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L.A. County candidates discuss early education and care at forum

The candidates and issues on the ballot for the 2022 election will impact thousands of children and families across southern California. To help inform voters about the candidates for Los Angeles County office, CCRC collaborated with L.A. Partnership and Choose Children L.A. to host a candidate forum, where those running for office were asked about key early education and child care issues. Watch the full video here.

The forum was moderated by LA Partnership Program Officer Steve Cahn. The candidates in attendance were L.A. Unified School District Board candidates Maria Brenes and Rocio Rivas, and L.A. County Supervisor candidate Lindsey Horvath. Bob Hertzberg, Board of Supervisors candidate, was unable to attend but was represented in the forum by campaign representative John Hanna.

“The work we’re all doing seeks to right those inequities from the earliest years of life for kids, as well as families during some challenging times. We’re all fortunate to be part of collaborations that demonstrate the best of L.A. County and what we can and should be,” said Cahn in his opening remarks. “This is a nonpartisan educational forum, as Choose Children is. Our goal is to inform the candidates and voters on birth to 5 issues, their importance to healthy child development, to strong families and a strong economy and a strong society. Birth to 5 years for families and kids and those who work in the field are critical.”

Over 100 people attended the virtual forum on Tuesday. Candidates discussed child care and early education, racial inequities, advocacy and more.

“We need to push for a district that its framework is cradle to college and career,” said Brenes. “This is an opportunity to bring in new leadership that understands how to push, how to fight, how to engage the community to improve equity and opportunity.”

“The whole child – wholistic services – encompasses social emotional, mental health, emotional intelligence,” shared Rivas. “It has to be part of the family structure. The child is part of this wonderful village… we have this whole family structure, so the entire family structure has to be part of nurturing the children. “

The candidates agreed that more funding and recognition should be provided to early educators and caregivers.

“It’s an area that’s underinvested, we need to invest and adequately compensate our workforce that’s teaching our youngest learners,” said Brenes. “Our schools are hubs for safety, our schools are hubs for nurturing, learning and we have to make sure our youngest learners are showing up, have access and opportunity. Within the curriculum, integrating social emotional, integrating restorative justice practices, integrating anti-racist curriculum, as well as integrating mental health support.”

“These people are providing for our children – to be an essential part of our society and still have to rely on public assistance shouldn’t be the case,” argued Hanna. “They’re essential workers… These are kids where their cognitive development is rapidly changing – we can’t be slow on that.”

“Research does indicate the earlier we can address the cognitive needs of our child, they will be successful, successfully students and later, adults,” said Rivas.

Addressing the disparities in care, resources and information dissemination among families of color during the pandemic, Horvath argued for a more proactive approach to sharing information and expanding access.

“Often, parents are only accessing county services after they’ve run into trouble or made to be the problem,” Horvath said. “We should be helping people and empowering people to come get the services L.A. County provides.”

In light of the recent leaked audio of racially charged comments made by L.A. City Councilmembers, the candidates unanimously called for action against racism.

“Making sure that we’re rooting out bigotry and racism of any kind is incredibly important,” Horvath said. “We have to make sure the diversity of L.A. County leadership looks like the diversity of L.A. County. “

To learn more about each candidate, visit the L.A. County elections website.

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