Assemblyman Perry (D-Kings County-58th AD) announced he helped pass the 2014-15 state budget which supports vital programs for New Yorks families and its most vulnerable individuals. The budget provides funding to improve New Yorks child care system, protect at-risk youth and provide a Cost of Living Adjustment for human services direct care workers, among other initiatives (A.8550-E, A.8556-D, A.9205).
These programs provide crucial services to those who need help the most, Assemblyman Perry said. Its important to provide struggling individuals and families with the resources and assistance they need to help them get back on their feet during these still tough economic times.
Strengthening New Yorks child care system
The 2014-15 state budget provides funding to increase access to quality, affordable child care. The provisions include:
- $34 million for more than 4,500 additional subsidized child care slots;
- disregarding the earned income of teenagers under 18 in the household for the purpose of determining a familys child care subsidy eligibility; and
- requiring child care providers to post their most recent inspection report in a prominent place.
Further, $846,000 is restored to SUNY child care centers, with an overall funding of $1.8 million, and $685,000 to CUNY child care centers, providing $1.5 million overall.
It has become nearly impossible for working families to find affordable and reliable child care, Assemblyman Perry said. The state budget addresses New Yorks child care crisis so families dont have to break the bank to afford safe, nurturing care for their children.
The 2014-15 budget also allows individuals receiving public assistance and attending a 4-year post-secondary education program to have that program counted as their work participation requirement.
Preserving programs to assist struggling families
The 2014-15 state budget restores $26.2 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) aid that was eliminated in the executive budget proposal. The budget also delivers $1.6 million for the Displaced Homemakers program to provide counseling and job training to homemakers so they can secure employment and economic independence.
Further, $870,000 is allocated for the Disability Advocacy Program to provide legal representation to individuals who have been denied disability benefits or face discontinuation of those benefits. The budget also provides $1 million for homeless housing initiatives.
Two percent COLA for caregivers of the elderly and disabled
The state budget includes $13 million to support 2 percent salary increases for direct care workers, including those caring for the disabled at nonprofits licensed by the state. The first Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) will take place on Jan. 1, 2015, and the second increase will go into effect on April 1, 2015. These caregivers assist the most vulnerable New Yorkers, and this pay increase will help ensure a well-qualified and adequately staffed human services workforce, Assemblyman Perry noted.
Direct care workers look after and assist those who need help the most, Assemblyman Perry said. Their pay should reflect the enormous responsibility they take on at work every day.
However, it is disappointing that the Senate did not provide any funding for this COLA, Assemblyman Perry added. Had they matched the $13 million the Assembly added, their salary increases would have been received three months earlier.
Assisting those in need
Further, to address the alarming rise in the use of opiates such as heroin, the state budget includes $2 million in increased funding to enhance services to deal with this crisis, including substance abuse treatment programs.
The state budget also increases the minimum amount of funding available for new community services to $110,000, from $70,000, for every Office of Mental Health inpatient bed that is no longer needed to provide services, continuing these provisions for an additional three years. And, $38 million is allocated to expand community mental health services for close to 3,000 individuals, funding 628 new supported apartments and 122 new waiver slots, crisis beds, respite, outpatient services and care coordination. The budget also includes $600,000 for mobile crisis teams to respond to calls from schools, families and pediatricians to efficiently link children to the necessary services.
It would be unconscionable to ignore our vulnerable populations in times of need, Assemblyman Perry said. The services we provide them with have the ability to drastically change their lives for the better. For some, if we dont help them, no one else will.
The state budget allows the establishment of a New York City shelter supplement program within available public assistance resources to provide for initiatives to reduce the level of homelessness.
In addition, the budget includes $9 million to support an initiative to cap the rent contribution of New York City residents living with HIV illness or AIDS and receiving public assistance at 30 percent of the individuals income.
Investing in our community and protecting at-risk youth
The state budget restores $13.8 million for programs that help at-risk youth. An investment in our youth is an investment in our community, Assemblyman Perry noted. These programs include:
- Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Youth ($3 million);
- Child Advocacy Centers ($2.57 million);
- the Youth Development Program ($1.29 million);
- Settlement Houses ($450,000); and
- the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act ($254,000).
We cannot let any children slip through the cracks, Assemblyman Perry said. Most at-risk youth have been dealt an unfavorable hand, and we must provide them with the assistance and opportunities necessary to help them turn their lives around so that they have a chance at a bright future.
Providing support to the elderly
The state budget provides $5 million for the Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) program, as well as $4.1 million for the expansion of eligibility for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program.
Its important that we provide services to our seniors and fund programs that help them maintain their independence as well as their quality of life, Assemblyman Perry said.