Monday, April 24, 2017

#DCFY18 Budget Advocacy: Up to $5.7 million Toward Ending Youth Homelessness

Throughout budget season, we’ll be sharing talking points around the #DCFY18 Budget as it relates to our asks of Council and the Mayor for DCAYA’s key issue areas, which have included spotlights on Expanded Learning and Disconnected Youth. We conclude this week with Youth Homelessness.

THE ASK: Up to $3.3 million in additional funding to fully fund Year 1 of the Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness

The DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) approved the Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness in December 2016, and the plan includes a five-year projection for scaling services to youth experiencing homelessness. The plan proposes expanding existing services (transitional housing, crisis beds, PSH) as well as bringing new services for youth online (youth rapid re-housing, aftercare) in the first year, the cost of which we estimate to be $5.7 million.

Funding in the mayor's proposed budget for FY18 falls short of that mark, at just $2.4 million, meaning we'll need to work through Council to get to the investment we know is needed if we are serious about ensuring that by the end of 2022, homelessness among people age 24 is a rare, brief and non-recurring experience.

NOW: What are the needed program enhancements and what can be accomplished in the next year?

  • Aftercare and Prevention Services: We presently do not have an aftercare support system in place for youth who have experienced homelessness, meaning that a key service for preventing returns to homelessness is not being met. While the Plan calls for an upfront and full-scale investment to fund more than 60 aftercare slots in its first year, the budget as proposed only funds 20 of these slots.
  • Youth Shelter Beds: While it is understood that a bed in a shelter setting is not an acceptable replacement for a home, the annual census of youth experiencing homelessness reveals a present and persistent need for more safe and low-barrier access to beds for young people in crisis. The Plan calls for increasing our present capacity by 32 beds in its first year and then adding steadily and as needed in future years, but the budget as proposed funds just 20 additional beds.
  • Transitional Housing: Transitional living programs remain a vital intervention in the current system, and those that serve youth in a developmentally appropriate and culturally competent setting are all the more important given the need. They offer a more structured placement than shelter beds, and the Plan calls for 15 new units in its first year with a steady increase in future years to reach full scale by year five; the budget as proposed funds 10 additional units.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing: There are relatively few PSH units set aside for youth in the current system, and as we scale up other housing intervention programs for youth, it is important that PSH keeps pace to ensure that young people in those programs who are found to need ongoing case management and mental health supports have a place to go. The Plan calls for 16 new units in its first year; the budget as proposed funds 10 additional units.
  • Rapid Re-Housing for Youth: Beginning in FY18, DC will bring online a rent-subsidized housing program specifically for youth. While this is an exciting development, and the Plan calls for an ambitious scale in its first and future years, we also recognize that Youth Rapid Re-Housing programs are an option among a diverse array of programs in the District which will need to grow and evolve with our young people. With that in mind, we see the 20 units as proposed in the budget as a good start, and would encourage DHS to pursue efficiency and frequent program evaluation to maximize the impact of funding allotted for this program in its initial year.

Current performance indicates that DHS is poised to work with youth providers to meet the objectives of Year 1 of the Plan by deploying the funds for launching and enhancing the above programs.

For the current fiscal year, $2.3 million in new investments were committed in the FY17 budget to serve more youth experiencing homelessness. With those funds, DHS has to date:

  • Funded a new LGBTQ transitional housing site-based program at SMYAL (8 beds)
  • Funded a new LGBTQ transitional housing apartment-based program at the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) (6 beds)
  • Extended low-barrier crisis beds at Casa Ruby beyond hypothermia season through the end of this fiscal year (14 beds)
  • Supported additional staff at youth drop-in centers at Sasha Bruce Youthwork and LAYC
  • Increased youth street outreach support at Friendship Place
  • Set up a 6-person youth homelessness prevention team at DHS

HOW: Help advocate for funding toward ending youth homelessness in the #DCFY18 Budget

  • Please sign up to testify at the Budget Hearing for the Department of Human Services on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • To sign up to testify, you can email humanservices@dccouncil.us, or call the Committee on Human Services at 202-724-8170.

NEXT: Please sign up for updates from DCAYA to stay informed about our budget advocacy and our upcoming Youth Advocacy Day on May 11!

And in case you missed it, check out our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 3 email.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#DCFY18 Budget Advocacy: $2M in Transportation Subsidies for Nontraditional Students

Throughout budget season, we’ll be sharing talking points around the #DCFY18 Budget as it relates to our asks of Council and the Mayor for DCAYA’s key issue areas. You can reference our previous spotlight on Expanded Learning here. We’ll continue this week with Disconnected Youth.

THE ASK: $2 million to expand the unlimited bus and rail component of the School Transit Subsidy program (i.e., Kids Ride Free) to all District residents enrolled in publicly funded adult education programs.

While the Council has made progress towards expanding the program by introducing the Adult Learners Transit Subsidy Amendment Act of 2017, our ask needs to be funded in this budget cycle to ensure adult learners and re-engaging youth receive transportation support in the next year. We are requesting that the expansion is legislated through this year’s Budget Support Act to ensure the program is adequately legislated and funded.

NOW: Why additional transportation funding matters to youth, and why we believe it is a sound investment in FY18
  • Significant Financial Burden: Re-engaging youth and adult learners balance many competing demands to prioritize their return to school. Unlike students under age 22—who have free Metro and bus transportation through Kids Ride Free—students aged 22+ pay the full price. In 2016, a DCAYA survey of re-engaging youth ages 22-24 found that 83% of respondents were spending approximately one-fifth or more of their income getting to and from their programs. Such high spending on transportation means there’s less money available for students to keep themselves and their families financially stable.
  • Undermines DC’s second-chance system: Expanding the program with $2 million stands to leverage the District’s current investment of over $80 million in local and federal dollars to support educational instruction for adult learners. If students cannot afford to get to class, they can’t fully benefit from these investments in their success. DCAYA’s survey also found 21% of surveyed youth 22-24 missed class 3 or more times a month due to insufficient transportation funds. Most programs are less than 40 weeks long, so these youth missed 13% of their program’s total class time because they could not afford to get there.
  • The Problem Will Get Worse: Metro will move forward with a fare hike in July. Currently, taking the bus to class can cost a student $70 per month. The $0.25 bus fare hike will add $10 to that monthly expense. With many DC households living on less than $10,000 a year, transportation costs for just one person could consume 10 percent of a family’s limited income.
  • The Expansion Leverages Existing Policy: Through Kids Ride Free, DDOT and WMATA have negotiated a contractually-bound daily rate for each pupil of $0.65. Therefore, the cost of providing transportation assistance through Kids Ride Free is likely to be much more cost effective than other ways of funding such a program. 
HOW: Help advocate for transportation funding in the #DCFY18 Budget
  • Please sign up to testify at the Budget Hearing for the District Department of Transportation on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11 am in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • To sign up to testify, please email Aukima Benjamin at abenjamin@dccouncil.us or call 202-724-8062.
  • Whether or not you can testify at the hearing, please email, call, and/or tweet your Councilmember(s) in support of our ask using the hashtag #KeepStudentsOnTrack. For sample tweets, scripts and Council contact information, check these out: Transportation Email, Call, & Tweet Scripts
NEXT: Please check back here next week for more on our Youth Homelessness #DCFY18 budget ask.


And in case you missed it, here's our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 2 email for more ways to get involved this budget season!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#DCFY18 Budget Advocacy: $10 million for Expanded Learning

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing talking points around the #DCFY18 Budget as it relates to our asks of Council and the Mayor for DCAYA’s key issue areas. We begin this week with Expanded Learning.

THE ASK: $5.1 million in additional funding to the Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes

Funding for out-of-school time (OST) in the Mayor's proposed budget was kept flat at $4.9 million, meaning we'll need to work collaboratively with Council to get to the full $10 million dollar investment we know is needed.

NOW: Why additional OST funding matters to youth, and why we believe it is a sound investment in FY18
  • Impact on Kids: Quality programs with a youth development focus show positive impacts on kids’ academic gains, participation in school, social and emotional development, and overall health, and research shows that the greatest gains from these outcomes are shown to be for youth who are considered “at risk” of academic failure due to poverty; declining funding means fewer of these outcomes for District youth.
  • Declining Funding and Access: Local funding for community-based OST programs has declined by 60% since 2010, resulting today in only a quarter of the locally-funded slots for community-based afterschool and summer learning that were there for kids just six years ago (from close to 10,000 in 2010 to under 2,500 in 2016). Much of this decline happened as funds were administered through the DC Trust, and reluctance to invest over the years has been understandable given the Trust’s mismanagement over that time period. 
  • New Youth Office, New Opportunity to Invest in Kids: With the Trust’s dissolution and the creation of the new Youth Office, we have a structure for OST to be led with accountability and authority; the Commission offers community-based governance and strong potential for cross-sector and family and youth collaboration, and an in-government entity can better ensure access to student-level data to yield shared, measurable outcomes.
  • Turning the Trend: We see an opportunity ahead in FY2018 to scale up locally-funded afterschool programs in the District to better meet the OST needs of youth and their communities. We are convinced the time is right to inform and influence the re-creation of the youth development system here in the District with the strongest investment in expanded learning we’ve seen in years. This year, we support an initial $10 million dollar investment in expanded learning programs through the new Youth Office in the FY18 budget. This funding will support community-based OST providers to better meet the needs of some 6,000 additional children and youth.
  • Leading Locally in Face of Federal Threats: All of this will also serve to counter potential loss of federal funds; The proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (which provides before- and after-school enrichment, tutoring and other services) would mean $1.2 billion eliminated from the expanded learning space nationally; DC’s share of this federal funding in FY16 was approximately $6.3 million, with an FY17 allocation closer to $5 million.

HOW: Help advocate for OST funding in the #DCFY18 Budget
  • Please sign up to testify at the Budget Hearing for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • You can sign up to testify at this link or by calling the Committee on Education at 202-724-8061.

NEXT: Please check back here next week for more on our Youth Workforce Development and Disconnected Youth #DCFY18 budget asks, and the following week for Youth Homelessness.

And in case you missed it, check out our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 1 email.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The FY2018 Budget Sells Our Youth Short

As you may have heard the Mayor's proposed FY18 budget, DC Values in Action, was released Tuesday. While we've only done an initial analysis a few things stood out.

First, we're thrilled to see that the proposed budget comes close to maintaining recommended TANF benefits for the over 10,000 children who were at risk of losing assistance this year.

Other areas of the budget are less positive:
  • Funding for Out-of-School Time was kept flat at $4.9 million meaning we'll need to work collaboratively with council to get the full $10 million dollar investment we know we need.
  • The homelessness budget increases youth housing services by $2.4 million; $3.3 million lower than anticipated. One bright note, the PASS and ACE diversion programs both saw modest boosts for next year.
  • School funding only saw a 1.5% increase; 2 percentage points less than recommended by the per-pupil funding formula task force.
  • Our modest transportation ask - $2 million to reduce a major barrier for adult and reconnecting learners- was NOT funded. 
We joined DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Bread for the City, Children's Law Center, Jews United for Justice and Miriam's Kitchen in a Press Release that was issued earlier today which breaks down other areas of the budget.  We strongly recommend reading it.

We'll continue to dig into the budget this week and will be sending out our April Newsletter (filled with some key opportunities to get involved) tomorrow. Equally exciting we'll be launching a new budget advocacy tool for members on Monday. So keep an eye out!

In the meantime, here are Budget Hearing dates. All hearings are held at the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. If you wish to testify, you may sign up here or directly contact the committee staff persons listed below. Some of these agency hearings are held concurrently with other agencies under the committee jurisdiction. Please note that dates & times subject to change. Check the Council website for updated schedule: bit.ly/dcfy18budget. And you can watch hearings live here.

To testify: sign up here or call 202-724-8061

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123

Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 11 am in Room 120

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) - Public Witnesses Only
Budget Hearing: Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL)
Budget Hearing: Monday, May 1, 2017 at 11 am in Room 412

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) – Government Witnesses Only
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

Public Charter School Board
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

State Board of Education
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify contact: Sarina Loy, sloy@dccouncil.us or 202-724-8058

Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 10 am in Room 123


To testify: email humanservices@dccouncil.us or call 202-724-8170

Department of Disability Services and Office of Disability Rights
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at Noon in Room 500

Child and Family Services Agency
Budget Hearing: Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412

Department of Human Services
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 9, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify contact: Charnisa Royster, croyster@dccouncil.us or 202-724-7772

Department of Employment Services
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500

Workforce Investment Council
Budget Hearing: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500


To testify contact: Aukima Benjamin, abenjamin@dccouncil.us or 202-724-8062

District Department of Transportation
Budget Hearing: Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11 am in Room 500

Department of Parks and Recreation
Budget Hearing: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 10 am in Room 412


To testify: email cow@dccouncil.us or call 202-724-8196

University of the District of Columbia
Budget Hearing: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 11 am in Room 123

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Youth Advocacy for Action Summit Highlights

This week, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates convened a summit for peers, colleagues and friends from across the DCAYA community to dig a bit deeper into the challenges our youth face, and help inform how we will respond now and in the years to come as we continue our collective work to make sure all our young people are safe and stable, able to grow and thrive.

Here are some highlights from Twitter.



Thank you to all of our attendees. A special thank you to our board members and facilitators. And we are especially grateful to the sponsors who helped make this event possible.