National, state, and local research, policy and advocacy to improve the lives of kids

Both individual and organization members are important to the collective impact of The Children's Movement of California. No matter how you sign up, you'll get all the Movement has to offer. But if you can, please join as an organization.

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Joining simply means being identified as "Pro-Kid" and wanting children prioritized in state policymaking. You'll also receive updates and information about key kids' issues and campaigns.

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Henry Nickel

Questions 

1. California ranks among the top states in per capita expenditures on a number of government programs, but below the national average on expenditures for children’s programs, including education and Medi-Cal. What are your thoughts on this prioritization of expenditures and what, if any, changes would you make in this regard?

California must prioritize its budget to focus on enhancing the wellbeing of our local communities, with a specific focus on child wellbeing. Specifically, our education system is fiscally inhibited by bloated administrational costs that take away funds that should be dedicated to in-class learning and teacher workforce development.

2. When children who have been neglected or abused enter foster care, the state becomes their legal parent, and bears responsibility for their care and supervision and to ensure they have the opportunity to heal and thrive. What is your position on the need for strengthening the child welfare system?

The child welfare system should be strengthened and streamlined so that children in the system are being given the highest level of care at the lowest cost possible.

3. California has a significant shortage of highly-trained and well-supported caregivers to open their homes to children who have been abused and neglected and enter foster care. What strategies would you support, if any, to increase the number of safe and loving families for children in foster care?

Currently, the issue plaguing the child welfare system in California should be treated as both a child welfare and public health crisis, to ensure that funds are available for the betterment of their lives while in the system and that adequate resources are made available to ensure that these children live in quality home environments.

4. California committed state dollars for the first time this year to evidenced-based home visiting programs, yet they will still reach only 2% of families with young children. What are your thoughts on increasing access to evidence-based home visiting? What other strategies, if any, do you support to aid new and expectant parents and young children during this critical phase of life?  

Early childhood development and the tools used to aid that process should be under the sole discretion of the parents.

5. Sixty-two percent of the state’s children are born into low-income households, yet only 14% of income-eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in a publicly-supported child care program.  What is your position on this issue, and what, if anything, should be done to ensure that all families have access to high-quality child care? 

All working families should have access to child care, so as to ensure families are able to remain intact and to avoid overburdening the already overburdened child welfare and foster system.

6. The average salary of a California public employee is over $81,000. The average salary of a California preschool educator is just over $34,000, and that of a child care provider is just over $26,000. What are your ideas, if any, about responding to this disparity?

The salary of any worker in the state should be based upon wage competition and other forces within the free market.

7. Students of color are more likely to be suspended and expelled, which contributes to significant achievement gaps and ultimately the pipeline from school to prison. What are your thoughts on how the Legislature should respond to this issue?

The Legislature should focus on upholding its current obligations to state infrastructure that, if followed through, would increase the wellbeing of low-income families.

8. Educational research highlights the strong correlation between student success and teacher quality. What changes to state policy would you support, if any, to help ensure that every public school teacher is effective?

The state should invest heavily in overall workforce development, with a particularly focus on the fields of education and healthcare, as to ensure that the best employees are serving a=our communities.

9. California nationally ranks 50th in class size, 50th in school librarians, 49th in school counselors and 47th in school administrators. What are your thoughts on these rankings, based on staff to student ratios, and what, if anything, should be done in response?   

The focus our educational workforce should be realigned on provided an adequate number of quality educators in the classroom, as opposed to focusing on increasing overhead costs that come with hiring more administrators.

10. California has the highest percentage of kids who are dual language learners, ages 0-5, (60%) and school-age English learners (21%) in the country. How will you support these students’ bilingual/multilingual potential? What are your thoughts on how educators in early education and TK-12 can be prepared to assist these students to meet their language development needs?

California should provide the opportunity for students who are interested in learning foreign languages to pursue learning those languages.

11. In the last decade, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs in California grew by 19% and currently represent 7 of the 10 fastest growing occupations. Yet many high schools don’t offer the STEM courses needed for college or STEM careers, such as calculus, physics and chemistry. What are your thoughts on the need to support and increase access to high-quality STEM instruction in our schools?

California must support and increase access to STEM education so that our students are better prepared for contributing positively to civil society.

12. Over the past 40 years, total state spending on higher education has declined by 6%, dropping from 18% to 12% of the state budget. There are an increasing number of students graduating from high school and eligible for college enrollment. What is your position on funding for public higher education?

While I believe that tuition and related costs for higher education are too high, I attribute this to the increasing in government tuition assistance that has inflated these costs. Costs would be lower if public funding for public higher education were lowered.

13. Over 55% of California’s kids are enrolled in Medi-Cal, but California performs near the bottom amongst all state Medicaid programs when it comes to children’s access to primary care physicians and periodic childhood screenings, especially for children of color. What are your thoughts on this issue?

This is due to the inefficiencies that are naturally a part of socialized healthcare systems. A public healthcare market would increase market competition and allow families to choose their healthcare based upon their preferences.

14. Less than 5% of children eligible for specialty mental health services under the early & periodic screening diagnosis & treatment (EPSDT) Medi-Cal benefit actually receive any service. What is your position on this issue and what, if anything, should be done to ensure that more eligible children receive mental health care?

Once again, a public healthcare market would increase market competition and allow families to choose their healthcare based upon their preferences.

15. Despite the fact that the top reason children miss school in California is due to preventable oral health problems, millions of children in the state lack access to dental services. What is your position on this issue and what, if anything, should be done to address access for children, including 0-5 year olds, to oral health services?

Once again, a public healthcare market would increase market competition and allow families to choose their healthcare based upon their preferences.