Advocacy

The Final FY 19 State Budget Is Out!

Successes – Thanks to the Governor and Legislature for their support of vulnerable youth and families and the nonprofits that serve them with the following in the FY 19 state budget:

  • The current structure of funding child welfare preventive and protective programs in New York City was preserved. NYC will continue to receive 62% of costs funded by the state in an open-ended reimbursement similar to all other counties.
  • $6 million was secured in the budget for support of the Foster Youth College Success Initiative. This is an increase of $1.5 million from last year! This initiative will provide critical support for youth already attending college and a new freshman cohort.
  • Up to $30 million of combined state and federal funds will be made available to create six new mental and behavioral health (SPA) services for New York City’s Children.
  • $10 million was secured in capital funding for children’s behavioral health providers to support the preservation, restructuring or expansion of services. This will be combined with the $10 million from last year’s budget that has not yet been released for a total of $20 million.
  • $100k was included in the final budget for the Child Welfare Worker Incentive Scholarship Program and NYS Child Welfare Worker Incentive Loan Forgiveness program. Combined with last year’s funding of $100k the total funding for both programs is $200k.
  • $15 million has been included in the budget to cover costs related to increases in the minimum wage for state contracted human services organizations.
  • $3 million is restored for the Safe Harbour for sexually exploited youth program.
  • Licensure exemption – New York State permanently ends this exemption while preserving the ability of various degree holders to continue to practice within OCFS, OMH and other programs. The final agreement sets forth new parameters for the “scope of practice” for unlicensed and non-LCSWs staff, but preserves the ability to develop treatment planning and diagnose when appropriately part of a team with a licensed professional.

Challenges

  • The final budget delivered on its promise to eliminate the $41.4 million in funding needed for Close to Home, a community-based rehabilitation program for justice-involved youth ages 16 and younger.
  • $100 million was secured for Raise the Age which will enable the implementation of this important legislation to treat 16 and 17 year olds who are arrested with the rehabilitative supports and services they need in the community. However, there is no language that provides NYC access to the $100 million in funding.

Other nonprofit budget news:

  • $7 million has been included into the Executive budget for Post Adoption Services, which is level funded (same amount) from last year’s budget.
  • The Foster Care Block Grant has also been level funded from last year.
  • The Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program (NICIP) has been level funded with last year’s amount of $120 million that has not yet been released. Although the NICIP was not expanded this year, nonprofits will become eligible entities to apply for the State and Municipalities (SAM) Facilities Program.

Upcoming issues to watch

  • 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.
    – JCCA calls for the Child Victims Act to be passed 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.
    – JCCA is in full support of COFCCA’s request for 4% increase in funding for foster care that can incorporate salary increases through the Maximum State Aid Rates (MSARS) that are set post-budget between the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) and the Division of Budget (DOB).
  • A law to eliminate the necessity to prove force, fraud or coercion for commercially sexually exploited youth under 18 years of age to aid in the prosecution of sex traffickers.
    – JCCA is in full support of this approach to prosecute sex traffickers.
  • The Housing Subsidy Bill could help reduce homelessness for foster youth leaving foster care and families with child welfare cases. This bill aims to increase the maximum monthly rent subsidy from $300 to $600. The subsidy is only allowed when a Social Services official determines if a lack of housing is the primary reason for the prevention of discharge from foster care. Foster youth need the support of this bill as they move towards their independence and as rates for rent in New York continue to surge.
    – JCCA supports the increase in housing subsidy from the maximum of $300 to $600.