Ending Childhood Poverty & Protecting our Children

Toxic Water.

Toxic Air.

Toxic Soil.

Defunded Public Education.

Nonexistent Public Safety.

A severe lack of affordable and public housing.

Climate Change.

For-profit and inaccessible healthcare.

Social Injustice.

Denial of child and human rights.

Our State has failed our children.  Prior public policy has failed our children.  Our governments have failed our children.  We cannot be in this moment, facing the crises we are facing and come to any other conclusion. We have not protected our children and this high cost and heavy burden is being forced upon them.  This high cost and heavy burden is impacting their psychological and physical health, their academic and professional success, micro- and macro- economic growth, and outright denials of both their child and human rights on a livable planet.  It’s unacceptable.

Whether we realize it or not, we each pay a high price for exacerbating poverty in our society with superficial & means-tested efforts whose goal is to reduce poverty.  The Congressional Budget Office says that the federal government spent $3.7 trillion in 2015 – the annual cost of poverty efforts to reduce childhood poverty cost $1.03 trillion in 2015, or about 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States. Studies have also found that for about every dollar spent on reducing childhood poverty, the country would save at least $7.  These costs are calculated from the loss of economic productivity, along with increased health, crime & homelessness costs with an innovative poverty calculator.

As California remains the State with the highest poverty and childhood poverty rates in the country – Ending Poverty in California is in all of our collective self-interests and community interests.  And ending childhood poverty is not only the moral, ethical, compassionate and just thing to do – it is also cost-avoidant.

According to federal and State data, nearly one in five children in California under 18 years old,  about 2 million children, live in poverty.  More than 8 out of 10 Californian children in poverty live with at least one adult who is working.  And in spite of State programs to reduce childhood poverty, we still have a number of counties where more than 40% of all youth live in poverty.  And Pre-COVID, over half a million children in California live in families considered “deep poverty” with families who make less than 50% of the official federal poverty income level.

No more.

It is time to have a government and Governor who values our present and our futures – and who recognizes that protecting our children is the only way we can do this.

Investing in programs that end childhood poverty and protect #OurCalifornia’s children is both basic and radical, both smart and effective economic policy.  When #OurCalifornia’s most marginalized are protected and succeed, we all win.

As your Governor, I intend to End Poverty in California, and this is how I believe protecting our children will help us achieve this:

  • Cities and States set precedent in signing onto the Paris Agreement in spite of the US withdrawal, I intend to sign onto the UN Declaration of Child Rights and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child in spite of the Federal government’s refusal to implement one of the most ratified treaties in the world. I will uphold standards for youth well-being in #OurCalifornia;
    • Ratifying the CRC will require us to confront some hard truths about the exceptionally bad way we treat children in the US, specifically in California and will require us work to bring our laws and practices in line with basic human rights. This includes, but is not limited to:
      • Our school-to-prison pipeline;
      • Amending SB 394;
      • Foster Care;
      • Public Education
      • Environmental injustices;
      • Child trafficking – both labor and sexual;
      • Child abuse – labor, physical & sexual;
      • Child refugees entering our State;
  • Eager to work with the California Lifting Children and Families out of Poverty Task Force to ensure all recommended strategies can be funded and achieved for #OurCalifornia through public policy, action & the robust social safety nets we deserve in our resilient and sustainable communities;
  • Revamping public Pre-K-Post Secondary education;
  • Collaborate with grassroots youth activists, advocates and impactful organizations on the forefront of movements for safe, affirming and bias-free schools to ensure all our students, especially our marginalized and underserved populations in schools – disabled, ethnic & religious minorities, LGBTQ+, are welcome and able to thrive. Create the State and locality-specific new framework that affirms Identity, Diversity, Justice and Action within all educational environments and the Project Based Learning settings;
    • State Legislation which implements, expands and fully funds:
      • K-12 Literacy-based anti-bias curriculum & critical practices
      • Peer-mentor networks;
      • Mental health specialists (counselors & psychologists) trained in culturally responsive de-escalation, working with individuals with disabilities, restorative justice, and more – responding to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis;
      • School climate specialists—trained in culturally responsive de-escalation, working with students with disabilities, restorative justice, and more—who can intervene in emotionally or physically volatile situations and act with the best interests for all students involved;
      • Education Support Professionals (ESPs) promote student achievement, ensure student safety, and help establish a healthier school climate.
      • Anti-bullying and emotional intelligence series;
      • Student-Led Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Clubs;
      • Any additional initiatives that activists, advocates, and disabled youth need/would like to see in their educational settings to encourage their holistic growth and success;
      • Fund State and locality-specific equity audits;
    • The federal government has never come close to providing the promised 40% pledge for special education costs – it has fallen to 14%.  And as a result, the federal government’s failure and inability to value the public education of individuals with disabilities, State’s have assumed almost all of the costs which have often resulted in cutting critical services. In Solidarity with disabled youth across this country, I call for our federal government to fully fund ESEA Title I, Part A and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act & to amend part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide full Federal funding.  And as such, I support the following federal legislation:
  • Ending youth food insecurity by expanding #SNAPForAllCalifornians
  • Ending youth period poverty by free menstrual product inclusion within the Department for Reproductive Justice for the Underserved & Marginalized;
  • Ending homelessness for at least 370,000 children and youth across the State with our #UniversalHousing plan;
  • Including children, California Indian youth organizations, youth-led activist organizations, & child advocacy groups in the Tax Fairness Commission (TFC)  Impacted Parties Council to ensure youth representation and direct involvement in building resilient communities with sustainable futures for all;
  • Enacting the Green New Deal and addressing environmental injustices within each locality that children bear the brunt of – for the present and future;
  • Holding corporations and the government of our State accountable for violations of CRC, the Green New Deal & Tax Fairness Commission, Reproductive Justice for the Underserved & Marginalized, for youth and for #OurCalifornia;
  • Ending the State’s long history and exploitative nature of child marriages/marrying minors allowed in this State. California law currently can ignore the will or consent of the child with parental/guardian consent, or a formal court order:
    • Ending the State’s no legal age minimum to sync with the legal age of consent – 18;
    • Increasing and protecting the rights of the child, including children who are emancipated, pregnant or otherwise, throughout this process to ensure that the marriage is indeed their choice and wish for their future;
      • Create legislation which attaches the rights of Californian children regardless of their physical location in this country or abroad;
        • Thus closing loopholes which allow children of California to be sent/shuttled to other states or countries;
    • As our government currently does not – I will require the State of California to maintain records of all child marriages in the State:
      • Past;
      • Present child-consenting child marriages;
  • Strengthening advocacy, protections & services to children in our State’s foster care system and ensuring services to all former and current foster youth as they age out;
    • Ensure Child Protective Services is not weaponized as a tool against the Poor or marginalized communities to remove children. We live in a society where children may not have access to health care, childcare, food, shelter—all of these are internationally recognized human rights. If anyone should be charged with neglect it should be the State of California or the Federal Government of the United States – not parents struggling within a system never intended for their success.  All too often biased viewpoints regarding race, class and gender have played powerful roles in shaping the perception of child abuse which are often directly at odds with available data and disproportionately target poor African American families above others.  Poverty is too often equated with abuse, which substantially increases over-reporting, weighing down the child welfare system in unnecessary & costly investigations, which in turn reduce funding for other critically necessary services in the department. We need a systemic overhaul in within our Department of Child Protective Services Department, the Foster Care system & a robust social safety net to End Poverty in California;
    • Reduce bureaucratic “red tape” and paperwork and increasing more & effective action on behalf of the child, child’s safety & well-being;
    • Bringing needed resources to the public school system to increase critical support for foster-care youth;
    • Expanding services to youth who age out with transition assistance available, including but not limited to resources and referrals for: family reunification, Universal Housing, Post-secondary Education, fully-covered care under MediCALForAllCalifornians, State Jobs Guarantee, etc.;
    • Funding successful community support & public safety programs that address the generational trauma of foster care children, birth parents & biological family members;
    • Reducing harm for foster care children, with special care, community support & public safety programs with a rights affirming framework that address, educate and respond to physical, psychological & sexual child abuse;
    • Reducing harm for foster care children, with special care, community support & public safety programs with a rights affirming framework that address, educate and respond to child sex atrafficking activities – in person and online;
    • Increasing participation in and full funding of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program. CASAs are currently volunteers who work with children in foster care as they advocate for their best interests in courtrooms and communities.
  • Eager to work with International Indigenous Youth Council, Youth Uprising, California Indian Environmental Alliance, Abundant Beginnings, Beyond Emancipation, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Youth Organizing! disabled and proud, HOMEY, Maven, Urban Youth Movement, Californians for Justice, Outlet, YO! California, Jewish Family and Community Services, Teaching Tolerance, Youth Service Bureau of the Redwood Community Action Agency, Lambda Youth Project, The Campaign for Fair Sentencing for Youth, Black Organizing Project, Arcata High’s Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Club, Unchained At Last, NAMI of California, Tahirih Justice Center, Huckleberry Youth Program, Young, Gifted and Black, Perspectives for a Diverse America, School of Liberty and Liberation, Jewish Youth for Community Action, Opportunity Point, Sunrise Movement – CA Branches, OUT There Adventures, PODER, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Young Justice Coalition, The Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment, California Alliance – Youth and Community Justice, Institute for Policy Studies, grassroots and all other impactful organizations, advocates, activists and pillars in fields of the human rights, education, social justice, environmental justice, and research communities to ensure the needs of ALL youth in #OurCalifornia are inclusive and sustainably met;
  • State Deputization of chosen grassroots nonprofits who are successfully providing dynamic and critical social services to #OurCalifornia to act as an extension of our government in expanding their work and services with the funding, staffing and State recognition they deserve;
    •  Will participate within the State Jobs Guarantee Program;
  • In the true spirit of Upton Sinclair’s End Poverty in California campaign, I will call on fellow Citizens, Socialists, Governors, and fellow Socialist Gubernatorial campaigns across this country to adopt and implement the same.