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?
This is very sad, especially with a Budget Surplus we had this fiscal year. This should really be flipped with priority being on programs and more educational opportunities for our children. Investing in them now makes sense and should be a top priority. If elected it would certainly be something I would work on.
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 create a coalition of County and State representatives, non profits and program leaders to look into this system and identify areas that need improving and then work to get it done. Collaborating, understanding the issue, then working collectively to solve the issue, is my style and it is proven to work well.
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?
We can do better with this. We should expand and promote CAL Fresh better and in multiple languages. I personally know families that do not know that their are programs to help them and their infants with food. We have to do better and work with local non-profits to promote state programs. We should even be partnering with ALL hospitals to promote our State’s programs directly to new parents.
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 look at what Alameda County did and I applaud their boldness in the passage of Measure C which creates a half percent (0.5%) sales tax, raising an estimated $150 million per year to provide expanded access to free and low-cost health care and emergency services in Alameda County and improved access to affordable quality child care, prioritizing high-need families. 14% is abysmal, we MUST do better as a state.
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?
If we created a funding mechanism, like I refer to in question number 4, we can help offset that disparity. Child Care workers need a better wage and they deserve a better wage.
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?
These rankings are pathetic and I will strive, if elected to the State Legislature, to reduce these rankings. We need more counselors in our schools, especially those that understand and can assess various forms of mental illness. Maybe placing a “cap” on the State Lotto, once it reaches $10 Million, cap it and every penny raised above that cap goes to our schools. As of now, I have not seen the State Lottery system making any improvements in our schools, they say they do, but these numbers suggest something to the contrary.
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?
The State should encourage, offer more programs and provide incentives to teachers that are willing to become bilingual and multilingual.
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?
Our State should do what we can to offer Higher Educational Opportunities for free, to those that cannot pay, and for those that can pay tuition the State should offer a reduced tuition and smaller loans.
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?
Work with Counties to secure funding for more Mobile Dental Health Services and create a Mobile Vision Services so that we can drive the communities that need those services. Some pilot programs have proven to work well but they need funding to expand.
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 Mental Health Clinicians in all of our schools.