Help Bring Our Children Social Justice

Every child deserves to grow and thrive and to achieve their full potential. Early education and childcare are critical for our children to get off to a strong start and an early start in life.

As parents of three children, we know the importance of early childhood education. We are fortunate that each of our children benefitted from high-quality preschool in Alameda County. We witnessed the benefits in our children’s growth and development firsthand. Now with one of us the founder and CEO for her own non-profit early childhood education organization and the other a state legislator, we want to expand early childhood education opportunities for the children in our county.

It’s clear that early learning can jumpstart and propel children forward in ways that few other types of intervention can. Long term studies have found that children who receive early childhood education have greater cognitive skills and improved emotional and physical health. Science also tells us that a child’s brain capacity is 90 percent developed before the age of five—before they even step foot into a kindergarten classroom for the first time.

Unfortunately, Alameda County, currently we’re just not getting it done. In spite of good intentions and dedicated advocates, as a collective we’re coming up critically short in our duty to our children and their working parents.

In Alameda County, 79 percent of parents do not have access to affordable, quality childcare. It’s easy to see why: Full-time childcare can cost as much or more than college tuition! As a result, children, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds, don’t have the same ability to reach their full potential.

Your address and zip code should never determine your destiny nor foretell your future! But that’s exactly what’s happening in our own county more and more. Without adequate childcare and early childhood education, more than half of our children entering kindergarten are not fully ready for school. Many will struggle and, the unacceptable truth is, some will never catch up.

This isn’t just an education issue, It’s a social justice issue. Like much of the Bay Area, Alameda is a county of growing extremes. Income inequality leads to outcome inequalities. Our community’s children are dropping out of school and encountering poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, and incarceration. It’s not right.

But this bleak outlook is not set in stone and need not continue. We have the opportunity to course correct and make a bold statement about what we value and who we want to be as a county. However, just as a child’s mind develops so quickly, we, too, only have a limited window of time to make a difference. We can bend this curve and help transform children’s lives forever by passing Measure A.

 Measure A “Care for Our Children” on the June 5 ballot would expand access to preschool and childcare for low- and middle-income families in Alameda County. It would attract and retain dedicated caregivers who, themselves, currently struggle to earn a living by raising wages for quality childcare providers. Funding from Measure A would also provide vital services to homeless and at-risk youths.

Measure A is a sustaining investment; it’s a powerful pledge to support the children and families who need us the most. We’ve pledged our support by voting Yes on Measure A. We ask you to do the same. Our children and, yes, our futures, depend on our willingness to say Yes.

Mia Bonta is a parent, educator, and an early childhood education advocate. She is the CEO and founder of LitLab in West Oakland. Rob Bonta is parent and serves in the California State Assembly representing Alameda, Oakland and San Leandro.