Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Budget Breakdown: What Mayor Gray's Proposed Budget Means for Children and Youth

As you likely heard, Mayor Gray released the proposed DC Budget for 2015 last Thursday. The multi-billion dollar budget proposal is now before Council where, through a series of upcoming public hearings and advocacy meetings, it will be debated and tweaked by Council Committees before it goes to a final vote.

To inform our budget asks for 2015, DCAYA spent the last few days reading through each agency budget to identify major changes. We found a few pockets of great investments, and a few areas that will need loud community voices in the coming weeks. Here's what we've found so far:

Education: Please note the DCPS budget format was dramatically overhauled this year and it will take us a bit more time to work though. In the meantime, here are a few broad takeaways.

DC Public Schools and Public Charter Schools  
  • $112,000,000 in new funding for DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the District’s public charter schools (PCS), including $60,000,000 million in funding targeted to at risk students.
  • A $409,000,000 investment for ongoing citywide school modernization.
  • $880,000 to add three additional career academies in IT, engineering, and hospitality.
  • A major increase in the number of middle school counselors, budget mark pending.
Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE):
  • Due to a decrease in a number of federal grants, OSSE’s overall budget will be reduced by $25,697,297. This will impact a number of OSSE’s offices and programs. DCAYA is still waiting for more information on these cuts.  
  • Funding to services designed to promote success in post secondary education including DC TAG, AP Test Fee Funding the College Access Challenge Grant went up by $9,788,000.
DCAYA Ask: Given the overall complexity of the Education Budget, we are continuing to work through our final asks for this year. We’ll be sure to post additional information here and on our website as soon as possible. In the meantime, DC Appleseed just released a great report and recommendations on the need for robust investments in Adult Basic Education, and as always, our friends at DCFPI have a number of great blogs up that look at the Mayor’s entire budget.

Youth Homelessness and Safety Net Services:
  • Although we’re still waiting to hear final numbers on supports for Homeless and unaccompanied youth and young parents; last year’s budget for this population was $6,022,691. Given the investments made by the LGBTQ Housing Program we would anticipate this number to rise by close to $400,000 this year. We’ll update you as we learn more.
  • The overall budget for homeless families shows a decrease. While the budget does include a $1,000,000 increase to both emergency rental assistance and rapid re-housing, this investment will not cover the loss of nearly $600,000 in federal funding traditionally used to provide critical safety net services for homeless families. 
  • Funding to mental health services for children and youth through the Department of Behavioral Health also saw a massive increase of $23,689,000.
  • The DC Kids Ride Free Program was increased by $2,000,000.
DCAYA Ask: With 48% of homeless families headed by a parent aged 24 years and younger, our city faced a mounting crisis this winter. While we applaud the commitment of this Mayor to invest in truly affordable housing and the 500 Families in 100 days initiative, we remain committed to ensuring young heads of household and unaccompanied youth receive the level of support they need to succeed long term. We must remember that many of these young parents and individuals are simply not prepared financially or emotionally to live alone. We will continue to advocate for the adoption of our $10,000,000 investment in prevention, reunification and long-term supports for this vulnerable population.

Expanded Learning and Youth Development:
  • Despite early indications that the Trust’s budget could see an increase in the Mayor’s proposed budget, funding remained flat at $3,000,000.
DCAYA Ask: We stand by our initial recommendation that the Children Youth Investment Trust Corporation should be funded at $8,000,000. This is the funding level necessary to maintain its current grant making, capacity building and agency coordination efforts.

Youth Workforce:
  • Funding to the DOES Summer Youth Employment Program increased by $634,000.
  • Unfortunately, year round programming provided by DOES was cut by $1,943,000 due to a loss in federal funding that was not replaced with local dollars.
  • The end of a contract between OSSE and DOES has removed $4,153,000 in Post-Secondary Education and Workforce Readiness funding from the OSSE budget. The impact of this cut is somewhat unknown at this time, with more information to follow.
  • On a brighter note though, although this isn’t possible to find in the budget document, the Mayor’s Office Reported making an additional $2,500,000 investment in workforce programming at the Community College of the District of Columbia.
DCAYA Ask: While the investment in the community college is fantastic, the failure to invest local funds into the year round youth workforce programming is troubling. DCAYA will push for stable funding for this program and also recommends that the increase in SYEP be transferred to the year round program.

Disconnected Youth:
DCAYA Ask: This budget is insufficient to support a fully functioning REC. The DCAYA’s analysis recommended $689,000 in public funding (this relies on at minimum $115,000of in-kind donations from various government agencies and foundations). We are continuing to push for the full investment recognizing that as proposed, the Mayor’s budget would hire three staff and support almost no additional resources for a REC.  In addition, we continue to push for $1,500,000 to support additional capacity in our alternative education programs. Without more seats, there will be very few educational programs for youth to reconnect to. Because funding in DCPS' budget is still unclear, progress in this area is uncertain. We'll continue to update you.

DC Alliance of Youth Advocates envisions a community where no youth is considered at-risk and where all are respected as valued members of society. Facilitating robust community input on the DC Budget to ensure smart, stable funding that positively impacts DC youth is a major part of our work. Please check our website calendar for opportunities to have your voice heard in the upcoming DC Council Budget Hearings 

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