Now well into the ninth month of the pandemic, California cannot ignore the disproportionate impact it’s having on kids. While the COVID-19 virus may be, for the most part, sparing children’s physical health, kids are increasingly experiencing stress, social isolation, disconnectedness and serious mental health issues. And the learning loss and lack of preventive health care because of the pandemic threatens this entire generation of children.
2021 is the year to make a long-overdue, significant shift in state priorities to put children first and ensure our collective future.
We are no longer accepting signatories on this campaign.
Dear Governor Newsom and State Legislators,
The pandemic above all is a crisis for kids. While the COVID-19 virus may be for the most part sparing children’s physical health, kids are increasingly experiencing stress, social isolation, disconnectedness and serious mental health issues. The learning loss and lack of preventive health care because of the pandemic threatens a generation of kids. These outcomes are especially dire for Black and brown children, kids in poverty, students who are English learners, youth in foster care and children who are in unsafe situations, all of whom face significant systemic barriers to accessing the services and support they need.
Even before COVID-19, California was not prioritizing kids, especially kids that face systemic barriers to their well-being. Our investments lagged far behind most other states, as did most measures of educational attainment and overall children’s well-being. Now the situation is mission critical.
2021 is the year to make a long-overdue, significant shift in state priorities to put children first and ensure our collective future. The undersigned call on you to take these tangible steps to make children the top priority:
- This year’s state budget should prioritize every unrestricted dollar for supports for kids, across the early childhood, family and economic supports, health, K-12 and higher ed, housing and child welfare domains. Priority budget actions should include:
- Increasing funding for child care, where providers are at a crisis point;
- Reversing $12.5 billion in funding deferrals for schools and providing sufficient funding to add teachers, school nurses, counselors, and other critical staff to move us from our bottom of the country ratios;
- Keeping Proposition 56 dollars earmarked for developmental and trauma screenings, well-child check-ups and other critical kids’ health services in Medi-Cal; and
- Supporting children and youth in foster care and their caregivers by increasing access to child care, educational supports to address learning loss and stable housing for young adults.
- The state government needs to coordinate an all-hands-on-deck urgent approach across relevant state and local departments and agencies to ensure every school has the staff, PPE, frequent COVID-19 testing, and other resources needed to reopen safely and quickly, including prioritizing school staff for the vaccine when it is available.
- Any new revenue measure should truly prioritize kids, including quality early childhood education.
We recognize the strain you are experiencing as you try to grapple with the enormity of this crisis and keep the Golden State intact. We urge you to ensure that our most precious constituency, our kids, are your top priority.
The Undersigned Organizations