News and Resources

UNH Response to Preliminary Budget

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Mayor de Blasio’s Preliminary Budget contains several laudable investments that seek to address the growing inequities in our city. However, the Mayor’s budget proposal falls short in funding many key priorities for New York City’s communities. United Neighborhood Houses looks forward to working with both the administration and the City Council to arrive at a budget that will be a win for New York City’s neighborhoods.
 
Policy Wins
 
We are gratified that the City is taking action to address the very low salaries of many staff in city contracted human services agencies. With a commitment to increase non-profit funding incrementally in order to implement a wage floor of $15 per hour by the end of 2018, the administration has started a process that will lift many hardworking New Yorkers out of poverty. Community based organizations funded by city contracts are doing on-the-ground work to implement the Mayor’s agenda of combating inequality. To do this effectively, we must address the inequalities that impact our own workforce. We look forward to continuing to work with the City to ensure that the tireless staff in the City’s non-profits receive compensation that reflects the incredible importance of their work.
UNH is also grateful for the increase in funding for elder abuse prevention programs. Elder abuse is often a hidden crisis, with only one case out of every 24 cases of abuse reported in New York. This investment will ensure that more older adults can access these vital services to remain safe in their communities.
Additionally, investments made as part of the ThriveNYC program, funds which support the expansion of mental health services, are an important step in connecting more New Yorkers to needed mental health services.
 
Areas in Need of Correction
 
Summer Programs
 
UNH is disappointed that this administration, which has been a champion of after-school programs, has made such a harmful cut to summer after-school programs. Working parents who need a safe and positive place for their kids after the school day need the same support in the summer when schools are not in session. Moreover, summer activities are essential to preventing summer learning loss and keeping kids on track to succeed in school. If action is not taken, approximately 34,000 kids will lose summer programs. Last year, when this same cut was proposed, more than 60% of City Councilmembers signed a letter urging the Mayor to restore funding. Since summer programs begin just days after a budget is passed, the Administration must not wait for a prolonged negotiation process to address this proposed gap in service. We urge the City to restore and baseline funding for summer programs for 34,000 middle school youth.
 
Adult Literacy
 
UNH is also disappointed that the preliminary FY 2017 City budget failed to restore critical adult literacy programming for thousands of New Yorkers who lost services in the last budget. English language proficiency and other services provided by adult literacy programs are essential for helping New Yorkers find better and higher paying jobs. We urge the Mayor to commit funding for community-based adult literacy programs to ensure families and hardworking New Yorkers have an opportunity to fully engage in the civic and economic opportunities of the City.
 
Youth Employment
 
UNH urges City leaders to use this budget to invest in the youth workforce both through the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and Work, Learn & Grow. Last year, SYEP provided summer jobs to 54,263 youth ages 14-24 in New York City. Work, Learn & Grow was successfully piloted last year and provided 8,000 paid jobs during the school year for SYEP participants. Unfortunately, the Preliminary Budget does not contain funds to expand SYEP despite the program receiving more than 130,000 applications for 54,000 slots and does not continue Work, Learn & Grow despite its success this year. We urge City leaders to invest in expanded employment opportunities for young people in this year’s budget.
 
Early Childhood Education
 
Finally, the City should not, yet again, let a budget season pass without addressing the crisis of salary disparities in the early childhood education system. Teachers, directors and staff in community based early childhood programs are paid far less than their counterparts in public schools. This leaves the people who are responsible for the education of many of the poorest young children in New York City fighting to escape poverty themselves. Furthermore, it leads to a loss of quality staff in community based organizations as teachers, directors and staff leave jobs they care about just to make ends meet.

City Press Release: City-Funded Drop-in Centers

Monday, January 11, 2016

De Blasio Administration Doubling City-Funded Drop-In Centers to Bring Homeless Off NYC Streets

January 11, 2016

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that the City will double the number of City-funded Drop-In Centers designed to help bring homeless people off the streets and provide them with services that can help keep them off the streets permanently.

Drop-In Centers are an essential part of a continuum of care for street homelessness that starts with HOME-STAT outreach workers identifying them and gaining their trust; bringing them to a Drop-In Center for food, showers, case management services and medical care; taking them to a Safe Haven to spend the night; and moving them into supportive housing where they can receive help to rebuild their lives.

“Every street homeless person is an individual tragedy, a life gone off course. But sadly they often reject traditional shelters. We are now assembling all the specialized services needed to find each of these people and offer them the assistance that will work for each of them. Drop-In Centers are an essential part of the path off the streets, where homeless people can rest, eat, see a case manager, receive medical care and be offered placement into housing,” said Mayor de Blasio.

Mayor de Blasio has now substantially strengthened every step needed to move homeless people off the street, including creating HOME-STAT, the nation's most comprehensive street homelessness outreach effort, committing to add 500 new Safe Haven beds, and committing to finance 15,000 new supportive housing units.

Today’s announcement is another in a series of reforms resulting from the 90-day review of City homeless services ordered by Mayor de Blasio on December 15, including:

  • Launching the Shelter Repair Squad 2.0, substantially increasing the City's ability to monitor and correct unacceptable shelter conditions.
  • Ending the use of cluster apartments for shelter over the next three years.
  • Reiterating the existing requirement to keep shelters open for residents during the day.
  • Adding 300 beds for homeless youth.

Drop-In Centers provide an al­ternative to traditional shelter for street homeless individuals. They offer temporary respite where individuals can shower, eat a meal, see a doctor and rest. Case management and housing placement services are also available for clients who wish to receive them. The Centers also offer a limited number of off-site overnight respite beds, but ultimately seek to place people in permanent housing.

The City is announcing a new $8.5 million annual commitment to double the number of Drop-In Centers it currently operates. The City will open three new Drop-In Centers and take over funding of the current HUD-funded Drop-In Center in the Bronx run by BronxWorks, as HUD looks to reinvest those dollars in permanent housing.  

These four locations will be added to the four existing City-funded Drop-Ins: two in Manhattan, one in Staten Island and one in Brooklyn. In the past two fiscal years (FY14 and FY15), these Drop-In Centers served an average of 454 clients during the day, saw a daily average of 128 clients overnight and made 1,238 housing placements.

The City previously had nine City-funded Drop-In Centers, but five were closed between 2008 and 2010.

“To ensure maximum coordination and to make it as easy as possible for homeless New Yorkers to go to the Drop-In Centers, the City’s existing Outreach Team providers will run these Centers,” said Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks.

New Centers will open in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. These Drop-In Centers will be expected to each serve approximately 75 clients at any given time.

Drop-In Centers will continue to focus on working collaboratively with the City’s outreach teams on the placement of chronically street homeless individuals into housing, and provide housing placement services to the non-chronically street homeless individuals. This includes working with clients to obtain identification, entitlements and housing. Drop-In Centers will also set up the front door of their programs to rapidly connect individuals to more appropriate systems of care, such as the emergency shelter system, residential drug treatment programs, family re-unification, travel assistance and other resources.   

In addition, the City has updated its policies to allow for individuals who have recently stayed in the City shelters to use the Drop-In Center services, reversing a policy that had been in place since 2012.

"I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio to site a new Drop-In Center in Brooklyn for street homeless individuals that need a safe and supportive place to access critical services,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “This is one of many resources needed to combat the homelessness crisis facing our city, and we must continue to invest in these resources in order to help our neighbors in need reach more hopeful futures."

“Drop-In Centers work – they provide a crucial gateway for the street homeless population to begin connecting with services and shelter and start on the path to shelter and eventually permanent housing,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Dramatically reducing homelessness in New York City will require real investments of government resources, and it’s good to see our mayor making one of those investments today.”

“Moving from the street to supportive housing can be a long, difficult transition,” said Council-Member and General Welfare Committee Chair Stephen Levin. “It is essential that case workers be given the resources to provide relief and services to street homeless individuals where they reside. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for stepping up to fully fund our Drop-In Centers, which are an essential component of any strategy for successful outreach to the street homeless. Drop-In Centers allow New Yorkers in need to rest, clean up, speak with a caseworker or doctor, shelter from the cold, and access services and information at their own pace. This type of personal contact lays a foundation for trust and rapport that helps connect street homeless individuals with essential services and eases their transition back to the path toward stable housing and employment.”

"Thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s funding commitment, 3 new sites along with continued support for the BronxWorks Drop-In Center, will help more people leave the streets and move into permanent housing,” said Susan Stamler, Director of United Neighborhood Houses. “Drop-In Centers provide an essential community safety net for homeless individuals during one of their most devastating life moments. While it may be a meal or a shower, medical treatment or a bed,  or just finding the right person to talk to, these Drop-In Centers make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors. "

"Breaking Ground applauds Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to helping the most vulnerable New Yorkers," said Brenda Rosen, President and CEO of Breaking Ground. “Drop-In Centers are a critical step in the journey from the street to stable, safe, permanent supportive housing. Breaking Ground has been serving the homeless and many other at-risk New Yorkers for more than 25 years as the largest provider of supportive housing, running the city’s largest safe haven, and homeless street outreach in three boroughs. We look forward to working with the de Blasio administration to open three new desperately-needed Drop-In Centers, and to get people into permanent housing as soon as possible.”

"BronxWorks is thrilled that the Mayor has such a strong commitment to the expansion of Drop-In Centers throughout New York City,” said Eileen Torres, Executive Director of BronxWorks. “As the long-standing operator of the Bronx Drop-In center while also overseeing the homeless outreach program, we know firsthand the integrated approach is critical to the successful reduction of the numbers of street homeless population in the borough. In addition to coming in off the streets during extreme weather conditions, a Drop-In center offers clients the opportunity to receive medical and/or psychiatric evaluations and care, meet with case managers and complete applications for supportive housing.” 

“The Mayor’s announcement will provide us with another tool in our kit to help those living on the street make the transition from street to permanent housing,” said Stephan Russo, Executive Director of the Goddard Riverside Community Center. “This is another welcomed sign that the City is providing the resources we need to make our outreach efforts even more effective.”

“Project Hospitality applauds Mayor de Blasio for supporting and expanding what has proven for us to be a critical piece of a continuum of compassionate engagement and services that will successfully move homeless persons from the streets to safe shelter and supportive housing,” said Reverend Terry Troia, Executive Director of Project Hospitality.

To view the entire press release, click here.



City Press Release: One Year After Release of Career Pathways Report

Monday, January 11, 2016

NEW YORK—One year after Mayor de Blasio released the Career Pathways report laying out the administration’s vision to transform workforce development, the City announced significant progress in several key areas of the report. The City has nearly doubled its investments in workforce training over two years, significantly increased investment in “bridge” programs, and launched HireNYC, the largest targeted hiring program in the nation. 

Career Pathways is better preparing New Yorkers for the workforce. One year later, we've doubled our investments in training, improved our skills training with the help of industry partners, and bolstered bridge programs and youth employment. Through these efforts, many more New Yorkers have access to career opportunities,” said Mayor de Blasio.

“With Career Pathways we established an ambitious goal to transform the way our City approaches workforce development,” said Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. “In the past year we have begun the hard work of marching towards that goal, making major investments in program quality while also refocusing those programs that were not aligned with our new framework.  We have a lot more work to do and are excited to continue this momentum with all of our workforce partners across the City.”

Fundamentally, Career Pathways laid out a vision for transforming the City’s workforce programs to reduce the emphasis on basic “rapid attachment” job placement employment services and increase efforts that support long-term employment and career building.

The City’s investments in workforce training nearly doubled to $54.3 million, translating to 4,000 more New Yorkers who will build their skills this year. Career Pathways pledged to bring this investment up to $100 million within five years. This year’s total included $6.3 million spent to train more than 3,000 women, immigrants, and other entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses, utilizing the WE NYC plan targeted specifically at building resources for women entrepreneurs and the Immigrant Business Initiative, which helps foreign born New Yorkers in growing and starting businesses through support from Citi Community Development.

Investment in Bridge programs – education programs that combine workforce training with a pathway to associate’s degrees – were also significantly increased by $6.4 million. This funding will put nearly 1,000 low-skilled workers on track to obtain family-supporting wages and quality jobs, and represents New York City’s first program of this type. The City has just launched a Bridge Bank, a resource for educators to help expand these programs throughout the community. In all, 18,700 New Yorkers benefited from Bridge, skills training and entrepreneurship programs. 

Investment in youth employment was significantly increased. The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) increased the number of participants in the Summer Youth Employment Program to over 54,000, the highest number in decades. Additionally, with support from the City Council, DYCD created a year-round program for 4,000 of the summer students called Work, Learn & Grow. Along with the creation of the Center for Youth Employment, charged by Mayor de Blasio with expanding total system capacity to support 100,000 jobs, internships and mentorships for young New Yorkers each year, these efforts illustrate a shared commitment to providing quality and early opportunities for New York City youth.

Finally, the City launched HireNYC, a targeted hiring program aimed at leveraging the City’s purchasing power and economic development investments, which will connect more New Yorkers to quality jobs created by the City’s contracts and investments. 

Other progress on Career Pathways recommendations include continued work on Industry Partnerships to better align training programs to the industry needs, expanding and improving college preparedness programs to yield better long term career prospects – including significant investment by CUNY to increase graduation rates of students earning associate’s degrees – and EDC’s Best for NYC program, which is aimed at highlighting and inspiring worker-friendly practices for businesses.  The full report is available at the City’s Career Pathways website.

The City delivers a number of its workforce programs through public-private partnerships with several of New York City’s largest educational institutions, companies, non-profits and unions. Leadership from many these organizations were integrally involved in the Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force, whose insights initiated the work that ultimately culminated in the release of the Career Pathways report.

“Since last year’s release of the New York City Career Pathways plan, United Neighborhood Houses has appreciated the opportunity to engage in thoughtful discussions with the Office of Workforce Development and Human Resources Administration on how to bring the City’s new vision to life. Our settlement houses and community centers share the City’s commitment to creating a workforce development system that meets New Yorkers where they are and connects them to the education and skills they need to achieve their goals. We look forward to the release of the one year report and continuing to partner with the city to ensure robust investment in key adult literacy, youth employment and other workforce programs,” said Kevin Douglas, Co-Director of Policy & Advocacy United Neighborhood Houses.


For the original article, click here.




IDC unveils New York 2020 Agenda

Monday, January 11, 2016




Albany, NY —
The Independent Democratic Conference released the New York 2020 Agenda: A Blueprint for a Better New York on Thursday, a comprehensive policy package focused on improving education, housing, employment and quality-of-life in every corner of New York State.

On a foundation of four pillars: Educate New York 2020; House New York 2020; Work New York 2020; and Live New York 2020, the visionary agenda builds upon the IDC’s bold Invest New York and Affordable New York agendas to address the needs of working- and middle-class New Yorkers. The ambitious goals in each of the 2020 plans lay out a four-year path to lift up the state.

Chief among the IDC’s proposals are:

·  A new, 12-week paid family leave proposal that will ensure New York’s workforce finally can afford to take needed time to welcome a child into the world or care for an ill-loved one. Under a new proposal, the IDC seeks to grant employees 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a new child or sick loved one. This Family Care benefit would be separate from traditional disability insurance however would still operate out of the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) system, which grants 26-weeks off to injured and disabled workers. Temporary Disability Leave would continue to be funded through joint employee/employer contributions and disability benefits would significantly increase to match Family Care Leave benefits to $700 a week compared to the current maximum benefit of $170 a week.

·  The creation of the “50-hour learning week” by investing $550 million in afterschool programs, the support of existing Community Learning Schools and the development of 400 new Community Learning Schools, as well as a Kindergarten Fund financed by unclaimed lottery money.

·  The development of an innovative zero-interest college loan program to keep college students out of the red. College graduates in New York State are strapped with an average $26,000 debt. The IDC envisions the New York Achieve Loan Program, a zero-interest loan fund created with $500 million of settlement monies, to keep college affordable and invest in the future of our state. Loans would be granted to first-time undergraduate students who finish in the top five of their high school class with a 3.5 GPA or higher or score a combined 1200 or more on the SAT or a composite score of 27 or higher on the ACT. Students could apply for the loans after accepting all federal, state and grant aid and could use up to $6,500 a year on a private or public, four-year institution.

·  A continued commitment to the New York Public Housing Authority will help cure the deplorable conditions faced by tenants. The IDC proposes the creation of the Public Housing Revitalization Fund to administer state grants for critical repairs in NYCHA developments. Building on last year’s $100 million commitment from the state, the IDC calls for another $100 million in state funding for NYCHA to be matched by New York City and a dedication of future excess Battery Park City Authority surplus revenues, which would provide an additional $400 million for repairs.

·  Raising the wage for caretakers to $15 an hour will ensure that we care for those who take care of our loved ones. While home health aides care for our most vulnerable citizens they earn a meager $10.75 an hour and personal care aides make just a little more at $11.73. Half of the human service workers, like social workers or child care workers, earn less than $15 per hour, even though two thirds require college degrees to work. While New York State relies on these workers to deliver the critical services for our most vulnerable citizens, the state must do its part to raise its Medicaid reimbursement rates to service providers to ensure that these necessary wage increases do not lead to cuts in services. The IDC is advocating that these workers receive a $15 wage in light of Governor Cuomo’s announcement that state workers would receive a $15 minimum wage.

Other signature issues include:

·  Passing Zombie Property Legislation - Vacant and abandoned properties are a blight on our communities, causing devastating effects on the well-being of neighborhoods. The decaying houses can have a corrosive effect on localities, quickly turning into row upon row of boarded-up buildings that create hazardous areas and devalue homes. The IDC calls for a statewide registry of vacant and abandoned residential properties, while imposing a duty on mortgagees and loan servicing agents to take early action in protecting communities from crumbling homes.

·  Developing more affordable middle-income housing -  The IDC has sought to revive the spirit of Mitchell Lama by providing significant funding for middle-income housing for the first time in decades. Last year, the IDC successfully secured $50 million: $25 million to rehabilitate existing Mitchell Lama buildings and $25 million for the Middle Income Housing Program, which serves families with incomes up to 130 percent of the AMI. Over the next four years, the IDC would like to see a $700 million investment in the Middle Income Housing Program to construct new, affordable housing for working families. The IDC also proposes a Middle Income Housing Tax Credit, a 4 percent refundable tax credit, to spur the creation of units for families making up to 130 percent of the AMI.

·  Implementing ‘A New Deal for New York’ - New York State’s infrastructure needs an upgrade and New Yorkers need new and more jobs. The creation of the Empire Public Works Fund (EPW), the Community Jobs Program (CJP) and the New York State Manufacturers Intermediary Apprenticeship Program  (MIAP) will help rebuild aging structures and put unemployed New Yorkers back to work. The EPW is a revolving loan fund for major infrastructure projects like bridges, tunnels, sewer systems or toll roads that would provide loans to state entities for major projects. The CJP provides grants for smaller neighborhood level projects that revitalize communities, expand small business opportunities and put chronically unemployed people back to work. Preference would be given to projects with long-term employment offers and starting wages set at $15 an hour. The MIAP program would be a public-private partnership between employers and New York State to give small and medium manufacturing firms in the state an opportunity to create registered apprenticeship programs without having to deal with many of the administrative burdens that make this an expensive and difficult task beyond the capabilities of many firms.

·  Increasing funding for quality child care and keeping day care centers safe - Working families need affordable, quality childcare. The IDC wants increased funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, a child care tax credit and investment in the Quality Stars program. With a call for increased funding for child care, the IDC also recognizes the need for parents to be fully informed of the safety conditions within a day cares’ walls. Alarmingly, the IDC discovered unsanitary and unsafe conditions in New York City day cares. Many providers were serial offenders — 88 operators were cited during every annual inspection and for the same infraction. Many failed their inspections 100 percent of the time. Parents have difficulties tracking down violation information and during an undercover investigation, operators were deceptive about their histories. A letter-grading system for day care centers will provide a clear way for parents and guardians to understand how a day care center performed on their annual inspection.

·  Protecting New Yorkers from high utility costs - New Yorkers pay exorbitant utility rates, but have no say in the rate-setting process, unlike other states that have a Utility Consumer Advocate. The IDC calls for the appointment of a Utility Consumer Advocate who would operate independently and provide a meaningful voice for consumers. In addition, to help low- and middle-class seniors the IDC proposes the Senior Heating Assistance Program (SHEAP), which would serve seniors with an annual income of less than $75,000 for a family of two or $55,000 for an individual, with a fixed benefit for heating costs.


“United Neighborhood Houses, New York City’s federation of settlement houses and community centers, applauds the proposals for key investments in early childhood education, after-school, public housing and older adults in the IDC’s 2020 agenda.  For New York State to succeed both now and in the next decade New York’s communities need to have stable and robust funding for the core services that keep communities strong.  UNH and its member agencies look forward to working with Senator Klein to ensure a state budget this year and in the future that provides for New York’s communities,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses.

To read the entire press release, click here.

$15 minimum wage for city employees: Mayor's press release

Friday, January 08, 2016

Mayor de Blasio Announces Guaranteed $15 Minimum Wage for All City Government Employees - Benefitting 50,000 Additional New Yorkers


NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a $15 minimum wage for all City government employees and employees who provide contracted work for the City at social service organizations – meaning that by the end of 2018, approximately 50,000 additional employees will see their wages boosted to $15 an hour, making New York City a national leader in the fight to raise the wage.

“We know that nothing does more to lift up working families and move our economy forward than raising wages – and the City is leading by example by doing just that for these 50,000 additional New Yorkers,” said Mayor de Blasio. “From pre-K and affordable housing, to paid sick and parental leave, we’re taking real action for working New Yorkers.”

Under current contracts, wages are already ahead of the minimum wage increase that has been proposed in Albany. However, most contracts expire in 2017 or 2018. Mayor de Blasio’s announcement today guarantees that all employees will make $15 an hour by the end of 2018, regardless of whether their contract expires beforehand. The City will immediately work with municipal unions and social service providers to sign letters of understanding that guarantee the increased wages.

Mayor de Blasio has long fought for a $15 minimum wage on the State and federal levels. New York City is doing what is in its power and guaranteeing increased wages for its own employees. Raising the minimum wage is a key part of Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC goal of lifting 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty over the next ten years.

Today’s news follows Mayor de Blasio’s announcement last month that he will provide six weeks fully-paid parental leave to all 20,000 unrepresented managerial and original jurisdiction employees – allowing employees to take up to 12 weeks, when combined with existing leave – and immediately move to negotiate the same benefit with municipal unions.

...

“United Neighborhood Houses applauds Mayor de Blasio’s decision to raise the minimum wage for City employees and nonprofit staff working under contract with the City to $15/hour by 2018. The nonprofit workforce tasked with delivering vital human services to New Yorkers in need, from childcare workers to homeless assistance staff, all too often struggle to make their own ends meet. UNH believes that those workers fighting to help individuals and families escape poverty should not be forced to live in poverty themselves. We welcome the Mayor’s leadership and look forward to working with the administration to implement this proposal for the City’s nonprofit workforce,” said Susan G. Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses.


To view the entire release, click here.

Herminia Palacio appointed Deputy Mayor: Mayor's press release

Friday, January 08, 2016


REACTIONS FROM ELECTED OFFICIALS AND ADVOCATES: MAYOR DE BLASIO APPOINTS HERMINIA PALACIO AS DEPUTY MAYOR FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses, said, “I am thrilled that Mayor de Blasio has appointed Dr. Herminia Palacio as the new Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. With her strong background we know that she will work diligently with settlement houses and other community-based organizations to address our city’s pressing child care, mental health and homelessness issues. We look forward to working with her and the administration to strengthen services for all New Yorkers"


To view the entire release, click here.

Data on Pre-K Program Performance Not Easy for Parents to Find or Understand

Monday, January 04, 2016



On Friday, the city released numbers that detail the performance of many pre-K programs, but for parents, the data isn't easy to find or understand. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Mayor Bill de Blasio always uses the same phrase to describe his new universal pre-kindergarten program: "high-quality pre-k." But there hasn't been data to support that claim until Friday, when the city released evaluation results for two-thirds of its 1,800 pre-k sites.

The verdict: The programs at 77 percent of the sites are running so well, the children in them should benefit throughout their school years. The results at the other 23 percent of sites suggest that those kids will have no lasting benefit, but education officials refused to see it that way.  

"We make sure that every program that kids go into is a high quality program," said Deputy Schools Chancellor Josh Wallack.

Officials concede that they are using the results in deciding which programs need help.

"We send support in to help a program grow where there are areas for improvement," Wallack said.

Evaluators rated each pre-K program on everything from how classrooms are organized to the questions teachers ask. Research has shown that the results are useful predictors of how children will benefit later in life.

But the de Blasio administration is not exactly presenting the numbers in a parent-friendly way. Visitors to the city website must navigate through several pages to find one gigantic spreadsheet with statistics on each program. However, there is no user's guide, making it impossible to know, for example, what a 3.5 on "Personal Care and Routines" means.

One trend does leap out from the data. Contrary to popular belief, the programs with the lowest scores are all in public schools, and the Pre-K programs with the highest scores are almost all run by outside organizations, rather than the Department of Education.

"Community-based early childhood education programs provide critical programs for our city's children, but their teachers and staff are paid far less than these same teachers in public schools," said Susan Stamler of United Neighborhood Houses.

The finding that lower-paid teachers often are delivering better results might give ammunition to critics of the Department of Education. The agency sidestepped questions about the disparity.

For the original article, click here.



Advocacy groups calls for equal pay for early childhood educators

Friday, December 04, 2015



Program directors and advocates from more than 100 education-based programs in the five boroughs want equal pay for early childhood educators now.

In a letter addressed to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the group Campaign for Children—a partnership between the Emergency Coalition to Save Children Care and the New York City Youth Alliance—the group states that community-based organizations contracted with the Administration for Children’s Services are struggling to stay afloat. The letter states that these workers haven’t had a raise in a decade and make less than Department of Education preschool teachers in public schools.

“The inequalities in compensation often mean the difference between living in poverty or not, and many staff in EarlyLearn programs depend on food stamps, Medicaid and other government programs to fill the gaps caused by inadequate wages,” states the letter. “Assistant teachers and other support staff currently work for significantly lower wages than the $15 per hour guidelines established for the fast-food industry. We ask that your administration immediately move forward to ensure adequate and fair compensation comprehensively throughout the early childhood education system, including for those staff serving children younger than 4 years old.”

Campaign for Children officials say that low salaries mean that they struggle to attract top-tier talent to educate children in the low-income communities they mostly serve.

“All children in New York City deserve access to a high-quality early education—and in order to provide that level of quality, programs must be able to attract, retain and fairly compensate excellent teachers and staff,” said Gregory Brender, co-director of policy and advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses and a member of the Campaign for Children, in a statement. “Addressing salary parity is crucial to strengthening our city’s early childhood education system.”

Non-DOE preschool teachers haven’t had a raise since 2006.

“What people don’t realize is that teachers, especially ones like me who teach 2- to 18-month-olds, are the foundation for children’s learning,” said Nadia Alexander, a 42-year-old head teacher in Brooklyn, in a statement. “We don’t have a general job description since we do everything that needs to be done to ensure each child grows into their full potential. Our pay should reflect that importance.”

The letter offered the mayor and City Hall a few suggestions on how to improve things.

“Your administration made meaningful progress settling the vast majority of the expired labor contracts you inherited on taking office. However, unionized staff in EarlyLearn programs are currently working without a contract and have not had a contract with a pay increase since 2006,” the letter read. “We believe that a simple step to address this issue would be to direct the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Labor Relations to immediately proceed with negotiations and to work with both management and labor to adequately fund a contract for EarlyLearn staff.”


See the full article here




UNH's Kevin Douglas on Tiempo

Tuesday, December 01, 2015




Back in July, New York City cut millions of dollars in funding to community based adult literacy programs. Advocates say the impact of the drastic cutback is being felt now.
They want the city to reverse the cuts to a program that offers critical opportunities to New York's most vulnerable.

Joining us this morning are Kevin Douglas, co-director of policy & advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses, council member Carlos Menchaca and Paola Ruiz from the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation.

To watch the discussion, click here.

De Blasio allies push him to act on pre-K pay disparity

Tuesday, December 01, 2015



A coalition of education advocates and pre-kindergarten providers are redoubling their push for Mayor Bill de Blasio to fund pay parity between teachers at all pre-K and day care centers in New York City.

De Blasio and his allies have heralded the city's pre-K expansion as a nearly unmitigated success. But the pay parity issue has divided him from many of his most essential supporters in the world of early childhood education, and threatens to damage the continued expansion of the program in future years.

Pre-K and day care teachers at community-based organizations (CBOs) make less money and have fewer benefits than their pre-K counterparts at Department of Education schools. The disparities are vast: DOE pre-K teachers can make up to $91,000 with a master's degree and 20 years of experience, while CBO teachers with identical credentials can earn up to $50,000. There is a second gap between pre-K and day care teachers, even within CBO settings.

...

The coalition includes many of de Blasio's closest allies in the early education world, raising the stakes for the mayor — among them the Bank Street College of Education, the special education advocacy group Advocates for Children, the Children's Aid Society and large pre-K providers including the Henry Street Settlement and United Neighborhood Houses. The leaders of those organizations lobbied in Albany on behalf of de Blasio's pre-K plan.


Read the entire article here