Assembly Budget Includes Funding for Critical Human Services

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the Assembly’s State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2021-22 Budget restores critical funding for programs that support children and families, as well as invests in vital mental health, addiction and substance abuse services.

“The Assembly Majority is committed to putting families first – which means having access to vital services,” Speaker Heastie said. “The COVID-19 pandemic did not just affect the health of those that contracted the deadly virus, it impacted everything from employment to mental health and beyond. The Assembly budget makes critical investments in programs that help New Yorkers when they are most vulnerable.”

“The last year has been especially hard on our children,” Children and Families Committee Chair Andrew Hevesi said. “The funding in our budget will ensure families have access to quality and affordable childcare, while investing in programs that ensure New York’s kids have the support they need as they learn and grow.”

“With the stresses of the past year, more New Yorkers than ever have been struggling with their mental health,” Mental Health Committee Chair Aileen M. Gunther said. “This system has been starved for so long, and it’s time we make real investments in mental health care. We must ensure that every New Yorker has access to the resources he or she needs.”

“So many in communities across our state are struggling with substance use disorders,” Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee Chair Phil Steck said. “This budget makes important investments in support services, and the Assembly Majority will continue working to fund programs that get New Yorkers the prevention, treatment and services they need.”

“The Assembly Majority is committed to protecting and supporting some of our most vulnerable populations,” People with Disabilities Committee Chair Thomas J. Abinanti said. “Our budget provides funding for critical programs from housing support to care services to employment opportunities for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.”

Children & Families

The American Rescue Plan passed by Congress this week provided approximately $1.8 billion in federal child care aid for New York State. The Assembly spending plan directs that funding to expand access to families up to 85 percent of the state median income, expands access to priority groups that do not currently receive subsidies, limits copays, provides reimbursement for absences and makes investments in workforce stabilization. The Assembly also includes $500 million to support child care providers and families to expand eligibility and access to subsidies. The proposal would also ensure that funding for foster care agencies received through the federal Paycheck Protection Program does not reduce the agencies’ future maximum state aid rates.

The Assembly budget includes $59.8 million in local assistance for programs that provide services critical to the wellbeing of New York’s children, including childcare, child welfare services, foster care, adoption subsidies, adult protective and domestic violence services.

Also included in the proposal are restorations for family support programs, including:

  • $3 million for Safe Harbor;
  • $2.5 million for Settlement House;
  • $1.9 million for Kinship Care;
  • $1.5 million for Youth Development Program; and
  • $100,000 for Kinship Navigator.

The Assembly provides $10 million for homeless students, including funding for trauma informed practices in schools, and $10 million to support mental health in schools. Additionally, the Assembly’s proposal provides critical supports and services to children suffering from adverse childhood experiences (ACE). The proposal adds coverage for screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) under Child Health Plus to ensure necessary services to cope with trauma are covered. The proposal also expands training for mandated reporters to be able to identify abuse and neglect while interacting with children virtually, as well as providing them with critical skills related to ACE protocols to eliminate racial biases.

Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of many New Yorkers. The Assembly funding plan provides critical funding for mental health services through the Office of Mental Health (OMH) including restoring $17.2 million for local assistance payments for non-residential programs under the OMH, as well as providing $3 million for Crisis Intervention Teams and $1 million to create a suicide prevention program for high risk individuals. The plan would also provide $10 million for crisis intervention training and mental health first aid training for law enforcement and first responders, mobile crisis teams, and other alternative or innovative approaches in relation to community-based public safety crisis response.

The budget would also restore $22 million in funding to preserve 200 in-patient beds in state-operated psychiatric facilities, which would also save 280 full-time jobs. Additionally, the Assembly would ensure the state continues its commitment for reinvesting funds back into community based providers, and require 20 percent of such funding be utilized to support recruitment and retention of the community based mental health workforce. The proposal would also restore $8 million to the Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center, preserving 15 in-patient beds and 75 full-time jobs, as well as $4 million to preserve 100 residential beds at state operated facilities and 50 full-time jobs. In addition to preserving jobs, the Assembly’s proposal would continue to ensure vital access to mental health resources for children in a location that’s closer to their homes.

The Assembly also adds funding to restore the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for various state agencies.

Many veterans return home from their service and struggle with their mental health. The Assembly budget would fund the Dwyer Veteran Peer-to-Peer Services at a total of $6 million.

Addiction & Substance Abuse

The Assembly budget would create a $32 million fund to support crisis services, problem gambling, chemical dependence outpatient and treatment support services. The funding would be provided from the opioid settlement with McKinsy and Company, Inc.

Additionally, the proposal would restore:

  • $3.4 million and provide an additional $2 million to fund Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialist (SAPIS) in New York City, for a total of $5.4 million;
  • $3.2 million in funding for Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) HIV Early Intervention Services;
  • $1.87 million for the Jail-based Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Transition Services Program;
  • $1.2 million for the College Coalition Intervention Program; and
  • $826,000 for outpatient rehabilitation services.

Office of People with Developmental Disabilities

The Assembly budget provides $94.2 million for the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to create new service slots, including an expansion of certified housing supports, community habilitation, respite services, housing subsidies, self-direction of services and an expansion of day programs and employment options.

The proposal would add:

  • $10 million for group home pilot program for adults;
  • $900,000 for the installation of broadband in state operated congregated facilities; and
  • $200,000 for new Center for Autism Research.

The proposal would also restore:

  • $26.5 million for residential management within OPWDD;
  • $20 million for Care Coordination Organizations rates;
  • $12 million for local assistance programs for non-Medicaid payments;
  • $10.5 million in funding for the fee-for-service Medicaid rate;and
  • $6.9 million to preserve the Residential Reserve Replacement Allowance.

Funding for PPE

New Yorkers working in human services have also been on the front lines of the pandemic. The Assembly budget includes $25 million in funding for OMH, OASAS and OPWDD community-based providers for the personal protective equipment (PPE) costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.