Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Advancing Progress Toward Ending Youth Homelessness in the District

Last week, Maggie Riden, our Executive Director, had an opportunity to write a guest post for the Department of Human Services.

Here is an excerpt:

Last year, we got a call from a partner organization. They were working with a young mom of one year-old twins.

She’d connected with them to get help finding a GED and workforce program. Despite a lot of clear challenges, this was a young woman they described as highly motivated. She had a sense of agency and determination. She was thrilled when not only was she able to get into a GED program, but they could also help her access the childcare she’d need to make it possible to attend the classes.

At first, things were okay, but over the course of a few weeks things began to deteriorate very quickly. Attendance at school was slipping. Her twins weren’t making it to child care consistently. Things hit a tipping point, and she revealed to her education coach that she had been placed in one of the emergency motel rooms here in the District.

Read the rest of the post here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Top Ten Reasons to be a DCAYA Member

As budget season has come to an end, we thought we'd spend this time highlighting some of the reasons to join our DCAYA family, or renew your membership if you're already a member.

So here are our top ten reasons your organization should be a DCAYA member

Being a member saves you time. In fact, DCAYA was partially found because a number of youth-serving organization realized that individually they didn't have the time or resources to dig into the policy and legislative work needed because you're operating at capacity just supporting the programs and services to your youth. So where you don't have the time, we do.

So how do we save you time? We make legislation and legislators accessible. We take the time to breakdown legislation to make it and its consequences easily digestible. We understand the roles and relationships our elected and appointed representatives at the Council, the Mayor's Office, and various agencies have to the work you do.

And by being a member, you ensure you stay informed. We keep you updated, whether it be changes in major funding sources, opportunities to inform legislation with much needed testimony, and anything else that might help or hurt your ability to serve our youth.

Being a member guarantees you have a seat at the table, from community input meetings to testimony at budget hearings. We do our work best because it is informed by you and crafted for you. While we take the time to analyze and synthesize anecdotes and research, our advocacy is most effective when members like you show up. And making sure you know when and where to show up, as well as that our messaging is in line with your own experiences and insights, is a priority.

And as a part of the DCAYA family, you'll have a network of link-minded colleagues to connect with, who work with youth in all 8 wards of the District.

If community stewardship is important to you, membership can be a critical part of that. We help you keep tabs on the landscape of legislation, policy, and funding as it affects your work.

And because of that, we are able to be proactive in our advocacy, rather than reactive. So you may experience less of this.

Membership means you are joining a team of hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals, and there is power in numbers.

And while we are many, we speak with a unified voice. When we advocate, our policy makers and Councilmembers and other government representatives and officials are hearing a consistent message.

And last, but certainly not least, become a DCAYA member for your youth. Guiding our work is the idea that our policies benefit our young ones the most when their own experiences and voices inform the work from the beginning and not as an afterthought.

So, become a member or renew your organization's membership today.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Big Wins for Youth and Families in the FY18 Budget

The second FY18 budget vote will occur on June 13th at 11am (watch here:, and the final legislative vote will follow shortly after. But in the meantime, we wanted to share the progress we’ve made in elevating the needs of the District’s youth and families through the Council’s first vote.

To highlight the fruits of your labor throughout this budget season, read on for more about the Council’s budget decisions impacting our four issue areas: Expanded Learning, Disconnected Youth, Youth Homelessness, and Youth Workforce Development. 
Expanded Learning: $4.9 Million to OST*
Office of Youth Outcomes (Deputy Mayor for Education): While significant progress has been made to build the new Office of Youth Outcomes on a solid foundation, the Committee on Education maintained flat funding at $4.9 million for community-based afterschool opportunities for District youth. In this budget season, the Committee on Education prioritized identifying funds to reach the recommended increase of 3.5% in per-pupil funding, yet *Chairman David Grosso did commit to allocate an additional $2 million to the OST system in the likely chance of a budget surplus this summer. As the system continues to strengthen, DCAYA is committed to restoring OST funds to the historic $10 million mark to ensure demand for these critical youth development programs are met.

DCPS: The funding for DCPS’s Out-of-School-Time Program was also steadily funded at $3.7 million; however the school-based system is likely to see a reduction in capacity of 2,000 seats due to limited staffing and school budget capacity. With the increased per-pupil funding rate, DCAYA will advocate to fill that gap and minimize the impact of any reductions within the OST system.

Disconnected Youth: $2 Million to Implement
Adult Learners’ Transportation Subsidy

Expansion of Student Transportation Subsidies: Having exhausted every advocacy opportunity with both the executive and Council, Councilmember Elissa Silverman's Committee on Labor and Workforce Development identified $2 million to support adult and alternative learners in travelling to and from school affordably. For now, the money has been to referred to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) as the agency works out the details of implementation. Identifying a fair daily rate of ridership for the population of students this program will serve is critical to the success of the program, so we will continue to monitor DDOT's progress to ensure this program is well-designed and rolled out quickly. We thank the Councilmembers and staff who championed the establishment of this program, especially CMs Silverman, Grosso, R. White, Cheh and Evans.

Per-Pupil Funding Increased: The Committee on Education and Council Chairman Mendelson worked to increase the base per-pupil funding for DCPS and PCS from 1.5% in the Mayor's proposed budget to 3% at the time of the first vote. A mayoral-appointed working group recommended that in order to meet the demands of increased enrollment in both school sectors and the need of students, a 3.5% increase to the base-level per-pupil funding was necessary. In collaboration with our partners at DCFPI, DCAYA will continue to monitor the impact of this 3% increase and advocate that surplus funds be used to close the remaining 0.5% gap.

Youth Homelessness: $3.9 Million to Implement
Year 1 of the Youth Plan

The new resources and funding needs set out in Solid Foundations DC: The District’s Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness for shelter beds (32 slots), aftercare (62 slots), transitional housing (15 units), and permanent supportive housing were met (16 units). The funding request for rapid rehousing was funded at $500,000, creating 20 slots by the Committee on Human Services. This specific funding meets part of the funding request of the Youth Plan, and we're confident that funding is sufficient to build up this resource in Year 1 of the plan. We are also confident this money will move forward untouched into the final vote, but we encourage any efforts to thank the Council for identifying these funds, moving these priorities through the first vote, and preserving these levels for the final vote.

Youth Workforce Development: Policy Recommendations on Transparency & Support for Disconnected Youth

WIOA Implementation: The Committee on Labor and Workforce Development included policy recommendations in their Committee Budget Report that included the development of an operational plan to implement WIOA that should include timelines and milestones and voted on by the WIC Board. We're happy to see this effort to make the implementation of WIOA more transparent, inclusive, and proactive.

Workforce Program Transparency: The Committee also reiterated their request for a full outline of DOES's current workforce development programs, vendors, funding and outcomes. The Director committed in hearings to deliver this outline by the end of June.

Maintained Interest in In-School Programming: Following the shift in federal priorities to serve out-of-school youth with WIOA funds, youth workforce development advocates have been raising concerns about the reduced capacity of in-school youth programs. The Committee requested that DOES assess the demand for in-school programming, and report out on their findings.

Emphasis on Support for DY in SYEP: The Committee recommended a new protocol for assessing, engaging, and supporting youth who self-identify that they're disconnected from school and work. The goal of this language is to better identify the needs of these youth, connect them to the most appropriate supports, and link their SYEP experience to a longer-term education or workforce training opportunity.

Transparency in Grant-Making and Contracting: This recommendation seeks to address some of the concerns DCAYA raised in performance oversight hearings regarding rushed, poorly-communicated, and confusing procurement processes. The Committee requested that DOES provide a running list of upcoming procurement priorities to give programs time to plan and strategically align with DOES's funding priorities.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

When the School Day Ends, Hunger Persists

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted our third Intersectional Happy Hour at Satellite Room. For our most recent one, we looked at the relationship between food security and expanded learning programs.

We were especially thrilled to co-host this event with D.C. Hunger Solutions and we welcomed their Director, Beverly Wheeler who shared a bit about the work they do to  end hunger in the nation's capital. We are also grateful to feature her as this week's guest blogger.

Can you remember what you did when you got out of school at the end of each day?

I would go in search of an afterschool snack. Lunch had been at least three, maybe four hours ago and I was hungry. Times haven’t changed that much — students are still hungry at the end of the school day. However, what has changed is what we can do to address the needs of thousands of children from food-insecure households once school is out.

One focus of D.C. Hunger Solutions (DCHS) is the full utilization of federal nutrition programs to ensure children don’t go hungry. There are two programs closely tied to out-of-school-time programming. The At-Risk Afterschool Meals program provides federal funds to community- and faith-based groups, schools, and public recreation centers so they can serve nutritious snacks and meals outside of regular school hours. Thousands of students in D.C. would not have an afterschool snack without this program.

The D.C. Free Summer Meals Program provides breakfast, lunch, snacks, and supper to low-income children (ages 18 and under) during June, July, and August at hundreds of sites across the city when school is out of session. One million meals have been served in the summer over the past three years, making D.C. number one in the U.S. in serving summer meals.

This year the Summer Meals program is operating from June 16 to August 25, 2017.

One in seven households in Washington, D.C. is food insecure, meaning they struggle to get enough affordable, nutritious, healthy food to feed the whole family.

On an average day during the 2015-2016 school year, nearly 32,000 low-income students in the nation’s capital ate school breakfast and more than 47,000 low-income students ate lunch, according to the Food Research & Action Center’s annual School Breakfast Scorecard. The number of students eating breakfast placed the District of Columbia third in the nation in school breakfast participation rates. It’s critical that we ensure these students have access to food after school and during the summer.

We are excited about the establishment of an Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes. There must be an equitable distribution of high-quality, out-of-school time programs for youth in D.C. With more equitable access, we can provide afterschool meals to more young people in low-income neighborhoods that lack access to healthy, affordable, and nutritious food —such as Wards 7 and 8 — which have only three full-service grocery stores between them.

Let’s not forget that hunger is a product of poverty. As the wage and income gap grows in D.C., we will continue to see a growth in food insecurity.

Food insecurity has adverse effects on the health and well-being of the entire family. Parents will skip meals to provide for their children, which puts their health at risk. Children become anxious when they worry about their parents, sometimes resulting in depression. Teenagers often feel the need to step in to help the family, often skipping meals for younger siblings, dropping out of school, or even shoplifting.

Through afterschool and summer meals, we can work together to alleviate some of the hunger faced by our children, and seek solutions to ending food insecurity and poverty in D.C. 

Learn more about DCHS’ efforts against hunger.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The release of Solid Foundations DC and our latest Youth Homelessness Issue Brief

On Monday of this week, we joined community partners at the Hill Center for the release of Solid Foundations DC, a Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness in the Distrcit by 2022.

We were thrilled to help provide logistics support for this joint event, presented by the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region and the District Interagency Council on Homelessness. The event was kicked off by remarks from Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of the Community Foundation, and HyeSook Chung, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.

Kristy Greenwalt, Director of the District ICH, then walked us through highlights from the plan, from the research that informed it to the strategies developed to execute it. She reiterated that this plan was the culmination of an inter sector collaborative effort and data-driven priorities.

Director Greenwalt's presentation was followed by a panel with Maggie Riden, DCAYA's Executive Director, moderating. The panel included both youth served by and providers working at the Department of Human ServicesCasa RubyHIPS DC, the Latin American Youth Center, and Sasha Bruce Youthworks.

The event was well attended with many individuals across various sectors who are all invested in ending youth homelessness in the District. And we look forward to supporting the work of the plan, by doing what we do best and ensuring that legislation, policy, and funding over the next 5 years keeps our youth a priority, particularly those experiecning homelesness, in adequately and appropriately implementing this plan.

Today at noon, Council held a joint Public Oversight Roundtable on Solid Foundations DC. Today, we've also released our latest Youth Homelessness Issue Brief. We hope you check it out and share it, and continue to join us in making sure youth homelesness is a rare occurence by 2022.