I am running to be the next member of the Board of Supervisors to fight for young people. Every child. Every neighborhood. Every part of the county. We understand that having a safe, affordable place to live is critical. This is why my campaign released our Housing4All plan to bring owning or renting a home within reach for more San Diegans. But housing is just the start and our county can and must do more for young people. This post is an introduction to our StrongStarts4All plan to fight for every single child in our region. To provide context, it’s important to understand a few basics:
- There is a 13% return on investment for every public dollar spent at birth and the return diminishes sharply from there. 13% ROI is better than the stock market! Read more about Nobel-prize winning economist James Heckman here.
- A child’s brain reaches 90% of its adult size by age 5 – underscoring the critical need for early nutrition, social/emotional well-being, and learning.
- The transition to high school is one of the most perilous for young people. Support is critical.
- Employers need young people with social/soft skills who understand what work is. Paid work experience, mentorship and guidance are essential and the county has the ability through the workforce system to help.
- If young people can’t get to school, work, or training opportunities, they won’t go. Access to transportation is essential to changing this.
Prevention. Growth. Opportunity
Our plan is centered around three core concepts: prevention, growth, and opportunity. As a region, we must prevent the ills that cause children to struggle and that push them into the foster and justice systems as they age. This means, among other things, home visits to help expectant parents get needed skills, and paying sufficient wages to early childhood education teachers to attract and retain people committed to our children. Second, we must foster growth by equipping young people with opportunities for support in core subjects and the arts so they are positioned to take advantage of opportunities. Finally, we must nurture meaningful opportunity for young people to understand themselves, to gain paid work experience, and to transition into post-secondary choices whether those are apprenticeships, community college or university.
StrongStarts4All – The Major Points
All elements of our plan center around fostering an environment in which every child can thrive, every young person has access to nutritious food and after-school support including for trauma and academic needs, and every young adult has an opportunity for work experience and to achieve a future that is right for them. A few examples include:
- Home visits for expectant parents to get key skills
- Increased pay for early childhood educators
- Paid Family Leave for County employees to lead our region and help parents forge strong, early bonds
- Expanded academic, mental health and nutrition support in our library systems after school and in the summer
- Expanded paid summer internships and pre-apprenticeships to get youth work ready
- Free bus and trolley transportation from 14 to 21 so that getting to a job/opportunity is not a barrier
Our county is the level of government that can best insulate our region from Washington’s missteps. It is the entity best able to prevent homelessness before it starts and to fight for our young people at a time in their lives when it will do the most good. My campaign is taking on that fight because the future of our region, of our workforce, and true equality in our community depends on it!