Thursday, June 26, 2014

SPECIAL EDITION: Youth Advocacy Budget Wins

Tuesday was the final Council vote on the budget, meaning the FY15 DC budget season is officially over:

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DCAYA is pleased to report that the budget includes a number of smart investments in children, youth, and families:

Youth Homelessness
  • The Ending Youth Homelessness Amendment Act passed. It mandates and funds a drop-in center, coordinated intake, 15 new youth beds, an annual homeless youth census and a street outreach program. Total: $1.3 million
  • More social workers were funded to focus on families experiencing homelessness. Total: $600,000.
  • The permanent supportive housing program received more funding. Total: $2.3 million.
  • The local rent subsidy program, which facilitates a number of families getting out of shelter and into homes, saw an increase in funding. Total: $3.0 million.

  • The Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s (OSSE) budget includes funding to increase capacity and quality of the early childhood education division. Total: $9 million.
  • The Healthy Tots Act, which promotes early childhood nutrition, was implemented. Total: $3.3 million.
  • A new weight for at-risk students was added in the school funding formula. Total: $81 million (including summer school). 
  • Six new school-based mental health clinicians were funded. Total: $470,000.
  • Two additional full-time positions were added to OSSE in order to provide outreach and basic services to support homeless children and youth. Total: $200,000
  • There was a modest increase in the DCPS Out-of-School Time Program to support afterschool and summer programming. Total: $8.4 million.
  • Funding to support community based organizations providing expanded learning programming was held stable. Totals:
    • Federal 21st Century Learning Center Grants. Total: $10 million
    • Children Youth Investment Trust Corporation. Total: $3 million
  • The community schools initiative received support. Total: $1 million 
  • Peer health education program received investments. Total: $100,000

Workforce and Disconnected Youth
  • The youth re-engagement center was approved. This will serve as a central point of re-connection to education and workforce development programming. Total: $473,000 and $349,000 of in-kind resources.
  • A Career Pathways Coordinator was created and the Adult Career Pathways Task Force was funded. These initiatives will better connect and coordinate adult education and workforce development services. Total: $175,000
  • Participants in SYEP will now be able to access free transportation for the first three weeks of the program (that is, until they receive their first pay check). Total: $731,000.
  • While the Alternative Schools Subtitle does not include specifically appropriated funding, the change in policy amends the process of alternative school designation, thus allowing OSSE more flexibility in awarding alternative school statuses. This ends a policy that left many high-quality education programs undesignated and underfunded.
  • Council restored a number of significant cuts to funding and services. Total: $300,000 to year-round youth employment services; $1.2 million to adult job training; $6 million to TANF job training services. 

While this list certainly is not comprehensive, it gives a pretty good rundown of where we can expect to see some increased services and supports across multiple agencies, as well as some modest changes in policy that will have positive impacts on youth and their providers. While all of our advocacy asks were not met, DC councilmembers and their staff know our issue areas well, setting us up for continued advocacy in the future.

Our member organizations and partners have been invaluable in this process. You have organized rallies, signed petitions, testified at hearings, and tweeted to your councilmembers. We cannot thank you enough! So take a second to absorb the wins that we all worked hard to accomplish.

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Ok. Now back to work. FY16 Budget here we come!

The DCAYA staff would like to sincerely thank all of the organizations, community members, direct service professionals, and advocates who worked so hard this past budget season to help see these wins through. Thanks to your advocacy and direct service, young people in DC have a fighting chance to live healthy and productive adult lives. 

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