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Recap: Santa Barbara Right Start Town Hall with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson

A recap of the Right Start town hall in Santa Barbara, a part of a series of California town halls seeking to raise awareness of the state of early childhood in California.

Common Sense Kids Action continued the Right Start Commission town hall series on September 22 with a Santa Barbara, Calif., event co-hosted by California State Senator and Legislative Women's Caucus Chair Hannah-Beth Jackson.

Common Sense founder and CEO James Steyer provided a keynote address to explain why Common Sense convened the Right Start Commission and why we need to take urgent action now to make our kids the state's top priority.

Common Sense Kids Action Vice President of California Policy and Advocacy Craig Cheslog outlined the commission's findings in Rebuilding the California Dream, the commission's landmark report about the state of early childhood in the Golden State.

Cheslog then moderated a discussion about the report and what it means locally with Jackson, Steyer, and University of California, Santa Barbara Gevirtz Graduate School of Education associate professor Matthew Quirk and Santa Barbara County Child Care Planning Council program manager Joyce Stone.

California has the sixth-largest economy in the world, but our children have the third-worst living standard in the nation. Urgent action is needed to address this discrepancy, and kids can't afford to wait. A recent study reveals that 60 to 70 percent of the achievement gap is caused by a child's experiences before the age of 5. As Jim Steyer pointed out during the panel discussion, public policy has solutions to the issues affecting California's kids. It's time to create the demand.

The goal of the Right Start town halls is to raise awareness of the commission's call to build a child-centered early childhood system in California. Central to that goal is the chance to hear from parents and early childhood service providers about their experiences -- where the system is failing and where they see opportunities for positive change.

In Santa Barbara we heard about incredible work being done in the community and by state leaders like Senator Jackson. But we also heard about the lack of access to, funding for, and accessible information about services for kids and families. During the panel discussion and Q&A, we discussed how a child-centered system shifts the focus to what's best for children and families, how that changes the questions we ask, and how it ultimately leads to better outcomes for kids.

We are planning more events with community groups and legislators statewide.

For updates about future town halls and our efforts to ensure every child has the opportunity to thrive, be part of Common Sense Kids Action's parent-powered movement today!

Teresa Machado
Teresa Machado is Common Sense Kids Action’s Policy Associate for California. She joined Kids Action in 2016 from Early Edge California in Oakland, CA, where she worked to advance policy to improve early education access and quality. Previously, she worked as a district representative for California State Assemblymember Das Williams and began her career in policy as an intern with the California State Assembly Committee on Education.