Levin Leads In Bills To Improve Foster Care
City Council Member Stephen Levin (Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Boerum Hill) together with eight Council Members and Public Advocate Letitia James introduced a package of bills to improve the foster care system for the nearly 10,000 New York City children and youth in care. The proposed legislation would:
- Create a taskforce on foster care that includes experts such as foster youth and youth aging out of care;
- Implement a survey for youth in foster care regarding experiences with their foster parents;
- Require reporting on educational stability, rates of abuse and neglect, and barriers to permanent placement;
- Expand existing law to require reporting on foster youth who graduate from high school or have obtained government-issued identification, and youth who have aged out of care and who enter a homeless shelter or receive financial assistance such as SNAP benefits; and
- Call on the New York State legislature to make key reforms to support youth aging out of care.
Currently, 9,748 children and youth rely on the city to provide high-quality foster care (ACS Monthly Flash Indicator, April 2016.).
“It is our responsibility to fight for the best possible health, education, and permanency outcomes for youth in our city’s care. I am confident that these bills will help to ensure we have the necessary data to push for systemic reforms at the state level and ultimately the right policies and programs in place to ensure they have access to comprehensive services and the opportunity to grow up in, a supportive, loving home,” said Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee. “These bills are especially important because many of them are a direct response to the firsthand experiences of youth in care. Following the shadow day, I was pleased that participants accepted my invitation to take an active role in the legislative process to ensure their voices are heard loud and clear as experts who can positively impact the system for future youth in care.”
Other Brooklyn City council Members involved in crating the proposed measures were Mathieu Eugene (Flatbush) and Laurie Cumbo (Fort Greene/Clinton Hill).
Adams Kicks Off School Lunchtime Concert Series
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams yesterday kicked off his 2016 School Lunchtime Concert Series in Downtown Brooklyn with performances by students from the drumline, majorettes, and step team at PS 184 Newport in Brownsville.
Investors Bank, One Brooklyn Fund, Inc., and Subway are sponsoring this third in an annual summer series.
“Just as with solving a difficult math problem or completing a science experiment, performing songs and creating art develops confidence in young men and women,” said Adams. “Students who participate in music and arts programs perform better in all of their classes and complete high school and college at higher rates. As performers on the ‘stage’ of Downtown Brooklyn, these students will have an opportunity to build confidence in their abilities and delight audiences who come by to listen to their excellent performances.”
For the next three Wednesdays, the free concerts will be held in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn starting at noon. On Wednesday, June 1, students from IS 384 Frances E. Carter in Bushwick, MS 266 Park Place Community Middle School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, PS 149 Danny Kaye in East New York, and PS 84 José De Diego in Williamsburg will perform. Students from IS 303 Herbert S. Eisenberg in Coney Island, IS 392 School for the Gifted and Talented in Brownsville, PS 38 The Pacific in Boerum Hill, and IS 98 Bay Academy in Sheepshead Bay will play on Wednesday, June 8. The series will wrap up when students from MS 113 Ronald Edmonds Learning Center in Fort Greene, and MS 51 William Alexander Middle School in Park Slope all perform on Wednesday, June 15.
Williams Mourns Irving Plaza Shooting Death
City Council Member Jumaane Williams (Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) yesterday mourned the death of Ronald “Edgar” Mcphatter stemming from this week’s shooting incident at a rap concert in Manhattan’s Irving Plaza.
Mcphatter is the younger brother of Williams’ good friend Shanduke Mcphatter, who heads the organization GMACC (Gangsta’s Making Astronomical Community Changes), which works with families affected by gun violence tragedies.
“None of us are immune to the effects of gun violence; not even Shanduke and his brother, who have been on the front lines of gun violence awareness. They worked together to intervene in the most delicate of situations to ensure that at risk youth did not turn to violence as a solution. I remember Ronald walking with us late nights talking to young men and women in an effort to steer them away from making bad, life-altering decisions. It pains me that he lost his life to gun violence, which is an issue he worked every day to fight against,” said Williams.
“Ronald’s death is proof there is a long way to go in fixing this gun violence epidemic. This disease and epidemic of gun violence has a deceptive lure. We have to take this seriously, and tackle it with constant attention and resources. Too many lives are unnecessarily lost over minor disputes and recklessness. If the world won’t take this issue by the rein and look for a solution, then let us, in our own communities, work together to put an end to all of this senseless tragedy. As gun violence awareness month fast approaches, let us remember the lives lost so we can be inspired to preserve the future. We stand with you peace warrior Shanduke in this time of unbearable pain. Rest-In-Peace brother Ronald.”
Golden Cancer Awareness License Plates Bill Passes Senate
State Senator Martin J. Golden (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend) this week announced that the State Senate approved legislation, S. 1485, which he is a prime co-sponsor, authorizing the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to issue license plates in support of childhood cancer
awareness. The distinctive license plates would be available for a $25 fee and feature the words “Cure Childhood Cancer”.
The money collected through the sale of the license plates, $20 of each set sold, would be placed into a cure childhood cancer trust fund. The money collected would be allocated for childhood cancer research and education projects approved by the Commissioner of the State Department of Health. Additionally, the fund would provide grants to New York State university childhood cancer research hospitals for the purposes of researching and promoting a cure.
“In honor of all the families that have been affected by childhood cancer, I believe these license plates will bring about a sense of hope and raise money in our fight to end pediatric cancer,” said Golden. “Without any doubt, funding must be increased to battle against this horrific disease that is childhood cancer. I know that with additional research and increased awareness, we can find a cure and save lives.”
The bill was sent to the Assembly.
Cymbrowitz, Harris Partner On NORC Bill
Sheepshead Bay Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Aging Committee, this week announced the committee’s passage of legislation (A.10201) he co-sponsored that will make it easier for low- and moderate-income areas to meet the match requirement for state funding of a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) or neighborhood NORC.
The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Pamela Harris (Coney Island, Bay Ridge), follows needed statutory updates to the NORC program that were included in the 2016-17 budget passed in March. The updated requirements, which take effect in 2018, lower minimum population densities to reflect current demographics and remove caps on numbers of older residents, among other provisions.
“Unfortunately, the changes that were enacted didn’t include the match requirement, and it was important that this issue be addressed,” Cymbrowitz said. “Many projects cannot meet such a high match requirement and most now seek administrative waivers from Albany that take up staff time and valuable resources. Assemblymember Harris’ bill is the solution to this issue.”
Under current law, all NORC and neighborhood NORC projects need to raise an amount that equals the state funding allocated in their contract. The bill reduces the match requirement to only 25 percent of that amount.
“NORCs are an important resource to serve low and moderate income seniors. These seniors are the most in need of the kinds of supportive services that a NORC can provide, but also face the most challenges to raise matching funds,” said Cymbrowitz.