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?
I am a parent of three school-aged children. California should invest in our children. We need to regain our position as one of the top states for public education and child services. In the State Assembly, will work to prioritize funding for our kids.
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?
This question of personal to me because my mother taught at-risk youth as an Oakland public school teacher. We need to recruit, hire, and retain the social services professionals who are there backbone of our child welfare system.
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?
California needs to supports parents by augmenting the Healthy Start program. This includes not only in-home guidance and counseling but paid child care so working parents can continue their careers without worrying about the wellbeing of their infants and toddlers.
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?
We need paid child care in California, which most other developed nations have. This is beneficial for the healthy development for infants and toddlers, as well as our economy.
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?
Child care workers deserve a living wage. I will work to empower these workers to organize and negotiate for better wages and benefits.
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?
California needs to regain its position at the top of school rankings. We have a severe teacher shortage, which we can reverse if we compensate them adequately and give them the respect they deserve for educating our future leaders. We also need to fully fund school confidential employees, such as nurses, sanitation workers, and bus drivers. We should invest in more immersion programs and bilingual education. This will prepare our kids for a successful future in the global economy.
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?
We should invest in more immersion programs and bilingual education. This will prepare our kids for a successful future in the global economy. We need to increase, not decrease, funding for public higher education. We also need to lower tuition to make our public universities and community colleges for accessible for disadvantaged students.
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?
We need to increase, not decrease, funding for public higher education. We also need to lower tuition to make our public universities and community colleges for accessible for disadvantaged students. Medi-Cal should be expanded to cover these additional expenses. This investment in our kids’ health and wellbeing will have major downstream economic and public health benefits for our community.
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?
Medi-Cal should be expanded to cover these additional expenses. This investment in our kids’ health and wellbeing will have major downstream economic and public health benefits for our community. We need greater parity in medical treatment. Behavioral health is just as important as physical health. I will work on measures to improve access to these critical services for those who need them most.
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?
We need greater parity in medical treatment. Behavioral health is just as important as physical health. I will work on measures to improve access to these critical services for those who need them most.