Families Together in New York State (FTNYS) Responds to the New York State Enacted Budget.
FTNYS must first acknowledge the extraordinary circumstances our state faces. Beyond the undeniable human impacts on children and families, the COVID-19 crisis exacerbates the fiscal situation New York started this budget session with. Second, we must express gratitude to the tireless efforts of our Champions in the Senate and Assembly who never stopped swinging for us despite the countless obstacles they faced during this session.
While we want to celebrate some of the substantial victories our families fought tirelessly, we must also express our profound disappointment in the drastic cuts we are seeing in Medicaid, lack of investment or outright cuts to child welfare and other areas.
We are grateful to see a restoration of the Children and Family Treatment Support services rates that were cut at the beginning of this year and exemption of Children’s Health homes from across the board cuts. Now more than ever, these services are crucial to ensure families and young people get the behavioral health support they need in their community. We are also pleased to see substantial investment in alternative approaches to school discipline, mental health programming in school, and that funding for Raise the Age implementation has been maintained.
Regarding child welfare, we are relieved to see that the Family First Transition Fund has been renewed for yet another year. However, by not expanding it, restructuring the KinGAP, and establishing an Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman, state leaders have missed a critical opportunity to ensure every child has the chance to grow up in a loving, supportive family. Furthermore, and perhaps far more pressing, we are alarmed to see that the state has slashed funding for local kinship programs roughly in half. Unless they swiftly correct this loss of funding, more than half of the existing programs providing support to non-parent caregivers of children could be forced to close. Given the current crisis, this is unacceptable.
This budget presents a mix of positive developments and deeply concerning ones, but ultimately falls short of meeting the needs of families prior to this crisis, much less the rapidly evolving needs caused by COVID-19. As the impacts on families become more clear, we remain hopeful that the state will move quickly to adjust spending to meet the substantial need we will inevitably report in the months ahead.
Paige Pierce, CEO
Families Together in New York State
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