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).

State Legislation:

  • Assembly Member Paulin is sponsoring legislation (A9453) 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. This bill would bring New York State law in sync with Federal law under the Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Family Court Act, which establishes that all prostituted children are trafficking victims.
    – JCCA is in full support of this approach to prosecute sex traffickers.
  • The Hotel Training Bill introduced by Assembly Member Paulin recently passed the Assembly for review. The bill proposes to make human trafficking awareness and training a requirement for any inn, hotel, motel, motor court or other transient lodging facilities as part of an effort to help victims. Training programs will be made available by in-person instruction, electronic and video communication, or online programs.
    – JCCA fully supports the Hotel Training Bill
  • New Legislation (S4997) sponsored by Senator Lanza seeks to strengthen protections for victims of sex trafficking by allowing vacating of a conviction that stems from sex trafficking. Additionally, the legislation will also provide confidentiality for motions to vacate a judgement, use documentation concerning labor trafficking and aggravated labor trafficking as additional proof of victimization of sex trafficking, and allow these protections to be based on the consideration of circumstance and within the interest of justice.
    – JCCA is in full support of these protections for sex trafficking victims.

City Council Budget Issues:

JCCA is proud to be a part of the following City Council initiatives:

  • JCCA’s Second Chances is funded by the City Council Court-Involved Youth and Mental Health Initiative. For 5 years JCCA has successfully provided services to at-risk youth involved with the justice system. Second Chances conducts outreach to youth who have had police involvement and youth at risk of police custody. Additionally, many court-involved youth have under-diagnosed or untreated mental health issues. By intervening and connecting youth and families to needed services, we assist youth to reach their full potential and become strong community members.
    – JCCA urges the City Council to fund the Court Involved Youth and Mental Health initiative at $2,500,000 for FY19.
  • City’s First Readers is a critically important initiative consisting of a collaboration of nonprofit organizations that foster the literacy development of New York City children ages 0-5. JCCA is proud to be the first child welfare agency included in the City’s First Readers program. JCCA’s Foster Home Services Early Literacy program provides story time and other events to engage parents and children ages 0-5. Parents receive training on utilizing play as a way to focus on early literacy. Literacy skills help to provide a basic foundation for a child’s success in school and life. At JCCA we are committed to ensuring that children in foster care have every opportunity to develop early literacy skills and will support them throughout their school career and beyond.
    – JCCA urges the City Council to fund City’s First Readers at $6,000,000 for FY 19.
  • The Jewish Caucus is dedicated to advocating for social services and fighting Jewish poverty in New York City. JCCA is hopeful that the Jewish Caucus will partner with us to support the Kesher program. Kesher is an afterschool program for young men and women ages 14-19 located in Central Queens.         Kesher’s programming includes organized sports for young men and women, recreational outings, internships, health education, counseling, and nutritious meals. Staff also reache out to youth on the streets to engage them in positive, constructive activities. Kesher serves as a “safe space” in which youth can relax, mingle with peers, make new friends, share concerns, and receive support. The program contributes to the positive culture of the community by addressing a critical unmet need.