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Racial Equity Action Subcommittee

Overview

Community Collaboration for Children’s Success Racial Equity Action Subcommittee

The Community Collaboration for Children’s Success partners collectively recognized the natural alignment of the CCCS goals with the increased attention and urgency to racial inequities in our county and across the nation. CCCS partners identified key actions aligned with CCCS goals and then prioritized those actions. Then a subcommittee has been meeting to further develop and refine the prioritized actions.

Based on the subcommittee meetings to date, the key areas of focus for actions to advance racial equity by the CCCS collaborative are highlighted below. Of the list of priorities, further prioritization identified the following three actions are having highest impact and most urgency:

  1. Training and programs for people of color with a racial equity lens into open board and commission seats as stepping stones into leadership roles where the diversity of experiences can be represented in decision-making roles.
  2. Mentorship for candidates and leaders of color advancing a racial equity lens. Many people of color and other under-represented people who aim for or hold decision-making roles often feel alone in their urgency and commitment to racial equity. Mentorship would enable leaders to be more successful as they learn from existing leaders of color in similar roles.
  3. Adopt and implement Anchor Institution principles and actions to ensure major employers and large organizations such as government organizations, businesses and hospitals are aligning the economic power of their business efforts (procurement, investments, workforce opportunities) with their mission to target local and in-need populations.
  4. Adopt and implement Budget Equity Tools to bring an equity lens into the budget development and budget changes. This helps ensure that all parties involved in the development and approval of the allocation of resources are fully aware of the implications for people of color and other impacted communities before decisions are made.

Below are an expanded list of priorities. To advance racial equity, key components must be in place:

Support strong pipelines for people of color with a racial equity lens into leadership roles.

The regional equity atlas by PolicyLink includes data on racial equity. They include representation of people of color in elected positions. Across the Bay Area, they have found vast underrepresentation of people of color in city elected roles, with San Mateo County having some of the highest underrepresentation with 7 of the top 10 cities with the most underrepresentation across the Bay Area (https://bayareaequityatlas.org/electeds). Actions include:

  • Build a pipeline into Boards and Commissions as a stepping stone into larger decision-making power.
  • Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute could be a good resource. They focus on cultivating leadership of color, training specific to boards and commissions, capacity building on racial equity lens in decision-making, and help with placement of graduates into open boards/commission seats.  https://www.urbanhabitat.org/leadership/bcli. They also have a shorter training program that prepares community for BCLI.
    • Ensure continued mentorship and support for leaders of color on boards and commissions and in other leadership roles.
  • Community of practice for elected with lived experience of those experiencing discrimination or racism in our communities.
  • Intentional mentor matching program.
    • Ensure City Councils and Board of Supervisors have formal public mechanisms for guidance on the needs of people with lived experience with racism or discrimination.
  • A board or commission of people with lived experience with the demographics of this county or city to advise the Board of Supervisors or City Councils where there is limited experience represented on the Board or Council.
  • Review existing boards and commissions: Demographic analysis of boards/commissions; Identify barriers to POC getting on boards and commissions and leadership roles; identify what existing leaders can do to expand and support those with lived experience with racism, and step aside to support new leadership.

 

Action-oriented declaration of racism as a public health crisis. At the August 8th Board of Supervisor meeting, the Board unanimously passed a resolution condemning racism and injustice, declaring racism a public health crisis and affirming commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. A resolution is important, and it would be valuable to accompany the declaration with clear action steps to help move the needle on racism. Utilizing the existing efforts and resources to move the institutions towards advancing racial equity within existing responsibilities is one way to move the needle. Actions include:

  • Adopt Anchor Institution Model to align business side of large institution with the program side. For example, County, cities, hospitals, large employers, airport, have principles that support institutional practices related to workforce development, contracting, procurement more broadly and investments in order to ensure the economic benefits of the running the organization support impacted communities, while advancing the mission of the organization.
  • Embed equity into all emergency response with clear practices and leadership that ensures an equity lens is brought to addressing crises and recovering from crises.

 

Fund prevention instead of punishment. At the core of the CCCS initiative, was a focus on preventing children and youth from entering into high intensity County programs that hinder their ability to be successful and can induce more trauma. A focus on moving funding upstream to support families and youth to prevent issues before they begin in addition to or instead of providing funding to intervene when challenges arise is an important step in prevention. Actions include:

  • Incorporate a Budget Equity Process to analyze where funds are going and how they are allocated to support programs that prevent children from falling into high-intensity programming.

 

Stop or limit punitive disciplinary practice and policies that limit children and youth of color’s ability to be successful. Punitive policies in schools and the juvenile justice systems to minimize punitive disciplinary policies that are detrimental to the mental health, educational outcomes and success of children in the long-term. Removing kids from the classroom, and placing children in punitive juvenile programming can remove a sense of belonging for children and not provide the appropriate tools needed for a child to thrive, improve and feel connected to their community. Research has shown children and youth of color are over policed in the classroom, more likely to be suspended and expelled, and more likely to be stopped by police or enter the juvenile probation/justice systems.   Actions include:

  • Adopt and Implement Strong Restorative Justice Practices in schools and within the juvenile justice system. Restorative Practices incorporate relational practices with supportive adults in the school environment and implement practices that connect students to one another. These practices help students feel a sense of belonging and connection to classmates and teachers and that supports more accountability. These practices can look like morning circles. And when an infraction occurs with a student or students, they are not pulled out of class but practice mediation, understanding of the impacts of actions, and accountability for their actions without a punitive structure that can further alienate children and youth with existing traumas and challenges.  
  • Implement Youth Courts which is a specific program to implement Restorative Justice within the Juvenile Justice system. A young person who is in a diversion situation sees a jury of their peers and work through what their impact of their infraction and how they can reconcile and heal the community. There are additional wrap around programming to support the youth on the court, as well as those that come through the court. This alternative is not available in San Mateo County. EPA lost funding for their program previously.
  • Require Ethnic Studies classes to educate children and youth from kinder through 12th grade. This will support children developing a critical lens on diversity and celebrating differences, while better understanding one another. Hillsdale has an ethnic studies course and could be a place to learn from.
  • Create more equitable access to robust diversion programs across jurisdictions. Diversion programs serve as a critical safety net for all youth. They differ significantly city-to-city, and there is a County Probation program as well. There is a good deal of inequity in access to diversion programs based on where youth live. The City of San Mateo has a robust program and only serves those that live outside of the immediate area. Whereas areas like EPA/Belle Haven has less resources that reinforcing existing inequities.
  • More information/transparency around when and how SRO/SLOs/CPUs (police) are utilized and respond in school environments. This can help illuminate any inequities and whether the police are serving students effectively. SROs are supposed to be a support for youth in schools but counselors could have more appropriate capacity to meet this need. School staff and administrators at times utilize SRO’s to implement school discipline instead of SROs being there to create safety for the youth.
  • Utilize Family Navigators to outreach to families for truancy challenges. Student Attendance Review Boards (SARBS) are meant to address truancy and can send SROs to kids’ houses if truancy challenges are identified and fine parents. SRO’s are typically funded through the police departments. In some higher-resourced neighborhoods schools utilize their own funds to invest in Family Navigators (a bit like social workers) to help look at a family’s needs to lower barriers to attendance. This continues the cycle of inequities. Uniformly utilizing Family Navigators allows all students to have more equitable access to supportive services instead of punitive fines. 
  • Review office referrals and provide training for teachers and school staff on specific ways to overcome biases, implicit and overt, related to disciplinary actions. The first sign of a child or youth entering the pipeline to prison is office referrals. Office referrals frequently correlate with later suspensions and expulsions (broadly referred to as school pushout). Supporting schools to monitor racial bias by looking at the demographics of their office referrals, suspensions, and expulsions as a barometer for how effectively they are addressing implicit bias among faculty and staff.

Commands