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Make Funding for Elderly a Top Priority

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


  THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK


Funding for elderly New Yorkers still a tiny fraction of overall budget – despite fact that seniors are the fast growing population group in the City

New York, NY—Today, Council Member Margaret Chin, chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging, joined more than a hundred seniors, advocates, and fellow elected officials to demand a fair share of the City’s budget for essential services for a growing elderly population. \

“For too many years, our seniors have been consigned only a fraction of a percent of City spending on vital programs and services that they rely on every single day. That is unacceptable, and we as a City must do better by our seniors. These are the people who care for our children, take a leading role in our civic life, and contribute so much in terms of our City’s artistic and cultural heritage,” said Council Member Chin. “The money that the Council is asking this Administration to add to this year’s budget to eliminate waitlists for homecare programs, support unpaid caregivers, and establish salary parity for Aging case managers is the very least our City can do to honor its obligations to our seniors. That is why I am joining everyday New Yorkers, advocates, and my Council colleagues to call on the Mayor not only to fund these programs, but to commit to a comprehensive plan to get Aging funding back to at least its pre-economic crisis peak.”

“Year after year we continue to be faced with stagnant and insufficient funding for the Department for the Aging that ultimately needs to be supplemented by the City Council. The Administration must make a real commitment that reflects the needs of the rapidly growing senior population,” said Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Subcommittee on Senior Centers. “Funding from the City Council should be going towards new initiatives and technologies for seniors, not towards the core services that the Administration should be base lining. It’s time to stop talking and start taking real action for our seniors.”

According to the city Department for the Aging (DFTA), the elderly population is the fastest growing age group in New York City. The number of seniors is projected to increase by more than 1.8 million by 2030, meaning that one in five New Yorkers will be part of the elderly population. Despite the growing need for senior services, total spending on Aging programs represents less than one-half of 1 percent of the City’s $78.5 billion adopted budget.

This year, the proposed Executive Budget for DFTA is $295 million -- $15 million less than last year’s adopted budget. While we appreciate the additional $6.9 million in baselined funding, the Administration’s Executive Budget only partially funds three of the 11 items outlined in the City Council’s Preliminary Budget Response.

In order to address areas of greatest need, the Council asking the Administration to include the following in the Mayor’s final, adopted budget:

  • Bring salary parity for DFTA case managers this year by baselining $7.3 million for Fiscal Year 2017, instead of the out-years as suggested in the Executive Budget.
  • Baseline the $3 million in City Council funding to cut the case management waitlist.
  • Create a $4 million funding stream to match the Federal funding that DFTA receives for programs supporting unpaid caregivers.
  • Baseline $4.25 million in one-time funding for Fiscal 2016 to address the anticipated waitlist for DFTA’s homecare program.

“Despite another flush city budget, funding of cost-effective services that help city residents age with dignity in their own homes – rather than in much costlier and mostly taxpayer-funded institutional care settings – lags behind growing need,” said Chris Widelo, AARP New York Associate State Director. “Supporting caregiver and home care services, and other key programs that help keep the city livable for people of all ages, is both compassionate and smart investing. The surge of aging Baby Boomers has only just begun; it is urgent that the city recognize this reality – both for now and the future.”

Bobbie Sackman, LiveOn NY, Director of Public Policy, states, "LiveOn NY is proud to stand with Councilwoman Chin and her colleagues to stop the senior budget dance. A fair city budget that reflects the lifespan would provide funding to erase waiting lists for case management and home care. It is time for full funding to address case manager salary parity to close the gap of $20,000 inequity with other social services case managers. Dancing in place doesn’t allow for implementing a caregiver support program to provide relief to family members dedicated to caring for their loved ones. Moving forward to include the needs of older adults is the right direction to move in.”

“As the number of older adults in New York City increases, it is critical that the budget for seniors reflect the growing need. As a direct service organization serving approximately 20,000 seniors a year at 26 sites around New York, I see the unmet needs for services across our programs. For example, we have 4,000 people on waiting lists for senior housing, our senior centers continue to serve more meals each day, and our case management programs are managing a growing number of clients. I’d like to thank Council Members Chin and Vallone for their leadership and commitment to our programs that serve our city’s seniors and I urge the City Council and Administration to fully fund DFTA’s budget to ensure that no senior is left without services,” said Stuart C. Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer, Selfhelp Community Services.

"Older adults are the fastest-growing population in New York City, but funding for senior services is not keeping pace with the demand. Neighborhood based services such as NORCs, meals, and case management support older adults to live with dignity in their communities. We urge the City to continue to invest in these programs, prevent service waitlists and preserve key community resources,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses.

 


New York City’s Hidden Literacy Crisis

Monday, May 23, 2016


By Kevin Douglas

New York City is in the midst of a growing crisis, but it is one hidden from the front pages, since those most affected are often without a voice: it is the crisis of New Yorkers who can’t read, write or speak in English. It is shocking that in a city of 6.4 million working age adults, 2.2 million – over a third – lack English proficiency or a high school diploma. To put the scale of this crisis in context, if you took these New Yorkers and created a new city, they would tie Houston, Texas, for fourth-largest in the nation. Though they wash our dishes, drive our taxis, cook our food and care for our children, these New Yorkers are all but invisible in the city’s budget priorities.

This observation will not be surprising to any of the 6,300 adult learners who lost access to their language and education classes in 2015. Despite the protests of hundreds of students, teachers and allies who rallied on the steps of City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio axed over $6 million from the already anemic funding streams that support English for Speakers of Other Languages and High School Equivalency Preparation classes. As a result, thousands of New Yorkers who had been exhorted all their lives to learn English and pull themselves up by their bootstraps suddenly found that the very means to do so were no longer within reach. In a city where over 200 languages are spoken and immigrants comprise 43 percent of the workforce, the decision was perplexing and counterproductive.

Education is often referred to as the great equalizer, and for good reason. Census data consistently demonstrates that the more education an individual has, the more likely they are to be employed, and the more earnings they bring home. And this has a positive economic effect on local communities and businesses. A 2009 study by the Community Services Society pegged a high school diploma’s value to New York City at $324,000 over the diploma holder’s lifetime as a result of their increased income tax contributions and a decreased reliance on social services. According to another study done by the Lexington Institute in 2013, Spanish-speaking immigrants with limited English proficiency lose roughly $3,000 per year in earnings as a direct result of their language deficit.

At a time when the nation is focused on issues of income inequality – and nowhere more so than here in New York City, where de Blasio has made confronting inequality a central goal of his administration – funding adult literacy classes that create pathways to higher education, skills training and better paying jobs would seem an obvious strategy. Investments in adult literacy would also complement the mayor’s broader agenda. For instance, his signature accomplishment to date – the establishment of a program of universal pre-kindergarten – was embraced by the immigrant community, with thousands of children from limited English proficient households enrolling. The challenge for these children, however, will be coming home to parents unable to read to them in English, help them with their homework, or communicate with their teachers as they advance through the school system. Similarly, the mayor’s initiative to expand health care to the undocumented is laudable, but will be tested by the inability of patients to understand their medical providers or to read the instructions on their medication. Investing in adult literacy can only further the success of initiatives like these.

With this year’s budget to be decided in the coming weeks, the fate of 2.2 million adults in need of English skills or a high school diploma rests on the values and priorities of our city leaders. It is time for this silent crisis to end with a real investment in adult literacy programs. Over 15,000 New Yorkers currently sit on waitlists for literacy classes, and with just a $16 million investment – .0002 percent of the mayor’s proposed budget – nearly 9,000 of them could be served. They deserve no less.

Kevin Douglas is Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy with United Neighborhood Houses of New York (UNH), a membership organization serving 38 settlement houses throughout New York City.


http://nynmedia.com/news/new-york-city-s-hidden-literacy-crisis#sthash.oYAWbxnm.dpuf

 

New York City is in the midst of a growing crisis, but it is one hidden from the front pages, since those most affected are often without a voice: it is the crisis of New Yorkers who can’t read, write or speak in English. It is shocking that in a city of 6.4 million working age adults, 2.2 million – over a third – lack English proficiency or a high school diploma. To put the scale of this crisis in context, if you took these New Yorkers and created a new city, they would tie Houston, Texas, for fourth-largest in the nation. Though they wash our dishes, drive our taxis, cook our food and care for our children, these New Yorkers are all but invisible in the city’s budget priorities.

This observation will not be surprising to any of the 6,300 adult learners who lost access to their language and education classes in 2015. Despite the protests of hundreds of students, teachers and allies who rallied on the steps of City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio axed over $6 million from the already anemic funding streams that support English for Speakers of Other Languages and High School Equivalency Preparation classes. As a result, thousands of New Yorkers who had been exhorted all their lives to learn English and pull themselves up by their bootstraps suddenly found that the very means to do so were no longer within reach. In a city where over 200 languages are spoken and immigrants comprise 43 percent of the workforce, the decision was perplexing and counterproductive.

Education is often referred to as the great equalizer, and for good reason. Census data consistently demonstrates that the more education an individual has, the more likely they are to be employed, and the more earnings they bring home. And this has a positive economic effect on local communities and businesses. A 2009 study by the Community Services Society pegged a high school diploma’s value to New York City at $324,000 over the diploma holder’s lifetime as a result of their increased income tax contributions and a decreased reliance on social services. According to another study done by the Lexington Institute in 2013, Spanish-speaking immigrants with limited English proficiency lose roughly $3,000 per year in earnings as a direct result of their language deficit.

At a time when the nation is focused on issues of income inequality – and nowhere more so than here in New York City, where de Blasio has made confronting inequality a central goal of his administration – funding adult literacy classes that create pathways to higher education, skills training and better paying jobs would seem an obvious strategy. Investments in adult literacy would also complement the mayor’s broader agenda. For instance, his signature accomplishment to date – the establishment of a program of universal pre-kindergarten – was embraced by the immigrant community, with thousands of children from limited English proficient households enrolling. The challenge for these children, however, will be coming home to parents unable to read to them in English, help them with their homework, or communicate with their teachers as they advance through the school system. Similarly, the mayor’s initiative to expand health care to the undocumented is laudable, but will be tested by the inability of patients to understand their medical providers or to read the instructions on their medication. Investing in adult literacy can only further the success of initiatives like these.

With this year’s budget to be decided in the coming weeks, the fate of 2.2 million adults in need of English skills or a high school diploma rests on the values and priorities of our city leaders. It is time for this silent crisis to end with a real investment in adult literacy programs. Over 15,000 New Yorkers currently sit on waitlists for literacy classes, and with just a $16 million investment – .0002 percent of the mayor’s proposed budget – nearly 9,000 of them could be served. They deserve no less.

Kevin Douglas is Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy with United Neighborhood Houses of New York (UNH), a membership organization serving 38 settlement houses throughout New York City.

- See more at: http://nynmedia.com/news/new-york-city-s-hidden-literacy-crisis#sthash.Wl2RFNmq.dpuf

New York City’s hidden literacy crisis

By

New York City is in the midst of a growing crisis, but it is one hidden from the front pages, since those most affected are often without a voice: it is the crisis of New Yorkers who can’t read, write or speak in English. It is shocking that in a city of 6.4 million working age adults, 2.2 million – over a third – lack English proficiency or a high school diploma. To put the scale of this crisis in context, if you took these New Yorkers and created a new city, they would tie Houston, Texas, for fourth-largest in the nation. Though they wash our dishes, drive our taxis, cook our food and care for our children, these New Yorkers are all but invisible in the city’s budget priorities.

This observation will not be surprising to any of the 6,300 adult learners who lost access to their language and education classes in 2015. Despite the protests of hundreds of students, teachers and allies who rallied on the steps of City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio axed over $6 million from the already anemic funding streams that support English for Speakers of Other Languages and High School Equivalency Preparation classes. As a result, thousands of New Yorkers who had been exhorted all their lives to learn English and pull themselves up by their bootstraps suddenly found that the very means to do so were no longer within reach. In a city where over 200 languages are spoken and immigrants comprise 43 percent of the workforce, the decision was perplexing and counterproductive.

Education is often referred to as the great equalizer, and for good reason. Census data consistently demonstrates that the more education an individual has, the more likely they are to be employed, and the more earnings they bring home. And this has a positive economic effect on local communities and businesses. A 2009 study by the Community Services Society pegged a high school diploma’s value to New York City at $324,000 over the diploma holder’s lifetime as a result of their increased income tax contributions and a decreased reliance on social services. According to another study done by the Lexington Institute in 2013, Spanish-speaking immigrants with limited English proficiency lose roughly $3,000 per year in earnings as a direct result of their language deficit.

At a time when the nation is focused on issues of income inequality – and nowhere more so than here in New York City, where de Blasio has made confronting inequality a central goal of his administration – funding adult literacy classes that create pathways to higher education, skills training and better paying jobs would seem an obvious strategy. Investments in adult literacy would also complement the mayor’s broader agenda. For instance, his signature accomplishment to date – the establishment of a program of universal pre-kindergarten – was embraced by the immigrant community, with thousands of children from limited English proficient households enrolling. The challenge for these children, however, will be coming home to parents unable to read to them in English, help them with their homework, or communicate with their teachers as they advance through the school system. Similarly, the mayor’s initiative to expand health care to the undocumented is laudable, but will be tested by the inability of patients to understand their medical providers or to read the instructions on their medication. Investing in adult literacy can only further the success of initiatives like these.

With this year’s budget to be decided in the coming weeks, the fate of 2.2 million adults in need of English skills or a high school diploma rests on the values and priorities of our city leaders. It is time for this silent crisis to end with a real investment in adult literacy programs. Over 15,000 New Yorkers currently sit on waitlists for literacy classes, and with just a $16 million investment – .0002 percent of the mayor’s proposed budget – nearly 9,000 of them could be served. They deserve no less.

Kevin Douglas is Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy with United Neighborhood Houses of New York (UNH), a membership organization serving 38 settlement houses throughout New York City.

- See more at: http://nynmedia.com/news/new-york-city-s-hidden-literacy-crisis#sthash.oYAWbxnm.dpuf

New York City’s hidden literacy crisis

By

New York City is in the midst of a growing crisis, but it is one hidden from the front pages, since those most affected are often without a voice: it is the crisis of New Yorkers who can’t read, write or speak in English. It is shocking that in a city of 6.4 million working age adults, 2.2 million – over a third – lack English proficiency or a high school diploma. To put the scale of this crisis in context, if you took these New Yorkers and created a new city, they would tie Houston, Texas, for fourth-largest in the nation. Though they wash our dishes, drive our taxis, cook our food and care for our children, these New Yorkers are all but invisible in the city’s budget priorities.

This observation will not be surprising to any of the 6,300 adult learners who lost access to their language and education classes in 2015. Despite the protests of hundreds of students, teachers and allies who rallied on the steps of City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio axed over $6 million from the already anemic funding streams that support English for Speakers of Other Languages and High School Equivalency Preparation classes. As a result, thousands of New Yorkers who had been exhorted all their lives to learn English and pull themselves up by their bootstraps suddenly found that the very means to do so were no longer within reach. In a city where over 200 languages are spoken and immigrants comprise 43 percent of the workforce, the decision was perplexing and counterproductive.

Education is often referred to as the great equalizer, and for good reason. Census data consistently demonstrates that the more education an individual has, the more likely they are to be employed, and the more earnings they bring home. And this has a positive economic effect on local communities and businesses. A 2009 study by the Community Services Society pegged a high school diploma’s value to New York City at $324,000 over the diploma holder’s lifetime as a result of their increased income tax contributions and a decreased reliance on social services. According to another study done by the Lexington Institute in 2013, Spanish-speaking immigrants with limited English proficiency lose roughly $3,000 per year in earnings as a direct result of their language deficit.

At a time when the nation is focused on issues of income inequality – and nowhere more so than here in New York City, where de Blasio has made confronting inequality a central goal of his administration – funding adult literacy classes that create pathways to higher education, skills training and better paying jobs would seem an obvious strategy. Investments in adult literacy would also complement the mayor’s broader agenda. For instance, his signature accomplishment to date – the establishment of a program of universal pre-kindergarten – was embraced by the immigrant community, with thousands of children from limited English proficient households enrolling. The challenge for these children, however, will be coming home to parents unable to read to them in English, help them with their homework, or communicate with their teachers as they advance through the school system. Similarly, the mayor’s initiative to expand health care to the undocumented is laudable, but will be tested by the inability of patients to understand their medical providers or to read the instructions on their medication. Investing in adult literacy can only further the success of initiatives like these.

With this year’s budget to be decided in the coming weeks, the fate of 2.2 million adults in need of English skills or a high school diploma rests on the values and priorities of our city leaders. It is time for this silent crisis to end with a real investment in adult literacy programs. Over 15,000 New Yorkers currently sit on waitlists for literacy classes, and with just a $16 million investment – .0002 percent of the mayor’s proposed budget – nearly 9,000 of them could be served. They deserve no less.

Kevin Douglas is Co-Director of Policy and Advocacy with United Neighborhood Houses of New York (UNH), a membership organization serving 38 settlement houses throughout New York City.

- See more at: http://nynmedia.com/news/new-york-city-s-hidden-literacy-crisis#sthash.Wl2RFNmq.dpu

Armed with New Report, Supporters to Push De Blasio on Summer Youth Employment

Tuesday, May 17, 2016



May 17, 2016 | by Samar Khurshid

When the City Council held its first hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Budget for fiscal year 2017, Council members made it clear that they weren’t satisfied with the level of investment in the city’s youth, one of the top priorities identified in their prior response to the mayor’s preliminary budget.

On Tuesday morning, members of the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, which has 24 members including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and advocacy groups will band together outside City Hall to rally for one particular aspect of youth investment: the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The rally will be accompanied by the Tuesday morning release of a report by the Campaign for Summer Jobs, a coalition of more than 100 community-based organizations, that outlines a plan to expand SYEP while making key programmatic changes.

SYEP provides up to six weeks of paid work to youth between 14 and 24 years old and it received 120,000 applications last year but only served 54,000 young people. This year, Council members and advocates want the city to increase that number to 60,000. “We’re trying to create a roadmap to get to 100,000 spots by Fiscal 2019,” said Andrea Bowen, policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses and co-chair of the Campaign for Summer Jobs along with Justin Hardy, policy fellow at the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition. “This is achievable and possible and necessary,” Bowen said in a Monday interview.

The Campaign for Summer Jobs report, which Gotham Gazette reviewed before its public release, calls for baselining increased funding for the SYEP over the next few years. Adjusting for increases in the minimum wage and accounting for program changes, the report proposes $75 million in city funding in fiscal 2017 for 60,000 summer youth jobs, increasing to $178 million in Fiscal 2018 for 80,000 jobs, $257 million in Fiscal 2019 for the ultimate goal of 100,000 jobs and $288 million in Fiscal 2020.

So far, the de Blasio administration has allocated $36.5 million in city funds for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1 of this year, with an expected state contribution of $15.6 million, for a total of about $52 million. This would fund about 35,000 jobs this summer.

Some of the report’s key proposals include implementing earlier application, enrollment, and orientation dates; earlier release of funding to service providers; recruiting more providers to the program; increasing base funding for providers; and creating an SYEP Expansion and Improvement Fund. With the ultimate goal of reaching 100,000 summer job slots, “funding levels for the next few years need to be known in advance,” said Bowen.

Much of what’s in the report dovetails with the City Council’s priorities. “The issue that we have is that year to year, we have to negotiate for this funding,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who is leading the budget process as the Council’s finance committee chair. “We want it baselined so agencies can properly plan and young people can be informed that they have a job in the summer.”

She stressed that the underinvestment in youth in the executive budget was of “great concern” to the Council and that members will continue to push the administration “aggressively” for more funding. “We want to take an opportunity to overhaul and do an evaluation of SYEP, figure out what works,” Ferreras-Copeland said on Monday, insisting that this was necessary for expanding the program to 100,000 slots. “Using the strategy that we’re using currently, going year by year, we’re not going to get there,” she added.

A cacophony of voices have been raised in favor of improving the summer youth employment program. Last week, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and New York Congressional Rep. Hakeem Jeffries held a press conference where they called on the mayor to increase SYEP funding. On Monday, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council members, advocates, and others congregated at City Hall to release a new report by the Young Women's Initiative, a $20-million City Council campaign that promotes services for young women, particularly women of color. One of its recommendations is an expansion of the SYEP. Hours later, Council Member Mathieu Eugene, chair of the youth services committee, brought together his colleagues and community advocates to the same spot to push for a related cause, increased funding for youth summer camp programs. He called on all those present to return for Tuesday’s rally.

Eugene chairs the Council’s youth services committee, which will hold its executive budget hearing on Tuesday morning, right after the City Hall rally calling for more SYEP funding. Council members will question de Blasio administration officials about their funding decisions.

“Those young people that are looking for a job are begging to do positive things,” Eugene told Gotham Gazette shortly after Monday’s summer camp rally. “They want an opportunity and I believe it is our moral obligation as elected officials, as people who serve New York City, to provide them with the opportunities that they are looking for.”

UNH in El Diario

Monday, May 16, 2016
UNH's Gregory Brender was quoted in a Spanish-language El Diario story.

Here's what he said in English:

"Summer programs keep kids engaged and learning over the summer and are a crucial support for parents who need a positive environment for their children during the workday.  Parents need to know now that their children will have this opportunity this summer.   The City must restore funding for summer programs now so programs can get up and running before summer starts."


To read the story in Spanish, click here.

United on summer youth employment funding, Jeffries and Diaz decline to back de Blasio

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

By Jeff Stein from New York Nonprofit Media | May 10, 2016 |

At a press conference organized to call for increased funding for New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. declined to throw their support behind Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2017 re-election bid, furthering speculation that one, or both, will eventually challenge the mayor.   

“We’ll see what happens,” Diaz said, citing the 2016 election as his most pressing political concern. Jeffries echoed the sentiment, saying that it is “premature” to determine whether de Blasio deserves to be re-elected.

Jeffries also declined to comment on how the investigations dogging the De Blasio administration have factored into his thinking.

“In terms of the investigation, I think the mayor is entitled to a presumption of innocence just like any other citizen of the United States of America,” the Brooklyn congressman said. “There certainly is a lot of smoke emanating from City Hall these days, but it’s not clear that there is fire.”

While both offered vague answers about their own political aspirations, Jeffries and Diaz were unequivocal in their support for a proposed$80 million in additional funding to expand the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program. According to Jeffries, “only 41 percent of the young people who applied and participated in the (Summer Youth Employment Program) lottery actually received a job,” leaving as many as 75,000 applicants “out in the cold.”

“That’s a shame in the richest city in the world,” Jeffries said, adding that the investment pales in comparison to the overall budget, which is estimated to come in at around $82 billion, and the city’s $8.5 billion “rainy day” fund.  

Jeffries, who participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program during his high school and college years, advocated for more funding in highly personal terms. He said that his summer jobs taught him to have a strong work ethic, to show respect and to exercise time management. He also highlighted data that points to higher school attendance and Board of Regents exam passage rates, as well as lower incarceration rates, for Summer Youth Employment Program participants.

“The Summer Youth Employment Program here in New York City made me a better person, and that opportunity should be available to young people all across the five boroughs,” he said.

Diaz echoed Jeffries’ comments, drawing a link between youth underemployment and crime levels.

“As we speak of reduction in crime levels, I think this will go a long way in keeping our youth busy, helping them learn the lessons of responsibility and respect, but also helping them with their families and (putting) food on the table,” Diaz added.

But even as Jeffries and Diaz spoke forcefully for increased funding and expansion, some wondered if the press conference was more about political optics than engaging the community.

One advocate for Summer Youth Employment Program expansion, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that neither elected official had contacted the source’s organization to coordinate. And another elected official was overheard on the steps of City Hall telling advocates that Council members, many of whom have been vocal supporters of increased funding, were not invited to speak.

Nonetheless, advocates who attended Tuesday’s press conference welcomed the increased attention.

“Summer youth employment has so many amazing outcomes for young people — academic performance, safety, building resumes — and it only makes sense to expand the program to meet demand,” said Andrea Bowen, a policy analyst for United Neighborhood Houses. “And the only way to expand is to baseline, so it’s exciting to see so much political energy around the issue of expansion.”  

http://cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/campaigns-and-elections/united-on-summer-youth-employment-funding,-jeffries-and-diaz-decline-to-back-de-blasio.html#.VzOgTOTZYdw

Levin, Cumbo and Miller: For pre-K teachers, a tale of two cities

Thursday, May 05, 2016

All created equal?

New York City’s relatively new universal pre-K initiative is, by many counts, a striking success. Free, full-day classes are available to every 4-year-old in the city. Over 68,000 children are enrolled — triple the rate from just a few years ago. National observers say that New York City has effectively set the standard for how to do pre-K, dwarfing enrollment figures in other cities and states. New York City has also been a national leader in the fight for a $15 minimum wage.

We applaud the de Blasio administration for these significant achievements.

Despite these successes, there is one thing that is not universal about New York City’s pre-K, and that is how we pay our educators. Over half of the city’s pre-K teachers, support staff and administrators are paid significantly less than they should be: A certified teacher with five years of experience working in a community-based organization makes $17,000 less than a teacher with the same credentials and experience who is working in the public schools. With 10 years of experience, the gap doubles to $34,000.

Similar salary, as well as benefit, disparities exist for all early childhood staff and teachers in early childhood programs serving younger children year-round.

This means that many community-based educators are themselves living in poverty while performing the important task of educating low-income children. We have heard from an upsetting number of early childhood educators who live off food stamps, who are unable to pay rent or who can’t afford health insurance. A disproportionate number of them are women of color.

Meantime, their peers earn significantly higher salaries and better benefits.

These disparities are not only unfair, but they are triggering high turnover rates and risking a shortage of qualified teachers in the city’s most vulnerable communities. We know the mayor is working hard to tackle economic inequality — which is why we must address the fundamentally unequal pay structure and benefits that threaten the long-term sustainability of a potentially historic program.

The pay disparity isn’t just troubling on its own terms. There is a trend of pre-K educators leaving community-based classrooms to do the same jobs in public schools. According to a recent report from the Day Care Council, one in two community early childhood centers reported losing certified teachers over the last two years, and just as many are operating with vacancies.

Ironically, despite their inferior salaries and benefits, community-based pre-K programs have a strong record of classroom excellence. A report released last month by Campaign for Children and United Neighborhood Houses showed that by the city’s own measures, pre-K programs run by community-based organizations outperform their public school counterparts in nine out of 10 quality metrics, including classroom organization and language reasoning.

The quality of these programs is not surprising. Many of these neighborhood-based programs have been serving their communities for years, well before universal pre-K came along.

Over the past several months, we and our fellow elected officials have joined advocates, parents and educators to call on the city to address this unsustainable rift in its hallmark initiative.

All early educators — whether they are public school employees or employees of community organizations with city contracts — are working with equal dedication toward the city’s ambitious goal for its youngest learners. The city should pay them all equally.

Levin chairs the City Council’s General Welfare Committee; Cumbo chairs the City Council’s Women’s Issues Committee, and Miller chairs the City Council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor .

 

Read the article here: http://m.nydailynews.com/opinion/levin-cumbo-miller-pre-k-teachers-tale-cities-article-1.2625197

Read the UNH report mentioned in the article here: http://www.unhny.org/_literature_231393/Losing_the_Best

Brooklyn Kids Rally To Save Summer Programs Cut In Mayor’s Budget

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


Is summer camp for thousands of New York City kids in jeopardy?

Local Council Member Mathieu Eugene, who chairs the City Council’s Youth Services committee, along with youth and teachers from impacted Brooklyn summer programs, and advocates from the Campaign for Children, took over Brooklyn Borough Hall last Thursday to call on the Mayor and the City Council to restore funding for 31,000 summer program slots cut citywide this year.

The funding cuts would affect organizations that contract with the City to provide summer programs for middle school children.

Last week’s rally was “Brooklyn’s response to the failure to include funding for the programs in this year’s executive budget,” the Campaign for Children, a coalition of 150 early childhood education and after-school providers, said in a statement.

As many as 10,000 children in Brooklyn alone could be impacted by the cuts this summer, says the Campaign for Children. The programs “help to close the achievement gap, prevent summer learning loss, and keep children safe while parents work—especially for children in low-income communities,” the advocates pointed out.

According to Chalkbeat, the 31,000 summer seats under debate were funded as part of Mayor de Blasio’s after-school initiative for middle-school children, School’s Out New York City (SONYC.) The Mayor has since said that funding the SONYC summer slots was not viable in the long-term. The City reportedly provided funding for the slots last year on a “one-time basis.”

The City continues to fund other summer after school programs, but advocates released a report earlier this year saying that “a closer look at the seven Community Districts due to lose over 1,000 [SONYC] slots shows that nearly all of these communities have child poverty rates exceeding the citywide child poverty rate of 29.6%.”

Mayor de Blasio and the City Council are currently negotiating the 2016-17 City budget, which goes into effect on July 1st. Groups like the Campaign for Children say that because the school year is rapidly drawing to a close and summer is almost upon us, it will be difficult “to put engaging, high-quality summer programs back in place if funding for these programs is not re-committed soon.”

“Brooklyn families are running out of time to find a safe place for their children to go this summer,” added Gregory Brender of the Campaign for Children.

“I am disappointed that these vital educational programs – which help close the achievement gap and keep our children off the streets – were not included in the Executive Budget,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “As the budget process continues, we will continue fighting to ensure that our children have every opportunity they need to succeed.”

 

read the article here: http://ditmasparkcorner.com/blog/news/brooklyn-kids-rally-save-summer-programs-cut-mayor-budget/