Our approach to serving children and families should be based in investment in engaging developmental activities, inclusion of all families in the community, outreach to families and community organizations to determine strengths and needs, and relentless advocacy of supports including affordable housing, quality/affordable childcare, affordable tr
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?
The top three issues affecting children and families in our area, in the time of COVID and informed by the issues surfaced through the BLM movement, are housing stability, educational access, and economic stability.
COVID—and resulting unemployment—has highlighted the impact of the already existing gentrification crisis, widespread displacement, and movement of families of modest means out of our area. Preservation of existing affordable housing, creation of new affordable housing and tolerance of the necessity of vehicle dwelling, are needed and must be dealt with at the local level.
Educational access is at critical breaking point for many in our area. The digital divide, the impact of housing overcrowding on learning, and the impact of distance learning on the social-emotional health of all students, and baseline access for students with disabilities are key concerns. The City should be proactive and work with community partners to make progress.
Similarly, economic stability is at a breaking point for many families. Food support, utility support, rent payments, and healthcare are all key stressors. Our cities and counties must join together to advocate for family needs with the state and federal government, and support new sources of revenue to meet community needs.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
The budget process should be participatory and reflective of community needs, must include new revenues to meet community needs, and include realignment of existing practices and funding.
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?
Childcare is essential infrastructure. We need greater accountability on the part of large employers in funding childcare needs, including subsidized care, sick bay care, and accessible, local crisis nurseries. Subsidized care at all levels and care linked to parent services (including ESL education) are necessities. Our City must plan collaboratively with Adult Education and use city facilities to meet these needs.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
We need extensive outreach to families with disabilities to identify strengths and needs. Access to recreation, Magical Bridge park amenities, free play in multiple venues, and a variety of developmental activities should be provided.
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?
Our City used to have a much stronger emphasis on prevention, child development, and working collaboratively with community organizations. This is a focus that, unfortunately, has been lost. I look forward to bringing this focus back and advocating for our families at all levels of government.