CHNY is actively lobbying for the following items to be addressed in the upcoming New York State and City Budgets:
3 For 5: a 3% Increase on RHY Contracts for the Next Five Years
Human services workers in agencies such as CHNY provide essential services to the neediest in our state. These workers, including CHNY staff, put in long, tireless hours in the service of others. Our direct care staff could not work from home during COVID-19. Instead, they risked their lives every day of this pandemic caring for our young people experiencing homelessness. Yet despite the heroism of our frontline staff, NYS is not compensating them in the manner that they deserve. Human services local aid has fallen by 5% annually since 2012. Sadly, it is the human services workforce that bears the brunt of the reduced funding, thereby leaving the average human services employee living at or below the poverty line. Low and stagnant wages due to insufficient state and city funding can cause staff turnover rates which are detrimental to the young people we serve. Our youth develop rapport with the adult staff who act as mentors and guides as they rise out of poverty to lead self-sufficient lives. Frequent staff changes can disrupt that rapport and make it more difficult for youth experiencing homelessness to leave poverty behinds. We are therefore asking for a 3% cost of living increase on contracts and rates for the next five years and demand that an annual COLA for our frontline staff be included in every Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) contract.
Add Beds and Services for RHY with Entrenched Mental and Behavioral Health Needs
We are seeing an increased number of young people with serious mental and behavioral health needs. Despite CHNY’s robust mental health services, there are times a young person, especially those with active suicidal ideation and organic psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia, needs more individualized psychiatric care than CHNY or any other RHY program can provide. In those cases, we often have no choice but to refer the young person to a hospital, who usually will only admit them for brief period of time, before releasing them back into our care. This can result in the young person going back and forth from the hospital to an RHY program with little being done to meet their intense psychiatric needs. NYC has no designated youth mental health beds, and we have occasionally had to rely on programs out of state. We are therefore advocating for the City to issue an RFP for at least one program to serve RHY with intense mental and behavioral health needs. We are also asking that New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and DYCD create a mechanism to track the number of youth with these extreme needs and assist providers in finding appropriate placements, potentially working with agencies across the state to facilitate placement.