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?

Children, and meeting their needs, will be one of my top legislative priorities.

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 was very active with Santa Barbara County CASA. As an attorney and CASA Advocate I am well aware of the abuses in the child welfare system. The state needs to provide more assistance and support for non-profits like CASA to help their outreach with children in the 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?

Same as # 2. Significantly increasing state support for non-profits that interface with new and expectant parents and young children will help respond to this issue. These issues are best solved by public-priivate partnerships.

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?

Promoting Child Care was one of my top priorities as a member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors from 1986-1994. I strongly believe in tax credits and full tax deductions for child care expenses. For those who can not afford child care, the state needs to better support the non-profits that provide these services and provide scholarships based on need.

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?   

As much as I wish for the salary of child care providers to be increased I will not support legislation that increases or mandates any salaries for any positions.

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?

I am very concerned. I believe many of our school dollars need to be re-distributed from administrative expenses to teachers, school nurses and dollars allocated for the class room.

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 would want to confer with experts on this issue before making any policy recommendations. Many of the leaders I talk to in the Latino/Hispanic community tell me that immersion at an early age is the best way for their children and grand children how to learn English and be better prepared as they go through their educational years.

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?

I am a proud by-product of the CA public school system. I ended my educational years graduating Magna Cum Laude from UC Berkeley. I believe higher education should receive the support from the state that they received in the 60’S.

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 need to be briefed by experts in this field before I commit to supporting any policy directives.

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?

Same as answer to Question # 9.