I commit to families and children having the community support and resources they need to encourage their strength and independence, while learning how to contribute to and grow the communities around them. They should be able to work toward unlimited opportunity in caring environments with full community support.
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. Equal opportunities independent of background. Legislating as much equity in representation and voice as possible will encourage children to consider the areas in which they have examples. I will work on getting more diverse examples in local politics and education, by workshops, community committees, and commissions with real representation.
2. Safe social interaction with friends, family, teachers and schools. I will ensure that education, open space, and health are well-supported and that monies tagged for these purposes will not be spent otherwise. I commit to engaging the communities and including them in the discussions, putting their needs before all.
3. Loving families with the time and resources to support their children holistically, emotionally and financially. Opportunities that exist often go missed as work and other realities get in the way. More money needs to go into increasing the quality of life, not funding higher costs of living. More affordable housing, more outreach programs.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
Prioritize funding for Utilities (water, electric, recycling, etc.); Police, Fire, and EMT services; and then Public works and other city staff to support the underserved. We need utilities working to prevent community panic and maintain normalcy. Fire, and EMT services need to be intact to cover the other emergencies that have only been made worse by COVID-19, mainly to provide order and keep our communities safe. City services need to be provided to maintain our infrastructure, with a priority on underserved communities as they may not have anywhere else to go. Not lawsuits fighting CVRA.
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?
Ensuring that parents have better than minimum wage jobs would be a start, as would funding more childcare and preschool programs; as a parent I see how availability affects costs. Current developments often have retail requirements; perhaps larger developments could also have daycare/preschool requirements too and not only pay into systems that do not support younger children. These could double as learning centers for adults during off times. We should treat the young and other underrepresented groups with the same consideration we treat seniors and have analogous centers. And we should treat seniors better while we are at it.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
Rather than treat children with special needs as incapable, we need to find ways to use their capabilities and create environments in which they can thrive, not simply be protected. Similar to senior centers, each community could have a space for children and parents with special needs, where they could congregate, teach, learn, and interact. Putting special needs into the public view will help all who can contribute in terms of both volunteering and outreach and open up possibilities for both public and private monies.
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?
Equal opportunities for children often starts with equal opportunities for parents. Minorities and underserved communities must be able to support their families not just financially, but with the time, safety, and consistency required for confident children. In addition to the preschool centers described earlier, having city-supported minority events, such as blended ethnic cultural fairs and “learn a new language/skill” weeks, could provide impetus for people to simply get to know their neighbors and give opportunity for immigrants to share their knowledge.