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UNH Statement on the NYC FY 2015 Budget Agreement

Friday, June 27, 2014

UNH Statement on the NYC FY 2015 Budget Agreement

On Thursday night, Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council reached an agreement for the FY 2015 budget beginning July 1st.  The budget agreement represents the achievement of several long-term goals of United Neighborhood Houses and shows directions we will move in order to better serve New York City’s neighborhoods.

Early Childhood Education and After-School

UNH member agencies are among the highest quality providers of early childhood education and after-school in New York City and have for the last several years been working through Campaign for Children to ensure that every child in New York City has access to high quality early childhood education and after-school programs.  The FY 2015 budget represents a historic expansion of these services.

In FY 2015, New York City will implement Mayor de Blasio’s visionary plan to offer an after-school slot to every middle school student who wants one.  This will entail a 76% increase in the number of middle school after-school slots to 79,600.  Recently, New York City has selected 271 middle schools that will have new after-school programs, including 43 programs that will be operated by UNH member agencies.

Over the next two years, New York City will expand its Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program for 4-year-olds so that Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs can live up to its name and be truly universal.  UNH members will also play a huge role in this expansion offering both UPK programs and a broad range of comprehensive early childhood services.

However, this budget misses the crucial opportunity to stabilize New York City’s early childhood system by investing in equitable salaries for early childhood educators.  With the implementation of UPK for 4-year-olds, teachers of 4-year-olds will receive higher salaries than similarly qualified teachers teaching children 0-3.  This may lead to teachers opting out of serving younger children and destabilize the early childhood system.  UNH urges the City to fund community-based organizations to provide equitable salaries to all early childhood educators before the implementation of UPK in September.

Summer Jobs for Teenagers

For the past 15 years, UNH has co-led the Campaign for Summer Jobs with Neighborhood Family Services Coalition.  Campaign for Summer Jobs has fought successfully at both the City and State levels to maintain subsidized summer jobs for New York’s teenagers through the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).  However, due to lack of funding, most teenagers who apply for a summer job do not get one.  Young people must literally win a lottery to get this crucial work experience.   In most years, nearly 100,000 young people apply for and are turned away from a summer job.

Campaign for Summer Jobs has begun a multi-year campaign to reduce youth unemployment through investment in SYEP.  Campaign for Summer Jobs is calling for 100,000 summer jobs in five years.

Campaign for Summer Jobs is off to a strong start in its new campaign with the FY 2015 budget.  Thanks to a new investment of $15.2 million from the City Council, this summer, the number of summer jobs will increase by 10,700, dramatically expanding the number of young people who participate.

School Lunches

UNH and many of its member agencies are engaged in the Lunch 4 Learning a campaign to offer free, universal school lunch in New York City public schools.  Lunch 4 Learning recognizes that when children and youth have a nutritious meal they are better equipped to concentrate and succeed in school.  The campaign also recognizes that there is often a regrettable social stigma attached to receiving a free school lunch because of its association with poverty.  In other cities across the country, and in New York State, the adoption of free, universal school lunch has increased participation in the school lunch program significantly. By offering free, universal school lunch, New York City can ensure that every student, regardless of family income, can have a nutritious lunch without stigma.

The FY 2015 budget starts off Lunch 4 Learning by offering free, universal school lunch in middle schools.  We believe that the implementation of this program will not only benefit 170,000 middle school students and their families, but will be an effective demonstration of the value of free, universal school lunch so that New York City can move toward expanding it to all students. 

Services for Older Adults

A majority of UNH’s members offer programs for older adults, spanning a range of services and activities that enable them to age in place and continue to thrive in their communities. Starting with the baselining of many of these services at last year’s levels, and extending to the additional investments in meals and case management that were added in the Executive Budget, we are encouraged by the recognition of the growing older adult population, and the acknowledgement of the need for new investment in this area following a decade of cuts. We will continue to work toward securing the funds community-based organizations need to provide the whole spectrum of services to older adults.

Adult Literacy

UNH has been a longtime leader in the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL) as both a member of the steering committee and advocacy committee. NYCCAL has played a key role in shaping New York State’s response to the new high school equivalency (HSE) examination, and, in the City, has led the charge to secure additional resources to meet the challenges associated with the introduction of the Common Core.

In an attempt to reverse the trend of declining investment in community-based literacy services over the past decade, NYCCAL recruited new Council allies and fought to expand the City Council’s adult literacy initiative. The initiative funds critical Adult Basic Education (ABE), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation classes. As a result of these efforts, the initiative was expanded for the first time since its inception, and hundreds of additional immigrants and adult learners will be able to improve their English literacy and/or study to earn their HSE diploma

The Daunting Logistics of the Pre-K Plan

Friday, February 07, 2014
UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein comments on the need for Universal Pre-K in New York City's communities and addresses some of the logistical challenges to implementing the Mayor's plan. 

“There’s hardly any community you go in that doesn’t have a big need for pre-K,” said Nancy Wackstein, the executive director of United Neighborhood Houses, a coalition of 38 community organizations, many of which currently provide pre-K and are willing to increase their capacity under the mayor’s plan. "What it will require is all the city agencies pulling together to make it happen, and to expand in many cases. We in the nonprofit sector are sometimes the victim of slow city processes.”

Read more here>>

A de Blasio-connected Education Coalition Presents its Blueprint for Pre-K

Friday, November 22, 2013



An organization affiliated with some of mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's closest advisers has presented him with a plan to implement his signature universal pre-K and expanded after-school plans.

Campaign for Children, a coalition of 150 education providers and advocates, released a detailed plan on Wednesday for how de Blasio can make his pre-K and after-school promises into policy.

Jennifer Jones Austin, the co-chair of de Blasio's transition team, is also the C.E.O. of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, which serves on the steering committee of the Campaign for Children. The Campaign for Children is also represented by Berlin Rosen, the firm that steered de Blasio's campaign to victory, and might be in a position to get this particular plans noticed from among the litany of priority memos and education wishlists de Blasio is being inundated with. 

The plan was delivered to de Blasio's transition team Wednesday after a rally at City Hall.

"The Campaign for Children seeks to be a partner in this endeavor, but also to hold the Administration accountable for its implementation," a spokeswoman for the Campaign said in a release. 

Campaign for Children's plan involves baselining $120 million of City Council discretionary funds for pre-K and after-school for 47,000 children, plus securing $30 million of one-year funding in the after-school system.

The plan also involves extending the current contracts through 2015 to avoid waiting on the Council to renew them this June, just six months after the de Blasio administration takes office. 

De Blasio should also create a new office, the group advised, to be called the Office of Early Childhood, which would focus exclusively on children ages 0-5. 

Campaign for Children has also advised the transition team to begin incorporating Common Core standards beginning in Kindergarten.

“The Campaign is excited and encouraged to have a Mayor-Elect who is a long-time champion of early childhood education and after-school programs, and who has made strengthening and expanding these programs a top priority for his new administration,” Nancy Wackstein, director of United Neighborhood Houses New York, one of the Campaign's members, said in a statement. 

EarlyLearn, the city's current system for enrolling children in pre-K programs, currently serves only 27 percent of eligible families, according to data from the Administration for Children's Services.

The Campaign for Children called EarlyLearn "under-funded and unstable" in a statement.

De Blasio's transition team did not respond to a request for comment. 

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/politics/2013/11/8536006/de-blasio-connected-education-coalition-presents-its-blueprint-pre-

Here are Three Things the Next Mayor Should Do for NYC's Youngest

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Here are Three Things the Next Mayor Should Do for NYC's Youngest

Expert Advice on How to Strengthen the Early Childhood System

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 - 02:11 PM


Pre-kindergarten students (Yasmeen Khan)

It’s been one year since the Bloomberg Administration launched EarlyLearnNYC, an ambitious model aimed at improving the quality of the city’s contracted child care system for children ages 6 weeks to 4 years old. As we look back at its first year, we see that EarlyLearn, while laudable, has not been fully realized.

As it exists, the current EarlyLearn system is under-funded, decreases the capacity of the contracted system, and includes rates that are inadequate for providers.

According to the Mayor’s Management Report, EarlyLearn enrollment in fiscal year 2013 was 30,096, a substantial decrease from the more than 45,000 children enrolled in the contracted system the year earlier.

When we look at total enrollment in the contracted and voucher systems, we see a 19 percent decrease in the number of children served by ACS in 2013 (101,852) compared to 2010 (120,809). This decrease in the number of children served is particularly troubling in light of the fact that ACS has found that only about one third of all eligible children are being served as it is.

The numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

We see a path for the next mayor to take to truly maximize access to a high-quality, affordable, full-day early childhood education experience. EarlyLearn's overarching goal is to deliver a higher level of service; something that early childhood education providers and advocates agree is of vital importance in preparing high-needs, low-income children for kindergarten and beyond.

Here are three things we want to see the next mayor do to ensure the early childhood system's success:

1. Stop the annual budget dance. First and foremost, the more than $60 million of one-year City Council discretionary funding for child care must be baselined so that the money is permanently in ACS’s budget. This would eliminate the annual budget dance where the City Council restores the one-year funding each June and would result in a more stable system.

2. Increase funding. The city must address the EarlyLearn rate so that it is sufficient to fund the high-quality services that EarlyLearn envisioned. The per-child rate must be increased so that providers can meet standards, retain appropriate and credentialed staff and meet the costs of operations, administration, and materials for children.

3. Respect the staff. We must ensure early education staff has adequate compensation and benefits. An investment in the early childhood education system must include resources for the workforce, including professional development, support for obtaining credentials and advancing education, and improved compensation and benefits, including affordable health care coverage.

Subsidized child care is an investment in New York City’s future. Every child deserves access to safe, high-quality, and affordable early childhood education.

Going forward, the next mayor, public advocate, comptroller and City Council members must have a plan for making high-quality, affordable early education available to every New York City child.

UNH Releases "PEG'd Away: The impact of NYC PEG plans on New York City, its people and its communities"

Tuesday, March 05, 2013
PEG'd Away is a issue brief by United Neighborhood Houses, detailing the impact of PEGs to City agencies that provide core community services, such as Department for the Aging, Department for Youth and Community Development, Administration for Children's Services, Department of Homeless Services, and others. 

Twice a year, in order to close gaps in the City's budget, City agencies face the task of cutting spending; in City-speak, these budget reductions are known as Programs to Eliminate the Gap (PEGs). Over the last several decades in NYC, Peg'd has become the most unlikely of verbs, as in "this program just got Peg'd," meaning the City budget proposal includes a program that will be restructured or eliminated for cost savings.

PEG'd Away also explores the changing role of the City Council. Once, the Council was able to use its discretionary funding to support innovative initiatives and meet emerging community needs. Now, this one-year discretionary funding is used to keep core human services afloat. Learn more by downloading PEG'd Away or viewing it online

Mixture of Hope and Concern for City's New Daycare Program

Friday, July 27, 2012
 

The city hopes EarlyLearn will make for higher-quality city-funded daycare. Despite funding shortages and doubts about the way contracts were awarded, some agencies and advocates believe the program has promise.

Read the full article>>

Balanced budget saves child care, libraries and fire companies

Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Queens Courier 

Without raising the tax bar, education, child care, libraries and other city services will be spared – despite original concerns of heavy cuts – in the 2013 Fiscal Year budget, city officials announced Monday, June 25 attributing the balanced budget to several cost-saving methods.

“When times were better, the city set aside surplus revenue — and when the first storm clouds gathered in 2007, we began cutting budgets,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “These actions — and our work over the past decade to diversify the economy and make it less reliant on Wall Street — have allowed us avoid the severe service cuts that many other cities are facing.”

About $150 million will be added from the mayor’s May Executive Budget, which proposed a large child care cut, to the Administration for Children’s Services Child Care Program and the Department of Youth and Community Development Out-of-School Time program, ensuring child care stays well-funded in the City.

The funding is a major accomplishment for child care, said Gregory Brender, policy advisor for United Neighborhood Houses.

Read the full article>>

151 Orgs Urge Bloomberg to Restore Child Care & After-School Funding

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A total of 151 organizations claiming to represent more than 1 million New Yorkers have joined the Campaign for Children and signed a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposing proposed cuts to child care and after-school programs.  The groups say that the Mayor’s Executive Budget proposals for FY2012-13, which begins July 1st, will eliminate funding for 47,000 child care and after-school slots.

“Enacting these cuts will deal a devastating blow to struggling children and families,” the letter states.  “As a Mayor seeking to improve the education of our children, ensure college and career readiness for black and Latino youth, and stabilize the City’s economy, we believe you should reassess proposed budget cuts in the realm of child care and after-school.”


Read the full article. 

Michael Bloomberg's Budget Proposal Elicits Protest From Campaign For Children

Monday, April 02, 2012

new-york 
A coalition of more than 150 New York organizations, ranging from the Police Athletic League to the Children's Aid Society, have signed a letter urging Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restore $170 million for children's services to his proposed budget.

The coalition, called the Campaign for Children, is asking the mayor to make sure that his budget includes funding for some 47,000 child care and after-school slots currently bound for the trash bin. The letter notes that funding for child care and after-school programs has declined each year since 2009. As a result, the city's subsidized child care and after-school systems serve 43,000 fewer children than they did five years ago.

The coalition plans to send the letter on Thursday. Gregory Bender, a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses NY and a spokesperson for the coalition, said, "This massive display of support is a message loud and clear from New York City to Mayor Bloomberg: 'You must restore funding for child care and after-school programs that children and working families depend on.'" 


Read the full article. 

Council Budget Hearings Launch with Child Care Kickball

Thursday, March 08, 2012
   The New York World  

Low-income families are guaranteed child care assistance under federal law, and their care is paid for through block grants. But under the new city rules, households just above the poverty level would not be guaranteed assistance. The changeover is expected to remove at least 8,200 seats currently used by low-income working families.

Depending on how many contracts are approved, as many as 15,900 seats could be cut, predicted Greg Brender, a policy analyst at the United Neighborhood Houses.  “The Mayor just hasn’t made the commitment he needs to to New York’s children,” said Brender. “There’s just not enough care available for those who need it.”

Read the full article.