The final Council budget vote was June 10th. As we suspected, a number of major wins were achieved this year. Here is the final break down, and some major thanks to everyone that made it happen!
DC Trust: The Committee on Health and Human Services, which oversees the Trust, committed an additional $2 million to the Trust’s baseline budget. With this additional funding, the DC Trust will be able to fulfill the majority of their grant commitments to afterschool programs. Much of the funding, $1.6 million, was moved over from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, thanks to Councilmember Mary Cheh. Councilmember Yvette Alexander filled the resulting gap with just over $400,000 through reallocating funding from within two different health agency budgets. Although advocates originally pushed for an additional $2.5 million, the resulting $2 million is a huge win for afterschool programs and speaks to the power of our members and the community speaking up to testify on behalf of their life-changing programs.
DCPS: The Committee on Education did not find the $6.5 million to stop the cuts to DCPS afterschool, which will result in a cut to 25 cluster coordinators within the DCPS Out-of-School Time Office. The committee budget report rationalizes the cut with the following explanation, “DCPS has assured the Committee and school communities that there will be no reduction in service levels to families in FY16.” However, the committee report went on to say “The Committee also encourages DCPS to monitor this situation throughout the summer and utilize reserve funds, if necessary, to fill any gaps to service to families that may arise as a result of funding challenges for CBOs.” In other words, since DCPS insisted there was no need for the money that was cut, the chair of the committee, Councilmember David Grosso, was not in a position to fill that cut. We will continue to work closely with Councilmember Grosso to monitor the situation and offer on-the-ground feedback from CBOs and schools.
Many thanks to the members of the Committee on Human Services, the Committee on Education and the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, for working so collaboratively to make these critical investments.
Single Youth: Funding for homeless youth services remains stable at $1.3 million by the Committee on Health and Human Services in an effort to properly scale initiatives through data-informed measures. Advocates supported this funding mark and are continuing to collect data on homeless youth with the newly established Coordinated Intake System. Through the collected data, advocates and DC agencies will have a greater understanding on the investments needed to stabilize homeless youth and guide them onto a path of self sufficiency.
Youth-Headed Families: The mayor’s allocation of $40 million to replace DC General through FY17 was confirmed by the Committee on Health and Human Services.
DCAYA would like to first and foremost thank Mayor Bowser and her entire Administration for their diligence in addressing homelessness in this budget. We’d also like to thank the Committee on Health and Human Services and the Committee on Transportation for their hard work to find supplemental funds to address the needs of homeless parenting minors.
Youth Workforce Development
SYEP Evaluation: During a Committee of the Whole legislative session, the Council approved an amendment introduced by Councilmember Elissa Silverman to require DOES to produce and publish basic information on SYEP participants, including long-term employment outcomes and participation levels at various points in the program. The amendment also lays the groundwork for the development of a rigorous SYEP evaluation to determine a baseline of program quality and identify opportunities for effective interventions within program design and delivery. Along with an amendment introduced by Councilmember Jack Evans to cap SYEP enrollment for youth 22-24 at 1,000 slots, an SYEP evaluation will go a long way to ensure that Mayor Bowser’s additional investment in SYEP of $5.2 million will be used effectively to engage youth 14-24 in a quality career exposure and work readiness training experience.
UDC Funding Restored: In a letter to Council outlining revisions to her proposed FY16 budget (called the Errata Letter), Mayor Bowser included the restoration of $3.5 million to the University of the District of Columbia. The mayor also committed to working with the UDC flagship and the community college to ensure that this investment will benefit programs that place DC residents on career pathways.
The focus of the entire Council, but in particular members of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for all they have done to ensure the Summer Youth Employment Program is of the highest quality in years to come. Equal thanks to Mayor Bowser and her entire administration for the thoughtful investment recommendations outlined in the Errata Letter. These investments will go far in preparing our youth for success in the workforce.
Expansion of Kids Ride Free: At the Committee for Finance and Revenue budget oversight hearing for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Committee Chairman Jack Evans expressed concerns about Mayor Bowser’s expansion of Kids Ride Free to rail. The Committee’s budget report stated that the Committee is “analyzing the funding sources for the School Transit Subsidy program to better understand the administration and distribution of the proposed $7 million for Kids Ride Free”. After much deliberation: Funding for Kids Ride Free is indeed secure, and the Councilmember will work to ensure the sustainability of the program.
SLED Remains Stable: While the Committee on Education expressed their commitment to the maintenance and continuation of the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLED), the needed $1.36 million was not secured to fill the gap left by an expiring federal grant. However, the Committee and DCAYA received assurances from OSSE that a reduction in personnel-related funds will be absorbed internally through efficiency and prioritization and SLED will not suffer as a result. DCAYA will continue to monitor SLED’s operation, but we are confident in OSSE's commitment to maintain the system.
The commitment of the Committee for Finance and Revenue and WMATA to ease student access to school was fantastic. Equally important, we thank the Bowser Administration, OSSE and the Committee on Education for their work to ensure that SLED remains a strong and valuable resource.
Finally, we’d like to thank the children, youth, and member organizations who put tons of time and energy into the advocacy work for this budget. Your input into our advocacy agenda is, as always, priceless. Your willingness to mobilize and devote hours to testifying, attending meetings, writing letters and making calls is what gives the DCAYA community its strength and its power. Thank you.