News and Resources

Governor's FY2016 Budget: Progress, but still work to be done

Thursday, January 22, 2015
United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) applauds Governor Cuomo for several noteworthy aspects of his FY 2015-16 budget proposal, but remains deeply concerned with the overall lack of investment in human services, and policy proposals that fall short.

We welcome and largely support the Governor’s 10-point Anti-Poverty Opportunity Agenda.  In it, Governor Cuomo proposes dedicating significant resources to address the housing affordability and homelessness crises New Yorkers have been grappling with for years. However, on two other key fronts—addressing the State’s inadequate minimum wage and lack of capital resources for nonprofit human service organizations, the proposed budget does not go far enough. 
 
While pleased that the 10-point plan includes the nonprofit human services infrastructure fund UNH championed with our partners, the $50 million investment represents just a fraction of the $500 million we proposed as necessary to truly begin to address critical sector needs. In addition, while the Governor’s proposal of a statewide minimum wage of $10.50/hr. and $11.50/hr. in NYC appropriately recognizes regional cost of living differences, it falls short of the $13.13 city wage proposal that more closely tracks to the true cost of living in NYC, and was endorsed by the Governor last year. 

There are some bright spots in the Governor’s budget for our communities.  We welcome the $25 million proposal to pilot Pre-Kindergarten for three-year olds living in high need districts, which serves as an important step toward ensuring every child in the State has access to high quality early childhood education. The Governor is also right to continue advancing the concept of raising the age of criminal responsibility to the age of 18 in New York, and we support the $25 million proposed investment in diversion and probation services toward that end. UNH also welcomes the Governor’s support of the NY DREAM Act as an effective means for cultivating and harnessing the potential of all youth seeking a college education.  The passage of the NY DREAM Act should not be linked to the passage of unrelated education reforms.

In terms of the key funding sources nonprofits rely on to deliver services to their communities, the FY 2015-16 budget truly presents a mixed bag. As a result of the Governor’s imposed 2% cap on budget growth, the budget does not recognize the increased costs of providing human services over time— or the demand for them. Cuts to the Adult Literacy Education (ALE) program, Advantage Afterschool and the Youth Development Program (YDP) are harmful to NYC’s communities.  Once again, comprehensive cost of living adjustments to human service contracts were left out at a time when so many workers in our agencies are struggling to make ends meet. 

Further, at a time in which the older adult population in New York continues to rapidly expand and a pre-existing backlog for services exists, the level funding of the Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) program is tantamount to a cut that jeopardizes the State’s ability to help older adults age at home. In addition, while we welcome the Governor’s modest $2.5m enhancement to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), it does not fully reflect the costs associated with the change in the State minimum wage, nor does it allow growth in this highly successful and oversubscribed employment program. 

UNH remains committed to working with the Governor and legislature to ensure the final FY 2015-16 budget fully realizes it potential to support New Yorkers in need of human service programs and policies that promote their wellbeing and advancement.

Engaging Communities for Better Health

Wednesday, July 02, 2014
NRC Workshop Feature: Engaging Communities for Better Health

The following post was written by Kendall Reingold, summer intern for the Alliance for Children and Families Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building.  She is an undergraduate student who has been assisting with the planning of the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference.
 
The 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference is proud to present a workshop that will provide an inside look at successful strategies to engage community members in improving their own health and wellness.  Featuring speakers from two Alliance member organizations, United Neighborhood Houses of New York and the Gary Comer Youth Center, as well as Aramark, an Alliance partner, the workshop offers three unique perspectives.
 
Jerica Broeckling, Program Manager of the Aramark Building Communities program at the Alliance for Children and Families will facilitate the workshop, entitled: “Using Authentic Engagement to Improve Health Outcomes.”  The panel will include Terry Kaelber, Director of Community Engagement Projects at United Neighborhood Houses of New York; Ayoka Samuels, Senior Program Director at the Gary Comer Youth Center; and Michelle Jordan, Director of Community Relations at Aramark. 
 
The presenters are committed to the importance of authentic engagement strategies.  Mr. Kaelber explains, “Working to increase access to and use of healthy food often involves changing individual eating habits.  Social norms drive eating habits and can be the doorway to changing individual behaviors.   To impact social norms, a level of deep community engagement is needed.”  For Kaelber, this means “projects must be driven and led by local residents, who are involved at the earliest points of idea generation and planning, are invested in through skill building and training opportunities, and who become partners and leaders throughout implementation and evaluation.  Such approaches are built upon relationships and a commitment to partnering, both of which take time and tremendous effort, but the rewards and impact can be significant and long-lasting.”
 
Authentic engagement is a longstanding principle of community-based organizations, although the term itself is relatively new to the lexicon.  This workshop is sure to help your organization realize its potential for positive authentic engagement outcomes.  Register for the conference online to attend this workshop, which will take place on Thursday, July 24th, the first day of the conference.
 
Early bird registration for the Neighborhood Revitalization Conference in D.C. is available online until July 7.  For the latest details about the conference and these presenters, stay tuned on Twitter.  Follow UNHNY, Aramark, the Gary Comer Youth Center, and the Alliance’s Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building, and keep up with conference news using the hashtag #NRC14.

UNH's Full Statement on the NYC FY 2015 Budget Agreement

Thursday, June 26, 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

UNH responds to FY 15 State Budget

Monday, March 31, 2014

Although there remains tremendous unmet need in services for New York City’s children, youth, immigrants and older adults, United Neighborhood Houses is pleased that the NYS FY2015 budget includes several positive investments that will improve the lives of residents in vulnerable and low income communities. The investment of $300 million to make Universal Pre-K truly universal in New York City is a historic victory for New York City's children and families. In addition, the $34m expansion in the Child Care Block Grant (CCBG) will also help ensure that parents are able to go to work while their children are in safe settings. We are encouraged by the $5m increased investment in the Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) program which will allow greater numbers of older adults to age with dignity in their homes, and also applaud the $1m expansion to the Settlement House Initiative, which provides settlement houses with the flexibility to meet evolving community needs.

However, UNH is deeply disappointed in the failure of leadership that resulted in the DREAM Act not being included in the final budget. As a result, thousands of immigrant youth without documentation through no fault of their own will continue to face significant financial barriers to pursuing a higher education after succeeding in high school. This represents a missed opportunity for New York to capitalize on their talents and potential. In addition, by not investing greater resources in Adult Literacy Education (ALE) and the transition from the GED® to the Common Core-aligned TASC™ examination, immigrants seeking to improve their English skills, and other adult education students hoping to earn their high school equivalency diploma will continue to face class shortages.

Also of significant concern to UNH is the nominal increased investment in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). While the $2.5m increase will help retain some youth jobs, thousands more will be lost in NYC at a time when over 100,000 youth in the City are already turned from the program annually, as the State did not fully account for the impact of the increased minimum wage on the program.

Email Eling Tsai at etsai@unhny.org for more information.
www.unhny.org

UNH Gives New Leaders a Blueprint for Neighborhoods

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
In June, UNH released the Blueprint for Neighborhoods, a series of recommendations for the next Mayor to comprehensively strengthen neighborhoods. Through the Blueprint, UNH advocated for quality human services that meet the needs of all New Yorkers. Based on the settlement house core belief that community residents know what they need best, the Blueprint was built on a series of visioning sessions, where UNH learned of their concerns and what would make a difference in their lives. UNH released the report at a policy briefing attended by 80 advocates and policy makers and spread the Blueprint's message throughout the 2013 City election races, including co-hosting a Mayoral forum attended by 250 businesses and community leaders. 

Explore Your Future in partnership with Hudson Guild

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Do Not Throw the Good Out with the Bad

Thursday, May 09, 2013

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.

Carin Tinney on BronxTalk

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
UNH Policy Analyst Carin Tinney appeared on BronxTalk to discuss the social adult day care industry and how it differs from traditional senior centers or medical centers.  View the video here! 



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

UNH Releases "The New Frontier: Social Programs for Older Adults and Managed Long Term Care Plans"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

UNH is pleased to release a brief on Medicaid managed long term care and its early implications for UNH member agencies (and potentially other community-based nonprofits) serving older adults.  It was prepared by UNH policy analyst Carin Tinney for UNH members in order to provide context for the massive changes occurring in the funding environment for services for seniors.

Medicaid managed long term care plans (MLTCs) are approaching social service agencies to contract for services and gain access to participants. There are both opportunities and challenges in this “new frontier” of collaboration. On the upside, it is a new source of funding for under-resourced programs, but at the same time it requires a different and new level of oversight.  It is, in fact, a new way of doing business.   UNH first learned about this trend over a year ago and has been closely monitoring its impact on our communities and agencies. The attached paper, “The New Frontier: Social Programs for Older Adults and Managed Long Term Care Plans.”, is meant to be a primer, explaining the history and background of the trend.

Browse the document here, or click here to download.