Nonprofit providers and advocates are continuing to examine Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget Proposal for FY2013-14 to determine the potential impacts on human services programs. Here are some more comments on what the sector likes and doesn’t like.
The Governor’s inclusion of a $25 million increase for full day Pre-K, on the other hand, drew widespread praise from advocates, including the Ready for Kindergarten, Ready for College Campaign, a coalition of early childhood, education and community organizations. The new full day Pre-K funding would be the first state sponsored full-day pre-kindergarten program in the New York.
“Governor Cuomo’s plan to create the first state-funded, full-day pre-kindergarten initiative is a welcome and important step,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “Full-day pre-kindergarten increases student success in school, raises graduation rates, and increases lifetime earnings of students. This initiative builds on the long term leadership of Speaker Sheldon Silver on providing pre-kindergarten to four year olds.”
“Investing in full day Pre-K provides a major return on investment, both boosting our kids’ success and providing savings in the long term,” said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York. “This investment is a great step toward providing our kids with the path to success and making our communities strong.”
“Governor Cuomo has made it clear that our youngest learners should be a key priority for New York State,” said Nancy Kolben, Executive Director, Center for Children’s Initiatives. “We know that investing in full day Pre-K drastically increases our children’s chances at success in the future, making this a very wise initiative.”
“There is strong and significant research that shows that high quality early care and learning improves educational outcomes, reduces disparities and saves money,” said Kate Breslin of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy and WinningBeginning NY. “The Governor’s plan to expand full-day Pre-K is a strong first step to reaching at-risk children early for lasting impact. We are eager to work with policymakers to ensure that the State makes sound investments in high quality early education.”
“Governor Cuomo has embraced the critical role early education plays in our children’s educational foundation, acknowledging that success in school is determined largely by the experiences children have before they start Kindergarten,” said Dana E. Friedman, Ed.D., Founder and President, The Early Years Institute. “With investment in full day Pre-K, especially in high needs districts, we’ll be able to ensure that our most vulnerable children will have more opportunities, putting them on a stronger path to school readiness.”
“The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) applauds Governor Cuomo for including vital early childhood education funding increases for low-income children and their working parents in the Executive Budge,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, Executive Director & CEO. “The $25 million to support full-day pre-kindergarten programs for high-need students in low-income communities will ensure that these children will enter school more ready to learn.”
At first blush, providers and advocates seemed relieved … and perhaps pleasantly surprised by what they saw in the Governor’s proposals for mental health services.
“There were no cuts to the community safety net and perhaps the promise of some increased savings through reinvestment savings from anticipated hospital downsizing,” noted Harvey Rosenthal, Executive Director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS). Rosenthal also noted that there appeared to be positives in enhancements to Health Homes and additional community housing.
“We like very much the emphasis on community housing,” said Phillip Saperia, Executive Director of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies. While waiting for additional detail, he also praised the proposed restructuring of the State’s psychiatric centers. “This system has needed close scrutiny and some fixing for a long time,” he said. “The fact that they are going to look at it is good… and the fact that they are going to reinvest savings into community services is really good.”
On the other hand, Andrea Smyth, Executive Director of the NYS Coalition for Children’s Mental Health Services argues that the failure to offer COLAs and rate increases to keep pace with inflation has a detrimental impact on services. She notes that a recent review of children’s outpatient mental health clinics showed 20 of 22 clinics losing significant amounts of money. “Despite widespread public awareness that the children’s behavioral health care system’s capacity is not robust enough to meet the needs of all the kids with unmet mental health needs, the Governor fails to make investments that are on parity with the recommendations in the general health care field,” she says.
Substance Abuse Services
While still waiting for additional budget details, John Coppola, Executive Director of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of NYS, expressed concern over whether sufficient resources were being provided to meet the growing demand for services. He pointed to reports of increased heroin usage and forecasts of even greater growth in response to legislative action to clamp down on physicians in an effort to curb prescriptions drug abuse. He also noted that cuts in federal funding had substantially reduced funding at the State level for prevention programming.
“It is disappointing that there hasn’t been a stronger policy initiative focused on misuse of drugs and that the budget doesn’t reflect any new initiatives in this area,” he said.
At the same time, Coppola expressed some hope that improved integration of substance abuse services with other healthcare providers might leverage savings in the Department of Health budget that could be used to fund treatment.
Health & HIV/AIDS
“FPWA is very pleased to know that the Governor has committed $15 million to develop the Health Homes infrastructure. We hope some of this funding will be allocated to community-based organizations to develop capacity for health information technology,” stated Esther Lok, Assistant Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research and Senior Policy Analyst for HIV/AIDS. “FPWA is, however, concerned about the funding reduction made to the AIDS Institute and the lack of clarity on the level of appropriation to HIV/AIDS programs. New York State has made tremendous progress toward achieving the national goal of zero HIV infections. Resources for prevention, care and support services should be kept intact.”