Children are the foundation of our future, and we must do everything we can to help them grow and prosper. Investing in our children is always the right and smart thing to do.
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?
1) Income inequality is the barrier to equality: I have pushed back on proposed cuts to education and services for children. I believe in more K-12 funding, free community college, and grants to make higher education more affordable for families. As Supervisor, I will prioritize funding for education and other services to help children succeed. 2) Disparity to accessing physical/mental health services: I believe in early prevention and bringing services to people where they are. I pushed for statewide school-based mental health services, and secured funding to address mental health workforce shortage. I authored legislation to require translated and culturally appropriate Medi-Cal documents. As Supervisor, I will work on school-based mental health, language/culturally appropriate services, and outreach and funding for underserved communities. 3) Lack of affordable housing: I supported legislation to streamline and fund new housing development, protecting existing affordable option such as mobilehome parks, address homelessness, and protect renters. As Supervisor, I will utilize all available tools and funding to increase local housing, especially affordable and permanent supportive housing.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
I know that we are heading into tough financial times for all levels of government while the needs for services continue to increase. As I have done at the state level, I will continue to make sure that difficult decisions to cut funding do not fall on the backs of the most vulnerable in our community. In May, when the Governor proposed deep cuts to education, services for seniors, childcare, programs within Medi-Cal and other crucial services, my colleagues and I pushed back and were able to avoid those cuts. As Supervisor, I will do the very same to prioritize children and families and will ensure that we do not make cuts to programs that many rely on for support such as childcare, health/mental health services, support for the senior members in our community, assistance for our unhoused neighbors, and help for renters.
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 been a strong and consistent advocate for universal pre-school in addition to government-funded childcare programs for low income families. As Supervisor, I will use my experience and good working relationships at the state and federal level to leverage all available funding from state and federal governments to support expanding these programs. It is also important to recruit childcare providers who can work with children from immigrant families who are English language learners. I will promote language and culturally appropriate childcare services that can better cater to English learners and diverse communities.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted children with special needs and disabilities and will leave these children further behind. I want to provide support to parents and teachers who are working with children with special needs and different abilities. This means increasing funding to address learning loss for these children, and programs to support their families during and after the pandemic; programs that provide parents with coping tips, ongoing treatment plans, and easy access to care providers are important during and after the pandemic.
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 believe the solutions to these issues are funding, better understanding of the underserved communities, and a concrete plan. Whether it is food insecurity, digital divide, or lack of access to quality preschools and childcare, financial investments can help improve access and quality of services. However, money alone cannot solve these issues. We need to fully understand the different communities and their needs such as language barriers, lack of culturally appropriate services, transportation, shortage in affordable housing, etc… Fully understanding the communities and having concrete plan for each specific community will ensure a more catered and effective approach.