Who cares? I do!

It’s been an exhausting couple of weeks as I’ve been working on city funding requests at work and have submitted applications totaling almost $400K. If you’re keeping up with the federal, state and your local budget processes, then you know how devastating some proposed budget cuts are for families – children, seniors, and working parents. The budget challenges are not especially friendly to those of us who work in nonprofit and support child and family services.  I stood on the steps of New York City’s City Hall yesterday morning for almost two hours, rallying on behalf of working and low-income families with folks from social services across the city. Who cares? We do!

About New York City’s Child Care – The Mayor proposes to eliminate over 17,000 child care slots in the FY 2012 budget. This reduction will have devastating consequences for working families, their children, our economy and the child care system. The proposed cuts will eliminate one third of the city’s subsidized child care slots and have a severe impact on the children ESS serves – those enrolled in center-based programs, as well as those entrusted to the care of home-based providers. The $75M in short-term savings will result in long-term consequences for thousands of working parents, who, struggling to support their families, will be forced to make the intolerable choice of leaving their jobs in order to care for their children, or putting their children in less safe childcare arrangements. Those forced to leave work to care for their children will end up among the city’s unemployed and have to seek other government assistance – outcomes that are sure to add costs to the city. Structured, safe early childhood education has been proven to help children succeed in school – we cannot let them fall behind because their parents are poor!

Ifyou live in New York State, please act now to ensure the budget reflects our priorities and support vulnerable children and youth and affordable child care. 

About New York State’s Broken Juvenile Justice System – While the Juvenile Justice System was developed to protect public safety and rehabilitate youth, New York’s system does not accomplish either of these goals.  According to the State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), boys who have been placed in OCFS facilities have an 81% recidivism rate (upon returning to their communities, they commit crimes).  Thus, the system is failing to protect public safety and also fails to meet the rehabilitative needs of the youth in placement.  This system is also inefficient. The cost per youth in an OCFS facility is approximately $220,000 per youth. Each day, there are over 300 empty beds.  This under-utilized capacity is very expensive.  Alternatively, community-based alternatives to detention and incarceration programs have been shown to be much more effective.  At a cost of $6,000-$17,000, youth needs are better met and recidivism rates are significantly lower.

Please urge the NYS Governor, State Legislative leaders, and your individual Senator and Assembly member to adopt a budget that ensures underutilized facilities are closed and counties have access to the resources needed to develop cost-effective alternatives to detention and incarceration programs. We should not keep ineffective underutilized facilities open to protect jobs – it is unfair to the children of New York State.

Or be an advocate online through your social networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Post the links above and encourage your NY-based friends to ensure that our budget reflects our priorities. Whatever you think, whatever issues you care about, thank you for making your voice heard.

Who cares? I do!