County Board of Supervisors District 4 Candidate Responses

As of 08/14/2023

Amy Reichert
Candidate for Supervisor, District 4

Prioritizing Children, Youth, and Working Families in the County Budget:
San Diego is facing a childcare crisis. I am committed to ensuring that the needs of children, youth, and working families are at the forefront of the County budget. This includes advocating for increased funding for programs and initiatives that directly benefit children, youth and working families, such as safe quality facilities, quality education, affordable childcare, and accessible healthcare. By allocating resources strategically and responsibly, we can create a more equitable and supportive environment for our community’s most vulnerable members. As Supervisor, I will fully support the Child and Family Well-Being Department, a department established in 2023 within the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. We must also recognize and value childcare providers as the skilled professionals they are, ensuring their compensation, support, and respect. Over the past three years, my nonprofit organization has been a steadfast advocate for workers in San Diego County, playing a pivotal role in preserving thousands of jobs. I stand resolutely in support of workers’ rights and their well-being.

Championing the Childcare Workforce and My Commitment to Children, Youth, and

As a mom and having worked closely with community organizations and educational institutions, I have witnessed firsthand the essential role that childcare providers play in shaping the future of our children including my own. I am dedicated to elevating the childcare workforce by advocating for fair wages, professional development opportunities, and improved working conditions. My commitment to children, youth, and families stems from my own lived experience as a single mom and I’ve seen the transformative impact of investing in the care of children and supporting vulnerable families. I 100% support the goals of the San Diego County Child Care Blueprint.
Goal 1: The child care workforce is well-trained, supported, valued as a profession, and paid competitive wages.
Goal 2: Safe and quality facilities are developed and renovated to expand child care programs, particularly in geographic areas where child care is scarce or family demand outpaces supply.
Goal 3: All families have access to child care that meets their needs and preferences and supports their children’s learning, physical and mental health, and social-emotional development.

Identifying and Addressing Service Gaps for Children, Youth, and Families:
As I engage with our community and hear daily from working moms and dads struggling with the rising cost of living, I have recognized service gaps that demand our attention. I know what it is like as a working single mom to raise children in this county and firsthand have experienced the challenges that working-class and marginalized members of our community face daily. Access to mental health resources for young individuals remains a pressing concern, and we need to enhance collaboration between schools, healthcare providers, and community organizations to bridge this gap. Additionally, there is a need for affordable after-school programs that provide a safe and enriching environment for children and youth. My previous experience working for the County of San Diego at Juvenile Hall as well as working
for several years for San Diego Unified as a teacher’s aide provided me with the experience of the challenges facing children, youth and families in San Diego County. I support the strategy for entities aiming to enhance or establish new child care facilities. I will champion policy changes at both local and state levels, including State Title 22 Community Care Licensing regulations, and advocate to eliminate barriers to facility improvement and development. Additionally, I’ll advocate for the incorporation of innovative financing mechanisms in county redevelopment plans and explore opportunities to repurpose existing public spaces for child care facilities. Implementing the recommendations from the regional co-location report by the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and Children First Collective San Diego (CFC), and integrating child care centers into new developments. In particular: Identify where buildings or land owned by the County of San Diego, city, and local education agencies could incorporate or be repurposed to include early care and education at little or no cost to the child care providers through long-term lease agreements using the City of San Diego DREAM report as a reference for the process.

Defining Success for Children, Youth, and Families in San Diego County:
Success for our children, youth, and families is a value we all share. It involves accessible and high-quality education that empowers every child to reach their potential. It entails safe neighborhoods, where families feel secure and supported. Success means providing affordable and reliable childcare options that enable parents to work while knowing their children are in nurturing environments. Moreover, it involves fostering a sense of community and belonging, ensuring that no child or family feels left behind. When every child has the opportunity to thrive, that’s when we truly achieve success in San Diego County. My approach involves a comprehensive strategy to achieve our objectives:
Recognizing the needs of vulnerable families, I am committed to establishing a dedicated program that offers essential support for accessing child care services. This will ensure that those who require assistance the most receive the help they need.
To enhance awareness and understanding of the early learning and child care system, I will actively support a targeted public education campaign. This effort will not only educate families but also enlighten businesses about the advantages of family-friendly policies, connecting them with valuable resources through Live Well @ Work, a regional initiative under Live Well San Diego. These policies encompass flexible work schedules, generous leave benefits, on-site or discounted child care, and pre-tax child care payment options.
Focusing on collaboration and accessibility, I will work with stakeholders to strengthen the existing child care network. This entails fostering partnerships and understanding among various child care settings, ensuring that developmental screenings, services, and protective factors are accessible to all children.
Expanding the availability of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) services, I will work to provide greater access for child care providers, families, and children, ensuring their mental and emotional well-being.
In line with my commitment to young children, I will support the increase of child care slots for infants and toddlers, meeting the critical demand for these age groups.
Lastly, I will foster connections between community-based child care and the early elementary grades, as well as out-of-school time programs. This collaboration aims to simplify access and navigation for families while enhancing overall outcomes for children.
You can count on me to link arms with you and your mission to serve children, youth and families better in San Diego County.

Monica Montgomery Steppe
Candidate for Supervisor, District 4

How will you prioritize children, youth, and working families in the County budget?

I am very proud of the work I have done at the City of San Diego to increase economic opportunity for all, build a holistic public safety infrastructure, and bring historic levels of investment to our communities. I am also particularly proud of the community-first approach I take to governing in which San Diegans have unprecedented access to City Hall and our policy-making process. And, doing all this while centering equity.

I want to take the same approach to the County of San Diego to broaden the transformative reach of a truly inclusive governing style. Many of our region’s most vulnerable residents are or can be helped by County programs and laws. This office would allow me to bring a community-driven, equity-centered approach to critical issues like addressing homelessness, youth and juvenile justice and foster care, jail deaths, climate mitigation, regional transit, and economic opportunity.

Government’s priorities can be found by what they include in their budget. I will advocate for the issues that are most important to San Diegans in my district in all ways, especially in the budget process. I am  committed to changing the way that resources are delivered to those who need them most, and that includes our youth, families, and workers.

How will you support the childcare workforce?

First, I always support workers. That can be seen by the workers and unions representing working families that have endorsed me for County Supervisor. As seen by my experience and record, this is not theoretical for me. I have recently voted to make it easier for San Diegans to connect with childcare by allowing childcare services to operate in City facilities. I also voted in support of the Police Officers using a City facility for childcare for their officers. I have also been very supportive of UDW organizing efforts. Earlier this year, I also voted for extended public library hours which is not a direct workforce action, but does support places childcare workers can gather with children.

Please briefly describe your past experiences and commitment to children, youth, and their families. 

In addition to the actions I described above, as a board member of MTS, I supported the vote to adopt Youth Opportunity Passes, along with a mid-year adjustment for passes for foster youth. Eliminating financial barriers to public transit is a top priority for our region. This action addresses the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and encourages young transit riders to utilize public transportation in the future to relieve our freeways and road networks. I supported the opening of an Office of Child and Youth Success within the City of San Diego, the first ever. My office also led the development of a Black Youth Initiative empowerment program with the neighborhood services in my district. That program became the precursor for a similar Citywide internship effort.

What gaps in service to children, youth, and their families do you currently see in our region? 

Unfortunately, there are many ways we still underserve our youth. As one example, systemically, the criminal punishment system often pushes victims of abuse through a harassment-to-prison pipeline. It’s an issue for women across the country, but a new report released by Rights 4 Girls, a non-profit that pushes policy reform for marginalized girls shows disproportionate impacts for Black girls. In 2019 alone, Black youth were five times more likely than white youth to be arrested on charges of prostitution and commercial vice. Of the 214 arrests, 151 — or 70% — were girls, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Another major systemic issue is abuse by those who are charged with protection of the victims. As recently reported by CBS 8, the County is facing a lawsuit by six teens who were formerly incarcerated in San Diego’s Juvenile Detention Centers and say guards sexually assaulted them while other guards either ignored the assault or helped hide it. And the men suing say they are not the only victims. While this issue is rampant nationwide, we have a responsibility to use the power we have to address it locally. We need to support our youth and provide opportunities for success and not punishment through criminalization. 

How do you define success for children, youth, and their families in San Diego County? 

Economic opportunity is the key to success. The County holds the keys to economic opportunity for many of our region’s most vulnerable, including our youth and their families. Whether you are talking about disbursement of state and federal programs, support for homelessness prevention and reduction, programs to support foster youth, or creating economic opportunity through a growing regional green economy – the County is either leading or providing a critical partnership in each area. This means an eye toward equity and is THE critical factor in transforming the way services are deployed in our region. 

I have a proven history of job creation, development, and partnership with small businesses, large corporations, and nonprofits to bring investment and economic opportunity to the communities that need it most, especially families, workers, and our youth. We must elect a Supervisor who understands how to take that head on.