This opinion piece, by UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein and Policy Analyst Carin Tinney, was originally printed in the May 9, 2013 issue of the New York Nonprofit Press. Read the original piece here.
Until very recently, most New Yorkers hadn't heard of something called social adult day care. If they did, perhaps it conjured up images of frail seniors on small plastic chairs, drinking from ½ pint milk cartons while having a story read to them by a teacher. That is why the attention now being paid to this program - due to the recent scandal involving two Bronx Assembly Members and the resulting articles in the New York Times about alleged abuses by “pop up” social day care providers- is bittersweet.
The unfortunate impression is that this program is at best unnecessary and at worst riddled with fraud, political kickbacks and unscrupulous operators. But the attention, however negative, does give us a chance to highlight the benefits of this program, which when done the right way by credible and professional providers, has helped thousands of genuinely frail seniors remain independent in their communities and has given their family caregivers essential support and respite.
The social adult day care model has been around for decades. In many cases, there is a dual focus on providing supervised care and support to seniors while allowing family caregivers a few hours of relief. Social adult day care specifically supports seniors who would have a difficult time adapting to a bustling environment of a traditional senior center because of their frailty or dementia. These seniors are dependent on continuous care and need extra supervision, usually with eating, using the bathroom, or walking. The benefit of the social adult day care model is that it allows otherwise homebound older adults to get out and socialize with their peers through art, shared meals, exercise and music.
The challenge to the model, as it was designed, began about a year ago. Many senior center operators located primarily in immigrant communities began noticing a decrease in daily attendance. As a general rule, the number of seniors served varies on a daily basis, but this was not normal fluctuation. Seniors were being lured out of senior centers and into “adult day care programs” with cash and other incentives. This was alarming on many levels. First, the seniors leaving for adult day programs were not physically or cognitively frail, which is the main eligibility criterion of social adult day care. Second, this exodus jeopardized funding for traditional senior centers because reimbursement partially depends on the number of meals served daily. Third, it was clear that these new “social adult day care” programs were unregulated and were not using precious Medicaid dollars in the way it had been intended: to help frail seniors remain in their communities. The new centers called into question the integrity of the entire model and cast a shadow on the longstanding history of many quality-driven programs
United Neighborhood Houses, the federation of the city’s settlement houses and community centers, has within our membership some of the finest and most experienced providers of social adult day care. UNH members helped pioneer the concept and some of their adult day care programs have been operating for over a decade. It would be a horrible shame for these legitimate and important programs to be swept up in an enforcement reaction meant to shut down the Medicaid cheats.
Legitimate social adult day care programs are one of the components of a comprehensive continuum of care for older adults in their neighborhoods. They greatly benefit a population in need of specialized and supervised care, and contribute to a better quality of life for both seniors and their caregivers through constant emotional support. This program deserves not only to continue but to expand in order to accommodate the dramatic increase in the number of older adults who are projected to need this kind of care. Let’s not allow a vulnerable population to become the victims of a few dishonest program operators. Don’t throw the good out with the bad.
Nancy Wackstein in Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses. Carin Tinney is a Policy Analyst with UNH.
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United Neighborhood Houses
70 West 36th Street, New York, NY 10018
March 20, 2013
Memo of Opposition:
Current Minimum Wage Deal Too-Little, Too-Long-To-Wait
United Neighborhood Houses, an association of non-profit settlement houses and communities centers employing over 10,000 individuals and serving over 500,000 New Yorkers annually across the five boroughs, is deeply disappointed with the direction that negotiations over an increase in the state minimum wage has taken. With our member agencies working daily on the front lines- many for over 100 years- to meet the needs of the New York’s low-income and vulnerable residents, we know that a fair increase in the minimum wage for working families is not just a matter of social justice, but of economic necessity.
If New York’s leaders wish to continue to grow the economy and generate real opportunity for all, we call on them to reject the current phased minimum wage proposal as too-little, too-long-to-wait, and instead implement a forward looking minimum wage of $9.00/hr., effective January 2014, with future increases tied to inflation.
Too Little: Failure to Index
Failing to tie future increases in the minimum wage to inevitable increases in the cost of living guarantees that workers will perpetually be left behind until politicians decide to take up the issue again. New York State has not seen an increase in the minimum wage since 2009, and that increase was just $.10/hr. to bring the State in compliance with federal law. Prior to that, the last State-generated increase was in 2007. Indexing the minimum wage will ensure that the value of worker’s labor is not held hostage to political whim, but reflects the reality of increasing living expenses.
Too-Long-To-Wait: Delayed Implementation
State elected leaders have recognized that the current minimum wage of $7.25/hr. is inadequate, citing the reality that a full-time worker employed year round will earn just over $15,000/yr. To propose then that this same worker, should wait until 2014 to only see a $.75 cent increase to $8.00/hr., and an additional two years to reach $9.00/hr. is seemingly at odds with the recognition that the wage today is already insufficient.
UNH recognizes that there are many sides to the minimum wage debate, and that arriving at a compromise is a difficult task. However, at this critical juncture, we call on the leadership of the state to consider that the FY2013-14 budget is a reflection of priorities. We hope that securing the economic future of New York’s working population is high on that list of priorities and the final budget agreement will increase the minimum wage to $9.00/hr. effective January 2014, and index future increases to inflation. It is the right thing to do for New Yorkers and the time to do so is now.
Contact: Annetta Seecharran, Director of Policy & Advocacy, 212.967.0322 x329 firstname.lastname@example.org
UNH Releases "PEG'd Away: The impact of NYC PEG plans on New York City, its people and its communities"
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.
70 West 36th Street, Fifth Floor, New York, NY 10018
tel: 212-967-0322 fax: 212-967-0792
Statement of Nancy Wackstein
Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses
On Federal Sequestration Cuts
Administration for Children’s Services (Child Care and Head Start)
Department of Education
Department of Youth and Community Development (Services for Youth)
Department of Youth and Community Development (Literacy and Immigrant Services)
Department for the Aging
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Department of Homeless Services
Department of Housing Preservation and Development
Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator
Download it here.
January 30th, 2013
This week on Business Matters, we talk about what it means for businesses to go beyond profits. What can happen when businesses decide to give back to the community? What benefits do companies perceive may arise from philanthropic work? How can “doing good” affect employee retention rates? In what ways do philanthropies themselves benefit from corporate involvement? What are the preferred ways for companies to be involved in community organizations?
We discover some surprising statistics about the amount of money, investment in volunteerism, and the number of corporations involved in giving back to their communities, and the reasons “giving back” is important to business. We hear the interesting story of a philanthropic project offered by Hewlett Packard to economically depressed areas, noting the many benefits and some pitfalls of this corporate-community collaborative project. Then we discuss the benefits to communities and businesses when corporations offer support to local not-for-profit organizations, including employee retention, community resiliency, and long-term interactions with consumers. We also hear suggestions for business leaders who are interested in offering such support.
UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein spoke to Business Matters Radio about corporate responsibility from the perspective of non-profit organizations.
Listen to her 13 minute interview here! (bottom of the page)
"While an increase in the state minimum wage represents welcome progress for the millions of low-wage workers across the state, we want to be certain that the value of the state's investment in [SYEP] is not diminished," said Kevin Douglas, a co-chair of the Campaign for Summer Jobs. "Since the vast majority of SYEP funding goes directly to participant wages, any increase in the minimum wage must be met with a commensurate increase in funding for the program, or ultimately we will be able to serve fewer youth."
Over 300 young people from across New York City traveled to Albany yesterday for the Campaign for Summer Jobs’ 14th Annual Youth Action Day. Their message to top state lawmakers was straight forward. The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) has tremendous positive impact the program has on the lives of young people. However, every year huge numbers of youth are denied access to the program due to inadequate funding. And, this year, even fewer youth will be able to participate unless new funds are added to Governor Cuomo's budget proposals.