On Tuesday, December 9th, the County Board of Legislators adopted a County Budget for 2015. County Exec Astorino is expected to sign the Budget, which by all accounts represents a compromise that all the players were willing to live with. So what’s in it for kids?
First, we must acknowledge that this budget season saw an unprecedented united front among advocates pressing for greater investments for children and youth. A large number of organizations and coalitions, including the Campaign for Kids, the Child Care Council, Community Voices Heard, NonProfit Westchester, Westchester Youth Councils, and the Westchester Women’s Agenda joined WCA in making expanding child care and out-of-school programs a top priority for budget advocacy. Many individuals, including amazing teens from all parts of the County, testified eloquently at the 3 public hearings on the budget. WCA’s mobilization efforts resulted in more than 170 electronic letters being sent to Astorino and County Legislators. These efforts were acknowledged by Legislators as they spoke during their meeting on Tuesday.
All this advocacy paid off!
- The Board of Legislators added $687,000 for Title XX Child Care subsidies, nearly doubling the amount originally proposed by the County Exec and resulting in a total of $1.4 million to help families afford care.
- They also added $60,000 to restore a staff position at Child Care Council to help families and child care providers understand and sign up for the subsidy program.
- The Youth Shelter Program of Westchester received an additional $75,000 that they will use to help young men who graduate from the Shelter residence to continue their positive direction once they return to their communities.
- The Board maintained the 3% increase for Invest in Kids that was included in Astorino’s budget. This will mean $ 1,977,077 (an increase of $ 57,585 over 2014) will be available for community-based youth programming.
Thanks to everyone who wrote, testified, met with their legislators and otherwise stood up for kids in the County Budget!