The Children’s Aid Society has been working through the Campaign for Children on budget priorities for the city’s fiscal year 2016 budget. The Campaign for Children (C4C) is a coalition of more than 150 early education and after-school advocates and direct service providers. We were excited to see that the City Council’s Response to the Mayor’s Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget included some of our budget priorities. Read the entire response here.
Restore COMPASS Slots
The council recognizes the administration’s baselining of $51 million to support slots for elementary and middle school students in the Comprehensive After School System of New York City (COMPASS), bringing the total budget for after-school programming to $301.2 million for fiscal year 2016. Prior to the baseline, the council had supported slots at $2,200 per participant, a lower rate than the $2,800 to $3,000 paid to providers directly from Department of Youth and Community Development’s budget (this is not clear). In an effort to create equity across COMPASS positions, the DYCD and its community-based service providers agreed to a new standard price per participant of $3,000 for fiscal 2016. As a result, the baselined funds will now support 2,300 fewer slots. City Council strongly encourages the administration to add $7.7 million to DYCD’s budget and maintain the same level of service previously supported by the council, restoring all 2,300 slots.
Providing Universal Free Lunch to City Students:
Eating a nutritious lunch is essential for learning and developing, especially for those who may go hungry at home. In the Fiscal Year 2015 Adopted Budget, the council funded $6.25 million for the free lunch in middle schools initiative, where data shows middle school student participation in the school lunch program increased by more than 8 percent. During this same period, elementary and high school lunch participation remained flat, strongly suggesting that increased participation in 2014 for middle school students is directly related to the implementation of universal free school lunch.
Create a Year-Round Youth Employment Program
New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program has offered employment and workforce training opportunities to tens of thousands of New Yorkers between the ages of 14 and 24. However, at six weeks in length, these opportunities only begin to offer the level of experience and guidance young people need to develop lifelong skills. The City Council calls upon the administration to allocate $17.3 million toward the development and implementation of a new year-round youth employment program. Modeled after an extension of the In-School Youth Program from fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2010, the new program could provide 8,000 participants with up to 192 hours of employment per year in jobs at an hourly wage of $9.
Investing in NYCHA:
As the capital needs of aging buildings grow, operating costs, such as maintenance and repairs, increase. NYCHA’s aging housing stock requires far more capital investment than has been available from federal, state, and city subsidies. Although the state historically provided capital funds for NYCHA developments, in 2001 state contributions were reduced from $15 million to $6.4 million before being completely terminated in 2007. Since then, City Council allocations have attempted to fill critical capital funding gaps within the authority. While the state recently reversed the trend of disinvestment by allocating $100 million for modernization funds for NYCHA in the 2015-2016 enacted budget, more capital funding is needed to address critical infrastructure improvements. The council calls on the administration to provide $200 million in capital funds to NYCHA.