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New City Office Aims To Help San Diego Youth During Difficult Times

 June 16, 2021 at 10:34 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego's newly passed city budget includes $350,000 to launch an office of child and youth success. San Diego city council member [inaudible] who represents district seven advocated for the new office. And he joins me now to talk about it. Welcome. Speaker 2: 00:19 Thanks so much, Claire, for having me today. Speaker 1: 00:21 So you've advocated increasing city services for children and families for a while. Now tell us about how the new office of child and youth success, uh, will work and why does the city need it? Speaker 2: 00:35 So let's start with why the city needs it. Many other cities across the country and in San Francisco and Los Angeles have offices within the office of the mayor that are dedicated to nothing but thinking about programs and policies that will help children and our youth and help their families find those opportunities for their young ones. So we need that to just live up to the standard that other cities in California have, but on a policy front, we just know it's so expensive to live in San Diego right now that parents need help finding affordable quality childcare. And that's something that the city has never done before. We've never gone into that health and human services realm that we really should have advocates for the past 15 years have been trying to get this office. And this is the year we were able to finally do it together with Councilman, uh, ELO Rivera. Uh, he and I really went to bat to make sure that this was not just on our list of priorities, but at the top of the list of our priorities. And so it's a really, really big thing for San Diego families. And tell Speaker 1: 01:42 Us more about what the office will do. Speaker 2: 01:45 So first, what it will do will it will have an executive director and a policy programmer and a youth intern just to start off that will bring together many organizations to formulate a framework for parents to find opportunities for their children most centrally around childcare. Uh, this is also an economic development issue. And I, as the chair of the economic development committee here in the city council, uh, asked our real estate department to identify locations that the city owns that can be transformed or where we can build childcare facilities so that we can facilitate more opportunities for parents. It will also be a central policy advisor to the mayor on so many different programs we have through the libraries, through the parks and recreation department, uh, so that we have a streamlined effort to get good opportunities in front of our children and have them be able to take advantage of them. Speaker 1: 02:46 You mentioned childcare. I know the city provides some services for young people and families already. For example, I believe there's a childcare coordinator for the city. So how will this office be different? Speaker 2: 02:59 Well, that childcare coordinator role has actually diminished over many, many years, and that is centrally for, for, uh, city employees to be able to find childcare for their children so that we have that benefit to attract a high quality employees to work for the city. This is going to be far more wide reaching, and this is going to be an in partnership with the county and other cities as well, because we know so many people who work in the city of San Diego don't necessarily live in the city of San Diego. And so this is going to be formulating a list of available childcare spots throughout the region. It's going to be, uh, facilitating the conversations between parents and getting on those wait lists. As as many of your listeners will know, they usually have to wait 8, 9, 10 months or longer to get off a wait list to get their child into quality and affordable childcare. Speaker 2: 03:56 So it's going to be doing that big legwork for the parents so that they don't have to take it on themselves. And then of course, working with partners, including federal partners, like the Navy to find those spaces and open them up so that we can get more children in childcare and really facilitate that for the parents. It's really about taking that burden off the parent's shoulders, cause they already have to pay really high rent. They already have to drive really far for their jobs. Uh, finding quality childcare should, should be much easier in the city of San Diego. Speaker 1: 04:28 Now you've also said you want the office to take on housing and food insecurity, mental health issues, helping with job and education opportunities. Long-term and those are big challenges. When do you think the new office will begin to make a difference in these areas? Speaker 2: 04:45 Well, right now we've just got the funding in the budget for the $350,000 over the next two, three months, uh, as the chair of the economic development and intergovernmental relations committee, I am going to be crafting with my colleagues there, particularly council member, ELO Rivera, uh, the, the ordinance that implements it, as many of your listeners will know the commission on police practices was passed last November, and it's taking many months to get the implementing ordinance in place. The opposite of race and equity was passed in last year's budget. We're still at the point of almost, uh, we still haven't hired our executive director. I, from what I understand, we're very close to hiring that executive director. These things usually take about a year to get in place so that we have the proper staffing and the best candidates for the executive director roles and those higher level roles hired. Speaker 2: 05:31 And so I think that within a year, we're going to have that, but that doesn't mean we're not going to start to accomplish a lot of the other aspects. Like I said, through my committee, I'm already having city staff identify locations so that when we hire that executive director in the next year, we'll already have a list of places that they can start to work on so that we can have childcare facilities. And then on the other issues, you mentioned about housing, food insecurity, mental health. This is going to be central node where parents know their child is facing a challenge. They'll be able to go to the office of child and youth success and find a resource that they need for their children. Speaker 1: 06:09 Now, the creation of this office comes at a time where many city services for youth and families are still closed. For example, libraries, rec centers, and pools, I believe, would this office be able to help get those going again? Speaker 2: 06:23 Well, I fully anticipate that those services will be back in place before we hire an executive director. It's going to be three months before we actually create the office through an implementing ordinance. And then several months as we staff up and that hiring is going to be done through the mayor's office. And mayor Gloria is going to have a key role in that as well. So I think that, from what I understand, as we roll out of COVID, we will see the libraries and the recreation centers and those community pools opened before this offices is really in place. Speaker 1: 06:56 Would the money have been better spent on just restarting existing programs? Speaker 2: 07:01 I don't think that the money would have been better spent that way because we need to invest now in the core planning group, that is the office of child abuse success, so that we have these services secured and expanded over the longterm $350,000, uh, is good for setting up this sort of internal office in the mayor's office, uh, you know, going towards opening a pool, uh, going towards opening a library as we are still trying to protect people's health. Uh, and as we are seeing what the library funding a reshuffling of, of staffing, so that we can open it up in a financially responsible manner. I don't think that the $350,000 would have gone all that far in opening any of those services that you named, but that will go far if we invest it now in this particular office that we just did on Tuesday, Speaker 1: 07:53 I've been speaking to San Diego city council member, Raul Campero who represents the seventh council district, including Linda Vista, mission valley, San Carlos. And Tierrasanta. Thank you so much for being here. Speaker 2: 08:06 Thank you so much for having me, Claire Speaker 3: 08:18 [inaudible].

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Youth in San Diego will soon have a new resource to turn to for support, thanks to this year’s city budget.
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