Santa Clara County Voter's Guide On Children's Issues

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, District 1

Sylvia Arenas

Our families are in crisis. At the City of San Jose, I’ve made investing in the needs of children and families the guiding star of my public service. As I’ve seen systems not supporting our families, I’ve rolled up my sleeves to change that – delivering results. I’m running for Supervisor to make the vital investments that only the County can make.

  1. In a recent poll by Choose Children 2022 of likely general election voters, more than half of parents with children under age 18 say they are likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how will you make our region a place where all families can thrive?

    It has not come easy for our families – each of us know too many that are being displaced. We’ve lost too many of our friends and neighbors, people who were part of the essential fabric of our community. They are irreplaceable.
    It's vital that we solve our housing crisis, improve wages, and address our childcare crisis. These issues combine to create an untenable situation for families. To address them, we must build a lot more affordable and market rate housing, preserve existing affordable housing, support living wage and related policies to improve wages for working families, create pipelines for young people to earn high wage jobs, and move to universal preschool and affordable childcare

  2. As we have learned over the past three years, without quality, affordable, childcare, parents can’t go to work. What will you do to address challenges accessing childcare and preschool programs in our diverse communities?

    As the Chair of San Jose’s Neighborhood Services and Education Committee, I have been convening joint hearings with the County Board of Supervisors to move forward a shared workplan to quickly work to address this crisis of affordable care for young children.
    I support an “all of the above” approach. State focus on universal pre-school is a huge opportunity for our local agencies. We must seize it. We must also find local funding sources to expand support for subsidized childcare at younger ages than are currently proposed for universal preschool. The County must play a leadership role in convening all agencies and stakeholders to build a fully coordinated response to this crisis.

  3. Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the opportunity gap that children in low-income families and children of color confront (e.g., lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors, and enrichment activities). If elected, what will you do to increase equity of opportunity?

    It’s vital that we lead with equity, as we work to address these problems. Too often, when assessing these issues we start by treating low income and children of color as the problem – instead of focusing on the systems that were designed to adversely impact these children. An example would be the fundamentally underfunded school districts that kids too often are living in.

  4. What steps will you take to support inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities and their families to be fully included in our community?

    I first ran for office because my son wasn’t getting the support he needed in his local school. He was born prematurely – and, like many of us – has specific learning needs. Yet, even though I had a background in early childhood services, I was struggling to get his school to provide the services he needed and that he had a right to.
    Many of the greatest problems that we have are not that we don’t provide services – in theory – but that we make the process of getting these services too difficult. That’s why I will focus on an expanded “no wrong door” approach and ensuring that our services have the funding they need to provide services to those who would benefit from them.

  5. There is a mental health crisis among children, youth, and those who care for and educate them. If elected, how will you use the resources of your new role to improve access to mental and behavioral health services?

    For far too many families, access to mental health is mostly or completely out of reach. This is true even for the fully insured. We must act. I have 3 initial supportive steps, while continuing to look for additional solutions:
    We should expand the county’s School Link Services, that focuses on social emotional well being of students. Too few schools currently have access to these services. We must expand and meet students and faculty where they are.
    We also need to help our non-profit providers substantially increase their number of employees, and fast
    We need to work with our local university partners to increase the pipeline of new providers graduating and offering services in our region