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

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Veronica Jacobi

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?

Children are our future! I am a mother to two, and former foster parent to 6. I highly prioritize children, which is a huge reason I am running for this office to protect all of us, and especially children. If we do not collectively address global warming and climate change at the speed and scale needed ASAP, children and all of us will continue to suffer with ever increasing damage. Wildfires, flooding, etc. We have the solutions needed, we just need the political will. I have that will. Incumbent McGuire does not. He weakened limits on methane pollution, he let PG&E off the hook for negligence and wildfire damages, he abstained on gun open carry etc. Please see www.RoniJacobi.com for more details. A few days ago I did a quick first draft of these questions. I had many other things demanding my time since then. I am happy to expand on my brief answers as needed.

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?

There is a need to strengthen the system and to extend it to older young adults as well. Also, I would love to champion expanding check-ins on adopted children after they turn 18 and providing services for trauma. (One of my former foster children was sexually and physically abused after she left my care and was adopted. It is very difficult to help her. She needs specialized intensive support options.)

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?

I would expand any strategies that have worked anywhere in the world and keep making progress. There was a wonderful facility in Sonoma County called The Children's Village. It was doing excellent work, and then some new group home regulations made them shut down. So sad, unwise, discouraging etc., I would promptly champion legislation to right that wrong.

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?  

I'd pursue funding for free videos and phone and video conferences where parents can submit questions in advance and spontaneously during supportive in person (with free childcare) and online gatherings. I would also have a program for extra hours of library computer access for those who need it, with headphones. Also have a free library of video clips on all questions that have been asked and answered and links to other excellent helpful information. A help line for parents or warm line might also be useful.

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? 

Quality childcare is important and deserves funding. I would love to champion funding for this.

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?

Our children are valuable. I welcome your group's ideas on everything. When I have staff, I am happy to work on solutions to this with your group. I have been involved with 4C's in Sonoma County and I trust their input. Extra funding or vouchers or ?

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?

Systemic racism has a huge ripple of disruption impacting young people. It could be very effective to have counselors specifically for students with suspensions to follow up on assisting students, addressing fairness, and creating solutions. Additionally, I love that some schools have provided a change of clothes and washers and dryers for students who need that. (I would love for there to be a way to make that washer and dryer efficient as well.) Again, I welcome input as well.

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?

I would support teachers in less of a need to teach for standardized tests.

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?   

Shameful. I love libraries! Libraries can make a huge difference for students. Teacher assistants above certain classroom student counts might be helpful. The idea of two dedicated adults helping students could be a model. I would love information on if that has been tried anywhere. For example, very large classroom sizes exist in college, but then there are office hours and teacher assistants. Perhaps there could be traveling aids that visit a few different classrooms so there could be more individual attention to students during the aids visits.

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?

I have personal experience with being bilingual and it affecting my grammar and my word order even now! I strongly believe in special assistance for bilingual and English learner students.

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?

I personally benefitted from advanced classes starting in 8th or 9th grade which allowed me to easily graduate a year early from High School. The calculus I took in High School also helped me stay afloat when I took an extremely heavy load one quarter. (I took 20 units when most students took 12 or 16, lol). It is very frustrating that our education system is under attack and I will fight very hard for all students to have access to STEM. (Also, even though I excelled in math and sciences, no guidance counselors ever recommended engineering for me. My interest in solar energy led me to Mechanical Engineering.) I believe female students should also be encouraged to enter the engineering field.

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?

Education matters and higher education matters! Young people should be able to work hard in school, and be able to afford higher education, (and older people too.) Students should have schools available where when they graduate they won't have extraordinary debt loads. (I personally benefitted from scholarships and grants and worked my way through college for my Mechanical Engineering degree from UCLA. I was able to pay my loans back rather quickly.)

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?

If I am elected I would welcome input on all of the questions on this report and I would direct my and staff time to optimal solutions I have some clarifying questions on this concern but not enough time left before the deadline for submittal. I am going to address my devotion to the well-being of ALL children at this time. As a foster parent I really get that all children are very, very, very special. I am incredibly fortunate to have given birth to two healthy wonderful children and got to parent them, and I am incredibly fortunate that I got to parent 6 foster children. I am very grateful that my two birth daughters are doing very well. I am very grateful that many of my former foster children are doing very well or well. I am sad that four of my former foster children have had some significant struggles at times, and one is still significantly struggling and due to her living far away and other things it is very difficult to help her much.

Also through my foster children I have had the fear of a parent worried about the impacts of my child's skin color impacting how much they are at risk.

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?

I would love to champion legislation for access to mental health care and bringing it to schools and to home schooled children as well through required participation in group gathering to reduce the cost. There would be brief personal private interviews as well.

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?

Wow. Healthcare for all should cover oral health also. Until we succeed at having Universal healthcare that covers oral health, I am happy to champion legislation for access to oral health for children including 0 to 5. I want to give a bit more information on incumbent McGuire's voting record since I have the information available and it is important to know voting records (and it is very expensive to get information out widely). He abstained on AB 7 which outlaws open carry in more public places on 9/12/17. He abstained on AB 1066 that ensures fair overtime pay for farm workers on 8/22/16. He abstained on AB 1352 which prevents the deportation of immigrants for minor drug offenses on 9/11/15. He voted for SB Senate Bill 1383 Exemptions from short-lived climate pollutants which reduced requirements on methane pollution. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas impacting Climate Change very significantly. He voted for SB901 which puts wildfire costs on us taxpayers instead of PG&E even if PG&E is negligent. It also severely weakens water quality and environmental protections. There are additional votes I disagree with.

Please explore my "California Jobs, Housing and Climate Plan" at www.RoniJacobi.com.

Thank you for all you do for children and for the greater good!