Investing in Youth Services is the Best Pathway to Community Well-being

Testimony & Public Comments

March 8, 2024

On Friday, March 8th, Policy and Advocacy Associate Caitlyn Passaretti submitted testimony to the New York City Council FY’2025 Preliminary Budget Oversight Hearing Criminal Justice. On behalf of CCC, the testimony explains that probation programs that have proven successful in supporting community safety, but cuts have slashed funding to these programs which in turn will harm our youth. Access to skill-building opportunities and community programming are key for youth development and CCC recommends restoring cuts to critical youth programming (specifics highlighted in the testimony) to truly support our youth and communities.

Read the testimony below.

Testimony of Caitlyn Passaretti, Policy and Advocacy Associate
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York
Submitted to the New York City Council FY’2025 Preliminary Budget Oversight Hearing Criminal Justice
March 8th, 2024

Since 1944, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York has served as an independent, multi-issue child advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring every New York child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe. CCC does not accept or receive public resources, provide direct services, or represent a sector or workforce; our priority is improving outcomes for children and families through civic engagement, research, and advocacy. We document the facts, engage, and mobilize New Yorkers, and advocate for solutions to ensure the wellbeing of New York’s children, families, and communities.

We would like to thank Chair Nurse, and all the members of the City Council Committee on Criminal Justice, for holding today’s important hearing on the FY25 Preliminary Budget, and how to improve the delivery of essential services and programs for NYC youth and young adults.

To promote community safety and wellbeing, we must invest in community services and resources. Unfortunately, the FY 24 November Plan and the FY25 Preliminary Budget include cuts to probation programs that have proven to be successful in supporting re-entry and connecting young people to mentorship and services. Failing to provide robust reentry services or supportive probation programs will harm our youth and is counterintuitive to building safe communities.

We join other city partners in asking for a full restoration of the $17 million for nonprofit providers to offer programs in city jails, such as wraparound services to promote successful reentry, job training, financial literacy, cognitive behavioral therapy, drug relapse prevention and anger management.i The Department of Corrections promised to continue providing these services in-house but has failed to do so. The city has failed its responsibility to provide supportive programming in jails and prisons. Restoring this funding will make our communities safer by enabling incarcerated New Yorkers to access employment, housing, and stronger community relationships upon release.

Youth across the City have made clear that investing in youth services is the best pathway to achieving community wellbeing. In their 2023 Youth Agenda, youth leaders from the CCC Youth Leadership Course, CUNY’s Intergenerational Change Initiative (ICI) and YVote named Economic Mobility for youth a top priority and urged the expansion of SYEP and the ability of all youth to access year-round employment.ii We need creative, non-carceral solutions to violence, and we urge the Mayor and the City Council to utilize the city budget to invest heavily in community programming, parks, housing, youth sports, employment, and behavioral health.

CCC recommends the following investments to create safe and supportive communities:

  • Treat gun violence as a public health crisis by investing in transformative community programs, including expanding investment in Cure Violence, credible messenger programs, youth engagement programs and other community-rooted programs that employ a public health approach to community safety
  • Restore the $1.6 million cut to the Arches program, a transformative mentorship program to support 16-24 year olds, from both the November plan and Preliminary budget
  • Restore $2.6 million cut from the Next Steps program from the November plan
  • Close Rikers and ensure the City remains on track with the closure plan
  • Redirect the funding from school policing into opportunities for young people in schools and communities
  • Restore the $22 million cut for New York Public Libraries
  • Invest $5.6 million to fund an additional 100 DYCD RHY beds; 60 beds for Runaway and Homeless Youth (16-20yo) and 40 beds for Homeless Young Adults (21-24yo)
  • Restore the $1.6 million to maintain funding for the 16 Peer Navigator positions in the DYCD- RHY System

We also demand an end to the Quality-of-Life Violations policing initiative that began around March 2022 from the Mayor’s office and NYPD. To be clear, this is a new iteration of broken windows policing, a policy that we know does not work and further criminalizes Black and Brown New Yorkers. We are already seeing the impact of this policy with increasing arrests and detainment, specifically and disproportionately targeting Black New Yorkers. This policy should be immediately halted.

This is a pivotal moment to shift how we approach community safety, and we must commit to resourcing systemically neglected communities and building support networks.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

i Katz, M (2023). Mayor Adams cuts classes and re-entry services at Rikers to save $17 million in NYC budget. Accessed: in-nyc-budget
ii The 2023 NYC Youth Agenda. 2023. Retrieved from:  2023 NYC Youth Agenda

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