Recent News (UPDATED 6/26/2020)
TESTIMONY OF PREVENT CHILD ABUSE NEW YORK BEFORE THE NYS ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS; STANDING COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS; STANDING COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE; STANDING COMMITTEE ON BANKS; OFFICE OF STATE-FEDERAL RELATIONS TASK FORCE ON FOOD, FARM & NUTRITION POLICY
Good morning and thank you for inviting me to testify today. I am Jenn O’Connor, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Prevent Child Abuse New York. Prevent Child Abuse New York (PCANY) provides three primary services across the State.
Our community awareness efforts are aimed at increasing understanding of how individuals can use the Five Protective Factors1 to help prevent child maltreatment.
Our training and technical assistance efforts are geared to providing professionals and communities knowledge, tools, and resources to make great environments for families and children. We provide Healthy Families New York Home Visiting Certification, and run the New York State Parenting Education Partnership, Enough Abuse Sexual Abuse Prevention, Community-based Strengthening Families and Child Abuse Prevention courses.
Finally, our advocacy work centers on evidence-based policy solutions that target root causes of child maltreatment, including increases for home visiting, early care and education system development, and family stability/ economic issues.
One of our top priorities is affordable, high-quality child care. It’s as simple as this—many parents can’t work without child care and afterschool programs. A lack of safe, affordable care causes stress and uncertainty, which undermines family stability and ultimately puts children at greater risk for maltreatment. We need to strengthen New York families, now more than ever.
This means keeping child care programs, small businesses run predominantly by women of color, up and running—now and as our State re-opens and parents return to work. Child care programs have a return on investment of $1.86 for every $1 invested—more than retail, manufacturing, and construction—and that’s money that stays in local communities.
But child care was in trouble pre-pandemic. According to the Center for American Progress, 64 percent of New Yorkers live in a child care desert, which means that there are more than 50 children under the age of 5 in a census tract that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.
Even where there are high-quality options, providers have struggled to stay afloat. Because they earn so little, many providers are eligible for child care subsidies themselves. Studies over the past decade showed providers earning less than dog walkers and pizza delivery people.
According to a recent report from Raising NY, the pandemic has led to vast closures across New York State’s child care system. More than 1 in 4 (27%) of family child care providers serving infants and toddlers in New York City stopped operating as of May 21 (this analysis does not include child care centers in New York City, which were generally subject to a closure order from the City). Outside of New York City, 28% of child care providers that can serve infants and toddlers have closed, including 22% of family child care providers and 50% of child care centers that can serve infants and toddlers.
Family child care providers in lower-income communities have been the backbone of the child care system during the pandemic, remaining open despite great risks. Still, providers are struggling. The majority of programs remaining open have extraordinarily low and unsustainable enrollment rates. In New York City, open family child care providers have an average utilization rate of 6%. Outside of New York City, open family child care providers have an average utilization rate of 28% and open child care centers that can serve infants and
toddlers have an average utilization rate of 15%.
The federal response has been promising. Congress Member Nita Lowey led the House-passed Heroes Act, which includes $7B for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to provide additional COVID-19 relief and is an original cosponsor of the Child Care is Essential Act, which would establish a $50B child care stabilization fund. We are advocating at the federal level and ask for your support there, as well.
One success was that, this past spring, the federal CARES Act allocated over $163M for child care. Using $30M of that funding, New York State established a scholarship so that income- eligible essential workers could access child care for free. The initial allocation of CARES Act dollars also provided PPE for programs across the State. As of June 8th, 9,609 parents and 5,028 providers had applied. 10,409 licensed and registered programs are open and 5,694 children have been enrolled. In addition, 3,286 providers have received supplies. We are extremely grateful for this first step.
But that’s what it is—a first step. The income eligibility requirement means that too few families are being approved for the scholarship, especially in counties like Onondaga that already had a higher poverty threshold. We urge New York State to increase the eligibility level
from 300 percent of poverty to 500 percent.
In addition, we ask that the State immediately invest the remaining $134M in CARES Act Funds. Programs and providers (and children and families) cannot wait. They need operational support and resources to potentially alter brick and mortar to meet federal and state safety guidelines. For example, without an influx of dollars, a program with 100 slots will no longer be able to serve 100 children, due to distancing guidelines and other restrictions. Without those children, that program could lose $4,000/month and would be hard-pressed to remain open.
Finally, programs are looking for consistent guidance and to have input into what that guidance looks like. One provider told me that recently amended guidance on class ratios "… will close doors of child care centers for good. We will need to tell parents on waiting lists we cannot help them. Yesterday I had to tell five families who need care that we cannot help them."
The bottom line is that Congress has acted and now we must utilize the resources our delegation secured. The urgency was apparent last week, when more than 450 providers and parents from across New York State, as well as state legislators, participated in a press
conference and virtual rally. The stories they told were filled with hope that they will be able to continue to provide care so that parents can work…. but the anxiety was palpable.
If we truly support small businesses, we must focus attention on child care. If we truly support all businesses—and economic development in general—we must support child care. Thank you.
June 15, 2020
1 Parental resilience, children’s social and emotional competence, social connections, concrete support in times of need, and knowledge of parenting and child development.
LETTER TO GOVERNOR CUOMO REGARDING PREVENTION PROGRAMS
In recent days, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo has expressed concern about the financial state of the state due to the COVID-19 crisis. Prevent Child Abuse New York echoes his concern and is worried about how that will affect some of New York's most vulnerable citizens, our children, and the people who care for them. This letter was sent to the Governor this morning to articulate where we see gaps and shortcomings and offer suggestions and our help to address these concerns.
May 15, 2020
The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York
Albany, NY 12224
Re: Prevention Programs
Dear Governor Cuomo:
Prevent Child Abuse NY (PCANY) is a statewide nonprofit that works to strengthen families by providing supports, raising awareness, and advocating for an array of evidence-based prevention initiatives. As Board members of PCANY, we urge your continued support of the
programs listed below.
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted New York families in a myriad of ways, and those at the highest risk of child abuse and neglect pre-pandemic are truly struggling. State data suggests a significant drop in calls to Child Protective Services (CPS) and national experts predict a 50% decline in reporting. This does not mean that child maltreatment is not happening. Instead, it is being hidden by our necessary stay-at-home order; children are not seen by mandated reporters and other trusted adults on a regular basis. Additional data suggests that calls from youth to sexual abuse hotlines has increased. When the dust clears and our State re-opens, we expect to see a generation of children who have not only survived the trauma of COVID-19, but the added trauma of abuse. Our first request is that New York State provide monthly child abuse and neglect data by region or county. This will allow us to determine true need, as well as help identify the steps we must take to ensure that children are protected.
Now more than ever, we must invest in those programs and services that we know work. Our second request is that you not cut funding to any of the following and increase funding to trauma-informed initiatives that will support our children, including elevating social-
emotional/mental health supports for children and youth (in school-based, child care-based, and community-based settings) on your list of priorities.
Maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting programs: These voluntary programs, which rely on face-to-face interaction, have gone virtual during the pandemic and continue to support families with children from the prenatal period through early childhood. Programs are especially important in the minority communities, which are hit hardest by the virus, and which are often have higher rates of poverty and greater ratios of essential workers. Unfortunately, the 2020 State Budget cut funding for two proven programs—ParentChild+ and Parents as Teachers.
Family Resource Centers (FRCs): FRCs serve as one-stop shops for families in need, providing parent education classes, adult education, and home visiting. They also often provide concrete supports such as access to SNAP and WIC, local food banks, and hard-to-get supplies like formula and diapers.
Child care/afterschool: While the State has made free child care available to income-eligible essential workers, this plan falls short of helping all essential workers and fails to address the concerns of programs that were forced to close or serve fewer families due to the virus. Guidance on safety protocols and testing of staff and children is necessary for both child care and afterschool programs to successfully stay open or re-open. This should be a state determination and not a decision left up to Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs).
Housing: We applaud the Executive for implementation of an eviction moratorium and urge increased attention to the most vulnerable families—namely the homeless (both in and out of the shelter system) and youth aging out of foster care. Now is not the time to put more people on the streets.
Child welfare programs: CPS reports are down but that only masks what is happening. The State must increase its support of kinship care, foster care, and out-of-home placements that are keeping children safe during this time of social distancing.
Trauma-informed practice and social-emotional supports: When schools re-open, we expect to see increased reporting of behavioral issues and possibly even an increased dropout rate, with some older youth simply not returning to the classroom. Those who do, should be met with additional support by trauma-informed educators and school personnel; those who do not, should be met where they are in the community with similar supports.
We understand that New York State is challenged by dramatic fiscal constraints. We urge the Executive to think creatively and strategically and utilize federal funds—such as the CARES Act, Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and FEMA dollars wherever possible. We also request that New York re-imagine its use of some existing state dollars, such as REDC and other economic development dollars that might historically have been used on capital projects. Now is the time to invest in our human capital. We would be glad to join the conversations on how to creatively maintain and even increase the level of service that is so needed for our communities and our children.
President: William Hayes , Cooperstown
Vice President: Dr. Vincent Palusci, New York
Secretary: Dr. Zakhar Berkovich, Albany
Treasurer: Jennifer Quinn, Albany
Sandra Bunkley, Buffalo
Feride Castillo, Long Island
Joy Farina Foskett, Manhattan
Pamela R. Kelly, Waterford
Paige Pierce , Albany
Dr. Mel Schneiderman, New York
Gerald Wallace, Esq., Albany
David Younis, Rochester
Cc: Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor
James Malatras, President, SUNY Empire State College
Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner, NYS Department of Health
Sheila Poole, Commissioner, NYS Office of Children and Families
Shannon Tahoe, Interim Commissioner, NYS Education Department
Rebecca Mudie, Acting Secretary of Human Services
Velmanette Montgomery, Senate Chair, Children and Families Committee
Roxanne Persaud, Senate Chair, Social Services Committee
Ellen Jaffee, Assembly Chair, Children and Families Committee
Andrew Hevesi, Assembly Chair, Social Services Committee
STATEWIDE COALITION RELEASES FRAMEWORK TO SCALE UP CHILD CARE AS NY RE-OPENS AND SET A PATH TO A STRONGER, MORE EQUITABLE FUTURE
Parent, early childhood, education, civil rights, business, and health organizations call on state to invest in strengthening child care system for infants and toddlers
CONTACT: Tiffany Lankes, communications director for The Education Trust–New York
NEW YORK – As New York moves forward with its strategy to re-open, the Raising NY coalition is calling on state leaders to develop and implement a comprehensive and inclusive plan to offer affordable, safe, high-quality child care during this period, rebuilding the child care system so that it is stronger and more equitable than before the pandemic.
Parents of infants and toddlers across New York State are experiencing intense financial insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic, with the crisis exacerbating pre-existing inequities among communities of color and families from low-income backgrounds. A recent Raising NY poll found the crisis has introduced significant uncertainty about child care for many parents of infants and toddlers in New York, with nearly half of families from low-income backgrounds worried they will be unable to afford their existing care if their financial situation worsens.
The federal emergency relief and stimulus bill known as the CARES Act provided New York State with significant funding to address critical child care needs. The policy brief released today illustrates how those funds, along with other subsidy funds not spent due to the steep drop in child care enrollment during New York’s “PAUSE,” can be most effectively applied, and could also provide a guide to longer-term reforms to support infants and toddlers.
“Child care is one of those concrete supports that we call protective factors,” said Tim Hathaway, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse NY. “Accessible, affordable, reliable care decreases families' stress because it allows parents to work knowing that their children are safe and sound. Child care providers have been on the frontline since the beginning of the pandemic, providing care for the children of essential workers while putting their own health at stake. As New York makes plans to re-open, this workforce must have the resources and funding necessary to ensure that they, and the children they care for, remain safe. No re-opening plan will be complete without an emphasis on child care and a re-imagining of how the system delivers these essential services to working families across the State.”
Learn more about this issue and read the results of a recent poll of what parents of infants and toddlers are experiencing during the coronavirus crisis at RaisingNY.org/coronavirus.
APRIL 30th IS ACES AWARENESS DAY
ACEs are Adverse Childhood Experiences—10 factors scientifically proven to increase chronic disease in adulthood (see below). ACEs can complicate a life but they do not define a person—and they can be mitigated by taking steps to strengthen families and the communities around them.
Prevent Child Abuse New York has embarked on an initiative to create a trauma-informed Legislature and has met with 161 offices to date.
Now more than ever, we hope that an understanding of ACEs, childhood trauma, and resiliency will lead to increased investments in children and families and in services and supports that help reduce the impacts of ACEs. We know that the current pandemic has left many families physically and socially isolated, and we continue to provide resources to them during this difficult time.
Join a virtual ACEs Awareness Day rally tomorrow from 11:00 – 1:00 and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Contact: Jenn O’Connor, Director of Policy and Advocacy, 518/817-1107, email@example.com
MEMO IN SUPPORT OF NIGHT SHIFT
PCANY is pleased to announce that the Governor signed S3420A (SAVINO) into law on October 4th. The bill provides that parents and caretakers who are otherwise eligible for child care assistance are able to utilize such assistance when care is necessary to enable them to sleep.
This is a big step forward for child care and for strengthening families! Follow this link to see our Memorandum in Support of Night Shift.
INFORMATION TO SUPPORT ADVOCACY ACTION ON CAPTA
Today is the second national Day of Action on CAPTA! Please reach out to key House and Senate appropriators and mobilize your networks to do the same. Thank you for all the calls yesterday!
Please help us light up the phone lines of Congress to protect and increase this vital funding. The more calls Congress receives, the more they will take notice and act! We need your help today!
Tuesday, October 8
Action Item: Today is the second day to urge Congress to maintain the House funding for CAPTA!
Please reach out to key House and Senate appropriators and mobilize your networks to do the same!!
Why? House and Senate Appropriators are working now to finalize funding levels for FY2020. During these negotiations, it is critical that we let them know the importance of funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
CAPTA is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to the prevention, assessment, identification, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. It is also the only legislation that addresses universal primary prevention capacity-building at a local level, supporting services essential to healthy and thriving communities in every state.
Currently, CAPTA is funded at less than HALF of its authorized level. The House of Representatives took a bold step by increasing funding levels, but the Senate appropriations bill would keep funding levels current.
The expansive mission and directives in CAPTA are severely underfunded and have led to uneven implementation and protections. Now is the time to increase funding for this important program.
You can find a list of members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee at the links below or use the attached contact sheet to see if you have a member from your state:
Talking points for phone calls:
My name is [name] and I work at [organization] in [city/state]. I’m calling about a program that is critical to protecting children – the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. I urge Senator/Representative [Senator/Rep’s name] to increase funding for this important program.
The House of Representatives took a bold step to increase funding for this important law – to $90 million for CAPTA State Grants and $75 million for CB-CAP. It is important that this funding be maintained in the final Appropriations bill being negotiated by the House and Senate.
CAPTA is foundational to our child protection system and strengthening vulnerable families and children. More funding is needed provide the resources states need to help develop, implement, and evaluate strategies that prevent child maltreatment, reduce entry into the public child welfare system, and enhance the overall well-being of children and families.
In the US, the total lifetime economic burden associated with child maltreatment is approximately $2 trillion, rivaling the cost of other high-profile public health crises, such as stroke and type two diabetes. CAPTA helps children and families in all 50 states through services such as evidence-based voluntary home visiting programs, early childhood and child care programs, mental and substance use services, family resource centers, among many other valuable resources.
Script for emails:
My name is (NAME) and I work at (ORGANIZATION) in (CITY/STATE). I’m writing about a program that is critical to protecting children – the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. CAPTA is foundational to our child protection system, and includes important provisions that help keep children safe from abuse and neglect, treat the effects of abuse when it happens, and strengthen families and communities.
Unfortunately, Congress does not provide CAPTA with enough funding for states to implement the protections and community-driven services in CAPTA that would prevent as well as treat child abuse and neglect. The opioid crisis has caused the number of children in foster care to rise for five consecutive years, and parental substance abuse that leads to the removal of a child is rising faster than any other reason for removal. Congress is expected to pass key reforms to CAPTA this year as part of a reauthorization effort. But the reforms that Congress envisions simply will not be realized without robust funding increases.
I’m writing to ask that as the House and Senate Continue negotiations to the Labor-HHS-Education budget in the coming months that you maintain the House funding for CAPTA of $90 million for CAPTA State Grants and $75 million for CB-CAP in FY2020.
EXECUTIVE MESSAGE FROM OUR DIRECTOR, AUGUST 2019
Where in the world is PCANY? And where have we been? Check out our reach across New York State in this video message from our Executive Director Timothy Hathaway.