How we invest in vulnerable children is one of the most fundamental expressions of our values as a state. As a pediatrician in the Legislature, I will prioritize the physical, developmental, and emotional needs of our most vulnerable children. That is the only way we can successfully break cycles and lay a healthy foundation for our kids today, and for future generations.
Kids in Care – Kids in foster care systems are our most vulnerable children. One of the heaviest responsibilities of a pediatrician, as a mandated reporter, is to report kids at risk to Child Protective Services (CPS). I am eager to bring my experience in protecting vulnerable children into the legislative process to address CPS’s lack of capacity and resources that all too often leave traumatized children with inadequate support. We must invest more to ensure the best possible outcomes for these vulnerable children.
Unhoused Families – Every day, I speak with families who are living unhoused or facing housing instability. In fact, in 2018-2019 our state reported close to 40,000 unhoused public school students. That is unacceptable. We must consider stable housing as an essential element of a child’s growth and development and view our housing and zoning policies from the holistic and integrated perspective pediatrician’s view our patient’s health.
LGBTQ+ Youth – Every child deserves to be safe and accepted, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. More than one in five people under age 18 identify as LGBTQ+, and though we have made some progress in the past few years, LGBTQ+ youth are still disproportionately targeted by bullying, assault, and sexual violence. All too often, that violence takes place at school – a space that is supposed to be a safe space and a refuge for kids. We must ensure that every public school has the mental health services and reporting systems in place to protect our LGBTQ+ youth.