About Our 2020 Policy Agenda

The Families Together 2020 Policy Agenda is created by families of children and youth with social, emotional, behavioral and cross-systems challenges.

Our goal is to ensure that ALL children and youth have the support they need in order to succeed. We represent thousands of families from across the state whose children have been involved in many systems including mental health, substance abuse, special education, juvenile justice, and foster care. Our board and staff are made up primarily of family members and youth who have been involved in these systems.
Download the 2020 FTNYS Policy Priorities
Download the 2020 Youth Power Agenda

Address the Children’s Behavioral Health Crisis

GOAL: All children, youth and their families, regardless of insurance status, must have timely, affordable access to appropriate children’s behavioral health services within their community:

  • Place a moratorium on any cuts to children’s behavioral health services and restore enhanced rates for CFTSS services.
  • Ensure robust and adequate rates for children’s behavioral health services – in commercial insurance, Medicaid, and CHP.
  • Provide a 3% increase on contracts and rates for the human services sector for 5 years.
  • Hold health plans accountable and enforce mental health parity laws on behalf of children and youth.
  • Maintain and expand program code 1650 state-aid funding for Family Peer Support and Youth Peer Support.
  • Expand service capacity for community-based prevention, treatment and recovery and recovery-orientated addiction programming.
  • Expand clinical and non-clinical mental health services in schools.
  • Support the proposed Behavioral Health Parity Compliance Fund.
Put Families First in Child Welfare

Goal:  A “family first” system that recognizes the value of keeping families together when possible and ensures that, when necessary, children are placed with well-supported relatives or foster families.

  • Create the Office of Family Representation to support access to timely and high quality parental legal representation statewide.
  • Expand primary prevention and define eligibility for preventive services as broadly as possible.
  • Increase the Family First Transition Fund to strengthen family-based foster care.
  • Dedicate an open-ended funding stream to KinGAP similar to adoption subsidies.
  • Establish an Ombudsman for birth parents, foster parents, kin, and children in care.
  • Implement “Kin-First” firewall policies statewide.
  • Pass comprehensive State Central Registry reform and a Miranda Bill of Rights for parents.
  • Pass the New York State Kincare Coalition policy priorities that support relatives and non-parent caregivers caring for children outside of formal foster care.
Achieve Youth Justice

Goal: A system restorative in nature that emphasizes  developmentally appropriate approaches to holding young people accountable:

  • Implement and improve the Raise the Age law
  • End the Use of Solitary Confinement in Adolescent Offender Facilities
  • Stop the Criminalization of Childhood by Ending Prosecution of Children Under 12
  • Strengthen and Expand Protections for Court Involved Youth Up to Age 25
  • End the Adult Incarceration of Youth
  • Pass the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act
Promote Safe and Supportive Schools

Goal: End the school-to-prison pipeline and ensure that schools are safe and supportive environments for all students:

  • Pass the Safe and Supportive Schools Act
  • Expand alternative discipline and restorative practice training in schools.
  • Support the School Mental Health Resource Training Center.
  • Develop multiple pathways to a high school diploma beyond high stakes testing.
Our Guiding Principles
  • Families and youth must be active participants in planning services for their family and in developing and monitoring policies and services within their communities and within the state. When families and youth are involved, services are more engaging, overall satisfaction increases, outcomes improve, and the need for expensive hospitalizations and residential placements are greatly reduced.
  • All children, youth and their families must have timely, affordable access to appropriate services within their community. Services must be cross-systems and ensure care is provided in the most integrated and appropriate setting possible. A study from the Journal of Adolescent Health estimates that 70% children and youth in need of mental health services do not receive the treatment they need.
  • Children and youth must receive an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment possible. The education system must provide a safe and supportive environment for all students, promote emotional wellness and social learning, and embrace creative, collaborative problem-solving including community-based and restorative justice approaches to school discipline.
  • Families should never have to relinquish custody of their children in order to receive care and treatment for mental health and substance use challenges. Without funding for appropriate services, youth often end up in hospitals, residential treatment and in the juvenile justice system. Parents may voluntarily or may be forced to relinquish custody of their children to access these placements.
  • A trauma-informed perspective must be central to all policies impacting families and young people and should seek to prevent traumatization when possible, reduce re-traumatization, and preserve the dignity of the family and young person.
Youth Power Priorities

YP! regularly collects the input of young people through regional youth forums, focus groups, surveys and other input gathering events to gain insight into the issues of importance to young people with disabilities and/or involvement in systems such as: child welfare, addiction recovery, mental health, juvenile justice, and special education. The Priority Agenda represents the major issues YP! supports and regularly works to address. Not all of the items on the agenda are legislative. A good majority of the work YP! does to bring youth voice to government is through committees and regular meetings with government employees.

2020 Priority Agenda