Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DCAYA's Budget Updates: Workforce Development & Disconnected Youth!

While the final vote on the FY17 budget will occur on May 31st at 10am (watch here:, the Council’s decisions are all but finalized.

Today we’d like to reflect on the work of our members and partners throughout this year’s advocacy season and provide an update on the successes for youth, families, and children within the FY17 budget. This week’s is the first of two parts, focusing on Youth Workforce Development and Disconnected Youth. 

Youth Workforce Development

Maintenance of In-School Youth Program

This spring, DCAYA advocated for the continuation of the In-School Youth Program with available federal funds-- and supplemental local funds if necessary. Under WIOA, federal expenditures for in school programs will be reduced to a maximum of 25% of the District’s total federal allocation of $2.3 million annually. Because the District has significantly underspent federal funds in the last few years, the In-School Youth Program appears safe in FY17. DC’s Draft WIOA State Plan includes a proposed strategy to blend the District’s reduced in school allocation with funding that flows through the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to make all in school youth programs accessible to youth with disabilities. We will continue to advocate for capacity building support within the program’s competitively selected providers to ensure that they have the training necessary to provide quality programming to youth with disabilities. We’d like to thank our members and partners from LAYC, Sasha Bruce, DCFPI and the Young Women’s Project for attending the WIOA State Plan Public Engagement Session to elevate this priority and for testifying at DOES’s budget oversight hearing.

SYEP Expansion and Evaluation

Full Report Available Here
While the FY17 budget includes $4.8M to fully fund the participation of 12,000 youth 14-21 and 1,000 youth 22-24, DCAYA and our partners were successful in ensuring that the continuation of this expansion be tied to the consistent assessment and evaluation of its quality. Earlier this spring, the DC Council added an amendment to Mayor Bower’s Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Expansion Amendment Act of 2016. The amendment limits the expansion of SYEP to the summers of 2016 and 2017 in order to allow Council adequate time to review and assess data regarding the program's expansion during 2015 while working with the Executive to formulate a permanent program that appropriately meets the needs of the targeted populations, including disconnected youth. Additionally, the DC Auditor’s report on SYEP concluded that to meet legislated program requirements moving forward, DOES will have to contract with an external expert to conduct a third-party, program quality evaluation of the program annually. Big thanks are due to Councilmember Silverman and her staff, Councilmembers Nadeau and Allen for promoting the quality and assessment of SYEP, and to DOES’s Office of Youth Programs for working to provide the best possible program to over 13,000 District youth every summer.

Disconnected Youth

Expansion of Kids Ride Free through Age 24

This year, DCAYA advocated for an additional investment of $950,000 to expand the age eligibility of Kids Ride Free through age 24 in order to meet the transportation needs of over 700 youth engaged in alternative and adult education placements. Building on the evidence elevated by Raise DC’s Disconnected Youth Change Network (DYCN), DCAYA designed a survey of re-engaging youth this winter and circulated it through DYCN’s membership. Our findings provided a basis for a cost estimate of our budget ask and highlighted the importance of funding transportation supports to maximize the District’s investments in nontraditional students.

During budget advocacy, DCAYA also supported the ask of the DC Adult and Family Literacy Coalition (DC AFLC) to extend the availability of subsidized tokens to adult education providers to help offset the cost of transportation for their students. While neither of these asks were able to be funded in the FY17 budget, our advocacy did result in the addition of language in the Budget Support Act requiring the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) to fully assess the transportation needs of the District’s adult and alternative education population by October 1, 2016. Even though our budget requests were not granted by Council this year, we mounted a strong campaign and are certain that our champions on the Council will find the funding next year.

This year’s effort was made possible by the work of Raise DC’S Disconnected Youth Change Network in vetting and circulating our transportation survey, our partners at DC AFLC and Academy of Hope for supporting our ask, the Council’s Budget Office and the staff of the Committees on Education and Transportation & the Environment for working to identify the needed funding, the DME for initiating a Transportation Taskforce earlier this year, and to Councilmember Silverman for including our ask on the Committee of the Whole’s final ‘budget wishlist’.

Maintain Funding for SLED

Throughout the FY17 budget season, the Mayor’s $1.1M proposed investment to keep SLED stable and fully staffed and $11.9M to develop the capacity of the system in capital funds were maintained. SLED continues to play an invaluable role in driving the District’s education system decisions, and also serves as a starting point for the development of a similar approach within the workforce development sector. Many thanks are due to the Mayor, DME Niles, and Superintendent Kang for prioritizing the maintenance of SLED in the Mayor’s proposed budget, and to the Committee on Education for ensuring the protection of these funds through the budget process. We’d also like to thank our partners at Raise DC for spearheading important and insightful educational research that brings the fruit of SLED to bear.

That’s all for now folks! Check back next week for more budget updates on Expanding Learning and Youth Homelessness.

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