February 2, 2023 – COFCCA Statement on 2024 Executive Budget Proposal

Every day in New York, staff work tirelessly alongside children and families in New York’s child welfare programs to connect families to supports when there is a need for housing, food, clothing, mental health and medical services, and assist them in getting the resources needed to keep their families safe, healthy, and together.  Staff support children and youth in foster care, their families of origin, and foster parents working to achieve children’s permanency goals.

In her Executive budget proposal, Governor Hochul recognizes the human services sector including foster care staff and programs with a 2.5% cost of living adjustment.  While we appreciate the Governor’s recognition of the sector, this number is simply inadequate given the collective ask from the sector for an 8.5% increase, in line with this year’s consumer price index.  Programs, including all human services programs such as foster care prevention programs and health home care managers serving children, need to see the full 8.5% investment in order to keep up with ever-increasing costs and to achieve meaningful staff salary increases.

Today, New York’s foster care programs do not know what their rates will be as of April 1, 2023 due to the state’s actions in setting aside a long-established rate-setting system this past year.  While we appreciate clarifying language that was added to allow additional increases outside of the COLA, we do not have information on any increases that may be provided and what the rates will be.  COFCCA continues to advocate for full funding of the foster care rates through June 30, 2023, as well as a return to the rate-setting system so that these programs have predictable funding as they continue to do the vital work of caring for children and youth in foster care.

The turnover rate for front line staff in New York’s foster care programs is 49%; turnover for caseworkers in New York’s family foster care, prevention, and residential foster care programs is 24%.  The state must invest in this workforce to turn the tide from families’ current reality of beginning therapeutic work over and over again, too often, every time a new worker starts with them.  Each budget year that New York does not invest in creating career pathways for child welfare professionals and in raising their salaries to retain them in the field is another year that New York wastes the opportunity to make a real difference in achieving positive outcomes for children—promoting family stability, reducing lengths of stay in foster care, and achieving lasting permanency for children.

We note that the budget includes reference to new federal requirements related to the federal IMD Exclusion.  In order to ensure access to care for children and youth in residential foster care settings, COFCCA has requested the state must commit state-only Medicaid funding until there is a federal solution providing federal matching funds for services provided to this population.

We remain hopeful that Governor Hochul and the legislature will work together to ensure that New York’s final budget this year invests in children and families by:

  • Investing in foster care workforce salaries in response to inflation and the rising minimum wage to ensure the sector has the workforce needed to care for our most vulnerable children and youth.
  • Fully funding current foster care rates through June 30, 2023.
  • Increasing funding for the Child Welfare Worker Incentive Scholarship Program and the NYS Child Welfare Worker Loan Forgiveness Incentive Programs by increasing the funding for these programs to $1 million each, to create meaningful career pathways in child welfare.
  • Expanding and Improving the Human Services Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): increasing the Human Services COLA, consistent with the Consumer Price Index- this year at 8.5%, and ensuring that it is equitably invested across the human services workforce, to include prevention workers and health home care managers.
  • Increasing prevention funding to support families safely remaining together: COFCCA urges the state to increase reimbursement to counties for uncapped prevention investment, to 75% as proposed in A.10242 (Hevesi) of 2022.

 

January 10, 2023 – COFCCA Statement on Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2023 State of the State Address

Today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her 2023 State of the State address without a single reference or commitment to investing in New York’s most vulnerable children and families in the state’s child welfare system.  The Governor’s lack of commitment and recognition to the state’s child welfare programs is an unacceptable, ongoing reality of her administration.  Throughout her tenure, the Governor has largely ignored the staff working alongside children and youth in child welfare programs across the state.  Instead, while these staff have worked tirelessly to support children and families’ needs every day, she has allowed for significant turnover of caseworkers and front line staff to continue in these programs–therefore destabilizing the very programs supporting children and youth in the child welfare system.  In addition, the state diminished rates of reimbursement to foster care programs under the Governor’s leadership this past year, and in so doing, discarding a long-established rate-setting system without advance notice or discussion to providers.  New York State is not living up to its responsibility to provide adequate funding for the full continuum of care for children and youth in the child welfare system.

The Governor today voiced her commitment to boosting supports for individuals with mental health challenges in New York without mentioning the child welfare system in any way—a key system for the state with workers on the front lines supporting thousands of families with navigating mental health challenges every day.

We are incredibly disappointed by the Governor’s lack of attention to these families and the workforce supporting them.  We remain hopeful that Governor Hochul and her team will act in her Executive Budget proposal to invest in children and families by:

  • Investing in foster care workforce salaries in response to inflation and the rising minimum wage to ensure the sector has the workforce needed to care for our most vulnerable children and youth.
  • Fully funding current foster care rates through June 30, 2023.
  • Increasing funding for the Child Welfare Worker Incentive Scholarship Program and the NYS Child Welfare Worker Loan Forgiveness Incentive Programs by increasing the funding for these programs to $1 million each, to create meaningful career pathways in child welfare.
  • Expanding and Improving the Human Services Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): increasing the Human Services COLA, consistent with the Consumer Price Index- this year at 8.5%, and ensuring that it is equitably invested across the human services workforce, to include prevention workers and health home care managers.
  • Increasing prevention funding to support families safely remaining together: COFCCA urges the state to increase reimbursement to counties for uncapped prevention investment, to 75% as proposed in A.10242 (Hevesi) of 2022.

October 18, 2022
COFCCA submitted testimony to the Assembly Children and Families Committee Hearing on Primary Prevention to highlight the importance of primary and general prevention in providing critical community services that meet families’ basic needs to reduce the risk of entry into or escalation within the child welfare system; and the critical need for investment in the Child Welfare workforce.

Assembly Children and Families Committee 10/18/22

February 2, 2022
COFCCA submitted testimony to the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees for their Joint Legislative Hearing about the New York State 2021/2022 budget.  We advocated in support of the proposed 5.4% Human Services Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), increased funding to raise foster care worker wages, annual increases for the state-set foster care rate, and funding for the NYS Child Welfare Worker Scholarship and Loan Forgiveness programs.
New York Human Services Testimony 2/2/22
For video of our oral testimony, see our Facebook page: Budget Testimony Feb 2 2022

January 6, 2022 – COFCCA Statement on Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State
Our state is entering a new year with new leadership, and we appreciate Governor Kathy Hochul’s first State of the State address putting forward a positive vision of New York’s future.

We are thrilled to see the Governor’s commitment to invest $500 million for Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) to help raise wages for human services workers.  Human Services workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic, essential workers supporting New York’s children and families tirelessly each day.  We applaud Governor Hochul for this recognition of their efforts; it is significant and appreciated.

This is a good start in supporting the child and family-assisting workforce in New York, and yet we have significant additional work ahead, in partnership with the state, given the extreme challenges our programs are experiencing with staff recruitment and retention.  If we want our state’s families to be strengthened and our children kept safe, we cannot continue to under-support the professionals who are doing this challenging work, or the adults stepping in to serve as foster parents for those children with myriad needs.

The pandemic has shown us where we need to make improvements for the safety and well-being of New York’s children and families, to strengthen the workforce providing human services and child welfare services, and build up supports youth and young adults need to push our great state’s progress into the future.   The Governor’s address makes clear, and we agree, the crisis has highlighted opportunities for transformational change in how we work, learn, and live.

We look forward to collaborating with Governor Hochul and her team in addressing the needs of our member agencies as we assert New York’s position as a leader in supporting children and families.

December 30, 2021 – COFCCA Statement on Appointment of Jess Dannhauser as ACS Commissioner

Congratulations to Jess Dannhauser, the next Commissioner of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) as announced today by Mayor-elect Eric Adams. Jess has been an outstanding leader in our field, most recently as President & CEO at Graham Windham, and an innovative and passionate voice for Fair Futures—a critically important mentorship program for all youth in foster care through their young adulthood. He is deeply committed to children and their families and we are excited to work alongside him in this new role.

We applaud Mayor-Elect Adams for this outstanding choice of ACS Commissioner. We look forward to working with Commissioner Dannhauser and with the Adams administration on the important priorities ahead of us, including advancing equity and addressing the disproportionate representation of Black and Brown families in the child welfare system; supporting and recognizing the essential child welfare and human services workforce; promoting positive outcomes for our youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and strengthening families with community-based supports and services to avoid child welfare involvement whenever possible.

October 25, 2021
COFCCA submitted testimony to the New York City Council General Welfare Committee’s Hearing on pending legislation.  We spoke of agencies’ need for advance notice of visitors to maintain safety in juvenile justice placement and detention programs and encouraged the Council to “count” time spent in Runaway/Homeless Youth and Transitional Independent Living programs when determining rental assistance eligibility.
NYC Committee on General Welfare testimony 10 25 21

June 17, 2021 – Statement on the SCOTUS Ruling in Fulton v. Philadelphia
Today the Supreme Court issued their decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia, a limited ruling that may have broader implications for families, children and youth, and those interested in fostering or adopting children.  We are deeply concerned about how this ruling is being portrayed and interpreted, and the implications it has for the future.

We stand with the LGBTQIA+ community.  We believe child welfare should support and affirm LGBTQIA+ children and youth, parents, foster parents and adoptive parents.  We appreciate and value our LGBTQIA+ foster families in New York State and across the country who have chosen to foster and adopt, and we are committed to fighting for equal rights for all families.

June 14, 2021
COFCCA submitted testimony to the New York City Council General Welfare Committee’s Oversight Hearing on The Child Welfare System During COVID-19.  We requested the Council look at how contracts could be restructured to offer line-item flexibility during emergencies, add funding to allow contract agencies to pay their workers on par with the City workforce by restoring the 3% COLA, and provide financial resources to support City racial equity and social justice mandates.
Testimony NYC City Council General Welfare 6 14 21 Child Welfare During COVID-19

May 25, 2021
COFCCA submitted testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Finance on the Final Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2022.  We requested the Council invest more in the Human Services workforce, increase and baseline Fair Futures funding, and thanked the Council for their support in increasing the number of Family Enrichment Centers and baselining the Indirect Cost Rate.
COFCCA City Council testimony on final FY22 executive budget 5 25 21pdf

March 17, 2021
COFCCA submitted testimony to the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare Oversight Hearing on the Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2022.  We advocated for committing to level funding (at a minimum) for Prevention services, supporting and expanding the availability of Family Enrichment Centers, reinstating the COLA for city human services contractors at a minimum of 3%, fully restoring and funding the Indirect Cost Rate, and baselining Fair Futures at $20M, along with a few additional issues.
NYC General Welfare FY22 Budget Testimony 3 17 21

March 2, 2021
COFCCA submitted testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Finance Hearing, held jointly with the Committee on Contracts and the Subcommittee on Capital Budget, regarding the New York City 2020/2021 budget.  We advocated for reinstating the 3% COLA for city human services contractors, providing funding for emergency pay for front-line workers, and reinstating Indirect Cost Rate funding.
NYC 2021 Contracts and Finance 3 2 21 COFCCA Testimony

February 9, 2021
COFCCA submitted testimony to the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees for their Joint Legislative Hearing about the New York State 2020/2021 budget.  We advocated for protecting state preventive services funding and for ensuring that the state continues to support staff working in child welfare and juvenile justice programs, among other items.
2 9 21 COFCCA Final Human Services Testimony
For the video of the testimony and Q & A, see our Facebook page: Budget Testimony Feb 9 2021

November 25, 2020
COFCCA submitted testimony to the NYC Council Committee on Contracts for their hearing about the Indirect Cost Rate Initiative During the COVID-19 Pandemic.  We supported the full payment of agencies’ approved indirect costs (items and staff that support agencies’ direct service programs), as promised, in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
NYC Committee on Contracts testimony 11 25 20 – COFCCA

November 24, 2020
COFCCA submitted testimony to the NYC Council General Welfare Committee for their hearing on the Foster Care Task Force and Int. No. 148, a bill to increase access to housing vouchers for youth transitioning from foster care.  COFCCA testimony supported the bill and encouraged the City to also include Runaway/Homeless Youth (RHY) service recipients who have the same needs.
NYC General Welfare oversight testimony 11 24 20 – COFCCA

October 28, 2020 

COFCCA testified at the NYC Council General Welfare Committee’s hearing on Racial Disparities in the Child Welfare System.  COFCCA advocated for more supports to families to prevent child welfare involvement while maintaining child and family safety and well-being.
Testimony NYC City Council 10 28 20 Racial Equity

June 2, 2020 – Special Statement from Jim Purcell, President and CEO, on behalf of COFCCA

The Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies and our member agencies stand in unity with those among us who have been oppressed and victimized. The nonprofit organizations which comprise the membership of the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies work every day to strengthen families and children, most of whom are poor, disadvantaged, and too often discounted by our society in countless ways. So very many of these families are people of color who continue to face the added trauma of fear of the kinds of tragedies we saw so vividly in Minneapolis a few days ago. We cannot be silent. All of us must stand up and speak clearly on behalf of our clients, our staff, our communities, and ourselves. The murder of George Floyd by a police officer is unacceptable in a sane and fair society. And that coming after a list of similar travesties, this is not just one more. We need to demand that it be the last one. This evil must stop, and those responsible must be held accountable.

And lest we think “this is so far away” let us note the reprehensible video of the white woman confronting an African American man in Central Park, making a clearly false report to the police. Her demonstration of white privilege was a clear example of the work we need to do. That being said, while we are concerned about public safety during times of civil unrest, we must never take the focus off of the brutal behavior of the officer who sparked the flames of outrage and protests.

This has been a horrible time in our country. There is a dangerous virus infecting millions and killing so many, including, once again, a disproportionate number of black and brown people. Millions are out of work, with serious questions of how long it will take for the economy to replace those jobs. This is not the time to be meeting budget challenges by making cuts which will continue the disinvestment in these communities. Our society, and our government, must not turn their backs on those most severely hurt by all of these disasters. We have learned much working with traumatized children. We have learned that with a little support and guidance they can be amazingly resilient. As Martin Luther King Jr once said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That is true. It is up to us to bend the arc much faster.

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November 21, 2019
COFCCA testified at a NYS Assembly hearing on “Family Involvement in the Child Welfare and Family Court System.” The hearing was convened by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Children and Families, and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, Chair of the NYS Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues. COFCCA advocated for:

  1. restoration of state funding for preventive services to 65%, up from the current commitment of 62%, and a request to use that money (about $20 million) to support counties that want to use evidence-based models available for partial federal funding under the Family First Act;
  2. increased state funding for primary prevention, including the Community Optional Preventive Services (COPS) program;
  3. removal of KinGAP from the Foster Care Block Grant, making KinGAP its own stand-alone funding stream and therefore incentivizing counties’ use of it; and
  4. raising pay of our child welfare staff statewide, citing low salaries and high turnover.

11 21 19 COFCCA Testimony Final

October 31, 2019
Testimony regarding a raft of bills to monitor and make some changes to the manner in which ACS does their work. COFCCA testimony focused on the proposed changes to legal services for parents.
Testimony for 10 31 19

March 25, 2019
Testimony regarding how to provide services to the highest needs youth in our care in response to concerns about the Children’s Center.
Testimony for 3 25

January 28, 2019
COFCCA testified at the Higher Education Budget Hearing; COFCCA requested increased funding for The New York State Child Welfare Worker Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program and The NYS Child Welfare Worker Incentive Scholarship Program, programs funded through the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) to support our child welfare workforce in its pursuit of higher education.
1 28 19 COFCCA Higher Ed Testimony 2019

January 24, 2019
COFCCA testified at the Human Services state budget hearing; COFCCA’s testimony centered around the need to invest in the state’s child welfare workforce, to support the field’s implementation for the new federal child welfare law, the Family First Prevention Services Act, and to make necessary capital investments for health and safety improvements in residential programs, and expressed support for other related child welfare budget priorities.
1 24 19 COFCCA Human Services Testimony