New York State Legislative Successes!
- While federal law recognizes no child willingly becomes a prostitute, New York law previously required prosecutors to prove that force, fraud or coercion was used to make a child participate in prostitution. Frequently, meeting this standard requires victims to testify against their trafficker which can lead to additional trauma for an already-traumatized victim. The legislation signed by the Governor today removes this requirement and gives prosecutors the ability to seek proper justice for these victims without the need to put them through the trauma of appearing in court.By eliminating the requirement to prove the elements of force, fraud or coercion in cases of children under 18, the legislation the Governor signed today (A.6823-C) will help prosecutors hold those who should be held accountable and help young victims escape their lives of abuse and exploitation at the hands of their predatory traffickers. Thanks to Assembly Member Amy Paulin for her leadership on this issue.
- Governor Cuomo also signed a bill (S7836) advanced by Senator Lanza and Assembly Member Paulin to move cases to specialized human trafficking courts to connect victims to crucial services, including counseling, job training, education, housing, medical assistance, immigration services and substance abuse and mental health treatment, and an additional bill (A10425-A) advanced by those sponsors to require hotels to prominently display information on services available to victims.
JCCA signed a letter of support for two measures that were passed and signed into law that will help keep children out of the foster care system:
- The General Obligation Law (S6016A/A7905A) extends the period that parents designate a person in parental relation from six months to twelve months. This legislation allows parent designated caregivers to watch over their children for up to a year; ensuring stability for the children in their care.
- Passage of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (S6217A/A7899A) permits parents who face administrative confinement and deportation to appoint a standby guardian. This bill provides parents with the tools for a smooth transition of care in case of deportation.
Thank you Governor Cuomo and others for your support passing these two important pieces of legislation.
Still awaiting action:
- The State Legislature recently passed legislation that prevents New York nonprofits from being charged 9% on commuter benefits for their employees. This legislation fixes the unintended consequences of an additional 9% Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) on commuter benefits which would burden nonprofits who provide MetroCard’s, passes, and employee parking for their staff. We urge the Governor to sign the bill into law.
- The Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Report Act passed the Senate and Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. This bill requires insurers and health plans to submit data relevant to behavioral health insurance parity to the Department of Financial Services and the Commissioner of Health, which is then made available to consumers. We urge the Governor to sign the bill into law.
- The Maximum State Aid Rate (MSAR) was increased last year by 2% after seven years of stagnant rates. We will need the support of the Governor and legislature to achieve a MSAR package effective July 1, 2018 that truly reflects the needs of our agencies and the children and families we serve. Our request includes an annual increase of 4% as well as salary increases for foster care workers that mirror support provided to other direct care workers in the budget process.
- The Child Victims Act failed to gain passage into law even though it passes with overwhelming support by the State Assembly every year. In its current form, the legislation extends the statute of limitation to age 50 in civil cases and age 28 in criminal cases. The one-year revival period was created to give victims more time to take legal action before the statute of limitations is over. This legislation also adds the legal tool of discovery which forces institutions to publically provide names and locations of pedophiles and predators.
City Council Update
Successes – Thanks to the Mayor and City Council for their support of these initiatives that serve New York City’s vulnerable youth and families with the following in the FY 19 city budget:
- $4,444,000 was secured in the city budget for the City’s First Readers initiative. This initiative will provide literacy development for New York City Children ages 0-5. $100,000 was allocated to JCCA’s Foster Home Services Early Literacy program to develop early literacy skills and beyond for children. Thank you to Literacy Inc. and Council Member Levin for sustaining a program that instills a love of reading in young children.
- $2,850,000 was secured in the city budget for the Court-Involved Youth Mental Health initiative which provides services for at-risk youth and youth involved with the justice system. $150,000 was allocated to JCCA’s Second Chances program to provide services to youth involved in the justice system. Thank you to Council Member Ayala for allowing us to assist at-risk youth to reach their full potential.
- $5,000 was secured for Kesher, an afterschool program for young men and women ages 14-19 located in Queens. The program contributes to the positive culture of the community by addressing a critical unmet need. Thank you Council Member Lancman.
- JCCA was included in the Wrap-Around Support for Traditional-Aged Foster Youth Initiative in FY 19. This will enhance JCCA’s ability to assist young women to obtain high-paying and/or non-traditional employment as a path to an independent adulthood.