Assemblywoman Jacobs Says State Budget Comes Through For Struggling Families, Rejects Harmful Cuts

April 1, 2009
Assemblywoman Rhoda S. Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced that despite a difficult recession, the 2009-2010 state budget includes a significant investment to help New York’s neediest families.

“Now, more than ever, our struggling families are depending on a helping hand,” said Jacobs. “In this economy we can’t pull the rug out from under them. We need to ensure the neediest families have the resources they need to get by.”

The budget restores $84.1 million for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), rejecting the executive’s proposal to reduce state payouts by between $16 and $28 per month. This is a vital monthly cash payment to people in need, Ms. Jacobs said. SSI is for low-income people who are 65 or older, as well as for blind or disabled people of any age, including children.

The budget also restores $4.4 million for the Personal Needs Allowance for those residing in Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse chemical dependence treatment facilities, rejecting the executive’s proposal to cut aid from $150 to $45 per month. Ms. Jacobs noted that the budget also restores $1.3 million for the HIV Welfare to Work Program and $4.3 million for Single Room Occupancy to avoid homelessness.

In addition, the budget restores $2.2 million in funding for the Displaced Homemaker Program. Combined with a $5.6 million Temporary Aid to Needy Families appropriation, the Displaced Homemakers Program is funded at $7.8 million – $2.5 million above the current year.

Vital Funding to Benefit Children

The budget also restores $403.9 million over the executive budget to the Child Care Block Grant. There is also $97 million in federal stimulus dollars for child care over two years, which will provide another $48.4 million for child care in the 2009-2010 budget. To keep children safe, the spending plan continues to allow child care providers to check the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment at no cost, by rejecting the executive’s proposal to create a fee of $25. And the final budget rejects the executive’s proposal to eliminate state funding for Community Optional Preventive Services (COPS), restoring $29 million to an initiative that preserves family stability and prevents troubled youths from sliding into the foster care or juvenile justice system.

The budget restores a $1 million cut – and adds an additional $2 million – to the Kinship/Caretaker program, which provides access to supportive services for relative caregivers of children. It also restores $6.39 million – and adds an additional $5 million – for Advantage After School, an after-school child care program for low-income children that reduces violence, crime, and substance abuse among school-age children. The programs provide parents with the knowledge their kids are in a safe after-school environment.

The budget authorizes the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to obtain information from the Department of Taxation and Finance’s wage reporting system in order to determine the eligibility of foster children for federal IV-E foster care and adoption assistance funding. The budget also extends Child Welfare Financing for three years.

“Keeping kids off the streets and putting them in a loving home and safe environment will give them the best possible head start for a productive life,” said Jacobs.

Aid for Important Programs

Under the final budget, $30.5 million of federal TANF funds is appropriated to restore or expand important programs including, but not limited to:

  • Technology Training (ATTAIN)
  • Career Pathways
  • Bridge
  • Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) and Local Interagency VESID Employment Services (LIVES)
  • Educational Resources
  • ACCESS – Welfare to Careers

Help for Needy Families

To help New York’s neediest, the non-shelter portion of the public assistance grant will increase by 10 percent per year over the next three years, beginning July 1, 2009. This marks the grant’s first increase in nearly two decades, Jacobs said. From July 1, 2009, through March 31, 2012, the state will reimburse social services districts for additional expenditures associated with the public assistance grant increase.

The budget restores $921,000 to the Nutrition Education and Outreach Program, which enrolls people in Food Stamps, Summer Food and School Breakfast programs. In addition, New York received an added $407 million in TANF contingency funds this year because of increased Food Stamps enrollments.

The budget accepts a savings of $10.9 million to be realized through the closure or downsizing of 11 youth facilities and fully restores $64.7 million in funding for local detention services. The budget also continues to cover local detention costs at 49 percent. The budget restores 90 percent of youth programs funding, while providing additional funds for alternatives to detention and community reinvestment.

The final budget will also extend the Portable Information Technology Demonstration project for one year, giving child protective workers the portable devices they need to increase efficiency in the field and reduce caseload burdens.

Federal Stimulus Funding

The federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide New York State with $25 billion over two years. Part of that funding includes:

  • $97 million over two years for the Child Care Block Grant;
  • $107 million over two years for Title IV-E programs, including $52 million for foster care and $55 million for adoption;
  • $8 million over two years for the Commission on the Blind and Visually Handicapped, including $4.1 million for Vocational Rehabilitation, $137,101 for Independent Living, and $2.3 million for Older Blind; and
  • $6 million for National Community Service. Funds will be distributed through a national competitive bid process.

“It’s even more important now, in this crippling recession, that we make sure hardworking families don’t slip through the cracks,” Assemblywoman Jacobs said. “Many of these programs are a safety net for families and were among the Assembly’s priorities to restore. The Assembly is glad the federal stimulus and TANF contingency funds were used to save these vital programs that will help ensure needy families have basic necessities.”