A broad group of San Diego County youth advocates, community leaders and agencies are uniting in a new coalition that aims to reduce child poverty in the area by 50 percent over the next decade.
“What we’re really trying to do is connect the dots to elevate what already is being done,” said Erin Hogeboom, director of San Diego for Every Child: The Coalition to End Child Poverty,” which officially launched Wednesday.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 40 percent of the county’s children age 12 and younger lived below 200 percent of the federal poverty level in 2017. Hogeboom said the coalition is using 200 percent as a poverty indicator because the cost of the high cost of living in San Diego.
The data means more than 190,000 children had unequal access to healthy food, stable housing, reliable healthcare, quality childcare and early education.
San Diego for Every Child is chaired by Sara Jacobs, a community leader, philanthropist and Democratic candidate for California’s 53rd Congressional District.
Hogeboom said Jacobs approached Jewish Family Service of San Diego in the fall of 2018 with the idea of bringing together groups and aligning different services to address child poverty in the area.
“In a county as wealthy as San Diego, it is simply unacceptable that so many of our kids are experiencing poverty,” Jacobs said in a news release. “It is going to take all of us coming together to tackle this problem. With the ingenuity, innovation, and tenacity of our community, we can create a San Diego where all of our kids lead fulfilling and successful lives — ensuring a brighter future for the entire region.”
Hogeboom said one of the biggest challenges for the coalition will be to raise awareness of the issue of childhood poverty in the city.
“Many people think of San Diego as a beautiful beach town, as it is,” she said. “And there’s a lot of wealth here. We see the first challenge as building the awareness of child poverty.”
To help, the coalition has launched a website, SanDiegoForEveryChild.org, with an interactive map that shows the level of poverty in communities throughout the county.
Pointing out the map, Hogeboom noted that even some areas of La Jolla have a high level of child poverty.
The leadership team consists of Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Center on Policy Initiatives, Parent Institute for Quality Education and the YMCA Childcare Resource Service of San Diego County.
Partners include The Chicano Federation of San Diego County, Child Development Associates, Climate Action Campaign, Educational Enrichment Systems, Inc., End Child Poverty CA, Feeding San Diego, Kitchens for Good, Local Initiatives Support Corporation San Diego, National City Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Housing Commission, San Diego Hunger Coalition, San Diego Regional EDC, Somali Family Services of San Diego, Universidad Popular California and Youth Will.
Hogeboom is asking advocates, volunteers, donors and others interested in learning more about the coalition to visit the website and sign up to receive updates.
As the coalition takes root, she said, it will help local families navigate a network of services and resources that can be confusing and force parents to spend time away from their children.
Hogeboom said the coalition will focus on strategies to create a safety net for children experiencing poverty. One strategy is to build a network of supporters to advocate for policy and structural change.
Another is to align the efforts of community organizations, schools, government, and philanthropists to expand the reach of effective programs and identify service gaps.
Before being named director of San Diego for Every Child, Hogeboom was Director of Strategic Partnerships for the National Girls Collaborative Project.