WCA Remarks Accompanying Written Response to the New York State Budget 2020
by Allison Lake, Executive Director
January 31, 2020 | Greenburgh
Good morning. My name is Allison Lake. I am the Executive Director at Westchester Children’s Association. WCA is a multi-issue child advocacy organization, working to ensure that every child in Westchester is healthy, safe, and prepared for life’s challenges. I would like to thank you, for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you today.
WCA advocates for high-quality programs and services children need, when they need them, so they can reach their full potential and contribute to our thriving communities.
Families, in the broadest sense of the word, need to be strengthened with assistance and support so all kids thrive regardless of race or zip code.
In the written testimony provided, it outlines a variety of budget priorities that impact New York’s children and youth. What I am here to emphasize today, is that children and youth thrive, when they are given the opportunities and supports they need from cradle to career.
Investing in children from the earliest of ages through their early 20s leads to better outcomes in adulthood. For example, leveraging Medicaid to help achieve statewide expansion of home visiting and other supports – recognizing that a child’s first three years are the most crucial years of their development.
We need your support to develop a model child care system that provides all New York families access to quality, affordable child care, – and after-school, summer and expanded learning opportunities. These programs keep children safe, support working families and increase academic achievement.
I have stood before you before and spoken of the need to give our kids involved in the justice system a second chance -and a better chance. I appreciate your support on the Raise The Age legislation. As we implement RTA, it is critical to support a broader youth justice agenda including, but not limited to: ending adult incarceration of teenagers, ending solitary confinement of adolescents and ending arrest and prosecution of children under the age of 12.
We have an opportunity to go further upstream in preventing youth from touching the justice system and that is by changing school codes of conduct. By finding alternative solutions and not using suspensions, we can curb the serious racial inequities of school discipline across New York that can lead to the school to prison pipeline.
Further decreasing the criminal justice footprint in this state is good for all of us. Holding strong on the pretrial reforms that passed last year supports children and families. For the people waiting in our jails, for their day in court- livelihoods, jobs, housing and the ability to care for children are at stake.
Families come in all shapes and sizes and for children in the foster care system establishing a “firewall” in the placement process to exhaust all possibilities of kin-based care before placing a child elsewhere is the right thing to do.
The common thread amongst what I have shared is that our children deserve high-quality support at every stage of their development and their families as well. Thank you.
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