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July 19, 2016
This past year, CCC’s advocacy has helped lay the groundwork for important child welfare reforms at the federal, state and city levels. Through collaborations with legislative champions, City and State agencies, and our child welfare colleagues – including attorneys, parents, youth, providers and advocacy organizations – CCC championed a number of critical reform efforts. We are now well-positioned to see new investments, more accountability and important laws and policy changes in both the short and longer term.
CCC’s advocacy efforts were instrumental in securing statutory language and funding to implement the reasonable and prudent parent standard, which empowers foster parents to ensure their foster children can participate in developmentally appropriate activities, such as sleepovers, chorus and soccer, without needing agency approval. The goal of the federal lawwas to bring “normalcy” into the lives of foster children.
This year, CCC helped advance legislation at the state level that ensures foster parents and agencies are not liable for injuries a child might sustain when the standard is used properly, such as if a child gets hurt playing soccer. In addition, our advocacy efforts led the City Council to include the need for funding to pay for these activities to be in their budget response, and then for the administration to include these funds in the Executive Budget by doubling special payment allotments.
CCC worked in partnership with many child welfare advocates and providers throughout the state to try to secure critical investments and funding to strengthen the child welfare system. As part of this work, we spearheaded an effort that led to the creation of an advocacy agenda and well-attended advocacy day in Albany. Not only did these efforts educate elected officials and their staff about the needs of families and children involved in the child welfare system, but it led to some important steps forward including additional funding for the foster youth success initiative (supports for foster children attending college) and clearer appropriation language for the $5 million allocated for post-permanency services.
CCC was also instrumental in the introduction of A7756-A, a bill that would strengthen the child welfare housing subsidy for families and youth. Specifically, Assembly member Hevesi’s bill would increase the amount of the child welfare housing subsidy from $300 to $600 per month, increase the subsidy eligibility age for youth aging out from 21 to 24, and allow those receiving subsidy to have roommates. While the bill did not pass this session, CCC will be continuing to work with the legislature, the City, the State and our colleagues to hopefully come to an agreement that will lead to its passage in the upcoming session. In addition, CCC will be continuing to work with child welfare legislative champions, including Assembly members Lupardo and Hevesi and Senator Avella on several other child welfare bills, including one to strengthen the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP) and to restore funding for preventive services.
At the city level, CCC’s advocacy and collaborative efforts led to several key budgetary adds for ACS and its providers. In addition to the funding for normalcy, ACS’s budget also includes funding to reinstate the child welfare discharge grants for youth and families; funding to create primary preventive services and increase the preventive service system capacity to serve families with young children; and funding to increase the subsidy rate for foster and adoptive parents.
Furthermore, CCC worked closely to educate Council Member Levin, his staff and the General Welfare Committee on the issues facing children and families in the foster care system. This resulted in the introduction of a package of 8 bills aimed at improving the transparency, services and outcomes related to the children, youth and families involved in New York City’s foster care system. On June 16, 2016, there was a press conference and a hearing on foster care and these bills, in which CCC participated. You can read the Council’s press release and CCC’s testimony.
CCC also continued as the Public Advocate’s Representative on the the City’s Child Fatality Review Advisory Team (CFRAT). The annual report looked at trends in unintentional deaths over time and made recommendations to keep NYC’s children even safer.
Finally, we continued our work aimed at urging the federal government to better align federal child welfare financing with the positive outcomes we want to see in the system. CCC has been working with many of our colleagues to urge the House and the Senate to pass the Family First Prevention Services Act, which would open up Title IV-E federal funds for preventive services (rather than just foster care), help improve the quality of congregate care, and reduce the amount of time youth spend in residential programs rather than in family settings. This bill passed the House of Representatives in June.
While it did not pass the Senate before they adjourned for the summer, we are hopeful that the Senate will take this up in September.
So as you can see it has been a very busy and productive year—but there is a lot of work to be done in the upcoming year! We hope that you will follow our work on Facebook, Twitter and through CCC’s e-action network so that you can make your voices heard too!