, more effective and timely service delivery and innovative approaches to serving students with special needs. I was proud to play a role in the creation of the Rotary Play Garden, San Jose’s now flagship all-inclusive playground and will support the creation of similar spaces throughout the County. I will pursue opportunities with the Special Olympics to increase their presence in our community and include athletes from throughout the County.

  5. 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?

    I see children in our school district who face a myriad of barriers that aren’t academic but socioeconomic. If children aren’t stably housed, sufficiently nourished and physically and emotionally healthy, their chances of succeeding academically are extremely low. This is what motivated me to run for Supervisor. County government’s primary focus should be on providing services for vulnerable populations that will move them toward greater self sufficiency and the needs of all families and children will be at the forefront of every vote I take and every policy for which I advocate.