(Click the play button below to listen to Episode 4 – 15:17 min)
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The County of San Diego supported me from birth – literally. I was born 10 weeks premature and the County’s emergency care for the poor kept me alive. When my biological mother couldn’t care for me, the County placed me in foster care, where I got nutrition, a speech pathologist, a child psychologist, and quality support. Now, I am a successful lawyer with a professional background in public health and I am able to give back to this community.
I am living proof that early investment in young people works. Most foster children end up struggling, failing to graduate from high school, homeless or incarcerated. This is a cycle – for all children not just those in foster care – that the County of San Diego can break.
Our StrongStarts4All plan envisions a broad system change that starts with parental education through expanded home visits for expectant parents and goes all the way through mental health and nutrition support, subsidized transportation for internships and education and focus on helping young people move into the world of work. The plan recognizes that the path to a strong workforce requires greater investment in our young people. We make the bold assertion that the County must set an example by providing its employees with 4 months of paid family leave, because parents are a child’s first teacher and those early bonds are critical. What is more, paid family leave better enables gender equality so that women can more easily ascend to leadership roles in the workforce and any parent can elect to care for their children.
While my life experiences shape my values and my belief that every child has a right to strong start and support, the scholar in me also appreciates that the economics research supports that this is the smartest investment we can make as a region.