As the pandemic continues to increase the rate of child poverty in Westchester and throughout the nation, WCA urges policymakers to act quickly upon their public commitment to cut child poverty rates in half by 2030 while paying special attention to structural inequalities that preclude many children from receiving services that will improve their well-being.
Many aspects of the 2023 New York State Budget have the potential to improve lives by addressing these inequities, but WCA is focused on three that have made good progress through recent negotiations and can provide short and long-term gains: home visiting, the Empire Child Tax Credit, and child care.
Our nation spends billions of dollars annually to address a host of health, educational, and social challenges that many at-risk families with children face including poor birth outcomes, cognitive disabilities, child abuse and neglect, and poor school readiness. These conditions, however, can be reduced or prevented at a fraction of the cost through Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) programs. Scientific research demonstrates that evidence-based, home visiting programs improve prenatal, birth, and early childhood health outcomes; reduce child maltreatment; and help families become more self-sufficient. These outcomes can produce a significant return on investment (ROI) for state and federal governments.
As we work together to reauthorize MIECHV, Westchester Children’s Association urges policymakers and stakeholders to :
- Invest $11 million in Healthy Families New York and in Parent Child+
- Increase overall funding for home visiting (MIECHV) over the next 5 years to reach more families and better support the workforce.
- Continue to allow virtual home visiting with model fidelity as an option for service delivery.
Child Tax Credit
While New York has been one of the leaders in providing tax credits to families and children by implementing the Empire State Child Credit (ESCC), substantial gaps in coverage continue to provide a disservice to some of our most vulnerable children. The current NY State tax policy excludes many children in families with the lowest incomes and children under the age of four, while also disproportionately excluding Black and Latino children from receiving services.
Child tax credits are one of the most powerful tools to counter the effects of poverty on children, and we need the final budget to include:
- Eliminating the ESCC’s earnings requirement and phase-in, making the full credit accessible to the State’s lowest-income families.
- Increased value of the ESCC and make it available to the youngest children under age 4.
- Provide the option for families to receive advance payment on the ESCC and make it available on a periodic basis to ease family expenses for basic necessities such as food, childcare, and rent.
Child Care Subsidy:
The latest data from the 2019 U.S. Census estimated that over 20,000 Westchester children and 700,000 children across New York State live at or below the federal poverty line. This limits the ability of parents and caregivers to access high-quality, equitable, affordable, and universal child care services to their children. Both the New York Assembly and Senate call for an unprecedented investment in child care in this year’s budget, with the Assembly committing $3 billion in total spending. This is the minimum amount it will take to begin to properly support parents and providers, and put our state squarely on the road to a child care system that is universal and high quality to drive our economic recovery.
From a public safety perspective, we urge policymakers to act with intention and make changes that support parents earning low wages and to consider the following changes:
- Invest substantially to build a high-quality, equitable, affordable, and universal child care system that meets the needs of children and families and includes strong support for workers and providers.
- Reduce extra eligibility restrictions for child care subsidies for student parents, such as work requirements and time limits.
- Increase funding to allow childcare assistance to go to student parents and ensure they can use their subsidies for childcare that meets their nonradical scheduling needs including relative care and home-based options that may be exempt from licensing.
WCA will continue to monitor progress on these focus issues as well as others outlined in our agenda for the 2023 New York State Budget.
Stay tuned for ways that you can lend your support.
WCA Agenda for the 2022-23 New York State Budget
- Child Poverty Reduction Act – New York signed this act into law in 2021 committing the state to cut child poverty rates in half by 2030 with attention paid to racial equity.
- Child & Youth Homelessness – Ensure all children and families have adequate, safe, and stable housing
- Youth Justice – Protect gains made in Raise The Age legislation and Pass the Solutions Not Suspensions Act
- Early Child Supports & Home Visiting – Increase Home Visiting funding and Find legislative pathways to offer universal home visiting
- Digital Access – Ensure every school-age child has access to adequate and affordable internet broadband, devices, and technical support year-round
- Mental Health – Increase funding and access to mental health services for every child and youth in New York
- Child Care, Afterschool, and Youth Development – Develop a model child care system that provides all New York families with access to quality, affordable child care and afterschool
- Child Poverty – Expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to cover New York’s youngest residents
- Child Welfare – Support $7.9 million in funding for the Fostering Youth Success Initiative (FYSI)
WCA supports the 2022 agendas of many coalitions and partners, including CHAMPS NY, Child Care Council of Westchester, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Fostering Youth Success Alliance, New York State Child Welfare Coalition, NY State Network for Youth Success, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Raise the Age NY Campaign, Schuyler Center for Analysis & Advocacy, Nonprofit Westchester and Westchester Women’s Agenda which include many of the priorities outlined above.
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