2021 FTNYS Digital Advocacy Center
Stay home. Stay Healthy. Take action.


Use emails, social media and phone calls to fight for access to children’s behavioral health, alternatives to school suspensions, youth justice reform and family-based foster care.

Please be considerate when making calls. With the COVID-19 outbreak, legislative offices have a lot on their plate and are doing everything they can. Be sure to wish them good health. We’re all in this together. 

Register Today for the Rally for Behavioral Health!       

New York must increase funding for mental health and substance use services. More than 40% of residents in New York report that COVID resulted in increased mental health issues. Overdose deaths have increased 38%. Amid this significant need, mental health and substance use providers do not have the staff they need to provide care – 97% of organizations report that it is difficult to recruit staff.

NYS Families and youth need these services to navigate the trauma that is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Join Families Together in New York State and our partners in the Coalition for Behavioral Health in a virtual rally in support of 5.4% COLA and a $500 million investment in workforce, service, and support in the Executive Budget. 

Register Now!

Take Action to Support the Second Chance for

YO Act & Ending the Arrest of Children Under 12                                                             

There are two crucially important youth justice bills going through the New York State Legislature.

  • Second Chance for YO Act (A6769/S282) will expand access to youthful offender (YO) status
    to people who were eligible for it, but were instead convicted in adult court, allowing them a
    second chance to have their records sealed.
  • Ending the Arrest and Prosecution of Children Under 12 (S4051/A4982) will raise the age of
    juvenile delinquency from 7 to 12 years old in family court.   

These pieces of legislation have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of justice-system involved youth. Can we count on your support to get these bills passed? Contact your legislators today!

Use the Raise the Age NY Toolkit Here!

NYS Families say “No Cuts” to Behavioral Health in New Video                                                               

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, NYS faces huge funding shortages. Without federal aid or new revenue, some funding streams could be cut by as much as 20%. This includes behavioral healthcare. 

Families Together conducted interviews via Zoom with parents and young people who spoke out about the negative impacts that the ongoing withholds and cuts to state-funded services will have on New York families and communities. These video interviews show the desperate need to #ProtectChildrensBehavioralHealth. 

Watch the videos and share with decision makers how we need these services now more than ever, and that we cannot afford behavioral health cuts. 

Watch the videos here.
Use the social media toolkit to share the videos here.


Protect Children and Youth in New York’s Budget- Petition and Twitter Storm 10/21.

We demand NY leaders commit to protecting New York’s most vulnerable by refusing to cut critical services in our State budget that hundreds of thousands of children and families rely on every day. 

The recent 20 percent withholding in aid to localities funding to New York’s counties, schools, and community-based providers is disrupting the provision of services to our State’s children — just as they return to school and as our communities continue to deal with the health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sign and share the petition.
Use the Social Media Toolkit on 10/21.


Call on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to Demand that Federal Emergency Relief Funding is Allocated to the States!

COVID-19 has devastated the United States economy and eviscerated the tax revenue that New York State needs to provide essential services. Medicaid, education, and behavioral healthcare are all at risk at a time when they are needed most.  The federal government must not pass another stimulus bill without ensuring that emergency relief goes to states. 

New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand Must Take the Lead. 

Call Senator Schumer Now at 202-224-6542
Call Senator Gillibrand Now at 202-224-4451

Solutions Not Suspensions Calls for Police Free Schools 


The Solutions not Suspensions Campaign is calling for police free schools and disciplinary reforms. Police presence in our schools leads to the criminalization of children, disproportionately affects students of color, and discipline that is too aggressive. FTNYS, along with our partners in this campaign, call for the passing of the Solutions Not Suspensions Act which will make our schools safer by addressing these structural issues.

Read the full Solutions Not Suspensions statement here.

#PAUSEAgingOutNY: New York Governor Must Extend Foster Care Past Age 21 During Pandemic

Organizations from across the state, including Families Together, are calling on Governor Cuomo to make New York the 10th state to allow young adults to remain in foster care past age 21 during the pandemic and allow eligible young people to re-enter without court orders. Under “normal” circumstances, aging out requires planning but is especially dangerous in light of COVID-19. 

See our statement: http://fosteringchamps.org/champs-ny-nysafc/

TAKE ACTION! Download the #PAUSEAgingOutNY Advocacy Toolkit. 

Dear Congress: Include Children’s Behavioral health in Next COVID-19 Package

In New York and across the country, COVID-19 is exacerbating children’s unmet mental health needs, as children face new behavioral health challenges resulting from isolation, economic and housing insecurity, family loss, heightened child welfare risks, and other related traumas. We must act quickly to meet the immediate needs of families now and prepare to support families through the aftermath of this crisis. 

See our letter to the New York Congressional delegation specific to children.
See the letter from national behavioral health advocacy organizations. 

TAKE ACTION! Share this Opinion Editorial with the Governor and legislators on social media.

CHAMPS-NY: State Must Prioritize Needs of Child Welfare-Involved Children and Families in COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for youth and families in New York State’s foster care system. As a result, we have joined with our CHAMPS-NY partner organizations in sending a letter to Governer Cuomo and Commissioner Sheila Poole of the NYS Office of Children & Family Services to implore them to take several crucial steps to protect these vulnerable populations during this global health crisis.  

Read the CHAMPS-NY Letter to Governer Cuomo Here

Read the CHAMPS-NY Press Release Here

Urge Congress to Provide emergency #ChildWelfareCOVID funding to support families.

Nearly 600 national, state & local partners have come together to urge Congress to act immediately to approve #ChildWelfareCOVID funding to strengthen families and protect children during this crisis: https://childwelfarecovid.org/advocacy/federal/sign-on-letter-to-congress/
Help us urge Congress to provide funding for crucial supports for young people, families, foster homes and kinship caregivers involved or at risky of involvement in child welfare. Post, tag and follow #ChildWelfareCOVID for the latest news and resources. Additional Hashtags to follow: #KinshipCaregivers#KinshipNavigator #UpChafee #FosterCare #KeepFosterFamiliesStrong #PreventChildAbuse #KeepFamiliesStrong

Solutions Not Suspensions NY calls on Board of Regents to #ConnectAllStudents During COVID-19 Crisis

During distance learning, it’s important to keep students connected to school. Solutions not Suspensions NY has sent a letter to chancellor Betty A. Rosa that outlines actions necessary to reduce trauma on students during quarantine and build a path to safely return to school. This includes eliminating new suspensions, expanding behavior programs, reinstating suspended students, and more.

Read the Solutions not Suspensions Letter Here

Read the Solutions not Suspensions Post Here

Family Court Reunification Proceedings Must Resume Despite COVID-19 Closures

We urge Family Courts to accommodate reunification hearings during the COVID19 crisis as part of its current remote proceedings so that children can return home to their families quickly when it is safe to do so.

As advocates for children and families impacted by the child welfare system in New York, we write to express concern about current Family Court practice across the state delaying important hearings that follow child removals and could reunite families. We are worried that this policy, developed as part of the Court system’s COVID19 crisis response, threatens the well-being of children and families by extending periods of family separation where it is not necessary during a time of extreme community vulnerability and anxiety. These procedural opportunities for children to return home are “essential matters” that must not be unnecessarily delayed as part of the State’s pandemic response.

The reunification of families and young people must continue to be a priority. See our letter to the New York Office of Court Administration.

Multiple Pathways to a Diploma Beyond Regents Exams

In light of COVID-19, we thank the Board of Regents and State Department of Education for canceling June Exams and suspending the Regents exam graduation requirements. Please email the attached letter to Regent.Rosa@nysed.gov and express your support for this recent decision.

As members of the Multiple Pathways to a Diploma Coalition, we maintain that the state must continue to reexamine the role that high-stakes testing plays in earning a high school diploma in the long-term. However, last week we signed onto a letter calling for the State to temporarily suspend those requirements. We are pleased to report that it appears that they have mostly adopted this stance. See that guidance here and a detailed FAQ explaining who is eligible for exemption. Please note that we are still digesting these details.