The UNH Blog

Looking ahead to Youth Action Day

Monday, January 29, 2018

by Caitlin Praimnath, UNH intern

When I was 14 years old, I had my first job. I was a babysitter for a family friend who was in need of someone to look after her two children while she went to work for the summer. Being my first job, I was excited to have something to do during the summer and to finally have some money of my own. That experience allowed me to be referred to other parents in my community who were in need of a babysitter. In that single summer, I learned problem solving, creativity and patience, all skills that probably would have taken me much longer to learn than 3 months. Those opportunities allowed me to have job experiences that taught me valuable skills that I could take with me to future jobs and memories that would last a lifetime. From my first job as a babysitter, I quickly saw the importance of having a summer job. It gave me the opportunity to make money of my own, contribute to my community and carve out my future.

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to attend a Youth Action Day training at Queens Community House. I was accompanied by Gregory Brender and Latoya Leslie who both led the training. As someone who has never attended Youth Action Day in Albany or had any prior experience with the Summer Youth Employment Program, which gives NYC teens the opportunities I had at 14, I was very interested to learn more about the purpose of Youth Action Day, the potential opportunities for young people my age and what takes place at a training event.

When I arrived, I could not help but notice the amount of teens there were. I was impressed to see there was approximately 25 students sitting around a table on a school night in the late afternoon dedicated to learning what to expect on Youth Action Day and how they could contribute. To start off the training, each student had the chance to share if they ever had a summer job and why they felt having a summer job was important. I noticed many students had great reasons to share why they felt summer jobs were crucial and presented many opportunities yet not many of them ever had one. Similar to my experience, one student mentioned that having a summer job allowed them to put experience on their resume while another mentioned the responsibility they would have by making their own money. As the training continued, the clearer it became that this was the aim of Youth Action Day. An amazing goal to get more summer jobs available for people like me so that those who have not had a job, have the opportunity to do so and gain valuable skills.

As the training continued, Gregory and Latoya explained what advocacy is and how the students could effectively do this in Albany. These students were passionate not only about obtaining additional jobs for SYEP but also the ways in which they could contribute and advocate for this cause in Albany. It was a great experience to see students excited about going to Albany to advocate for a cause that they were passionate about. The training did an excellent job at explaining why Youth Action Day is an important event to be a part of and how young people just like me could help make an impact and benefit from it. Overall, the training was a great way for these teens to learn how they too could advocate for summer jobs, what they could expect while there and get them excited to head to Albany for Youth Action Day and see change happen.

If interested in this amazing opportunity, Youth Action Day is on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 with several bus departure locations throughout NYC. 

UNH Responds to Cuomo's Executive Budget

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Over the last year much has been made of Governor Cuomo’s forceful rhetoric in support of New Yorkers in the wake of destructive federal budgetary and policy decisions. And while the Governor deserves credit for articulating the values of diversity and inclusivity that New York stands for, we are disappointed that his FY2019 Executive Budget does not go far enough in equipping the nonprofit human services sector to support the very New Yorkers at risk under this federal administration. 

To be sure, there are a number of positive developments in the Governor’s budget proposal, including a funding restoration in child care, a net expansion in after school, and support for youth employment. Yet in all of these areas demand far outpaces the Governor’s spending plan and additional resources are needed to support New York’s working families. Further, these investments are tempered by cuts in a number of areas and inaction in others, including:

Adult Literacy Education — For the second year in a row, the Governor’s budget proposes cutting $1 million in State funding out of a budget of just over $7 million for English language classes. At a time when immigrants are being subjected to intense scrutiny, abuse, and deportation, it is not enough to offer legal support and words of support. Without English proficiency, immigrants can become linguistically isolated and subject to misinformation and exploitation. Further, a lack of English proficiency also keeps immigrants locked into low-wage jobs, hurting not only their families, but also depressing the competiveness of the State labor force. Basic literacy and numeracy skills are an absolute prerequisite to success in our society, and it makes no sense to rob immigrant communities of this lifeline to self-empowerment. UNH calls on the Governor to correct this injustice in his amended budget, and in fact increase the state’s investment to $15.3m to offset federal rules that are slated to make it more difficult for undocumented New Yorkers to access federally funded English classes.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities – Following a year in which the legislature worked with the Governor to update and strengthen the Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) model to better serve the State’s older adults, we are very disappointed that the Governor has now proposed slashing funding by a third from $6 million to $4 million. As New Yorkers continue to live longer, it is essential that the State invest in the NORC model not only to allow these individuals to age with dignity in their homes, but also to contain costs in the health care system, where many older adults will wind up with acute issues that could have been prevented through proactive services. UNH calls on the Governor to restore this funding in his budget amendments and work the State Office for the Aging to create a plan for NORC support and expansion into the future.

Nonprofit Stability – The nonprofit human services sector is an essential partner to the State in delivering high-quality programs to millions of children, youth, immigrants, older adults, and New Yorkers of all backgrounds every year. Yet the Governor’s budget proposal once again fails to adequately account for the cost of the services it wants delivered. Too often the nonprofit sector is expected to do more with less, and the employees of these nonprofits — most often women of color — bear the brunt of this burden in the form of low wages. As part of the Strong Nonprofits for a Better New York coalition, UNH called on the Governor to fully fund contract costs associated with the increasing minimum wage, invest in the decaying infrastructure of child care centers, senior centers, and other community spaces, and implement long-forgone cost of living adjustments needed to support increased payroll, space, utility and other costs. We are deeply disappointed that the Governor has chosen to not address any of these concerns and call on him to make these investments in his amended budget.

It is clear that the year ahead will be a challenging one for New York. Yet it is essential that the Governor not lose sight that at the end of the day, the children, youth, immigrants, older adults and all other New Yorkers supported by the human services sector need him to back his rhetoric with real investments that safeguard their health, safety, and opportunity.


Responding to Cuomo's State of the State

Friday, January 05, 2018

Statement of Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses, on Governor Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State Address

Settlement houses have been instrumental in implementing programs that foster positive change and promote the economic and social well-being of the communities they serve. United Neighborhood Houses, New York’s federation of settlement houses, applauds Governor Cuomo for his goal of making New York State the “nation’s vanguard for social progress.” UNH and its members look forward to working with State policymakers to ensure that New York State’s FY 2018-2019 budget includes investments and policies that achieve that goal. The FY 2018-2019 Executive Budget, which the Governor will release in several weeks, must include investments in the nonprofit workforce and infrastructure to ensure that the services New Yorkers depend upon are strong and stable.

Those investments must include adjustments to state contracts with nonprofit organizations to reflect the minimum wage increases that went to effect at the start of this month.  They also must include additional capital dollars to ensure the viability of nonprofit organizations to allow them to uphold their mission and to sustain the communities they serve.

UNH is also encouraged by the Governor’s support of a Child Care Availability Task Force to examine the need for child care in New York State. However, the tens of thousands of New York families who are on waiting lists for affordable child care need the State to invest in child care programs now. Last year’s State budget cut child care subsidies by approximately $7 million. In his Executive Budget proposal, Governor Cuomo must restore this cut and increase funding by at least $31 million to address the shortage in child care throughout the State. 

Similarly, UNH appreciates Governor Cuomo’s proposal to launch a Long Term Care Planning Council, to explore the long term care needs of older adults in New York State. Settlement houses are at the forefront of serving older adults in their communities through a range of services and supports that enable New Yorkers to plan their futures and to age in place. New York has the fourth largest population of older adults in the United States, and the number of older adults in the State continues to grow. The Long Term Care Planning Council must be partnered with investments in the community-based supportive service system in the FY2019 budget.

UNH is also pleased to see Governor Cuomo make the following proposals in his 2018 State of the State Address:

  • Passage of the DREAM Act, which would help college-bound youth access critical financial aid dollars regardless of their immigration status. While many undocumented youth face significant questions about their future in the United States, passing New York State’s DREAM Act will offer much needed financial relief for these young people.

  • An investment of $10 million to expand the Empire State After-school Program.

Nonprofits are the backbone of New York’s social services system and we look forward to working with State leaders to strengthen New York’s communities through our unparalleled network.