Nurturing children and supporting families is an essential foundation for a healthy society. Families have it very tough with COVID-19, economic pressures, and the changed delivery of education resulting in a massive societal shift in just a few months which will have lasting effects. We must provide social scaffolding for resilient families.
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?
Top COVID-19 issues include threats to learning, safety both in stressed home situations and in disease prevention, and economic uncertainty with the potential of parents losing their jobs. We need to support economic recovery and delivery of aid, extend resources to families vulnerable to distress, and improve education delivery.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
I understand how families under stress can lead to neglect and abuse of children. The budget process needs to support working parents, advocate for children, and provide assistance for families who are struggling. The topic of childrearing has been an interest of mine, as a mom, and I have taken child development, psychology, and parenting courses. The life-long impacts of strong negative childhood experiences are ones we want to prevent through policies which support families to nurture their kids well.
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?
Parents need support to be able to work. The Federal government will need to do more, but companies can extend greater child-care benefits to families, and parents can form networks. Preschool education is really important for socialization and developing a good foundation for starting Kindergarten, and should be expanded. I spent about 8 years volunteering in the classroom, and my kids' school was a Title 1 school, that experience was very informative about the range of students in the area and the challenges families face. Cupertino has special language programs to help the English learners which works very well. We need to partner with the Board of Supervisors to ensure the wider region has successful programs, but ultimately we need to have sound fiscal policy to recover from the COVID-19 effects.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
Cupertino Union School District has a very good reputation for their programming for special needs students. The City of Cupertino has been in the process of building a playground specifically for children with special needs modeled after the Magical Bridge playground. I have advocated that all of the new playgrounds provide inclusive equipment when we upgrade, and have quiet spaces. Looking long-term, when special needs children reach adulthood we need housing to provide as much autonomy as possible.
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?
Throughout COVID-19 our schools have been providing meals which helps alleviate some of the stressors for families (food insecurity, economic uncertainty). The city is expanding their community gardens to help provide fresh food, a volunteer group is proposing expanding the garden further to provide produce to the public in need. The city donates regularly to West Valley Community Services which in turn provides for families. The Cupertino library is expanding their programming space which is a vital educational resource. I am working directly with CUSD and FHDA candidates to help with school funding and inclusive expenditures. We are fortunate that in Cupertino parents are really concerned about quality education and look out for all of the children.