What do families, children and youth most need? San Diego wants public input on its master plan

Young children enjoying in the playroom
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More after-school activities? Better support for parents? With community feedback, the city is creating a road map for providing services, programs and resources for youth.


To make sure kids and families have access to services, programs and resources they need, San Diego is calling on child care providers and advocates to join them in creating its first youth master plan.

The plan is being developed by the city’s new Office of Child and Youth Success, launched last year, in partnership with the nonprofit Social Advocates for Youth, or SAY San Diego.

Nearly half of the city’s more than 281,000 children live with foreign-born parents, and more than a quarter of parents lack secure employment, according to U.S. Census data the office shared with City Council members last month.

That’s why the city wants to make it easier for young people to get around, find good jobs, secure housing, cope with homelessness and access health care, said Andrea O’Hara, the youth office’s executive director.

“When the Office of Child and Youth Success was created, there really wasn’t a road map of what the office should look like or how to deliver services to children, youth and families,” she said.

Her office’s plan will focus on creating guidelines in five priority areas: access to child care and camps; education and enrichment; youth empowerment; engaging activities; and economic and workforce development.

“It’s really important for San Diegans to live in a city knowing that it cares that children and youth stay here and that families aren’t going to move out of our beautiful city to go somewhere else, because there are opportunities that exist in this city for our youth to just stay and thrive,” O’Hara said.

In recent months, the office has called for public feedback, hosting nine virtual, multilingual town halls across the city in May and June.

Nearly 100 people participated, O’Hara told the council’s community services committee — about three quarters of them 25 or older, nearly a quarter between 18 and 24 and a few under 18. Most worked for a youth-serving organization, more than a quarter were parents or caregivers and another quarter were youths or young adults.

Some themes emerged, O’Hara said. Participants wanted more engaging after-school and summer activities, more areer exploration opportunities starting in middle school and more places for youth to hang out, do homework and be active.

They also called for more education for parents on what to expect from transitions from elementary to middle school and then from middle to high school.

Now the youth success office is assessing the city’s existing services and is working with steering committees to begin designing the plan based on the feedback.

More than 50 local organizations have already signed up to be part of a steering committee, including the San Diego Unified School District, YMCA of San Diego County and County of San Diego Live Well Office.

The office wants more child-care providers, advocates and organizations to join them. Those interested can sign up online.

The city’s youth commissioners will also be called on for input on the plan once they’re appointed.

Once it’s completed, the plan is expected to go before the mayor and City Council in spring of 2024.

Community members who did not attend a town hall can still submit an online questionnaire or watch the recordings on the youth success office’s website at