February 8, 2023
By: Julie Kronick, Alice Bufkin, Rebecca Charles, Caitlyn Passeratti, Jenny Veloz, Juan Diaz
On February 1 Governor Hochul released her FY 2024 Executive Budget, laying out her priorities for state spending over the next year. In the coming weeks, the budget will be negotiated among the Governor, Senate, and Assembly, adopting a final budget by April 1. While the Executive Budget proposes a number of positive investments, there are still significant investments that we must advocate for in order to help ensure every New York child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe.
As the budget process continues, CCC is hosting a virtual Rally for New York’s Children on Tuesday, February 14 to advocate for a New York State Budget that promotes economic stability, youth opportunities, housing security, and more. Sign up for the rally right now by clicking here! Then, read on to check out our priorities related to the State Budget, which will become actionable items live during the rally, and get inspired to join us in taking action for New York’s children.
Poverty reduction is key to uplifting the lives of children, and we know what works to accomplish this. In 2022, the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey revealed that the temporary 2021 federal expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) reduced child poverty nation-wide by 46%–a historic reduction. Furthermore, additional data shows that these payments were predominantly used by families for necessary expenses, such as food, clothing, and home utilities. Knowing this, adopting a similar policy on a state level would be an immediate fix for families experiencing material hardship. With inflation increasing the economic burden on families throughout New York, we also need solutions that raise wages, increase the amount of cash assistance, and keep children fed. CCC’s priorities include several investments and/or bills that will aid in economic security for families including:
Based on the most recent estimates from the Census Bureau, around 746,000 children in New York State lived in households with incomes below the federal poverty level, which is about $26,000 for a family of four. Cost of living in New York State is higher than the national average, so the number of families facing material hardship is even greater than the federal poverty level estimates. Families need real supports to help promote economic stability, especially as inflation puts additional stress on already stagnant paychecks and COVID-19 recovery, and as New York made a commitment to reducing child poverty. Enhancing income supports would help mitigate the negative economic effects of the current 40-year inflation rate that has predominantly impacted families of color, as would expanding tax credit options like the EITC and Empire State Tax Credit permanently.
Additionally, our data shows that during the height of the pandemic 42% of NYC households with children reported it was somewhat or very difficult to meet their usual weekly expenses, and 15% reported that sometimes or often they did not have enough to eat. With school back in session, NYC students can get free meals alongside their education, even when their families are struggling, but this is not the case for all of New York. With inflation and low wages continuing to put stress on families, food insecurity continues to be an issue throughout the state despite recovery efforts. But like in NYC, one way to ensure that every New York child is fed is to offer universal school meals at every school. While schools in other parts of the state are struggling to collect school meal debt from families who cannot afford to pay, universal meals would ease the financial burden on struggling families and school budgets. Universal school meals will also improve child health, attendance, academics, and behavior in school. We therefore support establishing and funding universal school meals statewide (A9518/S9144) *.Requiring universal school meals will help reduce hunger, eliminate stigma, and help improve the health, wellbeing, and academic success of students. The expiration of federal funding for free school meals has hurt students and families across New York, resulting in more than 726,000 students and nearly 2,000 schools losing access to free school meals.
During our virtual rally, advocates and allies will have an opportunity to take action with a letter that implores our State legislature and Governor to invest in these economic security initiatives. Join us for the rally to make a difference for struggling families and, in the meantime, read our two-part article on confronting child poverty through these investments and beyond. Here is the first article and here is the second.
Child well-being is also directly impacted by housing security. Keeping a roof over a family’s head is essential to long-term success and health for children and adolescents, and a lot of families are struggling with rent. Data from our recent Child and Family Well-being Index shows that in 49 NYS counties, more than 20% of renter households are severely rent burdened, meaning they spend more than half their income on rent alone.
The Housing Assistance Voucher Program (HAVP) (S2804B Kavanagh /A3701B Cymbrowitz)*, is a State funded and administered housing voucher proposal, that would significantly provide housing stability across the state and that the Governor has the chance to fund this budget season. First proposed last year, HAVP would be a statewide Section 8-like rental assistance program. The program’s resources will be dedicated to helping homeless New Yorkers across the state find stable housing and eviction prevention for households at risk of becoming homeless. This program would allow for expanded income eligibility, aiding families that would otherwise fall through the cracks due to certain requirements. It is our understanding that a forthcoming report from the NYU Furman Center estimates that the proposed yearly budget of $250 million for the HAVP would serve 13,764 households across the state, which is more than a quarter of the approximately 46,600 households who were counted in shelters in 2022.
In addition, countless families across the state need rental assistance and are at the risk of eminent eviction. CCC therefore supports the following reforms to help promote housing security and prevent homelessness:
New York is facing one of the worst housing crises since the Great Depression (read this letter for some additional context) and although CCC applauds the Governor’s commitment to building more affordable housing, families on the brink of homelessness and trying to get back into stable housing need immediate support. A program like HAVP and other investments in housing supports would make a tremendous difference. Tune into the rally for a letter writing campaign on HAVP.
For families and caregivers experiencing hardship, promoting child well-being includes accessing safeguards that prevent unnecessary disruptions to their lives. These safeguards come from investments in programs that keep families intact, reduce children entering the foster care system, and help facilitate housing options. CCC is prioritizing child welfare investments that will protect children and families including:
Supporting these investments will alleviate burdens faced especially by low-income families throughout New York’s 62 counties, both by enabling families to stay together through hardship and ensuring counties have more equitable access to prevention services. Tune into our February 14 virtual rally to take action on necessary child welfare investments.
The Fiscal Year 2024 State Budget offers the opportunity to make critical investments that will protect young people and improve collective community safety. In fact, on Tuesday, February 7 Policy and Advocacy Associate Caitlyn Passaretti submitted testimony on Public Protection to the New York State Legislative Budget Hearing that encourages investment in youth opportunities as a true method of bolstering public safety. Read the testimony here. Public protection means public investment, and as such some of CCC’s current priorities include:
The combination of these investments will keep youth connected to their communities, which overall benefits well-being and safety. Justice-involved youth should be supported by their communities rather than removed, and these proposed investments provide opportunities to better connect youth with extracurricular activities, future employment opportunities, and their peers and neighbors. We know that programs that increase youth opportunity, like NYC’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), have been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of arrest and incarceration. Click here to read an analysis of the effect of youth employment on crime in NYC.
We will be promoting our updated Youth Justice take action to advocate for these essential investments. Click here to view the take action ahead of the rally! For more on youth justice, check out our Youth Justice New York newsletter (December edition, January/February edition) and check out our insight post from October unpacking the state of youth justice for additional context on important legislation and investment opportunities. And join us for the virtual rally!
CCC is also a vocal advocate for children’s mental and behavioral health needs, Early Intervention access, and equitable access to affordable child care. Stay tuned for opportunities to engage in advocacy on these issues. We encourage everyone to stay connected to the Campaign for Healthy Minds, Healthy Kids for further priorities on mental and behavioral healthcare, the Empire State Campaign for Child Care for further priorities on early education and child care, and Kids Can’t Wait for advocacy related to Early Intervention.
We will continue our work to advocate for funding and investments that further supports children and families across the state to ensure every child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe.
If you’ve come this far in reading some of our most pressing priorities, be sure to join us and likeminded allies in advocating for New York’s children on Tuesday, February 14 at 9:30am.
The virtual rally will include the aforementioned options to take action and influence the State budget on behalf of children and families.
* These bills that CCC supports could also be included as direct investments in the State Budget. Therefore, CCC supports both the bill and budget inclusion opportunity in tandem to ensure the best solution to help children and families.
Note: This insight post was written with content submitted by the Policy and Advocacy Team, credited in the byline. Much of the testimony data and supporting information for CCC’s priorities come from analysis by the Research and Data Team.