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 have a lot of wasteful spending in California. We rank 47th in terms of taxpayer return on investment. We need to eliminate bureaucratic waste to free up resources that can be invested in education and medical care.
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?
We need to ensure the foster care system has the resources to support foster families, properly vet foster parents, and provide mental and physical health support that is reliable and easily accessible. I believe children in the system should be able to have a safe and stable home environment past the age of 18 through young adulthood.
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?
Expanding and investing in local clinics and nurse practitioner professional development will provide local and easily accessible care. Pregnancy and post delivery training for all new parents should available at point of care. and begin at beginning of pre-natal care.
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 to do a much better job of communicating opportunities for assistance. Identify why only 14% are accessing these spaces, and address those bureaucratic and regulatory roadblocks.
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 need to look at wasteful spending and streamline our services to provide better pay and better outcomes.
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?
We spend more than half of our budget on schools, yet our teachers remain underpaid and are leaving. We need to promote Charter Schools as the model for k-12 education which have a proven track record of success. We also need to provide school choice which will give all students equal access to better services.
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?
I think it is important that we focus on teaching our bi-lingual young students proficiency in speaking and reading in English. It can take children longer to reach proficiency if they are bi-lingual, which puts them at risk of being left behind academically, leading to future difficulties. I recognize and champion the gift of being bi-lingual, however we must also make sure our children can read — we have the lowest literacy rates in the country, and there is a direct correlation between illiteracy and delinquency. I think we can do better in supporting students whose parents do not speak English, and help parents successfully support their 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?
To prevent the unnecessary burden of increased indebtedness of our students, we should spend more on public higher education.
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 like to invest in and expand Nurse Practitioner professional development as well as satellite clinics. Schooling is far shorter and NPs are diagnostic and do much of what MD’s do at the preventative care stage. They would provide much more affordable care to our most disadvantaged families.
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?
I support mental health wellness and care becoming housed within pediatric care visits, within neighborhood clinics and our schools.