1. California ranks among the top states in per capita expenditures on a number of government programs (i.e. corrections, law enforcement, general government), but just near or below the national average on expenditures for kids’ 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?

We should prioritize expenditures now on programs, education and healthcare so that children will have a better chance of future success. This will increase the likelihood that they will stay out of trouble and avoid future encounters along with the costs associated with them being subjected to corrections, law enforcement and the reliance on public benefits in the future.

2. California assumes responsibility for abused and neglected children when we remove them from their homes. Therefore, the State is legally obligated to ensure that children and youth in foster care receive vital services and supports to meet their unique needs and find safety, stability and success. How would you strengthen the child welfare system?

I would increase the number of required visitations and reporting on the children removed from their homes and placed in foster care. The investigation and follow-up on any complaints of possible abuse of those placed in foster care must be a number one priority. I would work with the programs to learn more about the programs and how we can improve it.

3. California ranks poorly in national reports for supporting families with infants and toddlers. The state does invest in programs like evidence-based home visiting – which provide guidance, offer coaching, and connect parents and caregivers to health and social services – but those only reach about 2% of families with young children. What strategies, if any, do you support to aid new and expectant parents and young children during this critical phase of life?

There should be media campaigns that provide literature and video programs in multiple languages where expectant parents and parents of young children frequent such as at health care providers, social service providers, and recreational facility locations so that they will know how to access the services.

4. More than 2.75 million young children live in California, with the majority being income-eligible for child care assistance. Yet just a fraction of eligible children have access to subsidized child care spaces, due to insufficient funding for child care capacity. This gap is most pronounced for infants and toddlers, where child care subsidies served only 14% of eligible families (pre-pandemic). 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?

I would work to expand access to the child care subsidies and make eligibilty adjustments so that more families would be able to utilize the assistance. The subsidies must be advertised and promoted. We have to increase the pay, provide benefits and recruit more child care providers., and give incentives for them to care for infants and toddlers. We must also support pre-K programs.

5. The average salary of a California public employee is nearly $87,000, while the average salary of a California child care provider is $35,400, and most other professionals who work with kids are also below the public employee average. What are your ideas, if any, about responding to this disparity?   

We must recognize the importantance of child care providers, increase their salaries and provide them with benefits. If they have contracts with the government, their rates should be increased.

6. The latest available data shows California ranks 49th among the 50 states in teacher-to-student ratio, 47th in school counselors, and 46th in school administrators. We also rank near the bottom in terms of school nurses, with approximately one nurse for every 2,400 students and no nurses at all in some smaller counties. What are your thoughts on these rankings, and what, if anything, should be done in response?

The number of teachers, school counselors, administrators, nurses and mental health professionals must be increased.

7. 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 should the State 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?

All students who experience difficulty with the English language including those who are dual and those who’s first language is English should receive support with their language development. We should also develop programs for kids to learn multiple languages in schools.

8. Over the past 40 years, state spending on higher education has dropped from 18% to 12% of the state budget. What is your position on funding for public higher education?

The funding for education should be increased, especially from the state budget. Education is one of the foundations for success.

9. 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 important childhood screenings, especially for children of color. In addition, many California children lack access to oral health care, vision services, hearing aids, and mental health and substance abuse supports and services. What would you do, if anything, to increase access to these services?  

I would propose legislation that provides funding to include these much needed services. I would also work to develop a universal healthcare systems that includes all of these services.

10. The suicide rate among Black youth has dramatically increased in recent years. In addition, Major Depressive Episodes (MDE) among youth have grown, but only about one third of youth with an MDE received treatment. What should be done to ensure that more children receive needed mental health supports and services?

Mental health professionals should regularly be available at schools to provide mental health services. Health classes in school should provide age-appropriate information helping children understand instances when they might want to speak to mental health professionals and that the services are available. Outside of the school context, funds should be used to pay for medical coverage, and insurance companies must include the coverage and provide regular services without delay.