COVID-19 has demonstrated the incredible gaps in the resources available to all of our children and their families. From access to childcare, to comprehensive healthcare and the right tools and resources for education, we should be doing more to provide for children, especially those from marginalized communities.
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. Guaranteeing childcare and an affordable home for every family. Many hard-working parents in our community are essential workers, and as their kids aren’t able to go to school in person, they are left with few options to make sure their kids are taken care of. We also need to make sure that children have the stability they need to thrive, which means ensuring no family is displaced from their home in Palo Alto.
2. Universal internet access. We should provide fiber optic internet connections to every home in Palo Alto. Children in low-income families are struggling with their schoolwork because of limited internet access, and even after schools come back in person, they will all need access to this vital service.
3. Mental healthcare for all. Mental healthcare has often been overlooked, but thankfully, this perception is changing. We must give every family, children and parents, access to the support services and networks they need for mental health, especially for low-income families.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
In the midst of COVID budget cuts, making sure these priorities are funded means prioritizing correctly and ensuring the city has reliable revenue streams. There are line items that are less essential in the short-term, such as certain golf course costs and expensive new parking garages. Looking at the Capital Budget, we need to prioritize services like childcare, educational and extracurricular activities, infrastructure, and affordable housing. We should be looking at new ways to raise revenue as well, including implementing a business tax to ensure the largest corporations utilizing our resources contribute to 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?
There is currently an affordability gap for childcare services for low and middle-income Palo Alto families. It’s important that we fully fund these services so that subsidies are truly reflective of our community’s needs. One of our biggest challenges is recruiting and retaining childcare workers. I will work to incentivize more childcare workers to come to Palo Alto by helping secure better pay and benefits, as well as guaranteeing affordable housing for these vital members of our community. I will take steps to offer culturally competent childcare services for our immigrant families, and ensure that our city’s advisory committees and commissions reflect our diversity.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
Making our services accessible for children of all abilities is important for fostering an inclusive and mutually supportive community. I hope to not only expand the services available to children with special needs, but also explore more opportunities to bring the families of children of all abilities together. I hope to make this happen by collaborating with groups like Magical Bridge and AbilityPath, along with the PAUSD, to ensure that children with special needs have the support they need inside and outside of school.
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?
Currently, our subsidies for middle and low-income families are inaccessible and oftentimes don’t really meet their needs. There are too many families who make too much to qualify for subsidies but still can’t afford childcare, sports, summer camps, and after school activities without them. I will work to fund this affordability gap and make our city’s programs easier to access, especially for immigrant and low-income families. A big part of the opportunity gap also involves private tutoring and other academic services that low-income families can’t afford and have less access to. I will make sure we expand the academic support available to these students outside the classroom.