Public Hearing - February 02, 2022

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 2  --------------------------------------------------
 4              In the Matter of the
           2022-2023 EXECUTIVE BUDGET ON
 5                HUMAN SERVICES
 6  ----------------------------------------------------
 7                              Virtual Hearing 
                               Conducted Online via Zoom
                                February 2, 2022
 9                              9:33 a.m.
11            Senator Liz Krueger
              Chair, Senate Finance Committee
              Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein
13            Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
15            Senator Thomas F. O'Mara
              Senate Finance Committee (RM)
              Assemblyman Edward P. Ra
17            Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
18            Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi
              Chair, Assembly Children and Families 
19              Committee
20            Senator Jabari Brisport 
              Chair, Senate Committee on Children
21              and Families
22            Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal 
              Chair, Assembly Committee on Social Services
              Senator Roxanne Persaud
24            Chair, Senate Committee on Social Services


 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
    Human Services
 2  2-2-22
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
 4            Assemblyman Ron Kim
              Chair, Assembly Committee on Aging
              Senator Rachel May
 6            Chair, Senate Committee on Aging
 7            Assemblywoman Didi Barrett
              Chair, Assembly Committee on Veterans' Affairs 
              Senator John E. Brooks
 9            Chair, Senate Committee on Veterans,
                Homeland Security and Military Affairs
              Assemblyman Khaleel M. Anderson
              Senator John C. Liu
              Assemblyman Harry B. Bronson
              Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon
              Senator Pete Harckham
              Assemblyman Eric M. Dilan
              Assemblywoman Jennifer Lunsford
              Senator Samra G. Brouk
              Assemblyman Demond Meeks
              Assemblywoman Yudelka Tapia
              Senator Simcha Felder
              Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara
              Assemblywoman Rebecca A. Seawright
              Assemblyman Michael Cusick
              Senator Andrew Gounardes


 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
    Human Services
 2  2-2-22
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
 4            Assemblyman Billy Jones
 5            Assemblywoman Sarah Clark
 6            Assemblywoman Marcela Mitaynes
 7            Senator Daniel G. Stec
 8            Assemblyman Jake Ashby
 9            Assemblyman Chris Burdick
10            Senator Diane J. Savino
11            Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages
12            Senator Sue Serino
13            Assemblyman Mark Walczyk
14            Senator James Tedisco
15            Senator Gustavo Rivera
16            Assemblyman Matthew Simpson
17            Assemblyman Mike Lawler
18            Senator Leroy Comrie
19            Assemblyman Robert Smullen
20            Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani
21            Senator George M. Borrello
22            Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas
23            Assemblywoman Karines Reyes
24            Assemblyman Philip A. Palmesano


 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
    Human Services
 2  2-2-22
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
 4            Senator Alexis Weik
 5            Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre
 6            Senator Mike Martucci
 7            Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez
 8            Assemblywoman Phara Souffrant Forrest
 9            Assemblywoman Pamela J. Hunter
10            Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar
11            Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes
12            Assemblyman Brian Manktelow





 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
    Human Services
 2  2-2-2022
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS
 4                                         STATEMENT QUESTIONS
 5  Sheila J. Poole 
 6  NYS Office of Children 
     and Family Services                     13        21
    Daniel W. Tietz 
 8  Acting Commissioner
    NYS Office of Temporary
 9   and Disability Assistance              139       146               
10  Greg Olsen 
    Acting Director 
11  NYS Office for the Aging                229       239
12  Rev. Viviana DeCohen 
13  NYS Division of Veterans'
     Services                               304       316
    Beth Finkel
15  State Director 
    AARP New York
16       -and-
    Sally Johnston
17  President
    Disabled in Action 
18   of Greater Syracuse 
19  Kendra Scalia
    Hudson Valley Leader
20  New York Caring Majority                358       370





 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
    Human Services
 2  2-2-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
 4                                         STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
 5  Crystal Charles
    Policy Analyst
 6  Schuyler Center for
     Analysis & Advocacy
 7       -and-
    Jessica Klos Shapiro
 8  Director of Policy and
     Community Education
 9  Early Care & Learning Council
10  Pete Nabozny
    Director of Policy
11  The Children's Agenda 
12  Steve Morales
    NY Policy Director
13  All Our Kin
14  Gladys Jones
    CEO and Founder
15  ECE On The Move
16  Katie Albitz
    Public Policy and 
17   Advocacy Coordinator
    NY Association for the
18   Education of Young Children
19  Gregory Brender
    Director of Public Policy
20  Day Care Council of New York            385       409





 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
    Human Services
 2  2-2-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
 4                                         STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    Gail Myers
 6  Deputy Director
    New York StateWide Senior
 7   Action Council                         
 8  Kimberly George 
    President and CEO
 9  Project Guardianship
10  Brianna Paden-Williams 
    Communications & Policy Associate
11  LiveOn NY
12  Laura Mascuch
    Executive Director
13  Supportive Housing Network
     of New York
14       -and-
    Rebecca Preve
15  Executive Director
    Association on Aging 
16   in New York                            
17  MJ Okma
    Senior Manager for Advocacy 
18   & Government Relations
    SAGE-Advocacy & Services for
19   LGBTQ+ Elders                          433       457






 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
    Human Services
 2  2-2-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
 4                                         STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
 5  Trudy Morgan
    Policy Director
 6  NYS Network for 
     Youth Success                          
 7       -and-
    Bonnie Landi
 8  President
    NYS YouthBuild Coalition
 9       -and-
    William T. Gettman, Jr.
10  CEO
    Northern Rivers Family 
11   of Services
12  Timothy Hathaway
    Executive Director
13  Prevent Child Abuse 
     New York
14       -and-
    Ryan Johnson
15  Associate Director
    NYS Kinship Navigator
16  Chair
    NYS Kincare Coalition
17       -and-
    Kathleen Brady-Stepien
18  President & CEO
    Council of Family and
19   Child Caring Agencies                  
20  Katherine Wurmfeld
    Director of Family Court 
21   Programs and Gender and 
     Family Justice Programs
22  Center for Court Innovation             483       508



 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
    Human Services
 2  2-2-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
 4                                       STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
 5  Joel Berg
 6  Hunger Free America
 7  Jessica Chait
    Managing Director, Food
 8   Programs
    Met Council on Jewish Poverty
 9       -and-
    Beatriz Diaz Taveras
10  Executive Director
    Catholic Charities Community
11   Services
12  The Catholic Charities of
     the Archdiocese of New York
13       -and-
    Emilia Sicilia
14  Senior Attorney
    Empire Justice Center                524       541









 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good morning.  

 2           I'm Helene Weinstein, chair of the New York 

 3           State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, 

 4           cochair of today's hearing.  

 5                  Today we begin the sixth in a series 

 6           of hearings conducted by the joint fiscal 

 7           committees of the Legislature regarding the 

 8           Governor's proposed budget for fiscal year 

 9           2022-'23.  And the hearings are conducted 

10           pursuant to the New York State Constitution 

11           and Legislative Law.

12                  And today our committees will be 

13           hearing testimony concerning the Governor's 

14           budget proposal for Human Services.

15                  Let me recognize the Assemblymembers 

16           in my conference who are here.  We have the 

17           chair of our Children and Families Committee, 

18           Assemblyman Hevesi; the chair of our Aging 

19           Committee, Assemblyman Kim; Assemblyman 

20           Bronson, Assemblywoman Buttenschon, 

21           Assemblyman Jones, Assemblyman Santabarbara.  

22           And I know people will be joining us shortly.

23                  Let me introduce Senator Krueger, 

24           chair of Senate Finance, to introduce the 


 1           members of her conference who are here, the 

 2           Senators who are here with us.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you so 

 4           much, Assemblywoman.  

 5                  All right, we are joined by Senator 

 6           Diane Savino, Chair Roxanne Persaud, Senator 

 7           Pete Harckham, Senator Tom O'Mara and Senator 

 8           Jim Tedisco -- I just took your job away from 

 9           you, Tom.  I thought you were the only one 

10           here, and then I saw Jim pop on.

11                  I'm sure we will be joined by more as 

12           the day goes on.  Thank you.  

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So then let me 

14           send it to -- I see Assemblywoman Clark has 

15           joined us.  

16                  And Assemblyman Ra, can you introduce 

17           the members of your conference who are here 

18           with us?  

19                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Sure.  We have a few 

20           of our relevant rankers today.  We have 

21           Assemblywoman Byrnes, who's our ranker on 

22           Children and Families; Assemblyman Ashby, our 

23           ranker on Veterans' Affairs; and Assemblyman 

24           Simpson, our ranker on Social Services.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So just in 

 2           particular for the members who have not been 

 3           here before, and for those listening who will 

 4           be witnesses in the future, today the 

 5           witnesses -- the governmental witnesses will 

 6           have up to 10 minutes to present their 

 7           testimony.  Nongovernmental witnesses will be 

 8           in panels and will have three minutes each.  

 9           (Microphone muted.)

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Lost you, Helene.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I hit the bar 

12           on the thing.  Okay.  The commissioners will 

13           have -- governmental witnesses will have 

14           10 minutes.  The nongovernmental witnesses 

15           who have asked to testify before us today 

16           will be in panels and will have three minutes 

17           each.  When the panel finishes, members of 

18           the Assembly and Senate will have three 

19           minutes each to ask a question of the panel, 

20           not each individual panel member.

21                  And I just want to note that for all 

22           the witnesses, we have your testimony in 

23           advance, submitted via email to all of the 

24           members of the relevant committees and the 


 1           Ways and Means staff -- Ways and Means 

 2           members.

 3                  And I would just remind people it may 

 4           be Groundhog Day today, but Senator Krueger 

 5           and I are not looking for another 14-hour 

 6           hearing like we had yesterday.  So please, 

 7           when you ask a question, please -- like they 

 8           say in Jeopardy, make it in the form of a 

 9           question -- ask a question.  It's not a time 

10           to be making statements.  The legislators 

11           will have opportunities in our respective 

12           conferences to advocate for our particular 

13           positions.

14                  And with that, I'm very happy to 

15           welcome the commissioner of the Office of 

16           Children and Family Services, Sheila Poole.  

17                  Commissioner, the floor is yours.

18                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Thank you so 

19           much.  And good morning, everyone.  And good 

20           morning, Chairs Krueger and Weinstein, 

21           Children and Family Committee Chairs Brisport 

22           and Hevesi, and distinguished members of the 

23           Senate and Assembly.  My name is Sheila 

24           Poole, and I am the commissioner of the 


 1           Office of Children and Family Services.  I'm 

 2           delighted to be with you today to present 

 3           Governor Hochul's fiscal year 2023 Executive 

 4           Budget as it relates to OCFS.  

 5                  As a result of the state's currently 

 6           strong fiscal position –- certainly a 

 7           refreshing change from recent years -- this 

 8           year's Executive Budget includes a number of 

 9           new, fiscally prudent investments that 

10           provide much needed support for OCFS's child 

11           welfare, childcare and juvenile justice 

12           programs.  

13                  Beyond what is proposed for OCFS, 

14           we're very excited to see investments in 

15           other budget proposals regarding gun violence 

16           prevention, mental health, workforce, 

17           substance use, and social equity.  Taken 

18           together as a whole, this ambitious agenda 

19           holds great promise for improving the lives 

20           of New York's children, youth, and families.  

21                  Last year New York received a historic 

22           amount of federal stimulus funding for 

23           childcare that has led us to expand access to 

24           children, lower costs to families, and 


 1           provide stability for our struggling 

 2           providers.  The enormously successful 

 3           stabilization grant program has awarded 

 4           $900 million to almost 15,000 providers with 

 5           over $767 million already fully paid out.  In 

 6           addition, we have provided $80 million in 

 7           childcare scholarships for 12 weeks of care 

 8           to over 41,000 children of New York's 

 9           essential workers, and $35 million has been 

10           allocated to enable an additional 1,000 

11           providers to participate in QualityStarsNY.  

12                  I am pleased to report that Phase 1 of 

13           the $100 million Childcare Deserts Grant 

14           opportunity was launched last Friday.  As 

15           many of you know, over 60 percent of the 

16           state is considered a childcare desert, 

17           meaning that there is not enough care for 

18           families in that area.  This unprecedented 

19           investment is an opportunity to address 

20           longstanding capacity challenges across every 

21           region of the state. 

22                  OCFS, in collaboration with our 

23           statewide network of Child Care Resource & 

24           Referral Agencies -- our CCR&Rs -- the 


 1           Regional Economic Development Councils and 

 2           other stakeholders, has launched a 

 3           comprehensive outreach and media campaign to 

 4           promote this opportunity, as well as to 

 5           provide information and support to grant 

 6           recipients.  

 7                  Funds made available in last year's 

 8           federal stimulus package also enabled the 

 9           state to begin implementing a number of 

10           critical, long-sought policy changes in 

11           childcare.  We capped parent co-pays at 

12           10 percent; we established a 12-month 

13           eligibility period for families receiving a 

14           childcare subsidy; we're providing payments 

15           to providers for a minimum of 24 absences per 

16           year; and we've guaranteed subsidy 

17           eligibility for families up to 200 percent of 

18           the federal poverty level.  

19                  The Executive Financial Plan assumes 

20           the cost of these initiatives in future 

21           years, after the federal stimulus funds have 

22           been depleted.  

23                  We've made great progress over the 

24           course of the past nine months but as you and 


 1           I know, there's always more work to be done. 

 2           The challenges facing our entire nation 

 3           concerning childcare led to sweeping proposed 

 4           childcare investments in the Build Back 

 5           Better legislation.  Needless to say, I am 

 6           sure you share my extreme disappointment in 

 7           Congress's failure to pass this bill.  And, 

 8           in the absence of true federal partnership, 

 9           Governor Hochul's Executive Budget takes 

10           responsible steps to build on the progress of 

11           the past year in several meaningful ways.  

12                  In addition to supporting childcare 

13           subsidies for approximately 132,000 children 

14           by maintaining our state's Child Care Block 

15           Grant at $832 million, the proposed budget 

16           would expand access to subsidies for 

17           thousands more children by increasing the 

18           eligibility level to 300 percent of the 

19           federal poverty level over the next three 

20           years.  Additionally, the budget includes 

21           $62.5 million this year and $125 million in 

22           future years, to ensure that the state can 

23           continue serving the same number of families 

24           when the new market rates take effect in 


 1           October of this year. 

 2                  And in recognition of the vital work 

 3           our childcare workers have done, whose work 

 4           is often undervalued, the budget also invests 

 5           $75 million for wage supports for this 

 6           essential workforce.  

 7                  The Executive Budget also includes 

 8           legislation that will modernize and 

 9           significantly boost foster care maintenance 

10           rates, and remedy years of inequity by 

11           requiring that local departments of social 

12           services pay the full foster-care rate that 

13           is established by the state.  Because 

14           adoption subsidy payments are based on 

15           foster-care maintenance rates, nearly 25,000 

16           families with adopted children will also 

17           benefit from these actions.  

18                  These changes represent tremendous 

19           progress for child welfare and will assist in 

20           the recruitment of foster families.  

21                  The 5.4 percent human services COLA 

22           that's included in this year's budget will 

23           also benefit the families and voluntary 

24           agencies who care for New York's children in 


 1           foster care, and for adoptive parents.  

 2                  The budget also proposes to extend the 

 3           current child welfare financing structure for 

 4           an additional five years.  Child Welfare 

 5           Financing Reform established a financing 

 6           system that has helped improve outcomes for 

 7           families and has greatly contributed to a 

 8           reduction in the state's foster care 

 9           caseload, from over 50,000 children in the 

10           1990s to a little over 14,000 children today.  

11                  New York's highly regarded home 

12           visiting program, our Healthy Families NY, 

13           currently serves 6,000 families.  Despite its 

14           proven success in helping families achieve 

15           positive outcomes, only 37 of New York's 

16           58 local departments of social services 

17           currently operate home visiting programs due 

18           to flat funding.  To expand the reach of this 

19           evidence-based, primary prevention strategy, 

20           this year's budget invests an additional 

21           $11 million in the home visiting program, and 

22           that will allow us to provide additional 

23           support to an additional 1600 families across 

24           the state.  


 1                  This year's budget will also have a 

 2           meaningful impact on the lives of New York's 

 3           runaway and homeless youth.  To better enable 

 4           us to meet the needs of this vulnerable 

 5           population, the budget increases funding for 

 6           runaway and homeless youth programs by 

 7           $2 million, representing a nearly 45 percent 

 8           increase from current funding levels.  

 9                  The budget also advances legislation 

10           to empower homeless youth to consent to their 

11           own medical, dental, health, and hospital 

12           services.  Without a parent or guardian to 

13           provide consent, accessing healthcare can be 

14           nearly impossible for these youth.  This 

15           proposal will, for the first time, provide 

16           these youth with a clear pathway to meet 

17           their most essential healthcare needs.  

18                  This is truly a new day, and it's 

19           imperative that we seize upon this 

20           once-in-a-generation moment to make New York 

21           better, more fair, and more inclusive for the 

22           people that we serve.  And I know that I can 

23           count on your support.  

24                  Thank you again for the opportunity to 


 1           address you today, and I look forward to your 

 2           comments and questions.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 4           Commissioner.  

 5                  So we will now go to the chair of our 

 6           Children and Families Committee, 

 7           Assemblyman Hevesi, for 10 minutes. 

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  Thank you, 

 9           Chair Weinstein and Chair Krueger and all of 

10           my colleagues.  

11                  Commissioner Poole, it is great to see 

12           you.  How are you today?

13                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I'm doing 

14           well, thank you.

15                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  Good.  Good.  So 

16           I'm going to start -- I'm going to burn about 

17           30 seconds of my own time to express my 

18           gratitude, my heartfelt gratitude, and it's 

19           not for -- to you and Governor Hochul, but 

20           it's not for the investments and the things 

21           you put into the budget.  But this is the 

22           first time since I can remember watching a 

23           children and families portion of the budget 

24           where you haven't put the Legislature on 


 1           defense.  We're not -- I'm not angrily 

 2           struggling that you're going to -- or that, 

 3           not you, that the administration was going to 

 4           do something that would hurt kids.  And not 

 5           having that is such a relief and puts us in a 

 6           position where we can actually start really 

 7           working together.  

 8                  That is the most important thing, I 

 9           believe, that has happened.  You've set the 

10           tone by not trying to do something we have to 

11           defend against, that we can work together.  

12           So thank you, and to Governor Hochul.  It's a 

13           game-changer, and that is the basis on which 

14           we're going to build.  So thank you.

15                  Let me go right to -- you started by 

16           saying that the state is currently in a 

17           strong financial position.  It is my belief 

18           that preventative service providers 

19           throughout the state have been keeping our 

20           families afloat, they've been providing food, 

21           diapers, behavioral health, anything you can 

22           think of.  

23                  So considering that we're in a strong 

24           financial position, how does the Executive 


 1           Budget -- or how can we not, at this point, 

 2           invest in children, invest in families, and 

 3           invest in our counties by returning to the 

 4           statutorily required 65/35 reimbursement rate 

 5           to counties for preventative services?  That 

 6           is my number one -- that's the most important 

 7           thing for me and I hope for many of my 

 8           colleagues.  We've got to reimburse.  

 9                  So is there a reason why we weren't 

10           able to do that in the Executive Budget?  

11                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Thank you so 

12           much, Assemblyman, and I do appreciate your 

13           opening comments.  

14                  You know, it has been a number of 

15           years since we have been at 65 percent 

16           reimbursement.  You know, I will always 

17           welcome additional money for sure.  You know, 

18           we have done very, very well as a state with 

19           the current 62/38 reimbursement.  You know, 

20           we have been able to consistently serve over 

21           50,000 children through our preventive 

22           service program.  

23                  And I couldn't agree more, 

24           Assemblyman, about our not-for-profits' 


 1           long-overdue cost of living adjustment for 

 2           them.  There are many more workforce, right, 

 3           discussions to be had to better support them 

 4           in the workforce crisis that we face.

 5                  And the other thing again, 

 6           Assemblyman, that I would also say is in 

 7           addition to our more traditional 62/38 

 8           prevention, which is typically offered to 

 9           families who have already come to the 

10           attention of our child welfare system -- you 

11           know, you and I have spent a lot of time 

12           talking about the power, the potential of the 

13           Families First Prevention Services Act.  And 

14           I do just want to remind everyone that we 

15           still have our $20 million federal Family 

16           First transition fund that we have in 

17           collaboration with our statewide 

18           implementation team --

19                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  Commissioner, I'm 

20           with you and I'm really appreciative, I'm 

21           just cognizant of the time.  Is that okay?  

22           So I appreciate it --

23                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, of 

24           course.


 1                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  Maybe if I can 

 2           jump in.  And we're focused on FFPSA too.

 3                  Let me take you to, if I can, would 

 4           the Executive be open to removing KinGAP from 

 5           the Foster Care Block Grant?  We believe that 

 6           that is, you know, if we're going down the 

 7           list, the second most important.  The Foster 

 8           Care Block Grant, now counties are going to 

 9           be, based off of a court decision, required 

10           to increase their MSARs, and the state has 

11           not put up the state share in this budget.  

12           So the counties are going to have to pay more 

13           to pick up that MSAR rate that the courts 

14           have required.  That the state hasn't put up 

15           the money, that's another unfunded mandate.  

16                  So can we take -- it's a separate 

17           issue -- KinGAP out of the Foster Care Block 

18           Grant?  Which does two things.  First, you 

19           free up more money in the Foster Care Block 

20           Grant for all of your counties.  Now you have 

21           money for the MSARs.  On the other side, you 

22           expand KinGAP, so you can get kids not going 

23           into congregate or home foster care, you get 

24           them going into kinship families.  


 1                  Is the state open to doing that?  

 2                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  So I 

 3           actually have some very good news for you, 

 4           Assemblyman, on that very point.

 5                  So as you heard me say in my 

 6           testimony, we are long overdue to raise our 

 7           MSARs that will cost the state, in total, 

 8           about $80 million to raise the long overdue 

 9           threshold for that.

10                  I want to just talk a minute about the 

11           ability of the state to offset the 

12           $80 million cost by about $72 million, and I 

13           will tell you why.  So the Foster Care Block 

14           Grant, as you know, Assemblyman, has always 

15           been intended to cover 50 percent, right, 

16           state/local share, net of federal.  And as 

17           you heard me say, the foster care population 

18           in New York has plummeted since the '90s.  

19           But in many recent years the state has not --

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  Commissioner, can 

21           I -- can I jump in just for a second?  It's 

22           relevant.  

23                  I would argue that the reason why it's 

24           dropped goes back to our first point, the 


 1           65/35.  The reason why you're so low is the 

 2           65/35, which is why we can't leave it at 62.  

 3                  It was too good for me to not jump in.  

 4           But go ahead.  

 5                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I appreciate 

 6           that, Assemblyman.  

 7                  But I want to just get back to this 

 8           conversation about the MSARs.  So, you know, 

 9           the Foster Care Block Grant has not been 

10           reduced even though the number of kids in 

11           foster care has been dramatically reduced.  

12           And so the state share for a number of the 

13           past recent years has been significantly 

14           above 50 percent.  And so there is an excess, 

15           if you will, of available Foster Care Block 

16           Grant money to the total of $72 million, 

17           which will leave an approximate $7.8 million 

18           statewide local share to be spread among all 

19           the local social services districts.  

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  I gotcha.  I get 

21           it.

22                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  That's the 

23           math.

24                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  And I -- so I 


 1           appreciate it.  I still want to make sure 

 2           that the counties don't have to spread out 

 3           that little bit of money.  The counties have 

 4           been an enemy of the past administration, and 

 5           helping kids, having enemies in any corner, 

 6           is just not smart.  So we hear you.

 7                  The last question I think I have time 

 8           for.  I believe for our childcare -- first of 

 9           all this is all about workforce for me, okay?  

10           If I can.  So I believe the Legislature is 

11           going to be coming forth with a proposal 

12           to -- and it's going to sound like a grand 

13           proposal, but it's not.  It's what New York 

14           State requires to start following the 

15           science.  The science is telling us that we 

16           are having generations of kids that are 

17           traumatized, we're not preventing it, and 

18           then we have generations of kids who we're 

19           not giving help to after.  

20                  So we need to set up a trauma 

21           prevention and mitigation system.  That's 

22           what we're doing.  So it sounds like a lot of 

23           money.  No.  This is what we're doing to get 

24           back to a normal baseline.  And we need to do 


 1           that -- this is worth the time to opine.  You 

 2           need to do that to help the children because 

 3           if you do not get them the help that they 

 4           need, you're losing kids, they're being 

 5           doomed or defined by their trauma every day.  

 6           And if people know what that means, look at 

 7           the newspapers.  Look at all the crime and 

 8           the terrible things that happen in the 

 9           newspapers.  Those are kids who were 

10           traumatized who we never got help to.  So 

11           that's what we're going to be pushing for.

12                  But for me, the general theme is 

13           workforce, workforce, workforce.  That's 

14           prevention workforce, that's foster care 

15           workforce, that's childcare workforce.  And 

16           I'll tell you why.  The science tells us that 

17           one of the ways to help the kids, the 

18           protective factors, is to get them access to 

19           a caring adult.  That adult can help them 

20           build resilience by giving them emotional 

21           support and help them problem-solve.  That's 

22           how you make resilient kids.

23                  So we're going to be looking to do 

24           that, but you can't do that unless you care 


 1           for the workforces.  So let me ask the 

 2           question, the last question.  

 3                  For the childcare workforce -- and 

 4           I'll get back to the other workforces because 

 5           we're coming to help all of them.  For the 

 6           childcare workforce, would you be open to 

 7           raising at least -- I'm sorry, would you 

 8           raise to the 90th percentile the market rate 

 9           for childcare providers?  I think if we do 

10           that -- and I know we're at 69, and your 

11           budget holds us to 69.  If you get to 90, 

12           then you're doing and getting us much, much 

13           closer to our vision and Senator Brisport's 

14           vision of universal childcare, and 

15           Senator Ramos and Assemblywoman Clark and all 

16           of our friends.  

17                  Are you open to doing that to the 

18           90th percentile?  

19                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You know, 

20           the way I would answer that is, Assemblyman, 

21           you know, I think the estimated cost to get 

22           to 90 percent, just to socialize the cost, is 

23           about $370 million additional.  So again, 

24           significant investment.  Although, you know, 


 1           you're never going to hear me, as the 

 2           commissioner of OCFS, you know, say that we 

 3           don't need to continue to support workforce 

 4           in every corner of our human services sector.

 5                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  So, Commissioner, 

 6           I'm going to burn the rest of your time.  You 

 7           did great.  Thank you.  But let me just end 

 8           with this.

 9                  That is a fraction of the money to 

10           support this workforce that has been -- 

11           they've been heroic during this pandemic.  

12           And we've visited childcare providers now, 

13           and I know my colleagues are going to talk 

14           about this, doing the most difficult jobs 

15           with kids crawling all over them.  They have 

16           not been respected historically.  The last 

17           administration attacked them every year, 

18           consistently, cutting funds, cutting funds, 

19           cutting funds.  

20                  It's enough.  This is the get-right 

21           year.  If it's a $370 million cost, that's an 

22           investment that's going to save billions.  

23           Because the kids that we help now are not 

24           going to wind up costing us money -- I'm 


 1           watching the clock -- for homelessness, 

 2           alcohol and substance abuse.  They're not 

 3           going to drop out of school.  They're not 

 4           going to be recidivists.  You get the idea.  

 5                  This is our year.  Commissioner, this 

 6           is a great budget and a great starting point.  

 7           Thank you for your time.

 8                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  My pleasure.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And hopefully 

10           all members will follow our chair's example 

11           of keeping an eye on the clock.

12                  I just want to -- many members have 

13           joined us in the Assembly since we began.  

14           Let me just go through them and mention their 

15           names before we move to the Senate:  

16           Assemblywoman Barrett, chair of Veterans' 

17           Affairs; Assemblywoman Rosenthal, chair of 

18           Social Services; Assemblymembers Anderson, 

19           Fernandez, Lunsford, Mitaynes, Seawright, 

20           Tapia, Mamdani, Smullen, Burdick, Lawler, 

21           Solages, Palmesano.  

22                  And now to the Senate.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

24           much, Assemblywoman.  


 1                  And before we get to Chair Brisport, 

 2           I'd just like to read off the many Senators 

 3           who have also joined us since we started:  

 4           Senator Simcha Felder, Senator Alexis Weik, 

 5           Senator Dan Stec, Senator Gustavo Rivera, 

 6           Senator John Brooks, Senator John Liu, 

 7           Senator Samra Brouk, Senator -- I think 

 8           that's all the Senators, I mentioned them 

 9           earlier.  

10                  And now I'd like to hand it over for 

11           10 minutes to our chair of Children and 

12           Families, Jabari Brisport.  Good morning.

13                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Good morning, 

14           Madam Chair.  Thank you.  

15                  And good morning, Commissioner.  Good 

16           to see you.

17                  So let's get started.  I would like to 

18           just start by talking about the All Funds 

19           appropriation.  So it is about 2.4 billion 

20           lower this year than it was last year, about 

21           36 percent.  Do you feel like the needs of 

22           New York's children and families are lower 

23           than they were last year?

24                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Absolutely 


 1           not, Senator.  And just to clarify that, so 

 2           we have reapproped.  That represents the 

 3           childcare pandemic dollars that were in last 

 4           year's budget.  So they're in a reapprop, we 

 5           don't need a new appropriation.  And that 

 6           accounts for what looks like a $2.4 billion 

 7           reduction in the budget.

 8                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you.  Thank 

 9           you so much, Commissioner.  

10                  And, you know, I'm aware it was 

11           federal money, but my question wasn't whether 

12           it was, you know, reapproped or not or 

13           whether or not the federal government failed 

14           us this year.  My question was, you know, 

15           have the needs of New York's children and 

16           families decreased?  Because the needs of 

17           what people need for childcare and 

18           preventative services are independent of what 

19           the federal government gives us.  And I heard 

20           you say no, the needs have not decreased.

21                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Absolutely 

22           not.  I would agree with that.

23                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Do you see this 

24           discontinuance as a problem?


 1                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Again, 

 2           Senator, there's not a discontinuance.  That 

 3           money that appears as a reduction in the 

 4           budget is a reduction because it reflects 

 5           money that is already reappropriated.  And 

 6           it's particular to the childcare pandemic 

 7           funds that we received last year.

 8                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Okay.  Well, since 

 9           I'm hearing you say it's not a problem, let's 

10           talk about the status of the childcare 

11           sector.  

12                  Do you have a sense of how many 

13           providers in New York State have closed since 

14           the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic?  

15                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah, we 

16           have tracked that a bit.  You know, somewhere 

17           in the ballpark -- and again, I want to 

18           qualify it by saying, you know, we do require 

19           folks who are going out of business or ending 

20           their business to notify us.  So these are 

21           based upon the notifications that we've 

22           received.  It's over 2,000 providers, again, 

23           very deeply impacted by the pandemic.

24                  I will also say that in addition to 


 1           that, we have processed an additional 

 2           1,600 applications for new childcare 

 3           providers as well.  But at the end of the 

 4           day, Senator, there certainly has been a loss 

 5           of childcare capacity across the state.

 6                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Would you say this 

 7           is tied at all to the fact that the federal 

 8           money is starting to dry up?

 9                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I think I 

10           would say that the pressures and the 

11           dramatic, significant impact of the pandemic 

12           is really what has led as a primary reason.  

13           I think the workforce challenges that our 

14           childcare industry -- which Assemblyman 

15           Hevesi has indicated -- have also deeply 

16           impacted our childcare sector as well.

17                  I think, you know, the expansion of 

18           pre-K and universal pre-K, we've heard this 

19           consistently from providers, you know, has 

20           made it challenging particularly for those 

21           providers, you know, left operating primarily 

22           infant and childcare programs.

23                  So there are a variety of reasons.  

24           But, you know, that is why, Senator, we have 


 1           just announced, you know, part one of a 

 2           $100 million investment to sort of restore 

 3           where we have all of those childcare provider 

 4           deserts throughout the state.  So we're very 

 5           hopeful that between that desert, an infusion 

 6           of $100 million across the state, and using 

 7           very precise census tracking and GIS mapping, 

 8           will help us do that.  

 9                  And just, again, also back to the sort 

10           of drumbeat of workforce, want to reference 

11           in the proposed budget there's $75 million 

12           for a workforce stabilization grant that we 

13           will be getting out the door very soon.

14                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you.  And I 

15           just want to circle back to some numbers that 

16           I heard you say earlier.  You said 2,000 -- 

17           you've processed around 2,000 that closed and 

18           then processed around 1,600 applying.

19                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah.

20                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  So that's a net 

21           loss, right?  

22                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  That is a 

23           net loss, yes.

24                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  And you're 


 1           confident that the $100 million will get us 

 2           back to where we were pre-pandemic?

 3                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I hope so.  

 4           I hope more than that.  I hope more than 

 5           that, Senator.  

 6                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  That's my question 

 7           as well.  I mean, do you feel like we had 

 8           enough pre-pandemic?  Or we had maybe 

 9           childcare deserts across the state?  

10                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You know, 

11           it's really tough -- I mean, I wish I had my 

12           crystal ball to give you a really complete 

13           answer.  You know, there's so many things 

14           that are changing in our world.  Teleworking, 

15           right?  I don't know that we're sure yet, you 

16           know, what will be the new demand capacity.  

17                  One of the things that we're really 

18           hearing and going to address in the desert is 

19           families who would want to access subsidy and 

20           childcare programs were there more 

21           nontraditional hours offered.  So many of our 

22           essential workers working weekends, overnight 

23           shifts, holidays.  We clearly do not have 

24           enough of that capacity.  


 1                  So again, I think as we roll out 

 2           this -- you know, this hopefully very 

 3           impactful childcare desert opportunity, we 

 4           will begin to really fill in the picture and 

 5           know more.

 6                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Okay.  Well, I 

 7           would just -- I would say two things before I 

 8           move on.  One, people who telework still need 

 9           childcare.  They're not people like, you 

10           know, working from home and also making sure 

11           their kids are okay.  And also, you know, I 

12           am not confident that there's enough money in 

13           the budget right now to really just turn the 

14           ship around on the closure of these centers.  

15           A lot of centers that I spoke to throughout 

16           the fall basically said they don't know what 

17           they're going to do when their stabilization 

18           grant -- I mean, do you feel like -- I mean, 

19           they were called stabilization grants.  Do 

20           you feel like the sector is stabilized right 

21           now?

22                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  No.  It's 

23           clearly -- you know, right, it's not.  

24                  And so we're going to, you know, to do 


 1           everything we can with our federal pandemic 

 2           dollars, as we have.  As you heard me say and 

 3           you know, that we were very aggressive in 

 4           getting our billion-dollar stabilization 

 5           grant out, and very successful last year.  

 6           And we're going to have to do everything we 

 7           can to continue to watch and hope that 

 8           enrollment also increases.  But for sure as 

 9           we sit here today, the industry is still very 

10           unstable.

11                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  I would agree.  And 

12           I would just, you know, say that even if the 

13           federal money doesn't come, the state has the 

14           ability to generate new revenue.  That is my 

15           -- you know, I don't think the Governor 

16           agrees that she wants to do that this year.  

17           I'm going to continue to push, you know, if 

18           we need to do it, to keep an industry that's 

19           in free fall from continuing to go there.  

20                  But I want to shift onto childcare 

21           subsidies.  What I read was that, you know, 

22           the estimate is that moving it up from 

23           200 percent of federal poverty level to 

24           225 percent should make about 100,000 new 


 1           children become eligible.  How was that 

 2           number determined?

 3                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  My goodness.  

 4           Well, this is where I wish I had my fiscal 

 5           people with me.

 6                  So, you know, the annual income for 

 7           the percentage of poverty level at 225 is 

 8           $59,625.  And at the estimates based upon how 

 9           we serve families now, the 100,000 target was 

10           arrived at.  So it's derived based upon 

11           current subsidy, adding the additional 

12           percentage to it.

13                  And then of course as we get up to the 

14           300 percent, the estimate is that that will 

15           go to about 400,000 additional families 

16           served -- children, rather.

17                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  That is helpful.  I 

18           would like to get a clear answer, just 

19           because -- you know, there may be 100,000 

20           additional children in that whose families 

21           are in that income bracket, but that does not 

22           mean that 100,000 children will be taken up.  

23           There are also work requirements on top of it 

24           as well.  Counties may opt out of the 


 1           program.  Right?  

 2                  So I would just love, you know --

 3                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You bet.

 4                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  -- if you could get 

 5           me -- later, if you could fiscally reach out, 

 6           like how exactly did they make the estimate 

 7           100,000 would become eligible and then, you 

 8           know, the additional 400,000 later.

 9                  So if -- let's say 100,000 become 

10           eligible and all become newly covered, do you 

11           have estimates of how much that would cost?

12                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  What I do 

13           know, Senator, is that, you know, we feel 

14           very, very confident that there is more than 

15           enough money in the system because we have 

16           quite a bit of rollover of our base CCDF 

17           childcare subsidy dollars in the state.

18                  So today as we sit here, statewide we 

19           have $300 million of unused childcare subsidy 

20           dollars.  So we know that that will go a long 

21           way for a considerable amount of time to be 

22           able to afford to pay for this.

23                  You may also recall last year we 

24           issued $20 million of supplemental subsidy 


 1           dollars.  That's still available to the local 

 2           districts as well.  So there is a high degree 

 3           of confidence that we will be able to afford 

 4           that.  

 5                  And finally, I would say that the 

 6           Division of Budget has indicated that in the 

 7           state's outyear plan there will be ongoing 

 8           support to make sure that as we raise these 

 9           subsidy and access levels, that these 

10           families do not hit a cliff in the future.

11                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Gotcha.

12                  I'm sorry, can I get a -- I heard you 

13           say the 300 million rollover, you said, could 

14           probably last for some amount of time.  Do 

15           you have a more specific estimate of how long 

16           you think --

17                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  We'll have 

18           to watch that very carefully as our proposal, 

19           right, is to raise the eligibility and 

20           subsidy levels.  So we will have to watch 

21           that.  It just depends on how many families 

22           and children, right, we get uptaked into the 

23           system.

24                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Okay, gotcha.  And 


 1           just rounding out, just because I heard you 

 2           mention income cliffs.  And I do want to 

 3           stress in the Governor's proposal there are 

 4           still income -- I mean, I believe in no 

 5           income cliffs.  But whether the income cliff 

 6           is at, you know, 200 or 225 or 300, there are 

 7           income cliffs.  

 8                  But I have about 10 seconds left, so I 

 9           just want to thank you for answering my 

10           questions.  I'll have more later, but I 

11           really appreciate you taking the time to talk 

12           to all of us today, Commissioner.

13                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You're 

14           welcome, Senator.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

16                  Back to the Assembly.  

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

18           Assemblywoman Byrnes, the ranker on Children 

19           and Families, for five minutes.  (Pause.)  

20                  I saw her a moment ago.  I guess she 

21           is not -- her hand is raised.  She is not 

22           there.  So why don't we -- we're going to 

23           skip the Assemblywoman, and we will go to 

24           Assemblywoman Barrett for three minutes.  


 1                  Change the time clock to three 

 2           minutes.

 3                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Thank you, 

 4           Chair.  

 5                  And thank you, Commissioner.  Thank 

 6           you for being here.  Nice to see you.  Happy 

 7           New Year.

 8                  I just want to focus -- because I know 

 9           you'll have a lot of other questions on the 

10           substance of what your comments were, but I 

11           would like to talk about a district like 

12           mine, a rural district that has a shortage of 

13           programs for childcare, a shortage of mental 

14           health facilities, no mental health beds for 

15           children and families.  We're losing 

16           pediatric and maternity services in our local 

17           hospitals.  We don't have transportation.

18                  What does the budget have for 

19           communities like mine, Commissioner?

20                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I can 

21           certainly say that, again, our childcare 

22           desert investment, the $100 million for sure 

23           will be of assistance to your community.  You 

24           will see -- I don't know if you had a chance 


 1           to see the press release last week, but 

 2           there's very detailed maps so you could go to 

 3           the communities in your district and be able 

 4           to see, and they're shaded in colors.  

 5                  And we want to incentivize, for 

 6           providers -- potential providers, right?  

 7           Part of this strategy is to get new providers 

 8           to come to the table with a lot of support, 

 9           with start-up dollars, with funding, you 

10           know, to recruit and retain staff in those 

11           communities.  So that, first and foremost, I 

12           think -- 

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  You mean that 

14           they should come to you with start-up dollars 

15           or somebody with an idea should come -- or 

16           the county could come to you, or one of our 

17           towns or something like that?  

18                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  So it will 

19           be providers, right?  So we're working very 

20           closely with the CCR&Rs.  You have them in 

21           your community.  And they're going to be part 

22           of our technical assistance support so that 

23           as there are potential -- they're going to be 

24           doing a lot of public relations campaigns.  


 1                  We have got to get the word out that 

 2           we are looking for people who are interested 

 3           in getting into the business of being a 

 4           childcare provider.  Whether it's opening up 

 5           a new center, whether it's  becoming a family 

 6           daycare or a family group daycare provider.  

 7           So there's a huge public awareness campaign, 

 8           a lot of technical support about helping 

 9           people understand what it takes to become 

10           licensed.  You know, what are the staffing 

11           ratios.  

12                  So that's the whole idea of this 

13           $100 million investment that, you know, 

14           Part 1 was just released last Friday.

15                  With respect to, you know, rural 

16           mental health and services, you know, I do 

17           know that, you know, Commissioner Sullivan in 

18           the Office of Mental Health has some very 

19           exciting new models, you know, to again 

20           expand healthcare services, particularly in 

21           underserved areas -- I'm sure she will speak 

22           to that -- in the budget.  

23                  And then, you know, finally, one of 

24           the things that we've been trying to be 


 1           really creative with here at OCFS on our 

 2           child welfare side is to understand that 

 3           transportation for other reasons -- you know, 

 4           that you said -- is an issue for families.  

 5           They can't drive 45 minutes, you know, to get 

 6           to help.

 7                  So we at OCFS a couple of years ago we 

 8           retrofitted six Winnebagoes and we deployed 

 9           them with teams of child protective workers, 

10           with multidisciplinary staff, and in some 

11           rural communities -- Sullivan County, 

12           Delaware County.  We are taking that model 

13           now and using some existing federal child 

14           welfare money we have to bring these mobile 

15           vans so that we can bring service delivery to 

16           families where we know there are service 

17           gaps.  

18                  So whether it's bringing them diapers, 

19           you know, gift cards for food, we're really 

20           trying to get much more upstream in our 

21           prevention.  And we're working with the 

22           Office of Mental Health and other sister 

23           state agencies to sort of try and be part of 

24           that mobile effort with us.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 2           Thank you, Commissioner.  We go now to the 

 3           Senate.

 4                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Thank you.  

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

 6           much.  

 7                  And our next Senator is Diane Savino.

 8                  SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

 9           Krueger.

10                  Good morning, Commissioner.  Always 

11           good to see you.  I only have three minutes, 

12           so I'm going to focus on a very important 

13           issue.  As we know, in 2018 the state through 

14           the budget process enacted Raise the Age.  

15           It's an issue that I worked on for several 

16           years.  I was not happy with the final 

17           product, as it was hijacked by the Governor 

18           and stuck in the budget.

19                  One of the areas of contention was the 

20           financing model that was put in place.  And 

21           the financing model for Raise the Age says 

22           that every April 1st local governments must 

23           submit a plan to the OCFS to talk about how 

24           they're going to run their program in order 


 1           to be eligible for reimbursement.  And one of 

 2           the requirements is that they must remain 

 3           under, operate within the 2 percent property 

 4           tax cap.

 5                  So I scoured the Governor's budget and 

 6           I had our finance team check it just to make 

 7           sure, because I'm not as smart as they are, 

 8           and in fact Governor Hochul continues that.  

 9           And so what that means is the City of 

10           New York, which has the largest number of 

11           kids who would be affected by Raise the Age, 

12           does not qualify again.

13                  So can you share with us the wisdom 

14           behind stiffing the City of New York on the 

15           Raise the Age program, and why does that make 

16           any sense?

17                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  So you are 

18           absolutely correct, Senator, that the Raise 

19           the Age statute as it was enacted and passed 

20           by the Legislature, stands as it was 

21           originally enacted.  

22                  I will say I believe that there was a 

23           provision in the Raise the Age statute that 

24           any municipality could also apply to the 


 1           Director of the State Budget to make a case 

 2           for hardship caused as a result of having to 

 3           implement Raise the Age.  I think that is 

 4           certainly something, absent a statutory 

 5           change, that the city could potentially 

 6           consider as well.

 7                  I will say, Senator, that since we are 

 8           now fully implemented on Raise the Age, that 

 9           the majority, right, because they're 

10           adolescent offenders, when they are sentenced 

11           they come to OCFS secure facilities.  So when 

12           those young people come to OCFS, those are 

13           paid for 100 percent by the state.  There's 

14           no charge-back for the Raise the Age kids 

15           that come to state secure facilities.

16                  SENATOR SAVINO:  But that doesn't help 

17           the City of New York.  So I would suggest 

18           that as we go further into the budget 

19           negotiations, that might be an area that we 

20           might want to amend.  Because as we're 

21           seeing, particularly with the City of 

22           New York -- they will speak for themselves 

23           next week, I'm sure, during the Local 

24           Government Hearing -- they are having an 


 1           extraordinarily difficult time recruiting and 

 2           retaining people to work in the Horizon and 

 3           Crossroads facilities.  The staff are as 

 4           likely to clock in on Monday and clock out on 

 5           Friday and never come back.

 6                  The program is difficult to run to 

 7           begin with, and we have a lot of problems 

 8           with it.  And so you'll be hearing more from 

 9           some of us about Raise the Age.  But the 

10           financing model is certainly insufficient.  I 

11           know our colleagues on Long Island are also 

12           seeing problems.  Their young people are 

13           being forced to be shipped upstate because 

14           they can't finance facilities in Nassau and 

15           Suffolk counties.  

16                  So my time is up, but I just wanted to 

17           bring that to your attention.  Thank you.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

19                  We've been joined by Assemblywoman 

20           Forrest.  

21                  And I see that Assemblywoman Byrnes is 

22           back from her committee meeting, so we will 

23           go to her for five minutes, the ranker on 

24           Children and Families.


 1                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BYRNES:  Thank you.  

 2           Thank you very much.  And I appreciate the 

 3           opportunity to ask questions of the 

 4           commissioner.  

 5                  Commissioner, I also want to speak 

 6           about the Raise the Age issue and about the 

 7           fact that very, very violent basically young 

 8           adults are being put in the certified 

 9           detention centers by OCFS.

10                  In Monroe County we have the Monroe 

11           County Secure Detention Center.  And just in 

12           2021 alone, the staff were repeatedly being 

13           assaulted and sent to the hospital.  Twice 

14           Monroe County sheriff deputies received 

15           urgent calls to go there.  At one point they 

16           stayed at the youth facility for a week, 

17           Monroe County jail deputies, in order to 

18           bring order to that location.

19                  My question to you is how prudent is 

20           it -- because I'm sure this facility is not 

21           unique to the entire state.  What is being 

22           done as these young violent adults -- and at 

23           one point this facility had 11 accused 

24           murderers.  What is being done to protect the 


 1           staff and to protect sheriff deputies when 

 2           they go to even respond to 911 calls there?  

 3                  You know, one female sheriff deputy 

 4           was literally picked up by a guy much bigger 

 5           than her, who was a youth, body slammed, and 

 6           to this day has not been back to work.

 7                  What's being done to protect the staff 

 8           and to protect anybody else in that facility?  

 9                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, thank 

10           you very much for asking very important 

11           questions.  

12                  So I want to say that like so many 

13           sectors of our human services industry, you 

14           know, our secure detention, were also 

15           deeply -- and they are locally administered 

16           detention facilities -- you know, were really 

17           deeply impacted by COVID.  So Monroe County 

18           is a great example of a local detention 

19           facility that had plans to make significant 

20           capital investments in its facility to create 

21           better hardening, to create better 

22           programming for the new Raise the Age 

23           population.  

24                  They were also hit, right, as is 


 1           everyone -- my own facilities here at the 

 2           state level were no different -- hit by the 

 3           workforce crisis.  COVID, right, impacts 

 4           staff on and off, et cetera.  All these, you 

 5           know, issues combined with increasing gun 

 6           violence, right -- we could spend a whole 

 7           session on guns alone -- really led to a 

 8           perfect storm in Monroe County.

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BYRNES:  Commissioner, 

10           not to interrupt you, but time is somewhat of 

11           the essence.

12                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Sure.

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BYRNES:  I met with the 

14           union that represents the people that work at 

15           the detention center, and they were not 

16           quitting at that point this summer because of 

17           COVID.  People were quitting because they 

18           were getting hurt.  They were getting beat 

19           up.  They were not allowed to carry any form 

20           of protection -- no mace, nothing, not even 

21           very basic type of apparatuses and tools to 

22           protect themselves in that facility.  

23                  And even when the sheriff deputies 

24           tried to go there to restore order, your 


 1           office tried very hard to ban them from even 

 2           bringing in mace, billy clubs, the things 

 3           that they normally would even use in any 

 4           other facility should they be attacked, to 

 5           defend themselves.  And I'm not even talking 

 6           about guns.  They don't carry guns, the jail 

 7           deputies.  They have other tools to protect 

 8           themselves.  

 9                  And you tried very hard to deny them 

10           the ability to even protect themselves as law 

11           enforcement officers when they were within 

12           that facility.

13                  Don't you think that when we start 

14           putting 20- and 21-year-old gang members who 

15           are accused of murder in with legitimate 

16           children that are 16, 17, 18 years old, 

17           accused of far lesser crimes, that this is a 

18           recipe for disaster?

19                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I have to 

20           respectfully disagree with you on that point.  

21           I think that the research and the brain 

22           science behind Raise the Age, and the failure 

23           of young people having been in such settings 

24           to rehabilitate themselves, points us in an 


 1           entirely different direction in terms of 

 2           creating the right kind of programming for 

 3           young people.

 4                  And I can appreciate why folks would 

 5           feel like pepper spraying and battering rams 

 6           and those kinds of things, you know, might 

 7           restore order.  I will tell you from my many 

 8           years of experience running the state's 

 9           juvenile system, where we have these same 

10           kids in our programs, it's about adequate 

11           staffing, it's about adequate programming 

12           that is of interest to young people, it's 

13           about clinical services to address their 

14           historic trauma and the violence they have 

15           been exposed to, it's about hope, jobs, 

16           certification, training.  Those are the kinds 

17           of things that were our investments.  

18                  And I will say to you that we worked 

19           hand in glove with the county executive and 

20           his team in Monroe County --

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

22           Thank you, Commissioner.  We're going to turn 

23           it back over to the Senate.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 


 1           much.

 2                  Next up is Senator Pete Harckham.

 3                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Good morning.  

 4           Thank you, Madam Chair.  

 5                  And good morning, Commissioner.  Great 

 6           to see you, and thank you for your testimony.

 7                  I want to follow up on 

 8           Chairman Brisport's line of questioning 

 9           regarding childcare thresholds and also 

10           reimbursement.  So three quick questions.  

11                  In Westchester County a family with 

12           two parents, both making minimum wage, did 

13           not qualify for either Title XX or 

14           low-income.  So question one, will they be 

15           eligible under the new income threshold?  

16                  Question two relates to reimbursement 

17           rates.  What the providers have told me is 

18           when the state went from 75 percent to 

19           69 percent, it wasn't nearly adequate and 

20           they were losing a lot of money on each 

21           student.  Is there any improvement in the 

22           budget in the reimbursement formula?  

23                  And finally, only being reimbursed on 

24           a daily basis.  So if a child calls in sick, 


 1           they still have the same overhead of staff, 

 2           utilities, et cetera.

 3                  So if you could address those three 

 4           questions, please.  Thank you.  

 5                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You're quite 

 6           welcome.  

 7                  So the first one is a little hard 

 8           because every family's situation is a little 

 9           bit different.  But again -- so for example, 

10           if the family's income -- and this is sort of 

11           based upon a family of four.  If their annual 

12           income is under $60,000, then they should be 

13           eligible for a subsidy.  

14                  So again, I think -- and again, it 

15           depends on if they're working or seeking a 

16           job.  There's other variables that we would 

17           have to take into account before I could 

18           answer definitively yes to your first 

19           question.  

20                  To your second question, the 

21           69th percentile is still what is included in 

22           our proposed budget when the new market rates 

23           take effect in October.  So that is the 

24           current standing proposal at 69 percent.


 1                  And then finally, maybe some good news 

 2           on the answer to number three, which is 

 3           around payment for absences.  So one of the 

 4           provisions that we passed last year will 

 5           allow up to 24 absences to be paid to 

 6           families per year.  So that should help 

 7           mitigate -- actually, it's a minimum of 24 

 8           absences -- to help mitigate that issue.

 9                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  All right.  Good 

10           news on number three, possible good news on 

11           number one.

12                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  We'll keep 

13           at it.

14                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  On number two, I 

15           would just share with you that the 69 percent 

16           is really inadequate.  What I'm hearing from 

17           all the providers in my district, they're 

18           just losing too much money.  And, you know, 

19           some are fortunate enough to have donors to 

20           help defray the costs, but a lot of them 

21           don't.  So I hope we reconsider that number.

22                  Thank you very much.

23                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You're quite 

24           welcome.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Thank 

 2           you.  Assembly?  

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

 4           Assemblyman Kim, three minutes.

 5                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Thank you, Chair.  

 6                  I'd like to continue the line of 

 7           questions from Senator Brisport and 

 8           Assemblymember Hevesi.

 9                  The first question is, do we have a 

10           rough breakdown of the pandemic federal 

11           dollars versus the sustainable federal 

12           dollars versus the state revenues that's 

13           funding the programs?  

14                  The second question is of the money 

15           tied to state money, revenues, how flexible, 

16           fungible and transferable are these dollars 

17           in terms of meeting the need of different 

18           programs?  

19                  And third, in terms of the contracting 

20           to third parties, what percentage of the 

21           money that goes to programming goes to 

22           secondary or third-party nonprofit providers 

23           versus local government agencies that's 

24           actually administering the services 


 1           themselves?

 2                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Okay, so 

 3           I'll take it from the top there.  So the 

 4           Executive Budget -- so this is federal 

 5           subsidy that comes to the state, we refer to 

 6           as CCDF dollars.  This year is proposed at 

 7           $894.6 million.  So that's, if you will, our 

 8           base funding for childcare subsidy.

 9                  And in New York those dollars flow 

10           through all of our local departments of 

11           social services, who administer the childcare 

12           subsidy program.  So there's that base 

13           funding.  And it's increased $62.5 million to 

14           pay for the market rate that will go into 

15           effect in October.

16                  Then you asked specifically about the 

17           federal pandemic pots of money that we 

18           received.  So for CARES, we received -- and 

19           again, this is just exclusive to childcare -- 

20           $163 million of childcare funding.  The vast 

21           majority of that has already been obligated 

22           and liquidated.  We received the CRRSAA 

23           funding, in the amount of $468 million.  And 

24           then finally, ARPA, $704 million -- again, 


 1           all for childcare.

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Thank you, 

 3           Commissioner.  Sorry to cut you off; I only 

 4           have 30 seconds left.

 5                  But I guess through the line is that 

 6           most of this money is tied to federal dollars 

 7           and it's regulated, it's inflexible.  And one 

 8           area that we should be looking at is the 

 9           flexible money that we give to corporate 

10           subsidies, in the amount of 7 to 8 billion 

11           dollars a year.  That's something that a 

12           number of economists have seen that, you 

13           know, we should be transferring towards 

14           childcare and child development.  And I hope 

15           that the administration and the Second Floor 

16           would take that seriously into consideration.

17                  Thank you.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

19           We've joined by Assemblywoman Rajkumar.  

20                  We move to the Senate.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

22           much.  

23                  Before I introduce Senator Persaud, I 

24           believe we have been joined by Senator Leroy 


 1           Comrie.  Not sure I caught Senator Rachel May 

 2           earlier.  I think that's everybody so far.

 3                  And I will turn to over to 

 4           Senator Persaud.

 5                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Thank you, 

 6           Madam Chairman.

 7                  Commissioner, it's great to see you.  

 8           You know, we've had great conversations.  I 

 9           appreciate everything that you're doing.  I 

10           just have a few quick questions pertaining to 

11           homeless youth healthcare consent.  

12                  I was speaking with some students a 

13           couple of days ago, and could you give us 

14           some information on how they'll be identified 

15           and the determination of who can give consent 

16           for non-emergencies?  And do providers -- 

17           will providers be held liable for consent 

18           under the proposal that's in place?  

19                  And then also, coming -- the city is 

20           looking to have the 18.5 percent 

21           reimbursement rate restoration for the 

22           Committee on Special Education.  

23                  And also, would we be able to have 

24           additional conversations about Raise the Age 


 1           and the funding that goes with that?  There 

 2           are things that still -- you know, as 

 3           Senator Savino has spoken about, there's lots 

 4           of conversations that we should have.  

 5           There's funding needs that have not been 

 6           addressed.  What is OCFS willing to do to 

 7           move that conversation?  

 8                  And the last thing I want to ask, the 

 9           gun violence funding.  We have a spike in gun 

10           violence.  You know, every day we turn on the 

11           television or whatever and we're hearing 

12           about gun violence.  However, the funding 

13           that's been allocated is not moving as 

14           quickly as possible to communities.  What 

15           will you do to ensure that this funding is 

16           getting to communities as fast as possible so 

17           that we can tackle the upswing of gun 

18           violence in our communities?  

19                  Thank you.

20                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  That's a lot 

21           right there, Senator.

22                  So first off, with respect to our 

23           proposed Article VII allowing 

24           runaway/homeless youth to consent, this 


 1           became so illuminated during COVID when we 

 2           had young people in runaway/homeless youth 

 3           shelters, you know, who wanted to consent to 

 4           their own -- or get, right, the COVID 

 5           vaccine, and because they're disconnected 

 6           from their families, were not able to.

 7                  And this has been talked about for 

 8           many years, that these young people, who are 

 9           in effect functioning as very independent 

10           adults, you know, do not have access to take 

11           care of themselves.  So that's really our 

12           goal here.

13                  And we will need to find a way -- I 

14           think that's a great question about how do 

15           these youth identify, right?  When they go to 

16           a provider and can't consent, how do we 

17           figure out a way with, again, protecting 

18           their confidentiality as much as we can.  We 

19           need to find a way so that that doesn't 

20           create a barrier.

21                  The model is also predicated upon that 

22           they are under the care of a professional 

23           medical, right, personnel, who is, you know, 

24           presumably recommending care and treatment.  


 1           So that's the other part, is that we trust 

 2           that these young people are getting good 

 3           medical care and that their medical providers 

 4           will want to support the youth in obtaining 

 5           it.

 6                  But happy to work through some of the 

 7           operational implementation issues with you so 

 8           that we achieve the goal.

 9                  With respect to the Committee on 

10           Special Education issue that you mentioned, 

11           Senator, I do want to say for New York City 

12           that that state reimbursement went away 

13           permanently back in the 2017-2018 budget and 

14           that the current Article VII proposal 

15           proposes to make that statewide.  And, you 

16           know, quite simply this sort of state 

17           reimbursement for what are wholly Committee 

18           on Special Education decisions seems to be an 

19           artifact of a decision many, many years ago 

20           about some part of rate setting so it should 

21           be in OCFS's budget.  But these are -- these 

22           are all decisions for residential placement 

23           that are made by local committees on special 

24           education --


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 2           Thank you, Commissioner.  We're going to move 

 3           on to the Assembly.  

 4                  Assemblywoman Rosenthal.  And before 

 5           she -- well, I think, yes, she can just go.  

 6           We don't have any new members yet.  

 7                  Three minutes.

 8                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay.  All 

 9           right.  Can you hear me, Commissioner?

10                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I sure can.  

11           Hi.

12                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Great.  

13           Great.  Thank you.  Commissioner, it was 

14           lovely speaking with you earlier in the week, 

15           or maybe it was last week -- the days all 

16           melt together.

17                  So, you know, I've long been concerned 

18           with runaway and homeless youth.  And it was 

19           back in 2015-'16, I believe, that -- you 

20           know, I fought hard, the Assembly gave 

21           $2 million for that category, and so we had 

22           about 4.5 million.  Which hasn't been 

23           increased till now in the Governor's budget, 

24           $2 million, another -- so it's 6.5, which is 


 1           fabulous.

 2                  But I've talked to advocates who say 

 3           really the need is more like 15 million.  So 

 4           my first question is, when do you think we 

 5           can get there?  Because as we know, it's a 

 6           huge problem.  And there's so many people 

 7           that we need to pay attention to.  And I 

 8           appreciate the increase a lot, but we need 

 9           more.

10                  The next question also is do you know 

11           about the breakdown of population of runaway 

12           and homeless youth throughout the state, and 

13           how many counties actually have programs to 

14           address their needs throughout the state?

15                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Sure.  So I 

16           am glad that you are encouraged by the 

17           $2 million.  We're heading in the right 

18           direction of more investment, as opposed to 

19           having less.  And I do appreciate that.  You 

20           know, it has been a population of young 

21           people for whom we have not made enough 

22           investments in the past.

23                  And just to put a bit of a fine point 

24           on the $2 million, you know, we are looking 


 1           to help restore some of the loss of 

 2           runaway/homeless youth shelter beds, 

 3           particularly upstate.  New York City, to 

 4           their credit, has actually added, at their 

 5           own local cost, hundreds of runaway/homeless 

 6           youth beds in the past couple of years.  But 

 7           it's become a real pain point upstate, so 

 8           we're looking to sort of fill in some of the 

 9           beds that have been lost there.

10                  And I don't want to misspeak about the 

11           number of programs that are operating.  I 

12           will absolutely follow up and get you very 

13           specific information about where the beds and 

14           the services are remaining.

15                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay, thank 

16           you.  Because I know, as you said, the city 

17           is increasing, but I don't know that that's 

18           true.  And I believe like fewer than half the 

19           counties in the state have programs.  And we 

20           know the runaway and homeless youth are 

21           everywhere in the state.  

22                  So thank you, and I look forward to 

23           working with you on that and other issues.

24                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I do as 


 1           well.  Thank you.

 2                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Thank you.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Back 

 4           to the Senate.

 5                  We have Senator Stec, the ranker on 

 6           Children and Families, for five.  Are you 

 7           there, Senator Stec?

 8                  THE MODERATOR:  Trying to get him to 

 9           start video and audio.

10                  SENATOR STEC:  I'm here.  I'm here.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.

12                  SENATOR STEC:  I'm so sorry.  Good 

13           morning, everyone.

14                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Good morning.

15                  SENATOR STEC:  Well, the good news is 

16           I'll spare you all using my whole five 

17           minutes.

18                  But, Commissioner, I appreciate your 

19           testimony today and I want to echo a lot of 

20           the sentiments of many of my colleagues in 

21           both houses, both sides of the aisle.  I want 

22           to thank you for your positive efforts for 

23           working for our kids and families, and 

24           certainly working with the Legislature to 


 1           make the state a little better in that 

 2           regard.

 3                  The state received $2.4 billion in 

 4           pandemic stimulus funds in fiscal year '22 

 5           from the Coronavirus Response and Relief 

 6           Supplemental Appropriations Act and the 

 7           American Rescue Plan Act of '21.  The fiscal 

 8           year '23 budget does not contain an 

 9           appropriation for COVID relief funds.  Can 

10           you tell us how much COVID relief funding 

11           remains, and how you will target use of the 

12           remaining funds, please?

13                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah.  So 

14           just to be clear, I think you're the second 

15           person to ask that question.  I want to be --

16                  SENATOR STEC:  I missed it.

17                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah, no, 

18           that's good.  It's good news that we've not 

19           lost the 2.5 billion, that it's actually 

20           already -- it's just simply been rolled over 

21           and reappropriated.  So it doesn't look like 

22           a new appropriation.  That's I think the 

23           first answer to your question.

24                  And the second is that 2021 was an 


 1           extraordinarily busy year for us at OCFS.  We 

 2           are very, very anxious, as I know are all of 

 3           you, to get -- make sure that we are spending 

 4           every dollar of our federal childcare 

 5           pandemic funding.  So there are lots of 

 6           things that were released in 2021 that are 

 7           now out there for spending in local social 

 8           service districts.  

 9                  So it's the 10 percent cap on copays, 

10           and that means that counties -- that's a cap.  

11           They can -- you know, they can, many of them, 

12           afford less than a 10 percent copay for 

13           families.  We launched an essential workers 

14           scholarship, where we originally allocated 

15           25 million.  It was so popular, we had left 

16           over CARES dollars, we spent $80 million 

17           supporting essential workers.  We expanded 

18           QUALITYstars by 35 million.  

19                  And then we have 12 months 

20           eligibility, we're paying for a minimum of 

21           24 absences.  And then we just announced last 

22           Friday 70 million of a 100 million desert.  

23           And then we've got a couple of things that 

24           we'll be rolling out soon.  


 1                  So we are on an all-out effort here to 

 2           get that money out the door to districts and 

 3           to make sure that districts -- this is where 

 4           we need our county executives, who are I know 

 5           busy with all kinds of pandemic funds.  But 

 6           we have a lot of money in our childcare 

 7           space, we have rollover funds that are on the 

 8           table, and we need an all-out effort to make 

 9           sure that it's getting spent before these 

10           funds expire in a couple of years.

11                  SENATOR STEC:  But I wasn't sure I 

12           heard you.  They rolled over, but how much 

13           rolled -- like how much of that 2.4 remains?  

14           All 2.4 or --

15                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Oh, 

16           there's -- I'd have to calculate that.  I 

17           know that we spent -- well over a billion has 

18           been spent, between the stabilization grants, 

19           we've obligated 900 million.  And then, you 

20           know, we've paid out the QUALITYstars and 

21           other initiatives.  

22                  So there remains a lot, to be clear.  

23           We've pushed out a lot, but there remains a 

24           lot still to be liquidated.  It's been made 


 1           available to spend.

 2                  SENATOR STEC:  How long do you think 

 3           what remains will last?  And is there a clock 

 4           on how long you have to spend it?  

 5                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, there 

 6           is.  And we have multiple clocks going here, 

 7           right?  So there's the base subsidy, our 

 8           federal dollars that we have rollover.  We've 

 9           got to make sure that they do not lapse and 

10           expire, so we watch those.  

11                  And then as I said, the CARES money, 

12           we're good there, almost all of that has been 

13           liquidated.  It's the CRRSAA and ARPA that 

14           are left to be spent.  The ARPA is the 

15           largest pot that we have left to be spent, 

16           and that has to be liquidated by 

17           September 30th of 2023.  So we've got some 

18           time.  But the clock ticks fast, so we've got 

19           to get people spending.

20                  SENATOR STEC:  {Inaudible.}

21                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, it 

22           does.

23                  SENATOR STEC:  It sure does.  All 

24           right, thank you very much.  


 1                  Chairwoman, I'll yield my last 

 2           15 seconds back.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

 4           much.  

 5                  Assembly.  

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

 7           Assemblywoman Clark, three minutes.  

 8                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN CLARK:  Hello, 

 9           Commissioner, and thank you so much for 

10           joining us today.

11                  I wanted to dive into childcare a bit.  

12           And I have another question I hope I can get 

13           in as well.  But the first one is -- I call 

14           childcare in its current form in our state a 

15           math equation that does not work.  So as much 

16           as we continue to say that we're going to 

17           expand eligibility for subsidies for more 

18           families to be included, what we continue to 

19           hear from both families and providers is that 

20           the rate is just not enough.  

21                  So if we are not paying providers true 

22           cost of care, they're going to not take 

23           subsidy families.  So we are creating a 

24           problem by not actually addressing the root 


 1           cause, which is that we are not covering the 

 2           true costs of childcare even in its current 

 3           state, let alone if we started to increase 

 4           wages for the childcare workforce, which is 

 5           the main driver of why people are leaving.  

 6                  So I know it's set at 69 percent, but 

 7           I just don't see how we get past -- how the 

 8           state can ever get past fixing childcare if 

 9           we don't start to put our own dollars that 

10           are sustainable and renewable every year to 

11           address the real issue, which is that we're 

12           not covering the true cost of care.

13                  So my question is, how do we get 

14           there?  Why is there such a hesitancy to 

15           increase the actual rate we pay providers so 

16           that they can keep their doors open?

17                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I think it's 

18           a very fair question, Assemblywoman.  And we 

19           do have cost estimates for what it would take 

20           to get to the 75th, you know, as well as the 

21           90th.  I don't know if you were on, I think 

22           Assemblyman Hevesi asked me the same 

23           question.

24                  You know, how I would answer that for 


 1           now is I think we have to try and watch how 

 2           we are spending some of the dollars now.  If 

 3           there is some room, right, in our base 

 4           federal subsidy dollars -- because the 

 5           pandemic dollars, we're not going to have 

 6           them forever.  And that's our challenge as a 

 7           state, is not going to 90 percentile now 

 8           where that would cost us almost 400, you 

 9           know, million more a year and then hit a 

10           cliff down the road.  As much as we're all 

11           anxious to get there now.

12                  And again, the more all of us can 

13           advocate for Build Back Better -- right?  We 

14           need more federal dollars to help us get to 

15           some more sustainable market rates for our 

16           providers.  But I think there might be some 

17           opportunity as we watch spending.

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN CLARK:  Excellent.  

19           Well, it sounds like, I think, the state 

20           needs to come up with a commitment as well to 

21           really fix it.

22                  My second quick question is 

23           after-school programming.  With such emphasis 

24           on childcare, the proposed Governor's budget 


 1           also slashes some funding for after-school.  

 2           So -- and also it's not getting to the true 

 3           cost of after-school.  So what are we doing 

 4           to address that?  And why are we cutting 

 5           money for after-school?

 6                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  So the 

 7           Executive Budget for after-school is whole.  

 8           We have the $28 million in TANF for the 

 9           Advantage After School Program.  And we have 

10           the 55 million in the Executive Budget for 

11           the Empire, the legislative initiatives, 

12           which is, as you all know -- 

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Commissioner, 

14           thank you.  Why don't you give us the -- send 

15           an email with the answer to this question.

16                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Certainly.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And I'm sure 

18           there will be some others that we can 

19           circulate to all the members, because we do 

20           want to keep an eye on the clock.  

21                  So we're going to turn it back to the 

22           Senate.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

24           much.  And we have Senator Sue Serino.


 1                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you, 

 2           Madam Chair.  

 3                  And Commissioner, it's so nice to see 

 4           you.  And I just want to say thank you for 

 5           always being so responsive to the needs that 

 6           I bring to your attention.

 7                  Right now I'm going to talk about the 

 8           Governor's Executive Budget with the Child 

 9           Advocacy Centers, which as you know provide 

10           critical support to abused children.  They're 

11           funded at 5.2 million, which has been the 

12           same amount proposed in the Executive Budget 

13           since 2010.  These centers were funded at 

14           nearly 7.8 million in 2007, and in recent 

15           years funding stagnated at 7.2 million.  

16                  So given that the number of children 

17           served has really nearly doubled compared to 

18           2007, would you agree that these centers need 

19           a commensurate increase in funding?  

20                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Senator, 

21           it's good to be with you.  And thank you for 

22           participating in the Adult Protective 

23           Services Roundtable earlier this week.

24                  The CACs are absolutely invaluable to 


 1           the work they do in communities.  And as you 

 2           say, the Executive Budget proposal is what it 

 3           is.  What I will commit to you, Senator, as 

 4           we here at OCFS continue to look under every 

 5           corner that we have within our existing, you 

 6           know, federal funding streams in child 

 7           welfare, any opportunity we have here to try 

 8           and bring some more resources to the Child 

 9           Advocacy Centers, you have my commitment to 

10           do so.

11                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you, 

12           Commissioner.

13                  You know, there was a time in my life 

14           when I was a single mom, so to be able to 

15           access childcare I actually opened up my own 

16           childcare small business.  So I really 

17           understand the challenges that both the 

18           parents and the providers are facing with 

19           this today.  

20                  And as you know, the Governor proposes 

21           to utilize 75 million from Childcare 

22           Stabilization funds to support childcare 

23           wages.  Do you have an estimate of how many 

24           childcare workers this is going to impact and 


 1           how the funding would be distributed?  And 

 2           kind of how much of an increase can childcare 

 3           workers expect to receive?

 4                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah.  So 

 5           the $75 million allocated for the Childcare 

 6           Stabilization Grants, I want to be clear and 

 7           honest, they are pandemic funds.  So they are 

 8           not going to last forever.

 9                  So our proposal, Senator, is to go 

10           about the distribution of that 75 million 

11           like we did the billion dollars in the 

12           stabilization grants.  So we will have a 

13           portal where childcare providers can go in, 

14           and they can attest to the number of 

15           employees that they have.  And we will have a 

16           methodology in the background that based upon 

17           the number of staff that they have, 

18           et cetera, other things that we will ask 

19           them, that they will receive a grant that 

20           they will distribute to their staff.  

21                  And the intention -- we obviously 

22           can't raise wages, right, because you can't 

23           sustain that.  So these grant funds are 

24           really intended for bonuses, to help offset 


 1           employee retirement costs, payments there to 

 2           help childcare employees, many of whom want 

 3           to advance their educational degrees, do 

 4           things like we can to support the child 

 5           welfare workforce without creating, right, an 

 6           artificial raising of wages that can't be 

 7           sustained, at least at this point 

 8           post-pandemic funding.  

 9                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you so much, 

10           Commissioner.  I know our time is up.  

11                  Thank you.

12                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Of course.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Assembly.  

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

15           Assemblyman Anderson for three minutes.

16                  I just want to remind all the 

17           colleagues -- please stop the clock -- all 

18           the colleagues that, you know, please leave 

19           time for the commissioner to be able to 

20           answer your questions.  I don't really like 

21           having to cut people off, either you or the 

22           commissioner.  Thank you.  

23                  Assemblyman Anderson.  There you are.  

24           You have three minutes.  Assemblyman 


 1           Anderson, can you hear me to unmute yourself?

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  Can you hear 

 3           me?  

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes, now we 

 5           can.  Three minutes.

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  Okay.  I 

 7           started talking and I didn't know if folks 

 8           were hearing me.

 9                  All right.  Thank you so much, 

10           Commissioner, for being here.  And thank you, 

11           Chairwoman Weinstein, as well as Chairman 

12           Hevesi.

13                  So I have a couple of questions for 

14           you, Commissioner.  In terms of your 

15           strategies around personal protective 

16           equipment and supplies for OCFS sites, what 

17           does that process look like?  And what if any 

18           additional funding do you guys need in the 

19           budget to ensure that our children and our 

20           families who are at OCFS daycare centers, 

21           sites throughout my district and throughout 

22           the state, have those very important supplies 

23           and resources?  That's the first question.

24                  The second question I have -- and it's 


 1           specifically around funding streams.  I want 

 2           to read it correctly.  So last year you guys 

 3           expanded or we expanded in the budget 

 4           subsidy, and we went down to 200 percent of 

 5           federal poverty level.  But it took a while 

 6           to implement, you know, that poverty level.  

 7           It took over eight months to implement it.  

 8           Actually, the regulations just came out a 

 9           month or two ago, which is wholly 

10           unacceptable.

11                  But the budget this year proposes an 

12           expansion to 225 for those families in that 

13           bracket, but it won't go into effect, again, 

14           for another eight months.  Why is there such 

15           a delay for the implementation of these 

16           subsidies?  And couldn't you guys just 

17           advance some of the stimulus dollars that you 

18           have to help assist with getting these funds 

19           out?  

20                  So I'll allow you to answer, and then 

21           I have one more question if I have time.  

22           Thank you, commissioner.  

23                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Sure.  Of 

24           course, happy to.  


 1                  So I appreciate your question on the 

 2           PPE.  So we have been very fortunate between 

 3           the ability to use federal pandemic money as 

 4           well as support from our own state 

 5           government, from DHSES, that we have an ample 

 6           supply, both for my state-operated juvenile 

 7           justice facilities -- you know, we have KN95 

 8           masks, we've got all the right PPE and we've 

 9           had a good supply.  

10                  We've also, throughout the, right, 

11           much too long, protracted course of the 

12           pandemic, we have been able to provide 

13           childcare, foster care, domestic violence, 

14           runaway/homeless youth programs with masks.  

15           Recently we've been able to do testing 

16           supplies as well.  So just in recent weeks 

17           we've pushed out, I think, close to 300,000 

18           testing kits to childcare centers and many, 

19           many more across the state.

20                  So I think we've fared pretty well in 

21           that area, but I absolutely appreciate the 

22           question.

23                  You know, with respect to the subsidy 

24           expansion, you know, last year about why did 


 1           it take so long, you know, I just want to go 

 2           back.  You know, we had to develop 

 3           regulations for these new subsidy provisions.  

 4           You know, they take a little bit of time to 

 5           develop once the budget was enacted.  So we 

 6           put those out for public comment in July, 

 7           you've got to give time for public comment, 

 8           they get back.

 9                  But I also want to say we also put the 

10           local districts on notice, we sent them an 

11           INF, we call it, that said, Hey, these things 

12           are coming soon.  Take the time now before 

13           these regulations become final to get your, 

14           right, systems changes, administrative 

15           changes, retraining your childcare staff as 

16           necessary.  Like these things -- it's not 

17           just fairy dust, right?  They require -- 

18           local districts have to have time to make 

19           things happen.  And the system changes, you 

20           know, can be considerable.

21                  So that is --

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

23           Thank you, Commissioner.  We'll go to the 

24           Senate.


 1                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  Thank you, 

 2           Commissioner.  Thank you, Chairwoman.  

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you, 

 4           Assembly.  We have shockingly run out of 

 5           Senators with their hands up.  Once they hear 

 6           this, no doubt they will raise their hands.  

 7           But I'm going to pass it back to you -- 

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Not to worry.  

 9           We have many.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  -- until I see 

11           more Senators.  You do have many 

12           Assemblymembers.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Just shout out 

14           when you have a Senator.

15                  We'll go to Assemblywoman Lunsford, 

16           three minutes.

17                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN LUNSFORD:  Thank you.  

18                  And Commissioner, I'm going to give 

19           you an opportunity to finish your answer to 

20           Assemblymember Clark about the cut to 

21           after-school funding.  And I'd also like to 

22           ask some additional questions about whether 

23           there's anything to do about the terrible 

24           cost of summer care for our families with 


 1           school-age kids.

 2                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, so I 

 3           think we actually have, on the whole, really 

 4           good news on our after care.  So like I said, 

 5           we have the 28 million in the TANF, the 

 6           Advantage After School, that serves 17,000 

 7           kids across our state.  We then have the 

 8           Empire 55 million of General Fund dollars 

 9           that serves 34,000 children across 300 sites.  

10           So we have that base funding continuing to be 

11           available.  

12                  I also just want to say that we did a 

13           lot of work -- there were some pain points 

14           along the way, I will be candid, with our 

15           after-school providers, who were asking us 

16           for more flexibility in how, right, as part 

17           of the pandemic that they could provide 

18           after-school programming.  So we worked with 

19           our partners at the Division of the Budget 

20           and we were able to create a more flexible 

21           hybrid model so that these programs could say 

22           I'm going to do only in-school, maybe, you 

23           know, a hybrid of in-school or remote, 

24           et cetera.  


 1                  We had to redo all those contracts.  

 2           My team here, I do have to give them a lot of 

 3           credit.  We have made tremendous progress.  

 4           We are pushing out all kinds of money to the 

 5           after-school providers, who have been 

 6           incredibly patient with us.  

 7                  So I think overall we're in very good 

 8           shape with --

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN LUNSFORD:  Thank you.  

10           I'm just going to pivot just because I only 

11           get three minutes.

12                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Sure.

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN LUNSFORD:  Can you talk 

14           just a little bit about the Monroe County 

15           Children's Detention Center from the 

16           perspective of the kids who are being housed 

17           there?  

18                  That facility -- like, the building 

19           itself really shouldn't have been certified.  

20           It is itself inadequate, and it's causing 

21           issues not just for the employees there but 

22           for the detainees.  I've had children who got 

23           transferred to the Monroe County Jail for a 

24           period of time say they don't want to return 


 1           to the children's detention center.  And I'd 

 2           like to know what we can do to help address 

 3           the just fundamental inadequacy of that 

 4           facility.

 5                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, 

 6           absolutely.  So I have very good news in that 

 7           Monroe County has submitted to us their 

 8           request for a capital plan proposal, which we 

 9           are -- we are expediting this at record 

10           speed.  We're delighted the county, you know, 

11           needed to make the right decision for them.  

12           They had a number of options they were 

13           considering.

14                  So we are working very closely with 

15           the Division of the Budget, we will work with 

16           DASNY, we're going to work with engineers, 

17           Assemblywoman, to get this done just as 

18           quickly as possible so that the physical 

19           plant is really modernized, right, to be able 

20           to do the kind of programming.  

21                  I will also say I want to give a shout 

22           out to Monroe County.  In spite of all the 

23           challenges that they faced in July of last 

24           year, which were very considerable, they've 


 1           done a tremendous job bringing on new staff, 

 2           raising salaries, bringing on additional 

 3           managers and supervisors.  You know, there's 

 4           been a lot of good partnership work with them 

 5           with our partners at State Commission on 

 6           Corrections.  And things are much better in 

 7           the Monroe County Children's Center today.  

 8           So kudos to them.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10           Thank you.  To continue with Monroe County, I 

11           call on Assemblyman Bronson, three minutes.

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you, 

13           Chair.  Sorry for the delay, but the 

14           technology wasn't working for us.

15                  Commissioner, good to see you.

16                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Good to see 

17           you.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  I have one line 

19           of questioning, and it is extremely 

20           important.

21                  As you know, over the last two decades 

22           mental health practitioners licensed under 

23           Article 163 of the Education Law have been 

24           under an exemption that would allow them to 


 1           diagnose and create assessment-treatment 

 2           plans.  They've been doing this for 20 years.  

 3           That sunsets in June 2022.

 4                  I carry a bill that would modernize 

 5           their scope of practice and lift up their 

 6           educational and clinical requirements to a 

 7           level that would allow them to continue this 

 8           ability to diagnose.  If we don't deal with 

 9           this issue, there is going to be an extreme 

10           crisis in our community-based organizations 

11           that serve many of our families and children, 

12           including Hillside in my district.  It will 

13           also impact your agencies that you oversee 

14           across the state.

15                  My question to you is, number one, how 

16           do we address the shortfall in the 

17           community-based organizations, and can we 

18           move forward with this bill, A6008?  And what 

19           are your plans for the state agencies that -- 

20           or state facilities that you oversee that are 

21           utilizing these professions as well? 

22                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Thank you, 

23           Assemblymember.  So certainly I will go back 

24           and take a more careful look at your Article 


 1           VII bill.  I know that that has been 

 2           extended, right, many times to extend those 

 3           provisions.  

 4                  I would imagine, given the workforce 

 5           crisis and in particular, right, the role 

 6           that mental health practitioners and 

 7           clinicians have played throughout the 

 8           pandemic would perhaps bring some renewed 

 9           conversation to your proposed bill.

10                  And I will say I know that the State 

11           Office of Mental Health -- and I don't want 

12           to speak for Commissioner Sullivan, but I 

13           know that they have many strategies underway 

14           to try and, you know, do a better job 

15           supporting the mental health workforce, 

16           providing bonuses and other kinds of things 

17           to thank that workforce.

18                  So I'm happy to continue 

19           conversations.  We need those mental health 

20           practitioners more than ever.  And that is 

21           also true for me, right, in running our 

22           state's juvenile justice programs.  They're 

23           foundational, given the trauma and the mental 

24           health issues that so many of our young 


 1           people and families, frankly, are dealing 

 2           with these days.

 3                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Well, thank you, 

 4           Commissioner.  I agree with you a hundred 

 5           percent, we have to address this.  The need 

 6           has grown exponentially because of COVID.  

 7           And this bill would standardize these 

 8           master's-level educational clinical and 

 9           training and requirements.  So we've got to 

10           get this done.  Thank you so much.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

12                  We go to Assemblyman Burdick.

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you.  And 

14           thank you, Commissioner, for your work.

15                  I have two questions.  I'll ask them 

16           both at once, in the interests of time.

17                  I think it's clear that the 

18           Legislature would like to provide more 

19           resources, more funding, to the programs and 

20           services under your agency.  But you 

21           mentioned that the pandemic funds will not 

22           last forever, we should advocate for Build 

23           Back Better.  Do you see that in order to 

24           maintain even the present funding levels 


 1           there would need to be long-term reliance on 

 2           federal funding?  

 3                  And a related question is whether your 

 4           agency has identified any other dedicated 

 5           funding source.

 6                  The second question is that the budget 

 7           includes 500 million in COLA for human 

 8           services providers, which is very welcome.  

 9           It's great.  However, the statute that 

10           governs the COLA is outdated and it's 

11           important that the COLA goes to all current 

12           human services contracts.  So two questions.  

13           Is your agency doing anything to try to 

14           update the statute?  Because apparently in 

15           order to be eligible, you've got to be listed 

16           in the statute.

17                  And in the interim, what is your 

18           agency doing to ensure that the COLA is 

19           applied to all current contractors, 

20           regardless of whether they're listed in the 

21           statute?

22                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Thank you 

23           very much.  So great questions, you know, on 

24           childcare and how much of what we are doing 


 1           in the pandemic, you know, can be supported.

 2                  You know, again, I think the subsidy 

 3           pieces in particular -- raising the 

 4           eligibility to 300 percent, keeping copays as 

 5           minimal as possible for working families, you 

 6           know, trying to support providers with 

 7           sufficient market rates -- are really I think 

 8           the three core pieces that we need to watch 

 9           carefully.  Right?  So that absent not 

10           knowing what's going to happen perhaps with 

11           Build Back Better or additional base funding, 

12           we believe -- and this is why I think I've 

13           been asked this question, like why are you 

14           taking seemingly such a cautious approach.  

15           You know, the 225 in October, the 260 next 

16           year is because I think we are very -- we 

17           want to be really aggressive, but we also 

18           have to be cautious until we see what the 

19           spending starts to look like.

20                  So I don't have an exact answer, 

21           because as always there are unknowns.  We 

22           could get --

23                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you.  But 

24           the second question, if you could provide an 


 1           answer about the COLA and those contractors 

 2           not in the statute.  What about them?

 3                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Well, I will 

 4           say to you very candidly that that is 

 5           troubling for me, and has been, that that --

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Maybe we can 

 7           consider that offline, then.  Thank you so 

 8           much for your work.

 9                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, happy 

10           to.  Thank you.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Continuing with 

13           the Assembly -- 

14                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  No, sorry, a 

15           Senator popped up.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay, to the 

17           Senate.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Another Senator 

19           popped up.  Sorry.

20                  Senator Tom O'Mara, thank you.

21                  SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

22           Chairwoman.  I think you're going to start 

23           referring to me as Senator Pop Up, I think.

24                  (Laughter.)


 1                  SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  

 2                  Commissioner, thanks for being with us 

 3           this morning.  I have a couple of questions 

 4           with regards to our youth detention 

 5           facilities and the Raise the Age.  I'm 

 6           picking up a lot in the news with concerns 

 7           from law enforcement of the use of 16- and 

 8           17-year-olds for criminal activity to avoid 

 9           the more serious criminal responsibility of 

10           18- and 19-year-olds, particularly in regards 

11           to gang activity and the gun violence that 

12           we're seeing.

13                  I'm just wondering what if anything 

14           your agency is doing as overseeing the Raise 

15           the Age program as far as trying to gather 

16           information on just exactly what's going on 

17           and what you're picking up in your facilities 

18           on and hearing, kind of at least anecdotally, 

19           on what these 16- and 17-year-olds, or even 

20           younger, are doing.  Are they being exploited 

21           so that older gang members or other criminals 

22           are utilizing them?

23                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, I will 

24           say I've read about that.  Right, there's 


 1           been obviously a lot in the news every single 

 2           day, it seems about that.  I've not heard 

 3           that quite a bit in my own -- you know, in my 

 4           own facilities.

 5                  You know, what I will say to you is I 

 6           think we have to just not conflate the Raise 

 7           the Age law that was passed several years ago 

 8           with what's happening now in our world.  You 

 9           know, between the number of guns on the 

10           street, between just the impact of COVID and 

11           court processing, we're seeing kids stay in 

12           detention for much longer periods of time 

13           than they were ever intended for.  That's 

14           creating an issue, on occasion, where there's 

15           not access to specialized secure detention 

16           beds.

17                  Those are all real issues for sure 

18           that we are working our way through.  And as 

19           you heard me say, we're now starting to see a 

20           number of capital proposals for detention 

21           programs now that the pandemic seems to be 

22           lifting a bit.  So we absolutely need to move 

23           forward in building capital capacity.

24                  But I think we have to be very careful 


 1           in not conflating what's happening around gun 

 2           violence with sort of throwing the baby out 

 3           with the bathwater on Raise the Age.

 4                  SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, right, but we 

 5           have to be very careful that 16- and 

 6           17-year-olds and those underage are not being 

 7           either exploited or utilized because they're 

 8           going to avoid this criminal responsibility.  

 9                  And I think we're seeing longer stays 

10           in these facilities because there's more 

11           individuals, 16- and 17-year-olds now, going 

12           into those facilities that are committing 

13           much more serious crimes.

14                  And I would just encourage you and 

15           your department -- because I have been in 

16           contact talking to Assemblywoman Byrnes, who 

17           was talking before about the issues in one of 

18           the facilities in her area where they're 

19           hearing this, that the 16- and 17-year-olds 

20           are being used to avoid the more serious 

21           criminal responsibility for the 18, 19 and 

22           older with that.  And so I'll just leave it 

23           at that.

24                  And with regards to the capital 


 1           facilities, I hope we're looking at 

 2           regionalized facilities for multiple counties 

 3           and a localized region can send their youth 

 4           to a more close facility anyways.  Because I 

 5           do think those that certainly have --

 6                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah.  Yeah.  

 7           I would agree.

 8                  SENATOR O'MARA:  -- family contacts 

 9           and interested family, their ability to be 

10           able to interact with them while they're 

11           undergoing that.  

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

13                  SENATOR O'MARA:  So I'd just encourage 

14           that.

15                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Thank you so 

16           much.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you, 

18           Senator.

19                  SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

20                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Assembly.  

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We've been 

22           joined by Assemblywoman Forrest, 

23           Assemblywoman Gonzalez-Rojas, Assemblyman 

24           Meeks, Assemblywoman Hunter, and 


 1           Assemblywoman Reyes.  

 2                  And we go to Assemblyman Walczyk, 

 3           three minutes.

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  Thanks, 

 5           Madam Chair.  Hey, Commissioner.  How are you 

 6           doing today?

 7                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I'm well, 

 8           thank you.

 9                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  So I was looking 

10           at Casey and the way that New York State, in 

11           comparison with other states, invests some of 

12           its Title IV-E and Title IV-B in our foster 

13           program.  And by way of comparison, they've 

14           got some interesting looks.

15                  So in prevention services, we spend 

16           7 percent of our total in prevention and 93 

17           percent of our budget to foster care.  

18           Compare us to somebody like Alabama, who's 

19           considered to have a really successful 

20           program when you compare them to others, 

21           they've got 76 percent in foster and 

22           24 percent in prevention.  So a significant 

23           amount more of their Title IV-B is pushed 

24           into those prevention programs.


 1                  Do you have any thoughts on that?

 2                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I actually 

 3           don't.  I'd be very interested, though, in 

 4           seeing the report that you are referencing.

 5                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  Yeah, if you go 

 6           to Casey, it's pretty easy to find.

 7                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Actually we 

 8           work very closely with Casey Family Programs.

 9                  So we do -- I mean, we invest, because 

10           of our high state reimbursement, the 62/38 

11           model, I find it impossible that -- you said 

12           Arkansas?

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  Alabama.

14                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Or Alabama.  

15           Yeah, I would -- I would be very happy to try 

16           and put that into better context for you.

17                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  Yeah, great.  

18           And -- yeah, I'll follow up with your office 

19           on that.

20                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Please.  

21           Happy to.

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  The same study 

23           shows 9 percent of our foster kids in 

24           New York enter the system for abuse, which is 


 1           one of the lowest in the nation.

 2                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah.

 3                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  But that also 

 4           means that we have the highest entering for 

 5           reasons that aren't abuse.  What do you think 

 6           accounts for that?

 7                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  That is a 

 8           fantastic question, and I can tell you we're 

 9           doing lots of work on that.

10                  So, you know, we know, right, from the 

11           data that you just described that many, many 

12           families are swept into the child welfare 

13           system for neglect.  And we know that much of 

14           neglect is derived from poverty.  So we're 

15           working very hard here at OCFS to really try 

16           and create much more upstream prevention so 

17           that families, who many live in fear of 

18           coming into contact with the formal child 

19           welfare system, can feel safer in this 

20           accessing help from their community.  

21                  So we are working on a number of fronts.  

22           One of them is we are going to pilot a basic 

23           income project, which I know many of you are 

24           aware is becoming very popular, right, this 


 1           notion that many families just need some 

 2           additional cash income to help them do better and 

 3           take better care of their children.  So we're 

 4           working with the University of Pennsylvania, with 

 5           Redlich Horwitz here, we're going to have a 

 6           randomized control study with a small subset of 

 7           our child welfare families here, to really better 

 8           understand the impact of that model.

 9                  We are creating a "warmline," so instead 

10           of a hotline where families get called sort of 

11           into the formal child welfare system, we want to 

12           create places where families or folks who know 

13           families are in need can call and ask for help 

14           and get that help -- 

15                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  Commissioner, I 

16           see that I've asked a complicated question.  

17           I'll follow up with your office --

18                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  It's a great 

19           question, though.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  We've exceeded 

21           our time here.  Thanks.

22                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I'd love to 

23           tell you more.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.


 1                  Senator, I think you have a Senator.  

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I do, thank you.  

 3           I have a Senator, the Senator Alexis Weik.

 4                  SENATOR WEIK:  Thank you.

 5                  Commissioner, thank you so much for 

 6           being here today.  And I'm concerned about 

 7           the lack of secure facilities for teenage 

 8           offenders charged with felonies.  

 9                  So recently I met with my Suffolk 

10           County sheriff, Sheriff Toulon, regarding 

11           this issue.  And these teenagers are 

12           transported hundreds of miles from their 

13           communities and families, they're driven from 

14           Nassau and Suffolk to Albany, Syracuse and 

15           even Buffalo.  Housing these teenagers so far 

16           away of course is costing our taxpayers a 

17           thousand dollars per day -- per person, 

18           excuse me.  And we have to reassign deputies 

19           from their regular duties to make these long 

20           trips.  And it seems like a wasteful 

21           diversion of local resources.  

22                  These teenagers are far from their 

23           families, their attorneys, and from their 

24           local support programs.


 1                  So as you know, Nassau and Suffolk are 

 2           working on a joint facility to house 

 3           adolescents.  What is it you're doing to help 

 4           speed this process?  Because my local 

 5           officials are telling me they're not getting 

 6           much guidance or assistance from your office 

 7           to help obtain the OCFS approval for their 

 8           proposal, and we'd like to see that happen.

 9                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  So would we.  

10                  Yes, we are very excited to have 

11           received fairly recently the county's 

12           proposal, which as you're probably aware, 

13           right, is to purpose a new facility for close 

14           to 40 young people.  So we are ready.  The 

15           money is available, there is money in the 

16           State Budget for capital, there is DASNY 

17           bonding authority.  

18                  And I will say -- and please feel free 

19           to reach out to my office offline -- I am 

20           surprised to hear you say that there appears 

21           to be a lack of cooperation on my agency's 

22           part.  We've been trying to work very closely 

23           with the county.  So if there's some 

24           disconnect, I want to know about it so we can 


 1           get after it very, very quickly, because we 

 2           need all due speed.  

 3                  And especially in Long Island, where 

 4           there has not been an adequate secure 

 5           detention facility before Raise the Age.  And 

 6           of course we know that COVID sort of put a 

 7           stop on all kinds of capital projects.  But 

 8           we are ready and we want to move forward very 

 9           quickly with Long Island and with the other 

10           many capital projects that are before the 

11           state today.

12                  SENATOR WEIK:  Okay, so is there 

13           someone they should be reaching out to?  

14           Because again, when they're reaching out to 

15           me telling me they're not getting guidance or 

16           assistance, that tells me that perhaps 

17           they're not reaching out to the right 

18           individual or department, so --

19                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah.  Yes.  

20           I know that my deputy, Nina Aledort, is the 

21           lead.  She's been in frequent contact with I 

22           believe the county executive's office in 

23           Suffolk County.  So we should talk so we get 

24           all of this back on track.


 1                  SENATOR WEIK:  Okay.  Thank you very 

 2           much.

 3                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You're 

 4           welcome.  

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  We 

 6           go back to the Assembly, and Assemblyman 

 7           Mamdani.

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you so 

 9           much, Chair Weinstein.

10                  Thank you, Commissioner Poole.  I'm 

11           going to jump straight into it in the 

12           interests of time.

13                  There's a growing concern around 

14           public and community safety, yet Governor 

15           Hochul is proposing $51 million in cuts to 

16           various children and families initiatives 

17           that provide just that.  Some examples 

18           include 2.5 million from settlement houses, 

19           2 million from Safe Harbor, 1.9 from the 

20           Kinship Program.  Most of these are normally 

21           restored through the Legislature, but why cut 

22           in a year when these services are sorely 

23           needed to help quell violence in communities?

24                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes.  That's 


 1           a challenging question to answer.  All of 

 2           those programs that you mentioned do do 

 3           valuable work.  They have been supported, as 

 4           you point out, by legislative proposals for a 

 5           number of years.

 6                  So perhaps as we continue, right -- 

 7           this Executive Budget is just a beginning 

 8           conversation -- that we can find ways.  But I 

 9           do, I appreciate your lifting up -- those are 

10           important programs.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Absolutely.  And 

12           I appreciate your answer.  I think for me 

13           it's just hard to understand why we would 

14           begin the conversation with cuts to such 

15           vital programs.

16                  But I'll move on to my second 

17           question.  Last year, Commissioner, you 

18           testified that childcare is a, quote, really 

19           aspirational goal for us as a state.  If we 

20           were to implement universal childcare, what 

21           would the benefit be to our children, our 

22           families, especially our working ones, job 

23           creation, and our state economy?

24                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah, it's 


 1           another great question.  You know, right, I 

 2           still believe that.  That is still our 

 3           North Star goal.  

 4                  And I also just want to point out, you 

 5           know, that all the investments that we've 

 6           been able to make -- and again, granted, some 

 7           of it is pandemic funding, but there's also a 

 8           lot in subsidy that we are committed to 

 9           continuing -- are foundational steps toward 

10           universal childcare.  Is it good to take more 

11           money to sort of get us, you know, to 

12           universal childcare, which I would also say 

13           requires a lot of discussion about how do you 

14           define that in the first instance.  There's 

15           many ways to define universal childcare.

16                  But without question, right, we've all 

17           seen the economists' reports.  This is why 

18           it's been such an issue on a national level 

19           about universal childcare should in some way, 

20           I think, be our goal as a country.

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  I'm sorry, 

22           Commissioner Poole, just because I only have 

23           35 seconds left.  

24                  Can you speak a little bit to what it 


 1           would mean if we had universal childcare in 

 2           terms of what you would see in the difference 

 3           in childcare provisions as well as the 

 4           economy and for families in general?

 5                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You know, I 

 6           think it would remove, right, these sort of 

 7           thresholds for eligibility.  You know, it's a 

 8           policy shift that potentially looks at access 

 9           to childcare as one does have a right to 

10           childcare in the same way that children, all 

11           children, have a right to a free public 

12           education.  Right?  That's sort of the 

13           broadest perspective of universal childcare.  

14           That also happens to be the most expensive 

15           one.  But again, there's all kinds of flavors 

16           and varieties, and a lot of that just depends 

17           on how much we have to support that.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you so 

19           much, Commissioner.  I think that nothing 

20           should be out of reach when it comes to our 

21           children, and we should fund that through 

22           additional revenue.

23                  I'll give the time back to the chair.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.


 1                  We go to Assemblywoman Buttenschon.

 2                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUTTENSCHON:  Thank you, 

 3           Chairs.

 4                  Good morning, Commissioner.  And thank 

 5           you to your staff for responding to me so 

 6           quickly.  I appreciate the efforts in 

 7           prioritizing childcare, and I want to just 

 8           reconfirm what many of my colleagues have 

 9           stated today about after-school programs, 

10           mental health, and the overall concern for 

11           our children.

12                  My question is directed towards what 

13           has been placed in your hands after the Raise 

14           the Age legislation that others have brought 

15           up.  As you are aware, in the district I live 

16           in, the word "crisis" is identified by the 

17           stakeholders that have been meeting over the 

18           last few months.  And to ensure that we can 

19           provide safe beds that are healthy and can 

20           provide those services for the children that 

21           are in the Family Court system, how do we 

22           ensure that they get those services?  And 

23           clearly I can't change what the county's done 

24           in the past, so my question is looking at 


 1           what the state can do for the future.

 2                  And the second question I ask is:  

 3           You've looked at the budget, what do you see 

 4           missing that I can help, as well as my 

 5           colleagues, advocate for you to ensure that 

 6           the support is there?  Because these are 

 7           children in need, and they are desperately in 

 8           need of those services.  Thank you.

 9                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Thank you.  

10           And Assemblyperson, I want to call out your 

11           leadership and, you know, your persistence in 

12           keeping us at the table and having 

13           conversations about really important issues 

14           in your community.

15                  And one of the things -- you know, I 

16           know you've been speaking with Deputy 

17           Commissioner Aledort, right?  One of the 

18           things we want to offer your community is to 

19           bring in a national consultant to help work 

20           with a broad group of stakeholders, you know, 

21           in the counties and to really try and get all 

22           the stakeholders together in a new way to try 

23           and see where there are opportunities for 

24           better cross-system solutions.  


 1                  With some of the young people, as I 

 2           referenced earlier, the State Office of 

 3           Mental Health is bringing many more services 

 4           to bear.  They're rolling out youth assertive 

 5           treatment teams.  I want to see where we can 

 6           build some real partnerships with other state 

 7           agencies to -- again, we're never probably 

 8           going to completely eliminate the need for 

 9           beds, you know, or for detention, but I do 

10           feel like there's some real opportunities for 

11           not just OCFS but perhaps other state 

12           agencies to help your community out.  And I 

13           commit that we will do that with you for 

14           sure.

15                  I'm sorry, what was your second 

16           question?

17                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUTTENSCHON:  You looked 

18           at the budget.  What did we forget?  What do 

19           you need?

20                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Oh, the 

21           budget.  The magical question.  Oh, my 

22           goodness.

23                  I am concerned about workforce.  

24           Workforce is -- I mean, the COLAs are great, 


 1           they're a good start.  But, you know, we -- 

 2           and it's not just OCFS, you're hearing it 

 3           from every commissioner, right?  You heard it 

 4           from the Civil Service, you know, 

 5           commissioner the other day.  And I know we've 

 6           got some exciting initiatives in the 

 7           Governor's State of the State and in the 

 8           proposed budget, but we have really -- 

 9           especially in human services, right, we have 

10           got to put all of our heads together and make 

11           long overdue investments.  Because, you know, 

12           we know, just for example in childcare, our 

13           workforce, 60 percent of our childcare 

14           workers, you know, receive at least one form 

15           of a public benefit.  Like we have got some 

16           work to do.

17                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUTTENSCHON:  Well, 

18           thank you, Commissioner, and I look forward 

19           to hosting in Utica.

20                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You bet.  

21           Thank you.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

23                  We go to Assemblywoman González-Rojas.

24                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  Thank 


 1           you so much, Commissioner, for being here. 

 2                  I'm personally someone who's benefited 

 3           from childcare.  As a mom, it's allowed me to 

 4           engage in the workforce and have my son cared 

 5           for.  So a really simple question.  Do you 

 6           believe that the Governor's administration -- 

 7           the Governor is the first woman and the first 

 8           mom -- is it the belief that all children 

 9           should be safe, nurtured, and that women and 

10           families should be able to join or return to 

11           the workforce?

12                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  I don't 

13           think I know.  Right?  We have heard -- you 

14           know, we have heard the Governor, you know, 

15           say that repeatedly as Lieutenant Governor.  

16           As you probably know, Assemblywoman, you 

17           know, she was very instrumental in our 

18           Childcare Availability Task Force, which I am 

19           really looking forward to that resuming.  

20           There are so many just critical conversations 

21           and things for us to be weaving together, now 

22           more than ever.  

23                  But yes, you know, there's no mistake 

24           that our Governor talks about this all the 


 1           time.  About how essential our childcare 

 2           workforce is and about how essential 

 3           childcare is to our economic recovery.

 4                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  And do 

 5           you believe this budget, if enacted as is -- 

 6           like how many families will still be left 

 7           behind without childcare?  Because, as you 

 8           said, it doesn't adequately address all the 

 9           concerns.  

10                  And to the comment about workforce, 

11           you know, grants, bonuses, you know, good 

12           start -- but certainly not a sustainable 

13           means of getting our childcare workers off 

14           public assistance in order to care for our 

15           children.

16                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Right.  

17           Yeah.  So as I said in, you know, my opening 

18           remarks, I -- you know, I think we've been 

19           clear that without -- and I know there are 

20           other proposals, legislative proposals out 

21           there.  Those aside, you know, for a moment.  

22           I mean, we are using all of our available 

23           subsidy dollars, there are General Fund 

24           dollars, we used some TANF toward, you know, 


 1           childcare expenditures.  We're raising 

 2           subsidy access.  

 3                  We do know, though, that the number of 

 4           families and children benefiting from subsidy 

 5           has continued to drop in our state, you know, 

 6           in recent years.  We saw a 20 percent 

 7           reduction in uptake in subsidy last year.  

 8           And money is not the only issue.  There's 

 9           UPK, there's all kinds of other -- you know, 

10           other issues here.

11                  But again, I think, you know, the 

12           Governor's proposal in raising subsidy, you 

13           know, over time is the prudent one just given 

14           our overall current fiscal situation and not 

15           having any sign from Washington that the 

16           Build Back Better legislation is going to 

17           bring more money to New York.  That is our 

18           current reality.

19                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  Thank 

20           you.  

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

22           Commissioner.  

23                  We've been joined by Assemblyman 

24           Cusick, and we go to Assemblywoman Solages.


 1                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN SOLAGES:  Thank you, 

 2           Commissioner.  

 3                  You know, as we saw during the COVID 

 4           pandemic, universal forms of cash assistance 

 5           was a promising way to help families.  It 

 6           enabled families, especially those in the 

 7           foster care system, to have financial 

 8           security to fulfill their potential dreams 

 9           and have access to opportunity.  

10                  We want to ensure that these children 

11           in the foster care system do not have deeper 

12           involvement in the system.  And so it's 

13           interesting to see that, you know, OCFS was 

14           proposing a universal basic income pilot.

15                  So first, can you elaborate on the 

16           project?  Second, can you tell us if this 

17           project is similar to what's happening in 

18           California?  And third, would you support, 

19           you know, making this program permanent for 

20           foster care youth?

21                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Thank you.

22                  So we are -- I'm very excited in 

23           trying this out, this model, because we 

24           believe that so many families who are drawn 


 1           to the child welfare system -- you know, not 

 2           as far down as getting into foster care, 

 3           which is an entirely different situation -- 

 4           can benefit from this.  So it is modeled 

 5           after California and other states who are 

 6           doing this, not just for families in -- 

 7           actually, I think we're going to be the first 

 8           state who is focusing our basic income or our 

 9           guaranteed income on families in the child 

10           welfare system.  Others have done it in more 

11           broader economic -- excuse me, the TANF 

12           population.

13                  So we are working on -- I don't know 

14           if you're aware, we have a dual-track system 

15           in New York State, so there's Child 

16           Protective Services investigations and then 

17           there's Family Assessment Response.  So it is 

18           sort of a more family-engagement approach 

19           where the allegations are not serious, 

20           they're not abuse.

21                  We have 15 counties that are 

22           participating in Family Assessment Response 

23           right now, and so we are going to pilot this 

24           basic income with a small subset of those 


 1           counties.  The idea is to give $500 a month 

 2           for a year, without a lot of questions asked, 

 3           to those families who are currently sort 

 4           of -- they touch the child welfare system, 

 5           they're not involved in a traditional 

 6           investigation, and then track and evaluate 

 7           over time, right, how has that family fared, 

 8           how has it helped that mom or that mom and 

 9           dad stabilize?  Have they been called into 

10           the hotline again?  Is their family better?  

11           All the kinds of things that we really want 

12           to learn about in child welfare.

13                  So as I said, we have the benefit of a 

14           foundation partner that is actually going to 

15           pay for the evaluation.  We're working with 

16           the University of Pennsylvania, who has done 

17           all the research and evaluation for the other 

18           universal basic income pilots.  And I am 

19           proud that we are going to be I think the 

20           first state to try this out in child welfare.

21                  As for sort of a permanent status, you 

22           know, I think there's a lot of conversation.  

23           We have a new OTDA commissioner, right, 

24           coming on board.  And I had the opportunity 


 1           of a very brief conversation, you know, with 

 2           Commissioner Tietz last week, and I am 

 3           excited about us, right -- the sort of child 

 4           welfare agency and then the temporary 

 5           assistance agency, right, antipoverty, 

 6           right -- to work together.  I am excited.

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8           Thank you, Assemblymember, Commissioner.  

 9                  The final -- Senator Krueger, I see 

10           that you have a Senator who has raised her 

11           hand.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

13           much.  I apologize for not looking in the 

14           boxes carefully enough.

15                  I see Senator Samra Brouk.

16                  SENATOR BROUK:  Right under the wire.  

17           Thank you so much, Chairman.  And thank you, 

18           Commissioner, for all of the thoughtful 

19           answers you've given today.

20                  I just have one question that 

21           hopefully you will have enough ample time to 

22           answer in three minutes.  You mentioned to 

23           one of the Assemblymembers recently that one 

24           of your greatest concerns for children and 


 1           families in this state is the workforce 

 2           shortage.  So digging deeper into that, 

 3           obviously in the Executive Budget the COLA 

 4           increase, which a lot of us fought for, is a 

 5           step forward, and various other programs and 

 6           incentives.  But I think at the end of the 

 7           day we simply do not have enough licensed 

 8           professionals, especially when it comes to 

 9           mental health providers, especially at 

10           facilities like Hillside here in Rochester, 

11           where I represent, which services, as you 

12           know, children both through OCFS and OMH.  

13                  Given that you do recognize this is a 

14           workforce crisis, do you agree that our bill 

15           in the Senate, it's 5301A, that would 

16           equalize licensure requirements among our key 

17           mental health practitioners, including LMHCs, 

18           LMFTs and LPs, and ensure that people who 

19           have been doing this work for decades and 

20           filling these much-needed gaps in service for 

21           decades can continue to do that, should be 

22           passed in this year's budget?

23                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  So I'll 

24           answer that -- I think this question was 


 1           answered before, and I'll -- I'm happy to 

 2           answer it again, Senator.

 3                  I obviously have not studied the bill.  

 4           I certainly will as we get closer, you know, 

 5           to those deliberations.  And I would agree 

 6           that the mental health licensure and 

 7           workforce -- certainly during the pandemic, 

 8           right -- requires sort of renewed focus and 

 9           attention.  And I think one way or the other 

10           we need to find out new strategies to make 

11           sure that we have an adequate pipeline of 

12           qualified individuals, knowing that the 

13           mental health and behavioral health needs are 

14           at an all-time high in our state.

15                  So I'm happy to continue discussions 

16           with you and others on this issue.

17                  SENATOR BROUK:  I appreciate that, 

18           Commissioner.  And I'll just add, to put a 

19           fine point on it as well, you know, one of 

20           the things we see a lot of is the fact that 

21           we are so restrictive here in this state, 

22           that a lot of really talented folks who are 

23           graduating from our universities are leaving 

24           the state.  And so that is really compounding 


 1           our crisis here as well.  No matter how many 

 2           incentives we give, if they simply don't have 

 3           the ability to diagnose, as you know, it 

 4           really kind of cuts their knees off where 

 5           they're able to actually practice.

 6                  So I look forward to continuing that 

 7           conversation and look forward to gaining your 

 8           support.  Thank you.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

10           Assemblywoman Forrest, three minutes.

11                  We heard you for a second.  Please 

12           unmute yourself.  There you go.  

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Thank you.  

14           Thank you, Chair.  

15                  And thank you, Commissioner, for being 

16           here today.  

17                  The Governor's -- I have a small 

18           question.  The Governor's proposed budget 

19           proposes to use $75 million to support 

20           increasing childcare workers' wages from 

21           underutilized stabilization grant funds, 

22           right?  How much will the average childcare 

23           wage in New York State be impacted by a 

24           $75 million investment?  Which we all know is 


 1           like a drop, it's like a penny.  But you tell 

 2           me.

 3                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Okay.  Thank 

 4           you, Assemblywoman.  So I just want to 

 5           clarify that the $75 million that's in the 

 6           proposed budget is drawing upon federal 

 7           pandemic dollars.  So this is not -- not our 

 8           long-term answer to our childcare workforce 

 9           challenges.  I just -- I want to be clear and 

10           honest about that.  So what we're proposing 

11           to do is -- I think you're probably familiar 

12           with how we rolled out our childcare 

13           stabilization grants.  Our billion-dollar 

14           offering last year made it very easy for 

15           providers to apply on a portal.  We're going 

16           to use that model again.  

17                  And so the $75 million is not -- is 

18           not really so much for permanent wage 

19           increases, because it's not a permanent 

20           funding stream.  We want to support, you 

21           know, bonuses or, you know, if there is a 

22           wage increase, knowing that this funding will 

23           lapse at the end of September 2023, you know, 

24           providers can help their childcare employees 


 1           by offsetting costs for their health 

 2           insurance, they can give them stipends to 

 3           help on educational or professional 

 4           development activities.  And so they're meant 

 5           to be sort of more one-time grants that 

 6           employers, right, the childcare employers can 

 7           use flexibly with their employee workforce, 

 8           depending upon the needs and the things that 

 9           will work best for them.

10                  I hope I answered that.

11                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  No, thank you 

12           for the clarification.  So really it's the 

13           employers that are getting this money to then 

14           decide what they want to do as far as 

15           staffing needs.

16                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yes, it will 

17           go to -- but they are required to spell out, 

18           in a plan to us, right, verify the number of 

19           employees and how they will plan to use the 

20           grant fund for their workforce.

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  No problem.  

22           We're not spelling it out for them, they're 

23           going to figure it out and then report back 

24           to us.


 1                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  That's 

 2           right, yeah.

 3                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Thank you, 

 4           Commissioner.

 5                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  My pleasure.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7                  And to end questioning for the 

 8           commissioner, the ranker on Ways and Means, 

 9           Assemblyman Ra, for five minutes.

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, Chair.  So 

11           I just wanted to get back into Raise the Age.  

12           I'm just wondering if -- and if you don't 

13           have it here, certainly if you can provide it 

14           afterwards.  But if you have any data 

15           regarding, you know, now that we're a few 

16           years into this, how many adolescent 

17           offenders have been redirected from DOCCS 

18           facilities to OCFS facilities at this point.  

19                  And then also, you know, whether as 

20           this has gone on, you know, some of those 

21           first individuals who would have been 

22           assigned have either been released subsequent 

23           or been transferred to DOCCS facilities, you 

24           know, once they reach the appropriate age.


 1                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  So I can 

 2           answer the first question.  I'll get you the 

 3           data on the second, the number of kids who 

 4           have aged out of our secure facilities and 

 5           have gone on to finish their sentences with 

 6           DOCCS.

 7                  But I will say -- I want to say -- the 

 8           years are sort of blending.  I want to say, 

 9           Assemblyman, it was in 2020 that -- it was 

10           either 2019 or 2020, I'm pretty sure it was 

11           '20, that we worked collaboratively over a 

12           couple of months with our partners at DOCCS 

13           to transfer back to OCFS secure facilities -- 

14           I want to say it was about -- it was between 

15           15 and 17 young people under the age of 21.  

16                  That was a provision allowed for in 

17           the Raise the Age legislation.  So we worked 

18           very closely and carefully with DOCCS to 

19           effectuate a safe transfer.  And as I said, 

20           that took place in 2020, which seems frankly 

21           like a lifetime ago.  But that did take 

22           place.  And happy to follow up with your 

23           office on the data going the other way, when 

24           youth age out of our secure facilities and go 


 1           to DOCCS.

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Okay.  And then I 

 3           know there's this provision regarding the 

 4           Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act 

 5           in the Executive Budget.  If you could just 

 6           shed some light on that relative -- you know, 

 7           individuals up to the age of 21 can remain in 

 8           OCFS secure detention facilities.  So what 

 9           are we trying to accomplish there?

10                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yup.  So 

11           it's an Article VII bill that we have.  It's 

12           in response to a federal Juvenile Justice 

13           Delinquency Prevention Act that actually took 

14           effect in New York on December 21st.  

15                  And so our Article VII -- and we get 

16           about $2 million, or DCJS does, rather, 

17           $2 million to support community-based 

18           initiatives.  But in order for DCJS to draw 

19           down the funds, the entire state needs to be 

20           in compliance with the federal bill.

21                  So what our Article VII does is it 

22           actually goes beyond what is required to meet 

23           the federal statute, and it creates very 

24           specific guardrails.  So that if there is a 


 1           young person under the age of 18 for whom an 

 2           alternative jail sentence is being sought -- 

 3           or a jail placement is being sought, that it 

 4           can no longer happen by administrative means.  

 5           So I can't make a decision that a kid can go 

 6           into a local jail.  

 7                  That now this says, right, that young 

 8           people really don't belong in jails, that by 

 9           default they belong in secure facilities.  

10           And that we're proposing that we set very 

11           clear parameters around that, and that there 

12           is a newly created interest of justice 

13           hearing that requires that a judge must hear 

14           a request for a young person under the age of 

15           18 to be held in a local jail placement.  

16                  It also requires OCFS, if we are 

17           looking to move a young person out of an OCFS 

18           facility under the age of I believe it's 

19           21 -- or under 18, rather, to DOCCS.  That we 

20           can't do that administratively, as we have 

21           done for decades, but that too requires an 

22           interest-of-justice hearing.  

23                  So it's really to make sure that youth 

24           have great representation, that there is a 


 1           360-degree view of why a young person might 

 2           need a temporary jail placement.  And the 

 3           goal of our bill is to really create much 

 4           stronger guardrails so that we are -- you 

 5           know, we're making the right decisions for 

 6           these young people.

 7                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, 

 8           Commissioner.

 9                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Of course.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We send it back 

11           to the Senate.  

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes, thank you.  

13           We have a final second round for Chair Jabari 

14           Brisport.

15                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you, 

16           Madam Chair.  

17                  And Commissioner, thank you for all 

18           your work.  I know you've been here for over 

19           two hours, and it's definitely not easy to 

20           field these questions.

21                  I have childcare questions again, but 

22           I do want to clarify just a few things before 

23           I get into that.  One, I would like to reup 

24           what Assemblymember Hevesi said about the 


 1           65 percent reimbursement level.  

 2                  And also following up on 

 3           Assemblymember Solages' questioning about the 

 4           UBI, I just want to clarify that I believe 

 5           the Governor's proposal is different than 

 6           California's.  The Governor's is for the 

 7           families, and what happened in California was 

 8           specifically for youth that are aging out.  

 9           And I say that because I have a bill for -- 

10           relative to the youth that are aging out of 

11           foster care for a UBI that I'd love to 

12           collaborate on.

13                  And going back to childcare, I want to 

14           circle back to the $75 million that was -- 

15           we've heard it many times, and just talk 

16           about what is our sustainable solution.  

17           Because it is a one-time bonus, and I know in 

18           a year and a half we don't want to be back at 

19           the drawing board where childcare workers are 

20           leaving because they don't want to get paid 

21           $14 an hour for childcare when they can make 

22           $17 an hour at Burger King.  

23                  So can we get to a scenario where 

24           they're paid at parity with public school 


 1           teachers, for example?

 2                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Yeah.  Yes.  

 3           That -- that is our North Star.  You know, 

 4           our North Star, Senator.

 5                  I would say two things.  One -- three 

 6           things.  One, Childcare Availability Task 

 7           Force.  This is one of those things, right, 

 8           that's spelled out in the proposed chapter 

 9           amendment which we hopefully get signed and 

10           we can get busy back around the table really, 

11           you know, trying to get after some of these 

12           very, very challenging issues.

13                  Secondly, you know, I think there may 

14           be additional opportunities, again, if we 

15           wind up having some additional unspent 

16           federal dollars, right, the pandemic dollars.  

17           Again, we put all this money out there, we've 

18           got to really watch what the uptake is and 

19           how much of it is going to be spent.  And if 

20           there is some unspent, then potentially there 

21           could be another conversation, right, about a 

22           different version of a stabilization grant.

23                  You know, and then thirdly I always 

24           hope, I am an eternal optimist, even after 


 1           all these years, you know, that the federal 

 2           government -- and I know you feel 

 3           differently, but the federal government will 

 4           recognize that we do need additional stable 

 5           federal support to be able to support this 

 6           workforce once and for all.

 7                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you.  You 

 8           know, I have hopes that Build Back Better 

 9           will come through, but my hopes are slim.

10                  So with the time I have left, I know 

11           earlier when replying to Assemblymember 

12           Mamdani, you know, there's many competing 

13           visions and, you know, there is the issue of 

14           funding for a universal childcare program, 

15           but one in which there is no means testing, 

16           it's free, available for all parents.  You 

17           know, there are proposals in the Legislature 

18           to invest $5 billion into the sector.  Is 

19           that something that you would support?

20                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  You know, I 

21           would love -- and I know we all would, 

22           right -- I would love for us, you know, to be 

23           able to get there.  But I absolutely respect, 

24           right, the many -- the many demands that the 


 1           Governor and her administration are facing.

 2                  So I look forward, this is -- right, 

 3           this is just the beginning, Senator, and I 

 4           know we're going to have lots of 

 5           conversations in the coming weeks ahead.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 7                  Before we say thank you for your 

 8           presence here, Commissioner, I just wanted to 

 9           mention that Assemblyman Dilan has joined us.

10                  And we thank you, Commissioner Poole, 

11           for all of your -- for being here with us.  

12           And to the extent that there will be some 

13           written responses to members' questions, 

14           please make sure to share them with 

15           Senator Krueger and myself so we can share 

16           with the rest of the members on the panel.

17                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Happy to.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

19           being here, and we're going to call the next 

20           witness --  

21                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

22                  OCFS COMMISSIONER POOLE:  Thank you 

23           all.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  -- who is 


 1           Acting Commissioner Daniel Tietz, acting 

 2           commissioner for the New York State Office of 

 3           Temporary and Disability Assistance, commonly 

 4           known as OTDA.  

 5                  And Commissioner, the floor is yours 

 6           to begin.  You have 10 minutes.  There you 

 7           go.

 8                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  There you 

 9           go.  Thank you.

10                  Good morning, Chairpersons Krueger and 

11           Weinstein and distinguished members of the 

12           Senate and Assembly.  I'm Daniel W. Tietz, 

13           acting commissioner of the Office of 

14           Temporary and Disability Assistance.  I'm 

15           pleased to join you today to discuss the 

16           impact of Governor Hochul's 2023 Executive 

17           Budget on the important work of our agency on 

18           behalf of the residents of New York State.

19                  OTDA is responsible for supervising 

20           programs that provide economic and other 

21           assistance and support to eligible families 

22           and individuals.  This vital government 

23           function includes helping New Yorkers meet 

24           their essential needs and ensuring their 


 1           economic security by providing opportunities 

 2           for stable employment, housing, and 

 3           nutrition.  Importantly, our mission is 

 4           accomplished in cooperation with the local 

 5           social services districts and community-based 

 6           service providers.  

 7                  We are pleased to report that Governor 

 8           Hochul's Executive Budget makes long-overdue 

 9           adjustments to public assistance that will 

10           help low-income New Yorkers achieve economic 

11           security.  These program improvements -– the 

12           first in many years -- are sure to have a 

13           dramatic impact on struggling households.  

14                  The Governor's budget also continues 

15           steady funding of our agency's core programs, 

16           which serve the critical needs of millions of 

17           New Yorkers daily.  These programs include 

18           ongoing public assistance, emergency 

19           assistance, housing supports, and a range of 

20           services, including programs that help 

21           refugees start a new life in our state.  

22                  While OTDA's work has always been 

23           important, our programs have become 

24           increasingly critical amid the far-reaching 


 1           economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 2           Simply put, our assistance programs are 

 3           helping millions of New Yorkers avoid food 

 4           insecurity and housing instability during 

 5           this public health crisis.  

 6                  Last year alone, OTDA distributed 

 7           nearly $5 billion in additional food benefits 

 8           to schoolchildren and struggling families 

 9           throughout the state, infusing our 

10           communities with critical federal dollars.  

11           Under Governor Hochul's leadership, our 

12           agency has fully committed all $2.4 billion 

13           in federal rental assistance through the 

14           Emergency Rental Assistance Program, or ERAP, 

15           which has brought critical eviction 

16           protections to hundreds of thousands of 

17           tenants and much-needed relief to struggling 

18           landlords.  

19                  While our state is well-positioned to 

20           emerge from the economic toll brought about 

21           by the pandemic, there remain many challenges 

22           ahead.  Governor Hochul has continued to call 

23           on the U.S. Treasury to provide high-need 

24           states like New York with additional funding 


 1           for ERAP to ensure all eligible tenants who 

 2           apply have access to this assistance. 

 3           Recently the state formally requested 

 4           $1.6 billion in reallocated funds from the 

 5           Treasury Department, and we await a response.  

 6                  We must also continue the vital work 

 7           OTDA was doing prior to the onset of the 

 8           pandemic to address homelessness. 

 9           Specifically, this includes supporting the 

10           Governor's new five-year, $25 billion 

11           comprehensive housing plan to create and 

12           preserve 100,000 affordable homes, including 

13           10,000 units of supportive housing for 

14           vulnerable populations.  OTDA's Homeless 

15           Housing and Assistance Program, with 

16           $128 million in this year's budget, is a 

17           central component of this effort by funding 

18           capital projects statewide that provide 

19           supportive housing to families and 

20           individuals experiencing homelessness. 

21                  Supportive housing brings together 

22           permanent housing and tailored services 

23           necessary for individuals to achieve and 

24           maintain stable lives in the community.  


 1           These services play a critical role in 

 2           helping families and individuals to overcome 

 3           the obstacles that may have contributed to 

 4           their homelessness.  New funding is included 

 5           in OTDA's budget to support these critical 

 6           services and ongoing operation of this 

 7           permanent housing through the Empire State 

 8           Supportive Housing Initiative, or ESSHI.  

 9                  As I alluded to earlier, a core OTDA 

10           function is helping New Yorkers relying on 

11           our assistance programs to achieve economic 

12           security.  This year's budget proposes 

13           changes to the public assistance program to 

14           encourage increased earnings and allow more 

15           savings among recipients without forcing them 

16           off the so-called "benefits cliff" -- the 

17           loss of benefits resulting from a quite 

18           modest increase in income that then places a 

19           household slightly over the eligibility 

20           threshold, thereby ending all assistance. 

21                  Rather than incentivizing work, this 

22           benefits cliff often results in recipients 

23           who work becoming ineligible for any public 

24           assistance even though the household remains 


 1           below the poverty level.  With the Governor's 

 2           proposed improvements, a single adult in 

 3           receipt of public assistance in New York City 

 4           will now be able to earn up to $1,094 per 

 5           month before losing eligibility, more than 

 6           double the $487 per month threshold that 

 7           exists today.  

 8                  Similarly, the improved benefits will 

 9           permit a New York City family of three to 

10           earn up to $1,876 per month before losing 

11           public assistance eligibility, an increase of 

12           $417 over the previous formula.  And the 

13           fixed earned-income disregard for all public 

14           assistance cases will increase monthly 

15           benefits for an estimated 25,000 households 

16           with and without children.  Taken together, 

17           these improvements will make a significant 

18           impact on the economic security of 

19           individuals and families.  

20                  Governor Hochul's budget will also 

21           permit applicants and recipients of public 

22           assistance to save more before that savings 

23           renders them ineligible for assistance.  In 

24           addition, the budget proposes to eliminate 


 1           the 45-day waiting period for Safety Net 

 2           Assistance applicants, helping households 

 3           obtain critical benefits more quickly.  

 4                  The budget also continues to invest in 

 5           the Summer Youth Employment Program, 

 6           providing a funding increase to reflect a 

 7           recent boost to the minimum wage so the 

 8           program can continue providing invaluable 

 9           employment experience for thousands of young 

10           New Yorkers.  

11                  And while it is not directly connected 

12           to the budget, I look forward to building on 

13           these improvements through my work as cochair 

14           of the newly established Child Poverty 

15           Reduction Advisory Council, which will 

16           provide an important framework to work with 

17           you and a broad range of stakeholders to 

18           develop a comprehensive set of recommended 

19           strategies and benchmarks to reduce child 

20           poverty by 50 percent over the next decade. 

21           We are also aiming to expand the council's 

22           focus to more broadly address poverty and 

23           improve the financial well-being of 

24           low-income households throughout the state.  


 1                  In closing, Governor Hochul's budget 

 2           outlines a bold vision and a tremendous 

 3           opportunity for our agency and New York 

 4           State.  This includes building on OTDA's past 

 5           successes and sensibly targeting resources to 

 6           better ensure the economic security of every 

 7           New Yorker in need.  

 8                  We look forward to working with you, 

 9           our partners in the Legislature, in the 

10           coming months.  Thank you again for the 

11           opportunity to testify.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

13           Commissioner.  

14                  We're going to go to our chair of 

15           Social Services, Assemblywoman Rosenthal, for 

16           10 minutes on the clock, please.  

17                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Yeah, not 

18           three.

19                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Hi, how 

20           are you?

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  I'm good.  

22           I'm waiting till the clock gets reset.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes, the 

24           timekeeper, we need to reset the clock for 


 1           10 minutes.  There we go.

 2                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Thank you.

 3                  Thank you, commissioner.  I see it 

 4           says "acting" under your name, but I know you 

 5           will be commissioner one day.

 6                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you.

 7                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  But it's 

 8           wonderful to have you as commissioner.

 9                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you.

10                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  And it's 

11           great, you know, conversing with you and 

12           having access to you and your team, and I 

13           really do appreciate that.

14                  So I have more than 10 minutes of 

15           questions, but let me start with ERAP.  You 

16           know, ERAP ran out of money, leaving hundreds 

17           of thousands of New Yorkers without access to 

18           desperately needed rent and utility relief.  

19           Now the eviction moratorium has ended, and my 

20           office is already getting eviction cases, 

21           including an older man with cancer who has an 

22           eviction notice.

23                  So tenants in arrears are being asked 

24           to apply for one-shots, HEAP and similar 


 1           programs.  One-shots need to be repaid, and 

 2           HEAP does not cover everyone.  So that's one 

 3           thing.  

 4                  And I appreciate that the Governor is 

 5           urging Congress to supplement the funding, 

 6           and that's wonderful.  I know that there are 

 7           tenants who applied in June and have still 

 8           not received any updates or information about 

 9           the status of their application.  And, you 

10           know, in light of the fact that Guidehouse is 

11           crowing that they're making so much money off 

12           this program, can you help me understand what 

13           applicants from June, what is their -- how 

14           can they find out their status, why is it 

15           taking so long, and what is OTDA doing to 

16           investigate the Guidehouse statements?

17                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you, 

18           Assemblymember.  You know, there's a lot of 

19           questions in there.

20                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  There is.

21                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I'm going 

22           to try and remember them all, but if I forget 

23           some, you'll remind me.

24                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay.


 1                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I think we 

 2           should start maybe just with the background.  

 3           So we have more than 300,000 applications in 

 4           ERAP.  We've paid to date about 113,000 out 

 5           the door to landlords on behalf of tenants, 

 6           equals about $1.4 billion.  

 7                  We have -- working through the June to 

 8           September period, we believe that with the 

 9           resources that we have that, you know, 

10           looking at the average payment of about 

11           $12,500, that we can roughly handle another 

12           54,000 applications with the resources on 

13           hand.  And we're carefully working through 

14           those.  So a lot is out there.  

15                  I'll note that for someone who's 

16           applied, they have the eviction protections.  

17           So certainly we've given over to the Office 

18           of Court Administration -- they have access, 

19           we data share, they know who's applied.  So 

20           they have the eviction protections.

21                  So I'm going to maybe stop there and 

22           you'll remind me of what you want to ask 

23           next.

24                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay, I did 


 1           wonder about the investigation of the 

 2           statements made by the Guidehouse CEO about 

 3           how they're joyously making money off this 

 4           program that is underfunded.

 5                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah, so, 

 6           you know, starting at the place of we're very 

 7           pleased to have this program.  It is as -- 

 8           the startup may have been a bit troubled.  

 9           For sure, the impact has been enormous.  The 

10           Governor has been very invested in making 

11           sure that this money got out the door as 

12           quickly as possible.  And the team at OTDA 

13           has worked very, very hard with our vendors 

14           to make sure that that happened.

15                  We, like you, were disturbed by that 

16           reporting.  Nothing about that pleased us.  

17           And we have had some, I think it's fair to 

18           say, difficult conversations with our vendor 

19           in the days since.  I would note that while 

20           Guidehouse -- well, the CEO made that 

21           statement, we've pressed them to explain what 

22           that was about, and we've gotten a fair bit 

23           of documentation from them.  They assert that 

24           their profit, their actual profit is 


 1           substantially less than that, it's akin to 

 2           what they told the Washington Post.  I'm 

 3           happy to say that what they report is 

 4           13.6 percent as their profit, not 38 percent.  

 5           And we are working through what they have 

 6           supplied to us and asking further questions.

 7                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay, I 

 8           appreciate that.  Thirteen percent is a huge 

 9           profit nevertheless.  And it was a no-bid 

10           contract, before your time.  So I think some 

11           things are kind of fishy in there.

12                  I want to go to public assistance.  

13           The budget increases public assistance 

14           amounts for people in residential care 

15           facilities but doesn't increase the level for 

16           others.  Now, the rent portion of the welfare 

17           grant hasn't increased since 2002.  The 

18           portion of the grant for households with 

19           children hasn't increased since '88.  And the 

20           energy portion of the grant has not been 

21           increased since the program was created in 

22           1981, when people were listening to 

23           Whitney Houston on their Walkmen and watching 

24           Beetlejuice on their brand-new VCRs.  


 1                  I'd say it's more than past time to 

 2           increase these levels and at least reflect 

 3           the cost of living.  It hasn't kept up with 

 4           any kind of metric that allows people to 

 5           survive in this state, and I have a lot of 

 6           legislation to do just that.  I wondered your 

 7           thoughts about this.

 8                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So as I 

 9           described in my opening, the Governor's 

10           proposed several important changes in the 

11           budget which substantially add to the 

12           benefit.  And I want to make clear that those 

13           are a start.  Those are not the end of this 

14           process.  The Governor is committed to making 

15           real change here and to improve our public 

16           assistance programs and the benefits.

17                  You know, as you know, the Governor at 

18           the beginning of December signed the Child 

19           Poverty Reduction Act.  That council is 

20           coming together, including with appointments 

21           from the Legislature.  And as I noted, we are 

22           going to take up this whole question of what 

23           are the best approaches to addressing the 

24           needs.  


 1                  So again, I don't want to foreclose on 

 2           any of this conversation, and I think we're 

 3           going to have it as part of that council in 

 4           coming up with what all are the strategies 

 5           that we need to do to improve the lives of 

 6           low-income New Yorkers.  And I'm quite 

 7           confident that the shelter allowance and the 

 8           other benefits will be a part of that 

 9           conversation.

10                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Yeah, I 

11           appreciate --

12                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  And maybe 

13           I should just note as well that, you know, 

14           districts can have a supplement to that.  So 

15           there are opportunities here for districts to 

16           propose higher shelter allowance, for 

17           example.  

18                  I think it's also worth noting that, 

19           you know, in this budget the Governor has 

20           again put in $100 million for a rent 

21           supplement program for struggling households 

22           that we are waiting on several of the 

23           districts to provide us plans about how to 

24           use those resources.  


 1                  So there are other resources out there 

 2           to assist families to pay the rent and to 

 3           stay in their homes that they have.

 4                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  All right.  

 5           But, I mean, it doesn't raise the shelter 

 6           utility basic grant levels.  And as you well 

 7           know, there's an explosion of people who are 

 8           homeless.  And so we can't really afford to 

 9           wait, because we're going to be paying for 

10           people who are experiencing homelessness one 

11           way or the other.  And it would be better if 

12           it's direct grants to them, and we have to 

13           hurry that up.  It's been a neglected sector 

14           for too long.

15                  And speaking of grants, the FHEPS 

16           grant -- as you know, Senator Kavanagh and I 

17           passed a bill which the Governor signed 

18           increasing the state FHEPS level to 

19           100 percent of FMR.  But I understand that 

20           there's been delays with the rollout, even 

21           though it was signed in December.  I know 

22           that later in February it will be fully 

23           implemented.  

24                  But I'm concerned that the language in 


 1           the Executive Budget shifts the cost of the 

 2           FHEPS increase to municipalities, and the 

 3           state does not pay its proper share.  Can you 

 4           explain that?

 5                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So thank 

 6           you for the question.  I think here too the 

 7           Governor has really demonstrated her 

 8           commitment to taking real action to address 

 9           homelessness.  

10                  And this -- we were very pleased when 

11           she signed the FHEPS legislation, which 

12           raises the value of the vouchers to FMR.

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Yes.  Yes.

14                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  We think 

15           that makes a big difference here.  Landlords 

16           who were previously reluctant to take the 

17           voucher will now actually take that voucher.  

18           They'll begin -- 

19                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  But the 

20           state is not contributing -- I only have 

21           30 seconds, so I want to cut to the chase.  

22           The state is not helping the City of New York 

23           meet these costs, and that is our obligation.

24                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I 


 1           understand your concerns about the financing 

 2           arrangement.  And I think, you know, we're 

 3           open to a discussion about how best to 

 4           finance this going forward.

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay.  

 6           Because the 100 million that was allocated to 

 7           the city for various other populations is now 

 8           being forced to be spent on this, which is 

 9           the state's obligation.  

10                  And I'll see you next round.  Thank 

11           you so much.

12                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you.  

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

14                  To the Senate.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

16                  Our first questioner is Senator 

17           Roxanne Persaud, the chair of the Social 

18           Services Committee.  Ten minutes, please.

19                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Thank you.  

20                  Good morning, Commissioner.  It's 

21           great to see you.

22                  I am going to follow up with what my 

23           colleague just asked.  But, you know, I 

24           understand what you said about Guidehouse, 


 1           et cetera, so we're going to go past that.

 2                  Can you give me an update on the LRAP 

 3           program?  We've talked about ERAP, but the 

 4           LRAP program seems still to be struggling.  

 5           Can you give us an update about that?  We 

 6           know it's 125 million for the landlord 

 7           portion, and then there's the additional 125 

 8           that's dedicated to the homeowner -- the 

 9           households above 80 percent AMI.  Can you 

10           give us some update on that?  

11                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Sure.  

12           Give me one moment.

13                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  While you're trying 

14           to get your information there, I just want to 

15           go on to the cost of living adjustment.

16                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Well, 

17           Senator, I'm happy to answer the LRAP 

18           question.  

19                  So where we are at with that.  It's 

20           125 million.  So, you know, it has a 

21           companion 125 million for households of 80 to 

22           120 of area median income.  So in the 

23           landlord program, we've had -- paid out 

24           10,000 payments equaling $104 million.  And 


 1           so we've now spent about 90 percent of the 

 2           resources in that program.  

 3                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay.  But there are 

 4           many landlords who have not been getting 

 5           responses.  We want to continue to follow up 

 6           with your agency about that.  

 7                  Also in terms of NYCHA and the ERAP, 

 8           can you tell us what's the status of that, 

 9           the NYCHA residents receiving any kind of 

10           ERAP funding?  

11                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So in the 

12           legislation that was passed last year there 

13           were priorities set for certain populations.  

14           And public housing tenants were set in the 

15           statute as Priority 5, so the last to be 

16           addressed with those resources.  So this is 

17           not a policy choice of OTDA.  

18                  So to date, none of the -- essentially 

19           none of the public housing tenants have 

20           received ERAP payments.  Given the status of 

21           the program, where we've got much more demand 

22           and many more applicants than we can fund 

23           with the current $2 billion -- and as we 

24           await additional federal funds, something we 


 1           hope to hear about by the end of the month -- 

 2           I think we have serious concerns about 

 3           whether we would ever get to the Public 

 4           Housing Authority tenants.

 5                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Has your agency been 

 6           notifying the NYCHA tenants who've applied of 

 7           the position that they're in, that there's a 

 8           possibility of them not getting it?  Because 

 9           we have NYCHA tenants who are contacting us 

10           stating that they have been told that, you 

11           know, they are missing paperwork and, you 

12           know, they'll be getting funding.

13                  Could you tell us if you're sending 

14           information to NYCHA tenants?

15                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So like 

16           all others, to the degree that their 

17           application is reviewed, what they'll see 

18           is -- if they go in and look, they'll see 

19           "Under Review" or "Pending Review."

20                  You know, I think, again, this is 

21           first in, first out.  And I think the notices 

22           that have been sent to most of the Public 

23           Housing Authority tenants have actually said 

24           that their applications are on hold, or 


 1           language similar to that, in part because 

 2           we're not confident that we can actually pay 

 3           given that they're the last priority in the 

 4           statute.

 5                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay, thank you for 

 6           that.  We still have issues on that.

 7                  Can you comment on Summer Youth?  I 

 8           know -- you know, I appreciate the Governor's 

 9           commitment to funding Summer Youth.  But as 

10           you know, every year we have this 

11           conversation when we have budget hearings, 

12           and that despite the commitments there were 

13           not enough slots being funded.

14                  What can you do to ensure that, you 

15           know, we continue to push to get additional 

16           funds for Summer Youth?

17                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Well, let 

18           me start by noting, you know -- thanking you 

19           all for your support for the program.  So 

20           we're pleased that the Legislature provides 

21           significant support for the program.

22                  And this year the appropriation in the 

23           Governor's budget is 46.1 million, which is a 

24           $1.1 million funding increase.  And as a 


 1           result -- 

 2                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  But not enough.

 3                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I'm sorry?

 4                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  But not enough.  But 

 5           okay.

 6                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah, so 

 7           it's a bit more.  And we expect about 

 8           18,000 youth to be served in the summer of 

 9           2022, which is about the same number as 

10           pre-COVID.  So there is an increase this 

11           year.

12                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Right.  It seems to 

13           be, but it's really not.  There's still many 

14           youth who are unable to access Summer Youth 

15           because of the limitations on funding.  So, 

16           you know, I hope we can continue to push to 

17           add some more money for Summer Youth.

18                  And, you know, I represent a district 

19           with the greatest disparities in income and 

20           economic opportunities.  How does the 

21           proposed budget for OTDA address years of 

22           reductions to TANF reimbursements to the City 

23           of New York?  The city is only being 

24           reimbursed at 85 percent of TANF claims.  


 1           Could you address that?  How can we get back 

 2           to reimbursing the city 100 percent of TANF?  

 3                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I want to 

 4           note I think -- thank you for your question.

 5                  I want to note that the Governor's 

 6           budget provides literally hundreds of 

 7           millions of dollars to the City of New York 

 8           in a variety of ways for a whole host of 

 9           needs related to housing and homelessness, to 

10           public assistance.  We know that this cap is 

11           there and are happy to discuss with the 

12           Legislature other approaches, but I think 

13           it's important to note that the Governor has 

14           committed a good deal of resources to the 

15           City of New York to meet these needs, and not 

16           just with TANF.

17                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay.  We will hear 

18           about that again.

19                  In terms of DAP, the Disability 

20           Advocacy Program, do you think the funding is 

21           adequate to meet the needs of the services 

22           that are needed?

23                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  We 

24           proposed an increase in DAP.  It's increased 


 1           by $1.1 million to two-point -- which is now 

 2           bringing it up to two-point -- I'm sorry, 

 3           $5.3 million, which is a doubling of what has 

 4           historically been, you know, included in the 

 5           Executive Budget.

 6                  We think this program is terribly 

 7           important.  New York, because of this 

 8           program, has a win rate on appeals of about 

 9           70 percent or thereabouts, which is 

10           substantially ahead of the national average 

11           by some 30 percentage points.  And so we 

12           are -- we very much thought it was important 

13           to add additional resources to assist folks 

14           in need.

15                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay.  But the 

16           funding that's proposed, do you think that's 

17           adequate funding?  You know, I know we have 

18           this win rate and all of that.  But I'm just 

19           asking about the funding that's been 

20           proposed, because -- is it adequate enough?

21                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yes.

22                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay.  We'll stick 

23           with that.  Thank you.

24                  In terms of earned income disregard, 


 1           you know, do you have an estimate of how many 

 2           New Yorkers would benefit from the income 

 3           disregard that's included in the Executive 

 4           Budget?  And how does the 50 percent of the 

 5           monthly earned income proposal differ from 

 6           the annual disregard, the current 55 percent 

 7           that it implements annually?  And will the 

 8           assessments of monthly earned income 

 9           potentially burden the clients, in your 

10           opinion?

11                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So, I 

12           mean, this isn't so terribly different than 

13           the existing budget.  The budgeting process 

14           isn't changing for clients.  The amount that 

15           would be ignored from their budget, be 

16           disregarded, is changing.  But the process 

17           for determining that for current recipients 

18           isn't changing.  So I don't know that it's 

19           any more or less burdensome.  

20                  And as you know, we've given waivers 

21           so that some of this doesn't have to happen 

22           in person any longer.  So I don't think -- I 

23           don't think it's actually burdensome.  And as 

24           I said earlier, I think it's important to 


 1           note here that these changes are the 

 2           Governor's proposed start of this 

 3           conversation.  I don't think it's the end of 

 4           the conversation.  And for sure, as part of 

 5           the council, we're going to look at what else 

 6           might need to be done.  But I would view this 

 7           as not burdensome at all.  I think this is a 

 8           big help to clients.  I think our estimate 

 9           was that 25,000 households will benefit from 

10           this change.

11                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Oh, okay.  Thank 

12           you.  And in terms of COLAs, how does the 

13           proposed COLA benefit OTDA's funded 

14           supportive housing employees that aren't 

15           under New York/New York III contracts?  

16                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So the 

17           cost of living adjustment is in the 

18           healthcare providers.  So at OTDA there's 

19           only a quite limited program area that is 

20           affected by that adjustment.  And the name of 

21           it -- oh, it's the Nutrition Outreach and 

22           Education Program.  It will see a modest 

23           increase as a result of that COLA.  But the 

24           remainder of OTDA doesn't come within the 


 1           means of a -- or the bounds of a healthcare 

 2           worker.

 3                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay, thank you.  I 

 4           just have a couple of questions.  I'll come 

 5           back.  Thank you.  Thank you, Commissioner.  

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 7                  Assembly.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes, we go to 

 9           the ranker on Social Services, Assemblyman 

10           Simpson, for five minutes.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN SIMPSON:  Thank you, Chair 

12           Weinstein.  And thank you, Commissioner, for 

13           being here.

14                  I want to go back to ERAP just for 

15           clarification.  So we solicited and we 

16           reopened, we brought more people in, more 

17           applications.  Do we know, are we going to be 

18           able to meet that financial obligation to 

19           those applicants that have applied?

20                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So thank 

21           you for your question.  It is difficult to 

22           say at this point.  As you know, the 

23           Governor, together with three other big-state 

24           governors, have asked the Treasury for a good 


 1           deal more money and have appealed to them, 

 2           recognizing the enormous need here.  

 3                  As you heard me say, we have more than 

 4           300,000 applications.  We expect somewhere 

 5           around half or so, at this point, that there 

 6           would be resources for.  So it is certainly 

 7           challenging.  I mean, we don't yet know what 

 8           we will get from the Treasury.  As I said 

 9           earlier, I think we expect to learn more by 

10           the end of this month.  But I think in the 

11           coming weeks we're going to have a better 

12           sense about where we land.

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN SIMPSON:  So do we have a 

14           plan for those landlords, property owners 

15           also, in those applicants that we may not be 

16           able to financially fulfill our obligation?

17                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So 

18           certainly I think, you know, the Governor has 

19           provided a good deal in this budget.  And as 

20           you know, there is $2 billion for 

21           COVID-related costs.  I leave it to the 

22           Legislature, in its negotiations with the 

23           Executive, about how best to use those 

24           resources, and this may be one of those 


 1           areas.

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN SIMPSON:  Okay, thank you.

 3                  And then I want to move over to HEAP.  

 4           In last year's budget we saw a $450 million 

 5           increase in federal funding that isn't in 

 6           this year's budget.  With the increased cost 

 7           of energy -- we've seen massive inflation 

 8           affecting everyone -- will there be enough 

 9           HEAP money to meet the energy needs for those 

10           who need assistance?

11                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah, I 

12           think actually there's a reappropriation 

13           here.  But by our estimates, yes, we believe 

14           there's actually enough money in the budget 

15           for it.  

16                  I'll note that we've increased the 

17           benefit significantly, somewhere between, you 

18           know, 32 percent and 43 percent.  I'll also 

19           note that there is now a new program, the 

20           HEAP regular arrears supplement, which opened 

21           in September.  That pays up to $10,000 for 

22           gas and/or electric utility arrears.  To 

23           date, we've issued 102,000 payments, equal to 

24           $160 million.  The average benefit there has 


 1           been 1500-some-dollars per recipient.  We 

 2           expect to issue as many as 160,000 of those 

 3           arrears payments.  

 4                  So we think that there's enough in the 

 5           HEAP program.

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN SIMPSON:  Okay.  And I 

 7           wanted also -- another member had mentioned 

 8           the 50 percent of earned income of a public 

 9           assistance recipient.  Will that accomplish 

10           the -- alleviate the benefit cliff proposed?  

11           Will that program help us alleviate that 

12           benefit cliff?  

13                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  

14           Absolutely.  I think this makes a big 

15           difference for households.  If you -- this 

16           gets every household in receipt of public 

17           assistance up over the federal poverty level 

18           before they lose eligibility.  And that's a 

19           big shift here.  So for sure this is a big 

20           shift.

21                  And again, I think, you know, this is 

22           where we're starting today.  And I don't want 

23           to prejudge where we land as part of the 

24           Poverty Reduction Council efforts in terms of 


 1           recommendations and strategies, but I think 

 2           this is an important start down a road to 

 3           fixing that benefits cliff.

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN SIMPSON:  Okay.  And I 

 5           want to ask a question about the State 

 6           Supportive Housing Initiative.  How many 

 7           units are being planned for development this 

 8           year?

 9                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Give me 

10           one moment.  If you have another question, 

11           I'll take that first.

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN SIMPSON:  And I just want 

13           to get a sense of how many units have been 

14           built, how many are being planned, how big of 

15           a program this is.

16                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah.  So 

17           right now it's running about 800 to 900 units 

18           per year.  I'd have to get you the rest of 

19           it.  Hang on.  Yeah, I might have to follow 

20           up with you.  And I apologize.

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN SIMPSON:  All right.  

22           Well, I'll yield back my time.  I've only got 

23           10 seconds left.  Thank you very much.

24                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thanks.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to the 

 2           Senate.  

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

 4           much.  And our next questioner is Senator 

 5           Diane Savino.

 6                  SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

 7           Krueger.  Good to see you, Commissioner 

 8           Tietz.  It's nice to call you that.

 9                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you 

10           very much, Senator.  It's nice to see you as 

11           well.

12                  SENATOR SAVINO:  I only have three 

13           minutes; I'll be brief.  I want to talk a bit 

14           about expanding -- I see the Governor's 

15           expanding access to public assistance in the 

16           budget.  You spoke a bit about it.  But I'm 

17           more curious about what can we do to increase 

18           eligibility for more people?  Because while 

19           this is a good step for those who are current 

20           recipients to explain what they're eligible 

21           for, there's still way too many people who 

22           aren't eligible.  So they're not falling off 

23           the cliff, they never get up to the cliff.  

24                  So for instance, we have a lot of, you 


 1           know, seniors who just make too much money 

 2           but whose lives could be dramatically 

 3           improved if they were able to qualify for 

 4           SNAP benefits.  So is there a possibility 

 5           that somewhere in this budget or in future 

 6           budgets we could do something about expanding 

 7           eligibility for, say, single seniors so that 

 8           they could be eligible for SNAP benefits?  

 9           Because right now the eligibility for a 

10           family of one is only -- the maximum income 

11           is $25,000 a year.  And many people exceed 

12           that, and so therefore they're cut out of any 

13           supplemental assistance.  So what can we do 

14           about closing that?  

15                  And then the second thing is since 

16           homelessness is such an incredibly big 

17           problem in the City of New York -- and your 

18           agency will play a role with respect to 

19           helping the City of New York address it -- 

20           what are we doing to help, with our new 

21           administration, kind of tackle the problems 

22           of chronic homelessness?

23                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you 

24           for your question.  


 1                  So to answer your first question, I 

 2           think the short answer is yes.  And again, I 

 3           don't want to push off everything on to, Oh, 

 4           we're going to work on this in the Poverty 

 5           Reduction Council.  

 6                  However, I do think, look, that all of 

 7           these programs and ideas and innovations come 

 8           with a cost.  And I think we have to think 

 9           sensibly about which have the largest impact, 

10           which are the most meaningful.  And partly I 

11           think that needs to then be an organized 

12           effort, and that's some of our organized 

13           effort, which is to use that Child Poverty 

14           Reduction Council as the vehicle for doing 

15           that planning.

16                  I think, again, in the budget 

17           negotiations this can certainly be on the 

18           agenda.  The Governor has started with how we 

19           help current recipients not go over that 

20           benefits cliff.  But I certainly appreciate 

21           your point on this.

22                  SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

23                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  With 

24           regard to homelessness, so we've taken a lot 


 1           of steps here.  And you in particular 

 2           referenced I think, in part, the new outreach 

 3           efforts.  So the Governor and the Mayor 

 4           together, Mayor Adams together, have 

 5           announced additional outreach teams more 

 6           clinically focused that can help folks in the 

 7           subways and on the streets, particularly 

 8           those with mental health and substance use 

 9           challenges.  

10                  OTDA's role in this is oversight of 

11           the local districts and their shelter systems 

12           and their homelessness prevention efforts.  

13           We distribute literally hundreds of millions, 

14           a couple of billion dollars annually to the 

15           local districts to address homelessness in a 

16           variety of ways.  This will be an expansion 

17           on that effort.  It is mostly driven by OMH, 

18           and our role is a coordinating role, given 

19           that the local social services districts are 

20           the ones, and in particular in New York City 

21           are the ones with the outreach teams on the 

22           ground.  So it's a coordinating role with 

23           OMH.

24                  SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Dan.  My 


 1           time is up.  Good to see you.

 2                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  You as 

 3           well.

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 5                  Assembly.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go now to 

 7           Assemblyman Mamdani for three minutes.

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you so 

 9           much, Chair.  Thank you, Commissioner.  

10                  I'm just going to jump right in.  

11           Earlier you testified that, quote, the 

12           Governor's budget continues steady funding of 

13           our agency's core programs, which serve the 

14           critical needs of millions of New Yorkers 

15           daily, including programs that help refugees 

16           start a new life in our state.  

17                  How does that statement fit with the 

18           Governor's proposal to cut $1 million from 

19           the Refugee Resettlement Program?

20                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you, 

21           Assemblymember.

22                  The program is actually terribly 

23           important to the Governor.  She added 

24           additional funds recently to the program.  


 1           The addition was $2 million, particularly 

 2           targeted toward Afghan arrivals.  We have 

 3           continued enhanced funding in the program at 

 4           $2 million.  I know that there's a 

 5           significant legislative component, add, to 

 6           this program.  But on the Executive side, 

 7           we've actually added to the Executive Budget 

 8           from previous.

 9                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  So I understand 

10           that there's an improvement on previous 

11           Executives.  However, I do not think that the 

12           previous Executive is a good standard by 

13           which we should operate in this state.

14                  And frankly, the funding for the 

15           resettlement program was $3 million in total.  

16           So by the Governor proposing $2 million, it 

17           still leaves the program a million dollars 

18           short.  

19                  But thank you for your answer.  I'm 

20           just going to move on to the next question in 

21           the interests of time.  

22                  So we've recently received notice from 

23           OTDA that you've received 26,779 NYCHA ERAP 

24           applications, totaling $102.2 million.  Given 


 1           NYCHA tenants have suffered some of the worst 

 2           health and income losses from the pandemic, 

 3           and given that, as you said earlier, they are 

 4           currently placed last after private housing 

 5           tenants in priority for access to the funds, 

 6           do you believe that they should be elevated 

 7           in priority or that a dedicated fund needs to 

 8           created for NYCHA tenants?

 9                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you 

10           for the question.

11                  I think, importantly here, this isn't 

12           a policy choice for OTDA.  It was written 

13           into the statute that public housing tenants 

14           were to be the last priority --

15                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  If I can ask you 

16           to opine on whether there should be a 

17           legislative change in the future regarding 

18           this.

19                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I think 

20           I'm going to leave that to each of you in 

21           your negotiations with the Governor about 

22           where to land in this budget on COVID-related 

23           assistance.

24                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you.  


 1                  I yield back the rest of my time.

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 3                  To the Senate.

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

 5           much.  

 6                  Senator Rachel May.

 7                  SENATOR MAY:  Yes, thank you.  

 8                  And hello, Commissioner.

 9                  So a little while ago we were talking 

10           about the benefits cliff and the problem for 

11           people who are close to the poverty level.  I 

12           am very concerned about the Governor's 

13           proposal for bonuses instead of raises for 

14           home health aides and other low-paid 

15           healthcare workers, that it could backfire by 

16           pushing them off the cliff.

17                  Do you share that concern?

18                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you 

19           for your question, Senator.

20                  I don't think that that's actually 

21           within our purview here at OTDA.  I mean, if 

22           you're asking me generally around pay and 

23           who's at some risk here -- but I don't --

24                  SENATOR MAY:  Bonuses in general as a 


 1           way of remunerating people.  Doesn't it cause 

 2           problems in social services?

 3                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So those 

 4           home healthcare workers aren't within our 

 5           purview.  We -- those -- I mean, I guess if 

 6           you're asking me generally around rates of 

 7           pay and --

 8                  SENATOR MAY:  That's what I'm asking.

 9                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  -- who's 

10           at risk here, yes, as I said earlier, I think 

11           what's important to understand is that this 

12           was an opening here to address something with 

13           regard to earned income for current 

14           recipients.  I don't think it's the end of 

15           the discussion, I think it's the beginning of 

16           the discussion.

17                  And we're certainly open to doing 

18           whatever the Governor and the Legislature 

19           decide to do on the size of this benefit and 

20           the point at which it kicks in.

21                  SENATOR MAY:  Right.  It's just the 

22           use of bonuses for people who are right at 

23           the margins seems like a dangerous policy to 

24           me.


 1                  I have another question that's kind of 

 2           specific, but I think it applies to people 

 3           all over the state.  I represent Onondaga 

 4           County, which opted out of the ERAP program, 

 5           has closed its applications because they 

 6           exceed the amount of money they've got.  But 

 7           they have not declared that they are -- have 

 8           disbursed all the funds.  So people in 

 9           Onondaga County cannot apply for ERAP now and 

10           either get on the waiting list, in case there 

11           is more money, or avail themselves of the 

12           protections of applying for ERAP.  

13                  And I'm wondering what are you doing 

14           to make sure that everyone in this state has 

15           access to those protections.

16                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yes, it's 

17           a concern for us too.  We're happy to discuss 

18           with Onondaga County's leadership on what 

19           they'd like to do here.  I think it does have 

20           to be a request from them to us.  And so 

21           pending their request, you know, we're happy 

22           to reach out to them, but we certainly share 

23           your concern.

24                  SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thank you.


 1                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you.

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 3           González-Rojas.

 4                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  Thank 

 5           you so much, Commissioner, for being here.  

 6                  I represent a district that has been 

 7           hard-hit by COVID, and we're still seeing the 

 8           pandemic of the hunger crisis in our 

 9           community.  We're still seeing lines wrapped 

10           around, you know, food pantries for food and 

11           nutrition.

12                  I'm also representing a district 

13           that's largely immigrant.  I'd love to hear 

14           more about how OTDA is addressing the hunger 

15           crisis in our state, and what specific 

16           funding streams can you discuss which does 

17           outreach for low-income and immigrant 

18           communities for entitlement programs that 

19           they qualify for?  

20                  I understand that, you know, there 

21           might be programs that folks qualify for, but 

22           not the information, so that the enrollment 

23           levels are low.  So can you talk about what's 

24           being done to address that, given the hunger 


 1           crisis we're facing right now?

 2                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Well, 

 3           certainly the SNAP program.  Which, you know, 

 4           takes in more folks than -- you know, the 

 5           eligibility is much higher than it is for 

 6           public assistance.  And so many more folks 

 7           will come into SNAP than could otherwise get 

 8           other public assistance benefits.  

 9                  Those Emergency Assistance supplements 

10           have really increased the benefit to 

11           households, which is now $835 a month for a 

12           family of four.  That's bringing roughly 

13           $230 million in federal funding each month to 

14           New York State.

15                  In November the Governor announced 

16           some important changes to the program:  A 

17           simplified and shortened application, for 

18           example, that can be both used for 

19           applications and recertifying.  A longer 

20           certification period.  It used to be you had 

21           to recertify every 24 months, and now it's 

22           every 36 months.  And we eliminated the 

23           requirement that you had to do it in person, 

24           so now it can be done without having to show 


 1           up in person.  So we've tried to make a bunch 

 2           of changes here.

 3                  I would say for households with 

 4           children, the pandemic EBT benefits have also 

 5           been made available, which are pretty 

 6           substantial.  We're talking over a billion 

 7           dollars in benefits to 2.5 million children 

 8           in 2019-2020.  In 2020-'21, 1.9 billion to 

 9           1.9 million children.  So the caseload has 

10           gone up modestly across the state for SNAP, 

11           so certainly there's been some uptake there.

12                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  Great.  

13           And then since the portal was reopened on 

14           ERAP, we've advised people to apply for 

15           protections.  Do you know how many New 

16           Yorkers have applied since it was reopened?  

17                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah.  So 

18           since it reopened on January 11th, there are 

19           about 7,000 applications, or essentially an 

20           average of 841 per day.

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  Thank 

22           you so much, Commissioner.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

24                  To the Senate.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 2                  We are joined by Senator Andrew 

 3           Gounardes.

 4                  SENATOR GOUNARDES:   Thank you, 

 5           Senator Krueger.  

 6                  Hello, Commissioner.

 7                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Hi.

 8                  SENATOR GOUNARDES:  Great to see you 

 9           in this role.

10                  A couple of quick questions.  First, a 

11           quick comment.  

12                  I'm not going to reask you about the 

13           Guidehouse contract that I know was already 

14           asked about.  Just to say that, you know, 

15           this is the consequence of what happens when 

16           we give no-bid contracts to entities that we 

17           have no accountability over.  And it really 

18           is a reflection on just how poor a 

19           procurement process is where we divest from 

20           the public sector and we don't develop these 

21           internal capacities ourselves.  We have 

22           public agencies like yours that are able to 

23           do this work, and when we just give out this 

24           money without even asking or second-guessing 


 1           ourselves, it leads to problems like this.  

 2                  And I'll echo what Assemblywoman 

 3           Rosenthal said, that 13 percent out of 

 4           $150 million is still a lot of people that 

 5           could have had their rent paid because of no 

 6           fault of their own.  So I hope we can really 

 7           think about that moving forward and that 

 8           you'll be able to tackle that, you know, in 

 9           your new commissionership.

10                  I want to pivot a little bit on ERAP 

11           and piggyback off of the last question from 

12           the Assemblywoman.  Is there is a sense of 

13           how many more people are out there that have 

14           not applied yet that would benefit from ERAP 

15           protection?  Has the agency done any 

16           analysis, or what's our best guess for folks 

17           that we haven't touched yet?  

18                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I don't 

19           think that we actually have one.

20                  So when we did the request to -- the 

21           Governor made the $1.6 billion additional 

22           request, we were essentially looking at the 

23           pace of applications to date and extrapolated 

24           from there.  And I would say, you know, when 


 1           it first reopened, you know, right after the 

 2           11th, the first week or handful of days, it 

 3           was a bit higher.  It has come down somewhat 

 4           since then in terms of the daily rate.  But 

 5           the best we could do with that is to simply 

 6           take the anticipated number given the 

 7           previous numbers.

 8                  SENATOR GOUNARDES:  And so I guess the 

 9           1.6 billion number is reflective of what we 

10           have in outstanding liabilities based on what 

11           we currently know?  Or does that project 

12           future --

13                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  It 

14           projects future as well.

15                  SENATOR GOUNARDES:  It does.  Okay.

16                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  My only -- 

17           I mean, listen, if it projects out a short 

18           bit -- I don't want to get too --

19                  SENATOR GOUNARDES:  Sure, of course.

20                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  It's a 

21           little difficult to I think request of the 

22           Treasury a number that isn't backed up by, 

23           you know, a solid estimate.  And so it's a 

24           little hard to do that.  But if it goes out a 


 1           short bit, I think it's mostly looking at 

 2           what we already know.

 3                  SENATOR GOUNARDES:  Got it.  Thank 

 4           you.

 5                  And my last question is, what 

 6           additional resources would you need as an 

 7           agency or what process would you need us to 

 8           help work on so we can match potential 

 9           nonpayment cases in courts with the ERAP 

10           program or the LRAP program, to kind of be a 

11           more seamless process?  You know, how are we 

12           doing on that right now, and what more could 

13           we be doing there to support your work in 

14           connecting those -- you know, the right hand 

15           to the left hand?  

16                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Well, 

17           there is a data share with OCA, so they can 

18           actually see who's submitted an ERAP 

19           application, for example.  And so there's 

20           that back-and-forth that exists now.

21                  And tenants who've made an ERAP 

22           application, if they were to be brought into 

23           court by their landlord, can produce those 

24           notices or produce what they got out of the 


 1           system as evidence of the same, even if the 

 2           OCA couldn't find it.  So for sure that 

 3           back-and-forth happens now.

 4                  SENATOR GOUNARDES:   Okay.  Great.  

 5           Thank you.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 7                  Assembly.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 9                  We go to Assemblyman Anderson, three 

10           minutes.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  Thank you, 

12           Chairwoman.

13                  Thank you, Commissioner, for answering 

14           our questions.  I will try my best to be 

15           brief; however, I do have a number of 

16           questions.  The first I'm going to start with 

17           is the childcare vouchers.  

18                  Many folks have applied for childcare 

19           vouchers that are distributed via OTDA on 

20           down here to HRA, or have applied for those 

21           vouchers.  But I want to know what specific 

22           measures are taken to speed up the process in 

23           which those vouchers pay out to the daycare 

24           and childcare providers, because oftentimes 


 1           it does take quite a bit of time for those 

 2           vouchers to pay out, which impedes the 

 3           ability of working-class families to get back 

 4           to work.  That's the first question I have.

 5                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So let me 

 6           just answer that, which is to say that it's 

 7           actually not OTDA, it's OCFS.

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  Okay.  So I'll 

 9           make sure I direct that to Commissioner Poole 

10           and her team.

11                  In terms of ERAP, I want a clear 

12           answer on this because I can't get a clear 

13           written answer on this.  So I've heard from 

14           constituents and from colleagues that if 

15           someone applies for ERAP or -- yeah, ERAP, 

16           and they have been waiting for God knows how 

17           long for that to pay out but they're still 

18           accumulating rent, that if they apply for the 

19           one-shot deal they're being discouraged from 

20           applying for the one-shot deal through HRA 

21           because it will count negatively against 

22           their ERAP application.  

23                  Can you just put to bed whether or not 

24           that double negative is actually occurring?  


 1           And if you can point to any directives that 

 2           you've given to your agency to ensure that if 

 3           a tenant applies for ERAP and then turns 

 4           around and applies for a one-shot deal 

 5           because they've been waiting for ERAP for God 

 6           knows how long, are they being negatively 

 7           impacted via their case?

 8                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So the -- 

 9           that's largely correct.  I would make just a 

10           little adjustment to what you said.  

11                  They get the tenant protections, of 

12           course, because they applied to ERAP.  So -- 

13           and I know it's very frustrating for 

14           landlords and tenants alike that applications 

15           are pending for -- you know, not paid, if you 

16           will, for months at a time, for the reasons 

17           I've already mentioned.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  I'm sorry, 

19           Commissioner, I don't have much time.  So yes 

20           or no, are people being negatively impacted 

21           by this --

22                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I'm going 

23           to answer it.  I heard you, Assemblymember.

24                  So the -- if you have an ERAP 


 1           application, you can't actually get the 

 2           public assistance.  You'd have to withdraw 

 3           your ERAP application -- the thing I wouldn't 

 4           urge people to do at this moment, because of 

 5           the tenant protections in the ERAP 

 6           application.

 7                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  But I just want 

 8           to clarify, though, Commissioner, your folks 

 9           on the state level and on the city level, a 

10           different agency, are telling people to pull 

11           those applications.  I just want to 

12           acknowledge that.

13                  And my last question was about 

14           emergency housing choice vouchers for 

15           domestic violence victims.  Did you guys ask 

16           for additional funding in the budget, or do 

17           you plan to ask for additional funding in the 

18           budget for emergency housing vouchers for 

19           domestic violence victims, given that 

20           domestic violence is on the rise --

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes or no, 

22           because time has run out.

23                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So 

24           emergency DV shelter is actually OCFS also, 


 1           if that's what you're referring to.

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  No, the 

 3           vouchers.  The vouchers, Commissioner.

 4                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  The 

 5           vouchers are available to the folks in DV 

 6           shelter in the same way in which they are in 

 7           the DHS shelter.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  We 

 9           move to the Senate.

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN ANDERSON:  Thank you.  

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

12                  I think we're up to me.  I have a 

13           bunch of sort of follow-up questions.  

14                  One, I believe the answer on the 

15           number of supportive housing units, based on 

16           what the housing commissioner said the other 

17           day, is anticipated to grow from 6,000 -- 

18                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  To 10,000, 

19           yes. 

20                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  -- to 10,000 over 

21           five years.  So my question for you, are we 

22           planning in the budget to have adequate funds 

23           for the social services that must accompany 

24           successful supportive housing units?  


 1                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yes.  In 

 2           ESSHI there is adequate resource to cover the 

 3           services and operations for the additional 

 4           units.

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 6                  Following up on Senator May's question 

 7           about the impact of the bonus model -- and I 

 8           just want to reiterate it is your bailiwick, 

 9           whether you think it is or not, because -- 

10           she gave the example of that $3,000 bump for 

11           one month might put a working but poor home 

12           care attendant out of eligibility for PA.  I 

13           think the more common story would be the 

14           bonus money will kick that home care worker's 

15           entire household out of the SNAP program 

16           because of the one-month bump in pay.  

17                  That could be large numbers of people 

18           losing their entire benefits because one 

19           household member had a temporary bump.  And 

20           of course in food stamps -- excuse me, SNAP, 

21           I'm old -- you know, if Aunt Jessica is 

22           living with the family, her wages impact 

23           everyone else's SNAP.  If Grandma's working 

24           as a home care attendant and gets a one-time 


 1           bonus, her income bumps food stamps -- 

 2           SNAP -- and potentially also household 

 3           members' Medicaid.

 4                  So I really urge you to help the 

 5           Governor's people understand -- I am not 

 6           opposed to giving people more money, trust 

 7           me, but we want to do it in a way that 

 8           doesn't risk losing them more in federal 

 9           benefits than we're actually giving them as a 

10           one-time bonus.  And I think only your 

11           department is in a position to be able to 

12           explain the complications of how these 

13           programs all interact.

14                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah, I 

15           think -- I appreciate that, Senator.  And 

16           when you started down this road I thought, 

17           Oh, now I get it, I get what Senator May was 

18           asking.  

19                  So first I thought she was asking me 

20           about the bonus itself, which doesn't come 

21           from us.  But you're right, and I get it.  

22                  So for sure -- for sure this could be 

23           an issue.  And I think we are happy to 

24           discuss about how best to address it.  It may 


 1           be that, you know, in the budget negotiations 

 2           there's an exemption made for those receiving 

 3           bonuses.  But I think an approach to 

 4           addressing this, because we certainly don't 

 5           want to harm an entire household over the 

 6           long term because of this bonus.  The whole 

 7           point of this was to improve their economic 

 8           security, improve their financial 

 9           circumstance.  And it would be very 

10           counterproductive if we then kicked them off 

11           of, for example, SNAP benefits, as you point 

12           out, for this reason.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Exactly.  Thank 

14           you.

15                  One of my colleagues was concerned 

16           about NYCHA not getting ERAP eligibility.  

17           You know, I don't necessarily lose sleep over 

18           that because of course we know if your income 

19           went down and you're a public housing tenant, 

20           they are supposed to recertify you at the 

21           lower income.  So if you're at zero because 

22           of COVID, well, guess what, your rent is zero 

23           for those months also because it can only be 

24           30 percent of your income.  


 1                  So I'm more concerned about making 

 2           sure that NYCHA knows what the rules of the 

 3           road are.  If somebody's income goes down, 

 4           they have the right to be recertified at the 

 5           lower income.  And I would rather we use our 

 6           very limited ERAP for people who don't have 

 7           any option to lower their rent costs.

 8                  So I'm just putting that out there as 

 9           perhaps a disagreement within the 

10           Legislature.  

11                  But something I am concerned about -- 

12           and you and I have talked a little bit about 

13           this already, about the use of HEAP and the 

14           new expanded HEAP to help pay all the back 

15           utility arrears.  I am very careful that you 

16           don't make the mistake of taking away the 

17           HEAP from public housing tenants.  It's a 

18           very small amount, but because public housing 

19           tenants don't have a separate utility bill in 

20           most cases, unless they continue to get a 

21           HEAP payment, they can lose up to $100 per 

22           person per month in SNAP because of the way 

23           that a SNAP budget is done.  

24                  And I won't bore us all, but I 


 1           actually helped get that into law maybe a 

 2           hundred years ago, how we calculate that.  So 

 3           I really don't want to turn around and see we 

 4           thought we were just taking a little bit of 

 5           HEAP money away from each public housing 

 6           recipient and instead we, pardon me, screwed 

 7           them on SNAP.  So --

 8                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  No, no, 

 9           there's no change there.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.  Fine.  

11           Good.  Good.  You know, every action has a 

12           reaction.

13                  And you heard about ERAP and people's 

14           concerns.  I'd Shared some concerns with you 

15           yesterday about problems, and just 

16           emphasizing I know we don't have enough money 

17           now.  We cannot be turning people away from 

18           applying.  And you actually, I think, have 

19           over 600 million that have been approved but 

20           are not yet out the door because of some 

21           technical problems.  And I know my office is 

22           desperately trying to help people fix them, 

23           and I told you this yesterday -- landlords 

24           are so excited when we call them and say "We 


 1           just need this from you and we can get it 

 2           taken care of."  And we really think that 

 3           your system needs to figure out how to do 

 4           better outreach to landlords or tenants who 

 5           apparently don't know that you're missing 

 6           something from them.  Because God knows we 

 7           want to get this money out for people, both 

 8           the landlords and the tenants.

 9                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  If I may, 

10           Senator.  So we've actually worked real hard 

11           on that, and of course are paid outreach for 

12           this program.  So there were -- there have 

13           been 31,000-ish 180-day notices.  So you 

14           didn't use the phrase, but I'll use it, so 

15           it's the 180-day notice.  

16                  So just for example, the tenant puts 

17           in an application, the landlord puts in -- 

18           he's supposed to match that, so there's a 

19           matching application.  Oftentimes the tenant 

20           puts in one but then the landlord is missing 

21           something or another.  They get this notice.  

22           Both parties see the notice, they get a 

23           notice that says, here, we're missing 

24           thus-and-such and you have 180 days to get it 


 1           to us.  

 2                  In the last few months that number, 

 3           that 31,000-ish, is now down to 23,000.  So 

 4           some 8,000 applications have been completed 

 5           and are getting paid.  So for sure it's 

 6           having an impact, the outreach is having an 

 7           impact to get those applications completed so 

 8           that those numbers get paid.  Because as you 

 9           know, it's first in, first out.  So we can't 

10           move on to future applications until the 

11           180 days passes on the ones that are pending.  

12           You know, which is why when people see that 

13           it's pending or it's provisionally approved, 

14           it's sitting there waiting for something 

15           else.  

16                  And we are now pressing, we're working 

17           with community-based organizations, with the 

18           local districts, with landlord and tenant 

19           organizations to get those applications 

20           complete.  And I think it's having some 

21           impact.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

23                  And just in follow-up to quite a few 

24           of my colleagues in both houses' points -- 


 1           and we all know this -- our shelter allowance 

 2           levels are too low to afford rent, our FHEPS 

 3           levels are still too low, you can have 

 4           vouchers and never find an apartment in 

 5           New York City based on the complications.  

 6           I'm very disturbed to read, just I think 

 7           yesterday, an article saying that in New York 

 8           City two-thirds of the families who apply for 

 9           shelter are rejected.  

10                  I beg you to go look into that.  I 

11           have the highest respect for the efforts the 

12           city has attempted to make during this 

13           extraordinarily difficult time of COVID and 

14           growing homelessness and impossible 

15           mismatches between income and rent costs.  

16           I'm very proud of the fact that I never fight 

17           a shelter that comes into my district, 

18           because I understand we need them, even if 

19           nobody wants to have to be there.  

20                  But something's wrong, Commissioner, 

21           if we're rejecting two out of three families 

22           who come to us for shelter.  So I hope that 

23           you will work with the City of New York to 

24           figure out what the heck's going on there.


 1                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I know 

 2           that you didn't pose that as a question.  

 3           However, we have looked into it some already.  

 4           I think, you know, without getting too far 

 5           into the weeds, it's not exactly as presented 

 6           in that article.

 7                  Here, where it was the case, you had a 

 8           10-day conditional stay while they 

 9           investigated your actual need, and you had to 

10           produce documents and so forth to demonstrate 

11           your actual need for shelter as a family.  

12                  In the past, if they didn't produce 

13           whatever they needed to produce, they would 

14           be sent out of that shelter, they'd have to 

15           go back to PATH, to the entry point in the 

16           Bronx, to do it all over again, as you know.  

17                  Well, that's not what's happening now.  

18           What's happening since COVID is you stay.  

19           You stay in the shelter, you can do it from 

20           there.  

21                  And listen, for better and worse, it's 

22           been -- folks just haven't turned in the 

23           materials that DHS says they need to ensure 

24           that they are actually eligible.  So they 


 1           reapply.  So we see the rate of reapplication 

 2           going up in place.  They never left, they're 

 3           still there.  

 4                  The biggest drawback, of course, is 

 5           that until they're found eligible, the clock 

 6           doesn't start to run on the voucher, right, 

 7           that would get them permanent housing.  Which 

 8           the story did -- that article did address.  

 9                  So I think -- we're looking into it.  

10           I can tell you that it didn't go unnoticed.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I 

12           have used up my time.  And welcome back to 

13           the state.  As we know, you have gone 

14           back-and-forth between the state and the city 

15           agencies multiple times.  Looking forward to 

16           continuing to work with you.

17                  Thank you, Helene.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

19           Assemblyman Burdick, three minutes.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you, 

21           Chair Weinstein.  

22                  And thank you, Commissioner.  I wanted 

23           to speak to you a moment about reentry 

24           housing.  


 1                  I serve on the Correction Committee, 

 2           and I also have two correctional facilities 

 3           in my district.  And I know that the 

 4           Executive Budget does have a modest reentry 

 5           housing initiative, but I'd like to get an 

 6           idea of what the longer-term strategy is 

 7           given the fact that, as you know, the 

 8           Department of Corrections and the Legislature 

 9           is moving ahead with programs that will 

10           provide for more to be released from our 

11           correctional facilities.  

12                  And the tragedy of it is that so many 

13           of them end up in homeless shelters, as I'm 

14           sure you know.  In two consecutive budget 

15           hearings, Commissioner Annucci acknowledged 

16           that the vast majority end up in homeless 

17           shelters.

18                  So tell me what the longer-term plan 

19           is, because this is obviously going to be 

20           continuing for a while.

21                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah, 

22           certainly there's an intersection here for 

23           OTDA and the local districts with 

24           Corrections.  


 1                  I mean, the reentry housing is really 

 2           in the Corrections budget, and it's I think 

 3           largely driven on their side of the house.  

 4           But we are more than happy to collaborate, 

 5           work with Corrections, among others, on what 

 6           to do about reentry housing.

 7                  You're not wrong --

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  If I could just 

 9           interrupt you there, because, you know, it's 

10           interesting because Commissioner Annucci kind 

11           of intimated that, well, you know, this isn't 

12           what we do, that's not really our mission, is 

13           to provide housing.

14                  So, you know, I had suggested to him 

15           that among the agencies, whether it's HCR, 

16           whether it's you, there really needs to be 

17           some coordination.  There needs to be --

18                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  We 

19           completely agree.  We completely agree.  

20           You're absolutely right.

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  And it doesn't 

22           seem to be happening.  And I would just say 

23           that since the principal mission of your 

24           agency is to provide temporary housing -- or 


 1           at least one of the missions -- then I would 

 2           think that somebody has to take this on and 

 3           to say, Look, this is something that we 

 4           acknowledge is part of our mission and part 

 5           of what we should be doing.

 6                  And I would really appreciate the 

 7           opportunity to discuss this offline among 

 8           yourself and the other commissioners.

 9                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  

10           Absolutely.  I'm in my third week of work, 

11           but this has --

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  And 

13           congratulations, by the way.

14                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you.  

15                  This has already come up as a 

16           discussion.  I'm well aware that somewhere 

17           around 22 or 24 percent of single men in 

18           shelter in New York City were in a prison or 

19           a jail within the previous 30 days.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  I think it's 

21           actually higher, but in any event -- we won't 

22           quibble.

23                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So we get 

24           that there's a real challenge, and it runs 


 1           across agencies.  I'm happy to work with you 

 2           and others on this.

 3                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Super.  Thank 

 4           you so much.

 5                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Senator, 

 6           are you going to go to your second round? 

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  We have a second 

 8           round just for our chair, Roxanne Persaud, 

 9           three minutes.

10                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Thank you.  Thank 

11           you.  So Commissioner, quickly, I'm just 

12           going to go through these.  

13                  Going back to the COLA, we know 

14           there's a $500 million COLA.  Could you tell 

15           us, how is your agency going to use that to 

16           ensure that all current contractors, 

17           regardless of whether they are listed in the 

18           statute, that they are covered with that?  We 

19           want to ensure that the COLA is going to 

20           them.  And then --

21                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Senator, 

22           if I may.  So as I mentioned earlier, OTDA 

23           only has one small program that this affects.  

24           And it's -- you know, it's a modest 


 1           adjustment in that budget of $165,000.  We 

 2           only have a short handful of staff that this 

 3           affects.

 4                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay.  Can you tell 

 5           me also in terms of contracts -- I'm going to 

 6           skip the contracts because it's going to get 

 7           into the Guidehouse thing.

 8                  Can you tell me, will OTDA receive 

 9           sufficient additional staffing and personnel 

10           resources to oversee the large ESSHI project 

11           and the program portfolio?  Do you think so?

12                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah, I 

13           believe we have adequate staff to handle the 

14           adjustments in ESSHI and the housing budget, 

15           yup.

16                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay.  And so going 

17           to the DV provisions in the budget, could you 

18           provide details on how the program will be 

19           administered based on the 2023 Executive 

20           proposal that maintains the $5 million in 

21           support of that pilot program that was from 

22           2018 onward?

23                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I'm sorry, 

24           I missed part of your -- I think my 


 1           connection skipped a bit here.  This is on 

 2           which now?

 3                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  DV.  So in 2018 

 4           Congress passed legislation reauthorizing the 

 5           Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.  

 6           And so we -- in the 2023 budget there's 

 7           $5 million in support of the pilot program.  

 8           Can you provide details on how this program 

 9           will be administered?  How does OC -- sorry.  

10           Can you provide details on how that will be 

11           administered?

12                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Senator, I 

13           think you actually were about to say where it 

14           actually lives, which is OCFS.

15                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  I think I missed a 

16           line in my notes I'm writing.  I'm going to 

17           get back to that question.  Sorry.

18                  Can you tell me, how does -- I'm going 

19           to go back to COLA again, because I want to 

20           make sure that we're understanding this.  So, 

21           for example, can a SNAP outreach worker not 

22           be covered under the COLA but a NOEP worker 

23           is, a coordinator is?  Can you tell us?  Even 

24           though you said it's a small percentage of 


 1           people.  But we're just trying to get a sense 

 2           of what is happening.  Because our 

 3           understanding is that some people who are 

 4           sitting in the same office, one person can be 

 5           getting a COLA and the other one will not.  

 6           Can you address that?

 7                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So it is 

 8           the NOEP program.  It's the Nutrition 

 9           Outreach and Education Program.

10                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Right.

11                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  It's a 

12           5.4 percent increase, for about $165,000.  

13           That's the only COLA adjustment that is 

14           living within the OTDA budget.

15                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Okay.  So just to 

16           clarify, a SNAP outreach worker will not have 

17           it.  Okay, thank you.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

19           Assemblywoman Rajkumar.

20                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN RAJKUMAR:  Thank you.  

21                  Good afternoon, Commissioner Tietz.

22                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Hi.

23                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN RAJKUMAR:  

24           Congratulations on your new role.


 1                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you.

 2                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN RAJKUMAR:  So my 

 3           question is about the report that was 

 4           released this week in the news outlet 

 5           THE CITY.  And I believe Chair Krueger 

 6           referred to it earlier, and I would just like 

 7           to hone in on it a bit more. 

 8                  Unbelievably, it was reported that the 

 9           rejection rate for New York City homeless 

10           families applying for shelters was over 

11           75 percent in 2021.  That's up from a 

12           50 percent rejection rate in 2016.  The major 

13           barrier to families securing a place in a 

14           shelter was the City Department of Homeless 

15           Services' burdensome requirements.  Those 

16           requirements included requiring families to 

17           document their living situations for the past 

18           two years and proving that they do not have 

19           any alternative.

20                  OTDA heard almost 1400 appeals of 

21           these DHS housing assistance denials last 

22           year.  That's almost 500 more appeals than 

23           OTDA heard in 2020.  And amazingly, in 

24           38 percent of cases OTDA ruled that the DHS 


 1           decision was not correct.

 2                  So my question is, what specifically 

 3           could OTDA do to help reform this application 

 4           process so that homeless families get the 

 5           housing they are entitled to without a 

 6           lengthy appeal?  I'm very interested in your 

 7           thoughts.  Why did OTDA hearing officers 

 8           overturn so many of these DHS rejections?  

 9           Can you give us some insight?

10                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah, so 

11           we've had some initial conversations with DHS 

12           following that article.  

13                  Here's what I would note.  That in 

14           addition to what I described earlier about 

15           how they can now apply from where they are, 

16           they don't leave shelter -- as opposed to 

17           previous, where they would have been sent 

18           back out of a shelter, having been found 

19           ineligible for reasons of -- for, among other 

20           things, for reasons of not providing the 

21           evidence required and would have to go back 

22           to PATH.  

23                  Some of the other reasons here with 

24           regard to the OTDA and the decisions is 


 1           that -- a couple of things.  So in the past 

 2           some of these would have just been denied 

 3           because the client didn't show for the 

 4           hearing.  Now those hearings largely happen 

 5           remotely, so the show rate is much higher.  I 

 6           think for the agency, for DHS and its 

 7           representation, in the past they would have 

 8           stipulated more of these things and there 

 9           wouldn't have been a ruling against the 

10           agency, it would have simply gone along -- 

11           the client would have made out their case and 

12           the agency would have said, Fine, you're 

13           right, and they would have been found 

14           eligible for shelter.

15                  So we're digging deeper on this, but I 

16           think -- I guess I would just say I wouldn't 

17           take that article as the whole story here.  

18           And that some of this really relates to the 

19           change in which both the client applies and 

20           how hearings happen since COVID.

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN RAJKUMAR:  Okay.  Thank 

22           you.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

24           Since there are no Senators with questions, 


 1           we will continue with the Assembly.  

 2                  Assemblyman Bronson, three minutes.

 3                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you, 

 4           Chair.  And thank you, Commissioner, for 

 5           being here today and for your testimony.

 6                  I want to talk a little bit about the 

 7           Child Poverty Reduction Act, and I'm so 

 8           thankful that Governor Hochul joined us and 

 9           signed that into law.  And I'm also 

10           encouraged that you included this measure in 

11           your written testimony.

12                  As you know, this act sets a goal of 

13           reducing child poverty by 50 percent over the 

14           next 10 years and through the advisory 

15           council, of which you're the cochair, sets up 

16           a framework to establish benchmarks, 

17           transparency, and accountability.

18                  Contrary to your written testimony, I 

19           actually strongly think that the budget is 

20           directly related to reducing child poverty -- 

21           and this act -- as a budget is a statement of 

22           priority based on investments being made.  

23           Recognizing the advisory council has not been 

24           fully appointed yet, my question is:  As 


 1           commissioner, what funding measures -- tax 

 2           credits or support for programs -- are 

 3           contained in this budget that will help us to 

 4           begin to reduce child poverty in the 

 5           2022-2023 budget year?

 6                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Well, I 

 7           certainly described some of them.  And I 

 8           think with regards to the benefits level and 

 9           the earned income disregard, it's certainly a 

10           start down this road.

11                  But again, it's a start down this 

12           road.  We never intended for this to be the 

13           whole story.  And I think it's -- we're 

14           looking forward to the opportunity to work 

15           with the Legislature and other 

16           stakeholders -- that's the counties, the 

17           local districts, the providers, experts in 

18           the field -- as part of this effort to come 

19           up with a comprehensive strategy and plan 

20           going forward.  

21                  I don't -- I hear the comments with 

22           regard to what folks view as outdated or 

23           broken, and I assure you that we're going to 

24           have a whole conversation on this.


 1                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  That's great, 

 2           Commissioner.  I'm so thankful that you're 

 3           looking forward to this process and really 

 4           holding us to this goal so that we can 

 5           achieve this.  I strongly believe we can.

 6                  You know, it's so important in my 

 7           district.  In the City of Rochester, any 

 8           given day -- any given day -- there are 

 9           2,000 children who are homeless in our 

10           Rochester City School District.  And that's 

11           unacceptable.  So we need to move forward in 

12           making sure that all of our agencies -- 

13           certainly yours and others -- are committed 

14           to reducing child poverty.  We owe it to 

15           these children and the future generations.  

16           So thank you, Commissioner.

17                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

19           Forrest, three minutes.  There she is.

20                  Just so members know, so you can keep 

21           an eye out and be prepared to speak, it will 

22           be Assemblywoman Hunter, Assemblyman Meeks, 

23           and then to close, Assemblywoman Rosenthal, 

24           for her second round of three minutes.


 1                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Thank you, 

 2           Chair.  I'm sorry, I had to stretch my legs. 

 3                  All right.  Thank you to the new 

 4           commissioner.  Good luck with the new job.  

 5                  We have a growing crisis of 

 6           homelessness, with over 92,000 homeless 

 7           families in the state.  I know that OTDA 

 8           already contracts with an extremely robust 

 9           outreach network that includes many 

10           well-funded nonprofits.  But this doesn't 

11           address the crisis, because many people do 

12           not want to go to shelter.

13                  Do you know -- well, do you agree that 

14           we need to fully fund rental assistance so 

15           that outreach teams can successfully move 

16           people off the street and into permanent 

17           housing?

18                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So as I 

19           noted earlier, the Governor has announced, 

20           with Mayor Adams, the expansion of those 

21           outreach teams and the addition of clinical 

22           services, particularly mental health and 

23           substance use-related services for folks in 

24           the subway and on the street.


 1                  We work in close collaboration with 

 2           those sister agencies and with the local 

 3           district, with DHS, which contracts with BRC 

 4           to serve folks in the subways.  And so with 

 5           that, we're very much involved in that 

 6           expansion and have a significant 

 7           collaboration role in this.

 8                  I think what folks should understand 

 9           is that it's a long haul, oftentimes, from 

10           getting -- from, you know, repeat engagement 

11           with very challenging cases, very challenging 

12           individuals who have got a lot of problems.  

13           It's repeat engagement that will get them out 

14           of that circumstance and ultimately into 

15           permanent housing.

16                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Right.  And so 

17           that's why we appreciate the work of these 

18           outreach teams that identify the people, the 

19           individuals in the community, and actively 

20           engage them over and over again.

21                  So is there a plan -- I'm glad that 

22           you mentioned the city and the state working 

23           on this.  But is there a plan to pass an 

24           expanded Housing Access Voucher Program in 


 1           this year's budget in order to do that, to 

 2           support that work?

 3                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So I want 

 4           to -- so the short answer is yes.  Of course 

 5           I described earlier the Governor's capital 

 6           budget with regards to additional supportive 

 7           housing, which I think is particularly 

 8           relevant to this crowd.

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Commissioner, 

10           I'm not talking about supportive housing, I'm 

11           talking about the HAVP, Housing Access 

12           Voucher Program.

13                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  So HHAP is 

14           partly what I'm referring to here.  So 

15           there's the support and services piece of 

16           supportive housing, and then there's the 

17           capital piece of supportive housing.

18                  I'm just going to note again that I 

19           think the issue here is engagement with those 

20           folks to get them to a very low-barrier kind 

21           of stabilization temporary housing, and then 

22           ultimately into supportive housing if that's 

23           what makes sense for them.

24                  That's not a short ride, as it were.  


 1           Many of these folks require repeat engagement 

 2           again and again before they even are willing 

 3           to leave the street or the subway.  So -- but 

 4           for sure, in the longer haul here, we're 

 5           creating 800 to 900 new supportive housing 

 6           units, some of which I would anticipate would 

 7           go to these folks coming out of the subways 

 8           and off the streets.

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Thank you, 

10           Commissioner.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

12                  We go to Assemblywoman Hunter, three 

13           minutes. 

14                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Yes, thank you.  

15                  Good afternoon.  I have three 

16           questions.  

17                  How many nonpayment evictions are 

18           projected?  And what is OTDA doing with 

19           localities for these displaced New Yorkers?

20                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  I don't 

21           know that I actually have a number on 

22           evictions.  I don't think that's something -- 

23           so much that we can track.  I think we can 

24           certainly inquire and get back to you.  It 


 1           may be a matter that's -- as between the 

 2           local districts and the courts, we may have 

 3           some sense of the number, and we can 

 4           certainly follow up.

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Okay.  And you 

 6           had mentioned that there are 7,000 pending 

 7           applications since January 11th.  Obviously I 

 8           live in Onondaga County, so none of those are 

 9           mine.  But those are based on the fact that 

10           the court said you had to open up the portal, 

11           but there isn't any money to fund those 

12           applications.  

13                  So if somebody presents at eviction 

14           court with that application, even though we 

15           know that there isn't money to fund it, is 

16           that still eligible for someone to not be 

17           evicted?

18                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yes.

19                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Okay.

20                  And relative to the Housing Access 

21           Voucher Program, I see a bill that Cymbrowitz 

22           has, we've made mention of it several times.  

23           Some of it is for people for shelter, you 

24           made mention of domestic violence.  Is there 


 1           an opportunity -- because we need to look 

 2           past the pandemic.  And obviously this 

 3           housing crisis has impacted many people.  

 4           Many of the people in ERAP and in my county 

 5           as well were not eligible for the program 

 6           because of the median income that they had to 

 7           have in relation to how much housing costs.

 8                  So a $50,000 in annual salary person 

 9           in Syracuse wouldn't have been eligible, 

10           where maybe an $80,000, $90,000 salaried 

11           person in New York City would, based on the 

12           average housing cost.  So trying to see will 

13           there be any mechanism to help the 

14           middle-income earners with these huge 

15           increases in rent that are coming and will 

16           only need to be helped by assistance from 

17           OTDA in some type of voucher program because 

18           they can't afford it?  And it's just another 

19           form of eviction.

20                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  It's a 

21           great question.  And I'll say that I think, 

22           you know, for sure many of our programs are 

23           targeted at lower-income households.  

24                  You know, I'll note that in ERAP -- 


 1           not ERAP, but in the tenant program that 

 2           matches LRAP, right, so the 80 to 120 of AMI.  

 3           So for arrears, that actually is fairly 

 4           undersubscribed.  I think only about 

 5           20 percent of that money has gone out the 

 6           door.  For someone who's got COVID-related 

 7           arrears, that program is still available and 

 8           still open.  Which for sure, at 80 to 120 of 

 9           area median income, is taking in middle-class 

10           households.

11                  I think for the longer term we're open 

12           to, you know, discussing with the Legislature 

13           what makes sense in terms of future 

14           investments.  But admittedly I think the 

15           $100 million supplement that the Governor has 

16           provided takes in folks who may be above 

17           public assistance-eligible at some point, but 

18           it -- I wouldn't necessarily describe that as 

19           reaching middle class in a way which probably 

20           most of us think about middle class.

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HUNTER:  Thank you.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

23                  We move on to Assemblyman Meeks.

24                  ASSEMBLYMAN MEEKS:  Thank you, 


 1           Madam Chair.

 2                  Commissioner, you mentioned earlier 

 3           and I was glad to hear discussion about the 

 4           benefits cliff and that it's recognized.  And 

 5           you put a dollar amount on the benefits 

 6           cliff.  What are the chances of accompanying 

 7           that with a timeline of sorts?  So say, for 

 8           instance, a person, you know, makes X amount 

 9           more one month and then, you know, the 

10           benefits they're eligible for, they're no 

11           longer eligible for them.  What's the 

12           timeline on that?  Is it two months, three 

13           months, a year, what?  Is there a timeline?

14                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  There 

15           isn't.

16                  ASSEMBLYMAN MEEKS:  Okay.  And, you 

17           know, that's something I would think we'd -- 

18           I think we should take into consideration, 

19           implementing a timeline.  

20                  For instance, if it happened in a 

21           month, that would be too soon for a person to 

22           actually save up some resources.  We see that 

23           in Rochester, in Monroe County, instances 

24           where a person was receiving, you know, $600 


 1           a month towards their rent, and then the 

 2           benefits cliff, they fall off, and they're no 

 3           longer eligible for that 600 -- but they're 

 4           only making, you know, $5 more an hour.  It 

 5           just doesn't add up.

 6                  So, you know, I think we need to 

 7           consider a timeline as opposed to a dollar 

 8           amount or put the -- couple the two together.

 9                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Again, I 

10           think as part of our entire sort of 

11           anti-poverty agenda effort and the overhaul 

12           of the public assistance benefits, the 

13           Governor has made clear that this -- what 

14           we've proposed here now in this budget is a 

15           starting point, not the end point.  And that 

16           going forward, we are open to a far larger 

17           conversation as part of the Child Poverty 

18           Reduction Act Advisory Council's discussions 

19           and coming up with a strategy and plan.  I 

20           anticipate that this will be a part of it.

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN MEEKS:  Great.  Thank you.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

23                  We go to our Social Services chair, 

24           Linda Rosenthal, for three minutes in a 


 1           second round.

 2                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Thank you.  

 3           I guess this is your last three minutes on 

 4           the hot seat this year.

 5                  I wanted to just follow up on a couple 

 6           of things.  Even though 80 percent of 

 7           New York State's supportive housing program 

 8           funding supports salaries of direct care 

 9           workers, the program wasn't part of the list 

10           of OTDA and the other O agencies proposed to 

11           receive a 5.4 percent COLA increase.  How can 

12           we include that in the 30-day amendments?  

13           because it's not really fair for that sector 

14           not to get the COLA.

15                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Yeah, I 

16           appreciate your question and your concern. 

17                  You know, this is statutory.  It's 

18           really not up to us.  Certainly if the 

19           Legislature wishes to go in a different 

20           direction, we're happy to do whatever we're 

21           asked to do.

22                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay, that's 

23           good to hear.  

24                  Also, so ERAP funds -- we've got 


 1           27 million, the Governor asked for more.  At 

 2           the end of the day, what happens to the 

 3           tenants and landlords, particularly small 

 4           landlords, who will not get paid?  I fear 

 5           there's going to be many, many evictions 

 6           without those parties being paid.  

 7                  What do you think about the state 

 8           taking up the slack?  Or how else do we get 

 9           out of this crisis so people aren't living on 

10           the street adding to the homeless population?  

11           It's a crisis.  And we want the federal 

12           government to step up, but what happens if 

13           they don't?

14                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  It's a 

15           very good question, and one that concerns us 

16           greatly.  The Governor has committed a lot of 

17           resources here and offered up, as I mentioned 

18           earlier, $2 billion for COVID-related 

19           expenses, which may be one resource to 

20           address this.  I am reluctant to suggest that 

21           we should go there promptly, given that our 

22           request to the Treasury of $1.6 billion 

23           remains outstanding.  

24                  And so I think -- I do think that 


 1           this -- we should continue to press on our 

 2           federal friends about getting as much federal 

 3           resource as possible.  But for the longer 

 4           term, it's a very fair question.

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay.  

 6           And -- well, thank you.  I agree with you.

 7                  Also -- I have very little time -- 

 8           back to the vacancy rate in supportive 

 9           housing.  We know that the city is requiring 

10           so much documentation, and that's part of the 

11           reason that it takes so long for people to 

12           actually move into their units.  What can you 

13           do to help cut through the bureaucracy?

14                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  You have 

15           mentioned this to me previously.  And I -- 

16           we've looked into it.  We don't think there 

17           is a 10 percent vacancy rate.  So we'd love 

18           to see where you're seeing that.

19                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay.

20                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Look, the 

21           city is expected, you know, to turn those 

22           units in pretty much 30 days, as best I 

23           understand it.  So as a unit empties out, 

24           whatever improvements or repairs have to be 


 1           made, et cetera -- and there's a whole list 

 2           of folks who are all set to go.  Like there 

 3           is -- as you know, there's more demand for 

 4           supportive housing.  They know who those 

 5           folks are, and they run them to those units 

 6           in order.  I think they get to look at three, 

 7           they have to pick one.  The turnaround 

 8           happens quickly.  It is very much in the 

 9           city's interest to turn those units as 

10           quickly as possible and not leave them vacant 

11           for long.

12                  So we're happy to discuss if you've 

13           got some data for us to look at, I'm happy to 

14           look at it and then talk with them.

15                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  All right, 

16           thank you.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

18           Commissioner Tietz, for being here with us 

19           today.  And look forward to having continued 

20           discussions as we work on the final budget.

21                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you 

22           so much.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  There are no 

24           more questioners.


 1                  ACTING COMMISSIONER TIETZ:  Thank you 

 2           so much.  It was a pleasure.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And now we will 

 4           have Greg Olsen, the acting director of the 

 5           New York State Office for the Aging.

 6                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Hi.  Can 

 7           you hear me?

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.  Just 

 9           wanted to mention -- just a reminder that you 

10           have 10 minutes to make an opening -- for 

11           remarks.  Your testimony has been distributed 

12           to all the members, so feel free to summarize 

13           and not necessarily use all the 10 minutes.  

14           And then there will be questions from some of 

15           the members, the respective Aging chairs and 

16           other members.

17                  So the floor is yours.

18                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Well, that 

19           sounds great.  I will summarize some, but I 

20           promise you I'll stay within the 10 minutes.

21                  So again, good afternoon, Chairpersons 

22           Krueger, Weinstein, Chairpersons May and Kim, 

23           all the distinguished members of the Senate 

24           and Assembly standing committees.


 1                  Again, I am Greg Olsen, the acting 

 2           director of the New York State Office for the 

 3           Aging, and I'm really honored, as always, to 

 4           testify on provisions of Governor Kathy 

 5           Hochul's proposed budget that directly impact 

 6           NYSOFA programs and services, along with 

 7           additional budget proposals that will 

 8           positively impact older New Yorkers and their 

 9           families.  

10                  Governor Hochul and her 

11           administration's commitment to older 

12           New Yorkers is unprecedented, and I think you 

13           see that within this budget looked at 

14           holistically.  The Governor's State of the 

15           State message and subsequent proposed 

16           Executive Budget contain many initiatives 

17           that are positive for older adults and their 

18           families.  But the approach is much broader 

19           than one particular agency -- it's about 

20           making New York the healthiest state in the 

21           nation through a multi-agency, coordinated 

22           effort which focuses on improving physical 

23           and behavioral health, preventive health care 

24           strategies, embedding healthy aging and 


 1           livability principles into general government 

 2           and local government operations, expanding 

 3           age-friendly communities and age-friendly 

 4           health systems, expanding access to services 

 5           and training for older LGBTQ individuals,  

 6           supporting informal caregivers and working 

 7           caregivers, addressing disparities in access 

 8           to care, and so much more.  

 9                  Utilizing the Prevention Agenda from 

10           '19 to '24 as the umbrella, and instituting a 

11           Health Across All Policies approach, New York 

12           State agencies are incorporating health 

13           considerations into our planning, programs, 

14           and initiatives.  As agencies, we're 

15           committed to working together and considering 

16           how all of our policies fulfill New York's 

17           pledge as the first age-friendly state in the 

18           nation.  We are already meeting this pledge 

19           for New York's older population, and now we 

20           have the opportunity to further strengthen 

21           and coordinate this vital work through the 

22           Governor's proposed State Master Plan on 

23           Aging.  

24                  This master plan is consistent with 


 1           the goals and work that New York has been 

 2           engaged in to improve communities for people 

 3           of all ages and create healthy environments 

 4           in which to grow up and grow old.  

 5                  As you know, New York became the first 

 6           age-friendly state in 2018 because of that 

 7           foundation.  And through much-needed 

 8           investments, the Governor's '23 Executive 

 9           Budget expands and strengthens this 

10           foundation with initiatives that will help 

11           individuals of all ages access needed 

12           services and lead healthy lives.  We do this 

13           by maintaining all of our core services and 

14           many of the legislative adds from last year, 

15           investing almost $3 million in efforts to 

16           combat isolation, bridge the digital divide, 

17           encompass elder abuse prevention, baselining 

18           Holocaust survivors' dollars, continued 

19           improvements for our New York ADRC, which is 

20           called NY Connects, creating the master plan, 

21           as I mentioned, and strengthening the Long 

22           Term Care Ombudsman program.  

23                  To meet the growing needs for services 

24           in the pandemic, NYSOFA received more than 


 1           $149 million in federal stimulus funding that 

 2           we immediately distributed to all counties. 

 3           This funding has met a variety of needs, 

 4           including, in addition to the 20-plus core 

 5           services that are available throughout 

 6           New York State on a daily basis, several key 

 7           areas, including home-delivered meals, 

 8           grab-and-go meals, shopping and supply 

 9           delivery, prescription drug delivery, 

10           critical transportation to things such as 

11           dialysis and cancer treatments, combating 

12           social isolation, shifting service delivery 

13           to virtual programming where appropriate, 

14           elder abuse mitigation and scam prevention 

15           via enhanced education and outreach, helping 

16           individuals get vaccinated, both at vaccine 

17           sites and in the home, as well as getting 

18           boosted.  

19                  State-level executive orders, coupled 

20           with the federal disaster declaration, the 

21           MDD, have allowed NYSOFA to provide counties 

22           and their community-based partners with 

23           maximum flexibility in the delivery of these 

24           services, eliminating barriers that would 


 1           otherwise unduly impede responsive action to 

 2           community needs during the pandemic.  These 

 3           flexibilities remain in place today while we 

 4           work to safely reopen community outlets that 

 5           were closed.  

 6                  On a national level, our office's 

 7           advocacy efforts assisted in securing policy 

 8           and program changes that really impacted the 

 9           entire nation, and additional resources to 

10           help older New Yorkers.  We are also leading 

11           a national effort under our Older Americans 

12           Act Modernization proposal to better resource 

13           this network and to continue to provide 

14           flexibilities that will allow our counties to 

15           meet locally determined needs. 

16                  The demands of COVID-19 have also 

17           strengthened our existing core partnerships 

18           with many state agencies to help New Yorkers, 

19           such as our work with Ag & Markets on access 

20           to food, the Department of Labor on support 

21           for working caregivers, the Department of 

22           Health on all COVID-related health and safety 

23           issues, the Office of Mental Health on 

24           addressing social isolation and mental health 


 1           issues magnified by COVID-19, the Office of 

 2           Addiction Services and Supports on prevention 

 3           and treatment for alcohol and substance 

 4           abuse, prescription safety and abuse and 

 5           problem gambling, the Division of Veterans' 

 6           Services, where 63 percent of the veterans 

 7           are over the age of 60, and of course our 

 8           partnership with OVS to expand our enhanced 

 9           multidisciplinary team elder abuse mitigation 

10           model.

11                  Throughout the pandemic NYSOFA 

12           developed and tested new programs and 

13           projects to assist older adults.  The FY '23 

14           Executive Budget provides critical funding to 

15           sustain and significantly expand these 

16           efforts.  The Governor's budget provides the 

17           support necessary to continue our 

18           trailblazing initiatives like our 

19           award-winning animatronic pet project, which 

20           has proven to reduce loneliness, pain, 

21           depression and isolation, as well as our 

22           partnership with several tech platforms that 

23           are bringing virtual programs into the homes 

24           of older adults.  This includes our 


 1           partnership with the Virtual Senior Center, 

 2           GetSetUp, leveraging the therapeutic power of 

 3           pets through our Pets Together platform, and 

 4           our partnership with the New York State 

 5           Council on the Arts to bring professional 

 6           teaching artists into the homes of older 

 7           adults.  

 8                  NYSOFA has also begun partnering with 

 9           GoGoGrandparent, a targeted rideshare 

10           service, to increase transportation options 

11           and economic opportunities for older adults. 

12                  We're launching a multicounty 

13           evidence-based intervention pilot that uses 

14           complex analytics to identify caregiver 

15           burnout, which is a leading cause of 

16           placement in a higher level of care.  

17                  Our partnership with the Developmental 

18           Disabilities Planning Council is working to 

19           better equip and train our network to serve 

20           older adults who are taking care of 

21           individuals with ID or DD.  

22                  We teamed up with the Division of 

23           Homeland Security and Emergency Services to 

24           bring FEMA resources to continue providing 


 1           nutrition throughout New York State.  Our 

 2           comprehensive assessment tool that we use now 

 3           includes a screen for social isolation and 

 4           technology capacity.  We've partnered with 

 5           the Department of Health and HANYS to better 

 6           integrate clinical and community-based care 

 7           to improve outcomes for older adults under 

 8           the Age-Friendly Health System priority.  

 9                  NYSOFA is also the nation's first 

10           state in the country to partner with the 

11           National Association of Home Builders to make 

12           their Certified Aging in Place Specialist, or 

13           CAPS, training available for our case 

14           managers.  This certification will better 

15           prepare our staff to assess, recommend, and 

16           incorporate home safety features into care 

17           plans, helping individuals age in place and 

18           prevent injuries and falls.  

19                  Finally, through our partnership with 

20           the Health Department, we'll be expanding a 

21           very successful integrated care model that 

22           started in Monroe County that coordinates 

23           aging services with health services, and to 

24           strengthen our NY Connects program, both on 


 1           the data and reporting side as well as the 

 2           state resource directory.  

 3                  But again, this budget is about a lot 

 4           more than one agency.  For our lives, our 

 5           older adults' lives, we touch more than one 

 6           system, so we can't look at this budget in 

 7           terms of just the State Office for the Aging.  

 8           It really has to be examined holistically.  

 9           Older adults like you and me touch every 

10           different system, and I've outlined just some 

11           of the key areas that have also been invested 

12           in.  And hearing some of the other 

13           commissioners speak about all the overlap 

14           that occurs, whether it be in housing or 

15           transportation or in SNAP benefits, et 

16           cetera, the litany goes on and on.  This is a 

17           really significantly positive budget.

18                  We're always going to continue to work 

19           with anybody and everybody -- state agencies, 

20           local agencies, the private sector, your 

21           offices.  This has always been about 

22           partnerships, leveraging different assets.  

23           We all can't do this alone; we have to, you 

24           know, connect the dots, tighten things up 


 1           where there are cross-systems issues that 

 2           impact, so that we can treat people the way 

 3           they need to be treated -- holistically and 

 4           not siloed.

 5                  So as always, I always look forward to 

 6           being in front of you.  I thank you for your 

 7           longstanding support of not only my office 

 8           but all of your constituents and the 

 9           partnership that we've maintained over the 

10           course of many, many years.  And I look 

11           forward to any questions that you have of me.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

13           Acting Director.  

14                  We go to Assemblyman Kim for 

15           10 minutes, the chair of the Assembly's Aging 

16           Committee.

17                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Thank you --

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Just need to 

19           reset the clock.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Thank you, 

21           Chairwoman.  And thank you, Director Olsen.  

22           It's good to see you, and thank you for your 

23           testimony.

24                  I want to start off with some line of 


 1           questions regarding the Unmet Need Audit that 

 2           the State Comptroller had issued, and I want 

 3           to give you an opportunity to address some of 

 4           the concerns.  But basically the audit is 

 5           saying that the money that we allocated to 

 6           meet the unmet need was inefficiently 

 7           allocated by your agency.

 8                  But I want to first focus on this 

 9           particular statement, which to me was the 

10           most meaningful line in that audit, which 

11           says:  "In some cases, clients who cannot 

12           withstand the wait have had to resort to 

13           nursing home placement."

14                  There are roughly 10,000 older adults 

15           on the waiting list for basic services.  An 

16           implication of that line is that the more 

17           they wait, the more they're pushed to older 

18           adults.

19                  So my first question is, to start off, 

20           Director Olsen, how much do taxpayers 

21           actually spend on each institutionalized 

22           older adult -- you know, long-term facility 

23           or nursing home?  

24                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah, the 


 1           average nursing home rate, roughly, statewide 

 2           is about $150,000 a year.  And that's 

 3           primarily financed by Medicaid.

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  And in some cases, 

 5           obviously, it goes way on, what, to 

 6           200,000-plus-dollars a year as well.

 7                  And how much do we roughly spend to 

 8           provide care at home for older adults, in 

 9           community care?

10                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  So in our 

11           network, to provide, you know, the basic 

12           package of services that somebody 

13           traditionally gets is, you know, you're going 

14           to get case management, because that's a 

15           critically important systems issue and 

16           advocate to make sure that people are getting 

17           what they need holistically; usually personal 

18           care Level 1 or 2; and probably a 

19           home-delivered meal.  

20                  Now, there's a variety of other things 

21           that somebody, depending on the assessment 

22           and the care plan, may receive.  But if we 

23           just took that as kind of our starting point, 

24           it costs anywhere between $7,000 or $8,000 a 


 1           year, depending on where you are in the 

 2           state.  But it's under $10,000.

 3                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  And I also read 

 4           somewhere that between 20 to 30 percent of 

 5           institutionalized older adults actually don't 

 6           need to be in those facilities if they had 

 7           proper support in place.  Is that an accurate 

 8           depiction?  

 9                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  You know, I 

10           don't know.  So, you know, the way I'd answer 

11           that, Assemblyman -- and I appreciate the 

12           line of questioning -- is, you know, because 

13           of how our system works, which is we're able 

14           to trigger services long before somebody 

15           needs the type of skilled care you would get 

16           in a nursing home.  Right?  

17                  We're able to organize not only a 

18           package of NYSOFA-funded programs and 

19           supports but, because of the way that we're 

20           structured, leverage so many other community 

21           partnerships, whether that be adult 

22           protective services or the court systems or 

23           working with law enforcement.  And I want to 

24           be quick in terms of the time that you have.  


 1           You know, we're able to, again, prevent 

 2           emergency room visits, hospitalizations and 

 3           nursing home admissions because we're able to 

 4           start earlier.  

 5                  And I think, you know, the idea of 

 6           focusing on prevention is something we've all 

 7           talked about for decades and decades, which 

 8           is finally starting to be embraced, not only 

 9           at the federal level but also at the state 

10           level, that prevention strategies matter for 

11           people, their outcomes, where they want to 

12           live, and certainly has cost ramifications 

13           that are positive.

14                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Right.  But another 

15           way to frame this, the reason why I start off 

16           with the numbers is if it's costing $150,000 

17           more, on average, to institutionalize an 

18           older adult versus spending 7, 9, up to 

19           30,000 in New York City, sometimes, to have a 

20           community and home care in place -- another 

21           way of looking at it, there's much more money 

22           to be made on the other side of this equation 

23           in terms of the secondary, intermediary 

24           market spaces making more money.  So the 


 1           natural market forces tend to push people 

 2           into institutionalized facilities because 

 3           there are more stakeholders out of our hands 

 4           that are making more money.

 5                  So, I mean, the point of my line of 

 6           questioning with that is that the auditing, 

 7           going back to the auditing of the 

 8           Comptroller -- instead of really looking at 

 9           the systemic and market failures that clearly 

10           favor institutionalizing older adults, I 

11           mean, I feel the Comptroller is taking a 

12           cheap shot, a scapegoating of SOFA, which 

13           should be supported even more as the only 

14           agency, in my opinion, that's delivering 

15           preventative solutions in a very broken 

16           long-term-care system.

17                  Do you have any thoughts to that 

18           assessment?  

19                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  You know, I 

20           do.  And I so appreciate your comments.  And 

21           I don't know who else, you know, read the 

22           audit, but many of you know your county 

23           offices for the aging.  They certainly have 

24           worked for me for a long time.  


 1                  You know, I've spent 30 years of my 

 2           career serving your constituents, and 

 3           hopefully will do that for a very long time.  

 4           We have always had a very strong partnership 

 5           because aging is not political.  This is 

 6           about helping people remain independent, 

 7           valuing the population.

 8                  And so to even suggest, to me, that I 

 9           myself, the staff for the agency that I've 

10           been entrusted to oversee on behalf of the 

11           Governor, and this network, starting with the 

12           AAAs and our 1200 contractors, that we didn't 

13           step up during the pandemic and provide 

14           services -- which is what the takeaway from 

15           this audit was -- is simply false.  We have 

16           doubled our service capacity.  

17                  So what I'm going to ask you guys to 

18           do is, in addition to reading the audit, I'm 

19           going to refer you to my written response to 

20           the audit, because that's the facts.  And it 

21           corrects the inaccurate findings of the 

22           audit.  The data that you cited is not 

23           correct in terms of the number of folks that 

24           were awaiting services.  That data set is 


 1           years and years old.  And unfortunately, I 

 2           think much of the time that I spent 

 3           communicating did not wind up in the audit.  

 4                  And it's disappointing, because it 

 5           puts a cloud over what this day could be, 

 6           which is really highlighting the incredible 

 7           efforts of your counties, your providers and 

 8           our office in doing the job that needed to be 

 9           done.  Because job number one was serving 

10           people, and that's exactly what we did.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  And I will just add 

12           that the danger of the Comptroller's audit of 

13           SOFA is the knee-jerk reaction that may come 

14           out of it.  Which may follow to further take 

15           away the agency's funding streams and hand it 

16           over to third-party quasi-government 

17           contractors, what the Empire Center once 

18           called shadowy nonprofits.  

19                  And I hope that, as lawmakers, that 

20           that is not the reaction that we have, and 

21           we'll work with you to making sure that SOFA 

22           is more efficient and effective.

23                  But speaking of these third-party 

24           contractors, like Health Research, Inc., 


 1           HRI -- and I know we've spoken about this 

 2           before, but does SOFA contract with HRI in 

 3           any capacity?  

 4                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  We don't 

 5           contract with HRI, Assemblyman.  We have, you 

 6           know, fortunately gotten some really good 

 7           staff that worked at HRI that now have joined 

 8           my team several years ago.  But no, we do not 

 9           contract with HRI.

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Are you aware of a 

11           September 2014 Department of Health-HRI RFP 

12           contract that was to study and prepare the 

13           state for emergencies like the pandemic?  

14                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  I am 

15           familiar with it because you had raised it 

16           with me last week, yes.

17                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  And specifically, 

18           the RFP gave HRI federal money to prepare for 

19           hospital to nursing home surge in emergencies 

20           like the pandemic.  But it's my understanding 

21           that other agencies that are focused on 

22           community care, like yourself, and home care, 

23           that not part of that discussion.  Is that 

24           correct?


 1                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  You know, I 

 2           can't respond to that, Assemblyman.  

 3                  What I can respond to, because HRI is 

 4           a -- you know, directly works with the Health 

 5           Department, are the efforts that our agency 

 6           is involved with, with DHSES and all the 

 7           other state agencies, as well as our 

 8           involvement at the county level in all the 

 9           emergency operations planning that, you know, 

10           deal with this as well.  

11                  So, you know, we have a long track 

12           record in working at the state level and the 

13           local level and in partnership with others on 

14           emergency management and preparedness.  But I 

15           can't speak to the HRI RFI {sic}, I'm sorry.

16                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  That's okay.  And, I 

17           guess, the line of my questions is that the 

18           right course of action would have been to 

19           empower and include SOFA in every step of the 

20           way in our state's emergency preparedness 

21           plan.  But that's not what happened, and I 

22           hope there are some lessons learned so we 

23           don't repeat the same mistakes moving 

24           forward.


 1                  I'll just transition for my last one 

 2           minute for the Long Term Care Ombudsman 

 3           Program.  The executive did not include any 

 4           dollars for this program, but we plan on 

 5           supporting and giving some teeth to this 

 6           program.  I hope that your agency will work 

 7           with us on putting in some real dollars to 

 8           make sure that we have the proper oversight 

 9           program over long-term facilities.

10                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah, I'm 

11           with you a hundred percent.  I think that 

12           there's a couple of things.  There was 

13           $2.2 million to hire 17 additional staff in 

14           the Health Department to be able to receive 

15           those types of complaints from facilities 

16           that really rise to that level.  That's a 

17           real promising thing.

18                  As you guys know, the Legislature 

19           passed five different bills last year 

20           impacting the Long Term Care Ombudsman 

21           Program.  So I'm actually really excited 

22           about the study.  I think it's the right time 

23           and right place to do that so that we can 

24           really have a thoughtful, deliberative 


 1           process on how we empower and strengthen, you 

 2           know, the response for the LTCOP program to 

 3           be as successful as possible.

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 5                  We go to the Senate.  

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

 7           much.  

 8                  And we go to Chair of Aging Rachel 

 9           May, for 10 minutes.

10                  SENATOR MAY:  Thank you so much.  And 

11           I'm just going to run with the ball that 

12           Chair Kim was starting with.

13                  So first of all, going back to the 

14           ummet need, the waiting list for services, 

15           what is your estimate of what we should be 

16           pushing for?  And I agree with Chair Kim that 

17           we can't let that Comptroller's report 

18           deflect us from the fact that we really need 

19           to meet the need for people to stay out of 

20           nursing homes wherever possible.  

21                  So what is your estimate now of the 

22           waiting lists and the people who -- or the 

23           amount of money that we should be asking for?

24                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  So on the 


 1           financial front, Senator -- and thank you for 

 2           the question -- we have the money within our 

 3           networks, from the five different stimulus 

 4           packages, our basic federal allocation, the 

 5           General Fund commitment to older adults, as 

 6           well as the proposal to continue the 

 7           23 million in unmet funding.

 8                  Where we're seeing -- the unmet need 

 9           numbers have gone significantly down, and 

10           that's what we all expected.  Of course, you 

11           know, I know that you're carrying a home care 

12           bill.  There are other proposals in the 

13           budget to try to, you know, attract, retain, 

14           increase salary, benefits, for direct care 

15           workers.  That's the area that we are dealing 

16           with right now, is on the workforce front.  

17                  But, you know, we're not standing 

18           around and doing nothing.  So I want to let 

19           you know like what we are doing.  We have the 

20           ability, and have since 2014 -- and, you 

21           know, I have to implement tools that I have 

22           within, you know, my authority, which we are 

23           doing.  We have the ability to negotiate 

24           higher rates to incentivize aides to assist 


 1           our clients.  We have a partnership that we 

 2           are strengthening with HCP that oversees the 

 3           LHCSAs to do exactly that:  Can we target 

 4           particular areas where there just isn't an 

 5           aide available to, again, provide the types 

 6           of resources that would incentivize them to 

 7           work with us.

 8                  You know, I asked my staff, my legal 

 9           staff to review my powers and authority under 

10           federal and state law, because there's a lot 

11           of nuances to who makes decisions at the 

12           local level.  We're different from other 

13           agencies, in that I don't have state staff 

14           out in the community.  We contract with 

15           counties, counties contract out with 1200 

16           organizations.  I can't make them hire, I 

17           can't make them spend money.  And I'm not 

18           suggesting that they're not doing that, but a 

19           lot of times decisions are made outside of 

20           the director of the county office for aging.  

21                  So we are looking at those tools.  And 

22           if I need to get more involved in, you know, 

23           working with the county or directly 

24           contracting to get these services turned on, 


 1           then I'm prepared to do that.  Because I 

 2           cannot go home at night every day knowing 

 3           that for the first time in our history we are 

 4           resourced and then some of these things may 

 5           not get turned on because of misunderstanding 

 6           or not knowing that the funds are going to be 

 7           there or that they're recurring.  

 8                  And so those are the things that I'm 

 9           prepared to begin to do.

10                  SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  Thanks.  

11                  And then about the Long Term Care 

12           Ombudsman Program.  So I'm happy to hear that 

13           there's funding in the Health budget for 

14           receiving those complaints.  We had to push 

15           very hard to get that avenue opened up so 

16           that the LTCOP complaints can go to the 

17           Health Department.  

18                  But we are also asking for $20 million 

19           for hiring more paid staff in LTCOP.  Is that 

20           something that the ombudsman program can -- 

21           has the capacity to handle if we were able to 

22           get $20 million for paid staff?

23                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Well, you 

24           know, we switched years ago, Senator.  This 


 1           program used to be run by the county offices 

 2           for the aging, and they would get about 

 3           $13,000.  Now, you cannot run a program on 

 4           $13,000.  So we consolidated, regionalized 

 5           it, made sure we had, you know, paid 

 6           full-time workers, et cetera, in the 

 7           15 regions. 

 8                  So why I'm excited about this budget 

 9           is, you know, as some of the other 

10           commissioners have said, it's the beginning 

11           point.  I think this issue is so important 

12           that -- I know that the Governor has talked 

13           about it, has met with families, has met with 

14           Assemblyman Kim directly.  There is 

15           legislation that's been passed.

16                  So, you know, I am sure that this 

17           conversation is going to continue over the 

18           next -- you know, over the budget 

19           negotiations.  But, you know, what any 

20           resources -- whether they be federal, in 

21           Build Back Better, where there's $400 billion 

22           for this.  In my modernization plan there's 

23           money for LTCOP.  In the Build Back Better 

24           there's 1.4 billion for the Older Americans 


 1           Act that would impact this.  

 2                  However that winds up, you know, at 

 3           the end of this whole process it would allow 

 4           for additional resources and staff and 

 5           oversight to make sure that there's a 

 6           presence in facilities across the state.

 7                  SENATOR MAY:  Okay, thank you.

 8                  Now let's talk about the COLA that is 

 9           in the budget, 5.4 percent.  My understanding 

10           is it only covers some of the programs, the 

11           EISEP, the CSE and WIN programs, but not the 

12           NORCs and not social adult day programs.

13                  Is there a statutory reason for this?  

14           Do you understand what the --

15                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yes, I do.  

16           Let me explain, because I know that that's 

17           the way that it appears.

18                  So it's almost $6 million.  And the 

19           way that this is implemented, by what you 

20           have read, is CSE covers every single service 

21           that we provide, including social adult day.  

22           You know, EISEP covers a variety of services, 

23           not just in-home care.  And WIN provides a 

24           variety of nutrition programs.  So those 


 1           collectively really make up the network.

 2                  We have had conversations, and I'm 

 3           pleased to report to you that we are going to 

 4           be including the types of tasks within the 

 5           NORC program that are consistent with the 

 6           provisions in CSE.  And then again, because 

 7           of the additional revenues that we have, 

 8           social adult day programs not only would be 

 9           covered under this COLA, within our budget, 

10           because that's a fundable service through two 

11           of those three funding streams, but also the 

12           additional 149 million and the additional 

13           48 million proposed to continue unmet need -- 

14           we think we'll be able to get there.

15                  SENATOR MAY:  Okay, thank you.

16                  And let's talk about the 

17           home-delivered meals.  The people who do the 

18           deliveries, are they just volunteers?  Do 

19           they get paid?  At what rate do they get 

20           paid?  Does the COLA apply to them?

21                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yes, the 

22           COLA absolutely applies to them.  I mean, 

23           we've had a 100 percent increase in 

24           nutrition.  That has been the biggest impact 


 1           of the pandemic.  

 2                  So it's a mix and match.  There are 

 3           obviously paid staff.  There are paid staff 

 4           that prepare meals, there are paid drivers.  

 5           And there are volunteers who help prepare 

 6           meals and volunteers who help, you know, 

 7           deliver meals, depending on where that you 

 8           are.  

 9                  But of course that is a main part of 

10           where we want to try to get resources.  We 

11           operate the largest nutrition program for 

12           older adults in the nation.  We're doing 

13           about $30 million a month.  

14                  In addition, as I mentioned, we 

15           partnered with DHSES to make sure that we had 

16           access to the same FEMA emergency nutrition 

17           money that New York City applied for.  So 

18           that is ongoing.  What that will do is not 

19           only bring a lot of federal resources in, but 

20           it will help stretch our existing dollars 

21           further because we can spend those FEMA 

22           resources first.

23                  SENATOR MAY:  Okay.  And then the 

24           Master Plan for Aging, what is your plan for 


 1           that?  What is the timeline, what would be 

 2           the process, how can we make sure that this 

 3           is not just something that sits on a shelf 

 4           but is actually put into practice?

 5                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah, well, 

 6           I'm with you, Senator.  I want to make sure 

 7           we have a good outcome out of that.

 8                  As I mentioned to you last week, and 

 9           for those who are listening, you know, we've 

10           been doing this type of work since 2006.  

11           This is really an opportunity to build on the 

12           Prevention Agenda, Health Across All 

13           Policies, Age-Friendly New York, age-friendly 

14           health systems, dementia-capable health 

15           systems, all the work on the economic 

16           development side with downtown 

17           revitalizations.  And then many of the 

18           proposals that the Governor put in her budget 

19           that impact other agencies, from housing to 

20           increases in mental health and access, in 

21           transportation -- I mean, the litany goes on 

22           and on. 

23                  We need to coordinate that, because 

24           people again don't live in isolation, and 


 1           agencies shouldn't be operating in isolation 

 2           of each other.  This all matters to create 

 3           healthy environments.

 4                  So we have put together a draft 

 5           implementation plan that we're talking to the 

 6           Governor's office now about.  And then you 

 7           know me, Senator -- this is going to be an 

 8           all hands on deck.  This is -- the more 

 9           voices of different individuals with 

10           different experiences that can come together 

11           to make this plan work and build upon what 

12           we've been doing to make New York the 

13           greatest state -- not an exodus state, but a 

14           state people want to move into.  Because I've 

15           lived here my whole life.  I love this state.  

16           It's an awesome state -- that's the goal.

17                  So stay tuned when -- we want to get 

18           out of the gate running as soon as possible 

19           so that we can start our work and, you know, 

20           the Governor put, you know, a 1.5 million, 

21           two-year commitment forward to help with 

22           that.  And then we are working with a variety 

23           of foundations and other public and private 

24           partners.  So I think this is going to be 


 1           really exciting.

 2                  SENATOR MAY:  Great.  Thank you so 

 3           much.  Great to see you.

 4                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Thank you, 

 5           Senator.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 7                  Assemblymember Clark is next, I 

 8           believe?

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.  Yes.  I'm 

10           here, yes.

11                  Just so people know, the order is 

12           Assemblymember Clark, then Mamdani, then 

13           Simpson, then Forrest.

14                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN CLARK:  Hello.  Thank 

15           you, Director Olsen, for being here.  I'm 

16           excited for the opportunity to chat with you 

17           about some people we all love the most, our 

18           older adults in New York State.

19                  I'm going to just sort of jump on the 

20           Long Term Care Ombudsman Program a little bit 

21           more, given some of the numbers in New York 

22           State.  We have the fourth-most number of 

23           folks living in long-term-care facilities in 

24           the country, yet we only rank 17th in state 


 1           funding for the Ombudsman Program.  And if 

 2           you look at it per bed, we're $7 per bed, 

 3           which puts us at 39th in the state.

 4                  From what we've heard from advocates 

 5           and those that work in this space, that the 

 6           Ombudsman Program really -- the best 

 7           practice, the most effective way to use it, 

 8           is that there is an ombudsman visiting every 

 9           facility in the state at least once a week.  

10           So I guess -- obviously I am in full support 

11           of a $20 million budget ask that we will be 

12           pushing for this year.  But do you really see 

13           any way for the Ombudsman Program to be 

14           effective without it going to a more 

15           staff-based program instead of so heavily 

16           reliant on volunteers?

17                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah, thank 

18           you, Assemblymember.  Appreciate the 

19           question.  The answer is no.  Which is why I 

20           am pushing this national Older Americans Act 

21           Modernization plan.

22                  Our entire network, the way that we've 

23           been structured, has a lot of paid staff but 

24           is heavily reliant on volunteers.  That's in 


 1           meal delivery, working in senior centers, our 

 2           Health Insurance Information, Counseling and 

 3           Assistance Program, our Long Term Care 

 4           Ombudsman Program.  That model worked in 

 5           1965; it does not work in 2022.  So my plan 

 6           calls for $2.7 billion, which would bring an 

 7           additional 175 million to New York State to 

 8           do exactly what you're talking about.

 9                  This is a very professional network 

10           that works with doctors, nurses, emergency 

11           room departments, rehab, nursing homes, 

12           hospitals -- and we need to have a staff that 

13           reflects that professionalism.  I am so 

14           thankful for all the volunteers we have.  We 

15           have over a million volunteers, you know, 

16           that are providing $13.8 billion worth of 

17           service.  And we will always be trying to 

18           recruit them, but that is not a sustainable 

19           service delivery model.  

20                  And then when you go through the 

21           pandemic, as I know -- you're smiling and 

22           shaking your head.  You know this as well as 

23           I do, what happened.  The folks who are 

24           volunteers were the ones who are most 


 1           susceptible to COVID.  Yet they risked their 

 2           lives to do the work.  And I can't thank them 

 3           enough.

 4                  But, you know, we do.  Which is why 

 5           I'm excited about the study.  I think this is 

 6           an opportunity to do something --

 7                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN CLARK:  I'm sorry, I 

 8           don't mean to cut you off.  I believe that I 

 9           could on with this forever, but I do want to 

10           just spin real quick to a very quick 

11           question, or put it on your radar.  Lifespan 

12           did a pilot program which was called the 

13           Community Care Connections, and it used 

14           Medicaid dollars to have a caseworker work 

15           with primary care physicians to actually take 

16           care of what we consider the critical 

17           services our older adults need. 

18                  One of the ways that we could expand 

19           that through the state is to put more money 

20           in the critical service pot across the state 

21           and also allow it to be able to hire 

22           caseworkers and case managers to work with 

23           primary care physicians to actually get our 

24           seniors the services they need, to save 


 1           dollars from emergency room visits, 

 2           healthcare and medical needs.

 3                  So putting it out there as an idea.  

 4           Thanks.  

 5                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Whoa, whoa.  

 6           I want to answer because you're going to love 

 7           my answer.

 8                  So first of all, Assemblyman, my --

 9                  (Zoom interference, overtalk.)

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yeah, we -- 

11           yeah, we've gone over the time.  The 

12           Assemblywoman went over the time --

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN CLARK:  We can follow up 

14           later.

15                  (Overtalk.)

16                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  -- there's 

17           $75 million that we're going to expand that 

18           program.

19                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  To the Senate.

20                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Sorry about 

21           that.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I see you have 

23           some more Senators, and we have a number of 

24           Assemblymembers.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  We do, thank you.

 2                  Senator Roxanne Persaud.

 3                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Thank you, Director.  

 4           A couple of questions I have are pertaining 

 5           to food delivery, home deliveries.  

 6                  First, we have a number of agencies 

 7           and, you know, the reports are telling us 

 8           about the waitlists for food delivery.  Could 

 9           you tell us how you're addressing that?

10                  And then also, how are you addressing 

11           the -- meeting the dietary needs and the 

12           cultural needs in the food delivery for the 

13           seniors?

14                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Okay, I 

15           don't mean to ask a question back at you, but 

16           I'm shocked to hear you say that.  So where 

17           are you saying that there is any waitlist for 

18           home-delivered meals?

19                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  My district in 

20           New York City.

21                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  So New York 

22           City has had a broad FEMA grant since the 

23           beginning of the pandemic that anybody over 

24           65 years old is categorically eligible for.  


 1           That is still running today.  That was, as 

 2           you know, overseen by the now-State Ops 

 3           Director Kathryn Garcia.  

 4                  New York City DFTA, who is our AAA 

 5           that represents the five boroughs, received 

 6           almost half of all the stimulus money and 

 7           receives almost half of all the federal and 

 8           state funding that goes out the door.  So if 

 9           there is anybody waiting for meals, they need 

10           to be connected to the organizer who's 

11           continuing the FEMA project, because that's 

12           100 percent federal dollars that can meet the 

13           need.

14                  In terms of RD standards, you know, 

15           those were waived during the pandemic but we 

16           still tried to maintain them.  All of our 

17           meals and menus are RD-certified.  They meet 

18           the highest national standards.  It was only 

19           in the very beginning of the pandemic where 

20           we were trying to get, you know, meals out 

21           the door regardless.  And, you know, we 

22           weren't always able to meet the highest 

23           standard at that time, but we've been back on 

24           that -- on that piece for a very, very long 


 1           time.  

 2                  In terms of cultural meals, those are 

 3           things we work very closely with our RDs, 

 4           with our counties, because that is critically 

 5           important for a lot of pockets around the 

 6           state, to make sure that the meals that are 

 7           being delivered do exactly what you say.  

 8           They're not going to be used if they don't 

 9           meet the taste and the way that meals are 

10           prepared for certain populations.

11                  If that's not happening, please, you 

12           know, follow up with me.

13                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  I definitely will, 

14           because I still -- as of last week I had 

15           complaints about that, the need for -- 

16           particularly in a certain community, for 

17           kosher delivery and Bengali delivery and 

18           stuff like that.  So I will definitely follow 

19           up with you.

20                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Wonderful.

21                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  And again, thank you 

22           very much.

23                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Thank you, 

24           Assemblywoman {sic}.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go back --

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I'm sorry, that 

 3           was our Senator.  Back to the Assemblywoman.

 4                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Back to the 

 5           Assembly.  

 6                  (Laughter.)

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go back to 

 8           the Assembly.

 9                  Assemblyman Mamdani.

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you so 

11           much, Chair.

12                  Thank you, Director Olsen.  I'm just 

13           going to jump into it, in the interests of 

14           time. 

15                  Governor Hochul previously spoke of 

16           the need for wage increases for healthcare 

17           workers, yet there is no such increase within 

18           her budget proposals.  While these workers 

19           are eligible for the one-time bonus that the 

20           Governor has put forward, I haven't seen any 

21           research that bonuses alone will solve 

22           New York's worst-in-the-nation home care 

23           shortage.  

24                  Does your agency have any data to 


 1           support the idea that a one-time bonus will 

 2           address this shortage?

 3                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  I do not, 

 4           Assemblyman.  I thought, when I went through 

 5           the State of the State and the proposed 

 6           budget, that there were quite a few 

 7           investments in the healthcare/long-term-care 

 8           workforce, with real dollars, bonuses, and a 

 9           Medicaid enhancement.

10                  That's not my area of -- that's not 

11           what we do, but I do look through all the 

12           others just to again show the value of the 

13           budget looked at holistically.  

14                  I completely agree with what you guys 

15           have raised today.  I think that's the value 

16           of these hearings, is that, you know, you do 

17           not want to provide -- even though the intent 

18           is right, you don't want to provide a bonus 

19           that's going to then knock people off of, you 

20           know, Medicaid or earned income tax credit, 

21           you know, SNAP, HEAP, other types of 

22           benefits.  So I think that your raising that 

23           today, not only to me and to the other 

24           commissioners, will help get it into the mix.  


 1           because nobody's trying to do harm.  I think 

 2           like the last commissioner just mentioned, 

 3           it's about trying to improve people's 

 4           economic security.  So your raising the 

 5           benefit cliffs is critically important.

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you.  And 

 7           I think just to assert -- my interest 

 8           fundamentally is that any increase that we 

 9           put forward should be a permanent one, 

10           because while a one-time increase is a good 

11           thing, frankly the need is at the level of 

12           permanent wage increases.  And I hope to see 

13           that matched.

14                  With my final question, Director 

15           Olsen, I wanted to just let you know that a 

16           few weeks ago Budget Director Robert Mujica 

17           said that, quote, Home care workers were 

18           taken care of with minimum wage.

19                  What do you believe he meant by that 

20           statement, and would you agree with him?

21                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  I did not 

22           hear that statement.  I think -- I'm not 

23           quite sure where we are in the phase-in with 

24           the minimum wage.  I do know what aides are 


 1           paid.  I know -- again, we have a fairly 

 2           large in-home program also for people who are 

 3           just above the Medicaid rate.  And the rate 

 4           that we're paying PC 1 and 2 is around $25 an 

 5           hour, so that's where the aides are getting 

 6           $12, $13.  And that certainly is not a wage 

 7           that can help people maintain themselves 

 8           without applying for other benefits, and it 

 9           certainly doesn't assist people in trying to 

10           get into a business that's very, very 

11           difficult.

12                  So I'm not really sure what he was 

13           speaking to, but I think the overall idea is 

14           that this is the largest-growth area of 

15           business in the entire country, to take care 

16           of, you know, not only older adults but 

17           younger people with disabilities, people that 

18           might have MS or early-onset Alzheimer's, and 

19           I think we all collectively have to figure 

20           out how to do it.

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you, 

22           Director Olsen.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

24                  We go back to the Senate.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 2                  And five minutes for our ranker, Sue 

 3           Serino.

 4                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you, Madam 

 5           Chair.  And it's great to see you, Director.  

 6                  I'm just going to say for the record 

 7           I'm disappointed to see Lifespan cut, and I 

 8           hope you're going to advocate for its 

 9           restoration.

10                  I also have a number of questions for 

11           the Master Plan for Aging, but I'd like to 

12           follow-up with you afterwards, offline, just 

13           for the sake of time.

14                  So I'll start.  I see a small note in 

15           your testimony about NYSOFA partnering with 

16           GoGoGrandparent, a targeted ridesharing 

17           service, to increase the transportation 

18           options and economic opportunities for older 

19           adults.  And I know you know for years I've 

20           been trying to highlight the transportation 

21           challenges that older New Yorkers face.  And 

22           I carried the bill that would establish a 

23           pilot program where older New Yorkers could 

24           trade in their vehicles for transportation 


 1           credits.

 2                  I'm just wondering if you can talk 

 3           about the GoGoGrandparent partnership.

 4                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  I certainly 

 5           can, Senator, and thanks for that.  

 6                  And your last point was the 

 7           economically sustainable transportation 

 8           project that we started years ago that wound 

 9           up never taking off the ground, 

10           unfortunately.  But yeah, so -- you know, and 

11           again I think all of these things we're 

12           talking about really address, I think, some 

13           of the misinformation in the audit.  These 

14           are the types of things that we've been doing 

15           for the last two years.

16                  So GoGoGrandparent originally started 

17           by training people specifically in the needs 

18           of older adults, and it was using Lyft and 

19           Uber.  Since our partnership with them, now 

20           you can directly sign up with GoGoGrandparent 

21           to be a driver.  So that's what I mean by the 

22           economic opportunity.  You can actually have, 

23           not only with GoGoGrandparent, but 

24           GetSetUp -- individuals who are older can 


 1           join the gig economy and actually get paid 

 2           for what they're doing.

 3                  So what we're doing now is we've 

 4           developed a campaign that really has three 

 5           phases.  We're working with Becky Preve and 

 6           the Association on Aging, with some of our 

 7           counties, with NYSAC.  We have capacity in 

 8           quite a few counties, meaning there's a lot 

 9           of drivers that are already part of 

10           GoGoGrandparent.  So we're going to be 

11           targeting older adults in those areas that 

12           the service is available, targeting 

13           caregivers that this service is available -- 

14           because an older adult may say "I don't need 

15           the ride because my son gives me a ride four 

16           days a week," but the son would say no -- and 

17           that would be really helpful, and then build 

18           capacity in the rest of the state where we 

19           don't have drivers yet.

20                  So we had already begun that 

21           partnership, and then the Governor proposed 

22           in my budget an additional $500,000 to do 

23           those three things.  I am super-excited about 

24           this.


 1                  SENATOR SERINO:  Good.  That's great.

 2                  I'm going to go on to my next question 

 3           because I don't want to run out of time.  You 

 4           know, while nursing home oversight does not 

 5           fall under your administration's purview, the 

 6           Long Term Care Ombudsman Program does.  And 

 7           as you know, the state directly and 

 8           indirectly shut the program down during the 

 9           pandemic, leaving an already vulnerable 

10           population without critical advocates.

11                  So knowing this, do you believe that 

12           the state effectively prioritized the health 

13           and safety of older New Yorkers throughout 

14           the pandemic, and do you believe that the 

15           state should perform a full review of its 

16           pandemic response, especially as it relates 

17           to older New Yorkers, really to better 

18           understand what was done well and what 

19           wasn't, and to ensure we are better prepared 

20           to protect this population if and when we 

21           face a future pandemic crisis?

22                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  So, you 

23           know, to say it was a difficult situation for 

24           residents and families would be an 


 1           understatement.  I guess I'll leave you with 

 2           this, Senator:  You never know where you're 

 3           going until you know where you've been.

 4                  SENATOR SERINO:  Right.  Absolutely.  

 5           And that's why I am a firm believer that we 

 6           have to look back and delve into what went 

 7           wrong and what went right.  So thank you for 

 8           that.

 9                  My next question, though, is very 

10           interested to see a $500,000 appropriation to 

11           develop the State Master Plan for Aging.  Can 

12           you describe the process you'll undertake to 

13           complete the plan?  Is it expected that 

14           additional funding would follow to then 

15           implement the plan?  And is there a time 

16           frame established for this process?

17                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  So the 

18           $500,000 you talked about is for this year.  

19           There's also, in the financial plan, a 

20           million dollars for next year.  We have 

21           foundations like the Hartford Foundation, The 

22           Atlantic Philanthropies, SCAN, the Health 

23           Foundation of Western and Central New York.  

24           There's over 200 organizations.


 1                  So as I mentioned, we have developed a 

 2           draft implementation plan that we have had 

 3           conversations with the Governor's office on.  

 4           You know, this is a multiyear effort, I would 

 5           suspect, given all the pieces that are in 

 6           there, including long-term-care reform.  So 

 7           one of the ideas I have is, you know, there 

 8           was a bill passed to reimagine long-term 

 9           care, I believe that was Senator May's bill.  

10           Those types of things all need to be folded 

11           into this.

12                  But the master plan, Senator, which is 

13           what I like about the master plan in 

14           age-friendly, is it's not just about older 

15           people.  There's a huge focus on that, and 

16           rightly so.  This is birth to death, what do 

17           communities need to do, how do you pull all 

18           the various agencies and subagencies at the 

19           community level together to create 

20           environments that are healthy for people to 

21           grow up and grow old.  And that's really the 

22           opportunity I think that we have, and really 

23           a signature piece for this Governor.

24                  SENATOR SERINO:  Great.  Excellent.  


 1           Thank you.  Thanks, Director.

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Assembly.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

 4           Assemblywoman Forrest.

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Hi.  Thank you 

 6           so much for being here.  

 7                  My question -- I thought Simpson was 

 8           ahead of me.  I didn't prepare my questions.

 9                  Chair, I need to pull up my question 

10           because I thought Simpson was going ahead of 

11           me.  So just give me one second.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay, why don't 

13           we go to Assemblywoman González-Rojas then, 

14           and then we'll come back to you.

15                  Jessica, are you there, 

16           González-Rojas?

17                  (Overtalk.)

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  I'm 

19           sorry, I thought Phara was speaking --

20                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Well, I found 

21           my question.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Phara's back 

23           on, okay.  Okay, she's there.

24                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  Okay, 


 1           let Phara go and then you come back to me.

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.

 3                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  All right.  So 

 4           thank you so much, Director.

 5                  My question really is regarding the 

 6           home care workers.  It's clear that New York 

 7           is in the best financial shape that we've 

 8           been in in decades.  I mean, when we talk 

 9           about a $5 billion surplus, that makes me 

10           excited.  So now it seems like this is the 

11           moment to invest in the care workforce that 

12           keeps our communities and economies strong.  

13                  Especially when we look, during the 

14           pandemic, at women of color doing the 

15           essential work that keeps our communities 

16           moving, I think they definitely deserve not 

17           to be left behind, and in fact need to be at 

18           the forefront.

19                  So wouldn't a real raise increase be 

20           much better than an investment like a 

21           one-time bonus?

22                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah, and I 

23           agree with you.  I mean, workforce -- you 

24           guys have asked every person so far on the 


 1           workforce issue.  It's an issue, from the 

 2           nonprofit sector to long-term care to 

 3           healthcare.  

 4                  What I read in the budget was multiple 

 5           ways to increase salaries for staff in 

 6           healthcare, long-term care, et cetera, in 

 7           addition to the bonus.  So I am not clear -- 

 8           because that is not under my authority -- 

 9           that it's just a bonus.  I saw many other 

10           things that are in there.  

11                  And I think, you know, if a bonus 

12           knocks people off of benefits, that's not a 

13           good outcome.  And a one-time bonus does not 

14           really do anything to recruit and retain 

15           workers.

16                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN FORREST:  Right.  Right.  

17           And I would agree.  As a nurse, I 

18           understand -- not only as a nurse who visited 

19           people at home and see that they're literally 

20           holding onto benefits to keep afloat, but on 

21           the other side, these are skilled-care 

22           workers.  Like they learn something to 

23           provide the care to keep our most vulnerable 

24           populations home.  And they deserve a fair 


 1           wage increase, and not just a one-time bonus, 

 2           thank you, that really doesn't mean much at 

 3           the end of the day.

 4                  But thank you so much for your 

 5           comments.  I return my time.

 6                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Sure.  

 7           Thank you, Assemblywoman.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Senator 

 9           Krueger, did you --

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Yes, 

11           I have a few questions, and then I pass it 

12           on -- I'm sure Senator May has a second round 

13           after this.

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So 10 minutes 

15           for Senator Krueger.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I won't need 

17           10 minutes.  

18                  But thank you very much, Greg.  I 

19           just -- I think that both chairs did an 

20           excellent job laying out the bigger picture 

21           for your agency, so I urge you to be an even 

22           more assertive advocate for the population of 

23           older New Yorkers, who are waitlisted in many 

24           ways on many different programs.  


 1                  And I just want to reiterate the point 

 2           of Senator Persaud.  I represent Manhattan.  

 3           On the East Side of Manhattan we have formal 

 4           waiting lists for Meals on Wheels.  I got a 

 5           call from Visiting Nurse Service yesterday; 

 6           they are not able to get meals for vulnerable 

 7           New Yorkers leaving hospital stays.

 8                  So I don't know who's telling you 

 9           what, but I'm telling you this is not being 

10           addressed adequately at this point in time.

11                  And kudos to Kathryn Garcia when she 

12           was working for the City of New York, doing a 

13           phenomenal job trying to feed more 

14           New Yorkers than I think has ever been done 

15           by any government in history.  But things are 

16           not working right now.  So --

17                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  So, 

18           Senator --

19                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  -- if you have 

20           the ability to track this -- yes.

21                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Senator, 

22           why are folks not able to access the federal 

23           funding for this?  So that's where I'm not 

24           clear.  I don't understand -- if you have 


 1           somebody who is older, they're eligible for 

 2           the FEMA-funded meals.  Where's the 

 3           disconnect?

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  You actually have 

 5           to tell me.  We tracked back to the one group 

 6           who supposedly evaluates your eligibility, 

 7           says you're eligible, passes that along to 

 8           somebody else, who says there's a waitlist to 

 9           be added to getting you the food.

10                  So I don't know whether it's a money 

11           issue, a staffing issue, a -- I don't know 

12           why.  That's why I asked you as the 

13           commissioner.

14                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  So under 

15           the MDD, anybody 60 and over is eligible for, 

16           you know, DFTA meals -- the dollars we give 

17           to DFTA.  And under FEMA it's 65 and over.  

18           There are no eligibility requirements.  

19                  So if that's a recommunication we need 

20           to have with DFTA, we certainly will.  I've 

21           been expressing that message for two years 

22           now, that we have these flexibilities that 

23           you have to put in place because job number 

24           one is to serve people.  So we will double 


 1           back on that.

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Please do.  

 3           Because maybe DFTA has an answer for you.  

 4                  But I just want to assure 

 5           Senator Persaud, and I suspect other 

 6           legislators here at this hearing, that no, 

 7           you're not imagining it, Roxanne, we really 

 8           aren't able to get meals for seniors in many 

 9           neighborhoods in New York City.

10                  Second, I am also disturbed if in fact 

11           the Department of Budget, Division of Budget 

12           said the home care workers have been taken 

13           care of.  Because we know we have a crisis in 

14           home care, right?  We do know that, don't we, 

15           Commissioner?

16                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yes, we do.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.  So if we 

18           have a crisis, we need answers.  And I 

19           suspect the answers involve adequate pay for 

20           people to be able to -- I understand in 

21           upstate New York it's even worse than in 

22           New York City, and that home care workers 

23           aren't even able to afford the vehicles they 

24           would need to get to and from the locations 


 1           that we need them in.

 2                  So tell me what more we're going to be 

 3           doing in this year's budget to address that 

 4           crisis.

 5                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Well, I 

 6           think your raising this not only at this 

 7           table -- but I'm sure you will as well at the 

 8           Health table on the critical need -- is 

 9           important.  

10                  I think for us, you know, what we're 

11           trying to do is continue to educate the 

12           counties and their contractors that -- the 

13           contract with LHCSAs -- that they have the 

14           ability to raise their own rates.  We're not 

15           bound by Medicaid rates or MLTC rates; we can 

16           do that.

17                  We've been working with counties 

18           directly to have them hire aides on the 

19           county payroll, which takes care of the 

20           transportation problem, because they can use 

21           cars.  They have -- they're in the state 

22           retirement system, they're receiving a living 

23           wage with benefits.

24                  We are also working with HCP that 


 1           represents the LHCSAs so that we can identify 

 2           those areas where there are not aides 

 3           available, and to work with them to try to 

 4           recruit them through some of these tools that 

 5           I talked about.

 6                  Under the Medicaid side, again, that's 

 7           not what we do, unfortunately.  I'm hoping 

 8           that Build Back Better gets back on track; 

 9           they're starting to talk about that again.  

10           There's dollars there.  There's dollars in 

11           Build Back Better for our network, another 

12           $150 million.  If the pool of Medicaid 

13           PC aides and home care goes up, that will 

14           have a trickle-down effect in better access 

15           for us as well.  But it's a challenge.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I 

17           cede back my other minutes.  Thank you, 

18           Assemblywoman.

19                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Thanks, 

20           Senator.  Thanks for calling me Greg, too.  I 

21           appreciate that.

22                  (Laughter.)

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

24           Assemblywoman González-Rojas.


 1                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  Thank 

 2           you, Chair.  Hello, Director Olsen.

 3                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Hello.

 4                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  I also 

 5           want to underscore my concern for the home 

 6           health workers.  I feel like no one should be 

 7           in a job that works so hard and is -- and 

 8           needs benefits, right?  I mean, if they're 

 9           not losing benefits -- they shouldn't have to 

10           have these public benefits, they should be 

11           paid enough and have the benefits included on 

12           which they could live with dignity as they 

13           help serve our families.

14                  And I'm someone who has used a home 

15           health aide when I broke my leg about 

16           11 years ago, so I know the -- how vital 

17           their care is.

18                  But since a lot of people talked about 

19           that, I'll move on to another issue that I 

20           care deeply about.  We know that given the 

21           fiscal and eviction crisis that's been 

22           exacerbated by COVID, it's more important 

23           than ever to protect our older tenants.  And 

24           I see $2 billion for eviction legal 


 1           representation.  I'd love to share more about 

 2           what -- how that would protect older 

 3           immigrant adults with disabilities.  And I 

 4           ask that because I have a bill that would 

 5           expand eligibility for the disability rental 

 6           income exemption program, DRIE, to extend it 

 7           to undocumented immigrants who are our elders 

 8           and have disabilities.  And I hope this is 

 9           something the administration will get behind.

10                  But in the meantime, I want to hear 

11           about how that $2 billion would be used.  And 

12           specifically for undocumented immigrant --

13                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  So, 

14           Assemblywoman, that's a great question.  I 

15           was as excited to see that as you were.  

16                  That is not under our budget.  I 

17           believe that's under OTDA or OCFS.  It's 

18           $2.2 billion not only for, you know, rental 

19           assistance but to basically replicate the 

20           legal service protection in -- that the city 

21           has had for a while, in upstate New York to 

22           provide legal representation for eviction.

23                  But there's also a variety of other 

24           funding around the housing areas, the 


 1           eviction, rental assistance, et cetera.  So I 

 2           have the same question as you because I think 

 3           that, you know, our next step for all the 

 4           great things that are in the budget -- once, 

 5           you know, we get to the finish line here, 

 6           depending on what gets passed and what 

 7           doesn't -- is to make sure that all of our 

 8           counties and their providers know who the 

 9           point of contact is for all of these things.  

10                  Because, you know, we don't operate 

11           this program, but we deal with evictions all 

12           the time.  We work with Mark Streb and his 

13           coalition of, you know, housing preservation 

14           providers across the state.  And these are 

15           the things we need to know, is when you're 

16           subject to something like this, where do you 

17           go so that you're not making 17 phone calls 

18           and there's nobody on the other end picking 

19           up the phone and you have an automated system 

20           and -- that's just not helpful for anybody.

21                  So I don't -- I don't oversee that.  

22           I'm sorry I can't answer that in more detail.

23                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS:  Thank 

24           you.  And just to affirm what you just said, 


 1           like no older adult wants to navigate these 

 2           complicated systems, particularly ones that 

 3           may not speak English or, you know, are 

 4           English-dominant.  So thank you.

 5                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Right.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We send it back 

 7           to the Senate.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Oh.  Thank you.

 9                  I believe we have Senator Rachel May, 

10           the chair, for her second round.

11                  SENATOR MAY:  Right, yeah.  Thank you.

12                  So Greg, you fielded a lot of 

13           questions about home care, even though I know 

14           the home care workforce isn't under your 

15           auspices.  But you have been successful in 

16           embedding in your budget something that ought 

17           to be obvious, which is that investments in 

18           helping seniors age at home result in savings 

19           to Medicaid.  And you've actually had line 

20           items put in the budget that way.

21                  Can you give us advice about how we 

22           can carry that reasoning over into the health 

23           budget so that we can argue that investments 

24           in raising wages for home care workers 


 1           actually have a rate of return that's 

 2           probably higher than the investment within 

 3           the budget?

 4                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah, it's 

 5           a great question, Senator.  And, you know, 

 6           having been around a really long time, what I 

 7           learned -- you hope you get smarter over 

 8           time, right?  I learned that if you don't 

 9           have data and metrics behind what you're 

10           talking about, anecdotes just don't work.  We 

11           know how important these things are.  

12                  So what we did to initially win that 

13           15 million -- and subsequently, you know, you 

14           have added to that, in partnership with your 

15           colleagues last year, and then it's been 

16           baselined.  So we're looking at, you know, 

17           $76 million over a four-year period if this 

18           budget passes.  We looked at what happens to 

19           people.  If we're able to -- if you're not on 

20           Medicaid, which our folks are not -- our 

21           average person is an 83-year-old female who 

22           lives alone, low income, four chronic 

23           conditions, two ADL limitations and six IADL 

24           limitations.  On paper, they could spend down 


 1           to Medicaid.  But by providing all of these 

 2           services that we provide, in conjunction with 

 3           many other systems, we looked at what 

 4           happened to people who weren't able to access 

 5           them and found that almost 20 percent wind up 

 6           on Medicaid, either in a nursing home or MLTC 

 7           or community Medicaid.  And it's not hard to 

 8           do the math on that.

 9                  And in addition, the average person 

10           stays on our caseload for between four and 

11           seven years.  So there's outyear savings to 

12           that, not to mention they don't have to spend 

13           down and lose those assets, and they stay 

14           where they want to stay, which is in their 

15           home and community.

16                  SENATOR MAY:  Great.  And then my last 

17           question is about family caregivers who are 

18           part of this workforce that we don't talk 

19           about enough.  Your office works to help 

20           family members do the work that they need to 

21           do, right?  You do training and that sort of 

22           thing for family caregivers.

23                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yes.

24                  SENATOR MAY:  I have carried a bill 


 1           for a family caregiver tax credit because it 

 2           costs a lot of money for people to care for 

 3           someone in their home.  

 4                  So I -- we're running out of time, but 

 5           I really want us to make sure that family 

 6           caregivers are on our radar and we're 

 7           thinking about how to help them.

 8                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yup.  

 9           Caregivers are central to healthcare, 

10           long-term care, social services.  They are 

11           providing the bulk of care in this nation and 

12           in this state, no question.

13                  SENATOR MAY:  Thank you.

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

15                  We go to Assemblyman Jones, three 

16           minutes.

17                  ASSEMBLYMAN JONES:  Hello, 

18           Commissioner, how are you?  Or Director.  

19           How's it going?

20                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Great, 

21           Assemblyman.

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN JONES:  I didn't know I 

23           was up right now, but that's good.  

24                  Have to emphasize -- you know, I know 


 1           it's been said numerous times here about our 

 2           home care workers, desperately needed.  I 

 3           think there's two issues going on there, 

 4           obviously pay and recruitment.  Because, you 

 5           know, maybe -- well, that will go hand in 

 6           hand, so I have to put in, you know, my call 

 7           for that as well.  And I know many on this 

 8           hearing want to work towards getting more 

 9           fair wages for our most important -- or some 

10           of our most important workers that we have, 

11           taking care of our loved ones, letting people 

12           age in place.  That's what we want for our 

13           family and neighbors and our loved ones.  So 

14           anything we can do to help that process, I'm 

15           all for.

16                  I know it's -- I don't know, I missed 

17           some of this, I was down in session and in 

18           conference.  But, you know, I've had a great 

19           relationship with you and your office going 

20           back to my county days and working with our 

21           local office of the aging, and certainly do 

22           appreciate that.

23                  But there was an audit that was put 

24           out there, and I know you responded to that, 


 1           Director.  Do you care to elaborate a little 

 2           more on that?  I'm sure it's been asked, but 

 3           I missed it myself.

 4                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah, it 

 5           has been.  As I mentioned, Assemblyman, I 

 6           appreciate your comments because, you know, 

 7           you specifically, in the various roles that 

 8           you've played, you know the work of our 

 9           office, you know the challenges at the county 

10           level, but you know the yeoman's efforts that 

11           the county office for the aging in the two 

12           areas that you represent -- but prior to 

13           that, in Franklin County -- you know what 

14           they do. 

15                  All I can say is I'll refer you back 

16           to our written statement on the audit because 

17           that's factual.  This unfortunately put a 

18           very negative cloud over what we do -- 

19           frankly, I believe inappropriately.  I think 

20           my statement speaks for itself.  We will be 

21           providing the Legislature, as I promised, a 

22           report this year.  The reason that that was 

23           delayed was because, as you know, again -- 

24           and for those of you who have worked at the 


 1           county, when you start a new program it takes 

 2           nine months to 12 months before you get  

 3           through the process of getting the notice of 

 4           grant award out, to getting the applications 

 5           out, to having them sent back, to going 

 6           through the county authorization process to 

 7           spend, to doing a new procurement, 

 8           reassessments, getting vendors lined up.  You 

 9           know, we don't switch the light on on a new 

10           program the day after the budget's passed.

11                  So, you know, I think my statement 

12           speaks for itself.  Highly disappointed in 

13           what it made our network look like, because 

14           that is nobody's experience with our network.

15                  ASSEMBLYMAN JONES:  Thank you very 

16           much.  Appreciate it.  Look forward to having 

17           you in the North Country soon.

18                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Great, 

19           thanks.  Great to see you, Assemblyman.

20                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

21           Assemblyman Burdick next.

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you, Chair 

23           Weinstein.  And I want to thank the chairs of 

24           the committees for the great work that 


 1           they've been doing.

 2                  And nice to meet you, Greg -- I take 

 3           it you prefer that, so I'll do that.

 4                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  

 5           {Unintelligible}.

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  One point again 

 7           for the chairs, if I could indulge them.  If 

 8           there are documents that are distributed, if 

 9           they could be shared with the other members 

10           here that would be great.

11                  And in that regard you make reference, 

12           Greg, to the written statement on the audit, 

13           and maybe if you could provide that, that 

14           would be terrific.  And if I could get 

15           contact information for follow-up for you, 

16           that would be wonderful.

17                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Sure.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  The digital 

19           divide, are you in talks with any cable 

20           companies to make internet accessible, 

21           preferably free, via hotspots for seniors in 

22           senior facilities?  

23                  And I'll ask my second question, just 

24           a follow-up on the Long Term Care Ombudsman 


 1           Program.  I recognize that you're looking to 

 2           change the model and to look to federal 

 3           dollars in the new program.  But what are we 

 4           doing in the interim?

 5                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yup.

 6                  So on the first one, it's great to 

 7           meet you as well.

 8                  In addition to the response to our 

 9           audit -- I'd be happy to send that -- I'm 

10           also finalizing our list of 2021 

11           accomplishments, which I think will show 

12           abundantly clearly what we really do rather 

13           than, you know, what was potentially 

14           portrayed.  That's a 64-page document, 

15           Assemblyman -- 

16                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Yeah, that would 

17           be great.  But, I'm sorry, the question --

18                  (Overtalk.)

19                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  -- I have 

20           limited time.  Go ahead.

21                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yup.  On 

22           the digital stuff, you know, the Governor 

23           announced a couple of weeks ago a commitment 

24           that -- for individuals at 200 percent or 


 1           below of poverty, the WiFi monthly rate will 

 2           be $30.  There's a billion dollars in the 

 3           budget that we'll be able to access that will 

 4           not only subsidize that $30 but can help pay 

 5           for the purchase of equipment, tablets, 

 6           phones, as well as training.

 7                  During the course of the pandemic, 

 8           those were things we used our funding for and 

 9           told the counties they could as well, to 

10           provide WiFi, to provide tablets -- and they 

11           did -- help with telehealth calls, et cetera.  

12           So this is going to be huge in terms of when 

13           we get full coverage for the state, there's 

14           actually a funding stream that keeps the cost 

15           down but also allows for the purchase of some 

16           of this equipment that's going to help 

17           people.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  And the interim, 

19           what you're doing on the Long Term Care 

20           Ombudsman Program until federal money comes 

21           in?

22                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah.  So 

23           again, I think I mentioned earlier there's 

24           some dollars for the Health Department to 


 1           hire new people to take complaints.  We have 

 2           $150,000 to expand our stipend program, which 

 3           has been very successful.  You know, we're 

 4           doing multiple things at once.  I've got an 

 5           Older Americans Act Modernization, there's 

 6           things in the Build Back Better.  But most 

 7           importantly, I think the Governor clearly 

 8           recognizes how important this issue is, not 

 9           only to her and her administration but to you 

10           as well, and many of the others out there. 

11                  And there is a proposal in the budget 

12           to, you know, engage people that are 

13           interested in this to strengthen the program, 

14           so I'm excited about that.  And as I 

15           mentioned, there are several bills that were 

16           passed last year.

17                  So, you know, having a deliberate 

18           process that really does the right thing the 

19           first time, I'm all for.  And I think that's 

20           the process that's going to play itself out.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

22                  Now we move on -- actually, our final 

23           questioner is going to be Assemblyman Kim, 

24           second round, three minutes.


 1                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Thank you, 

 2           Chairwoman.

 3                  Greg, first of all, plus one for my 

 4           Chair May on the family caregiver tax credit.  

 5           I carry the bill in the Assembly.  Hopefully 

 6           we can get something done in this budget.

 7                  Rightfully so, many of my colleagues 

 8           have brought up the broken home care 

 9           workforce and the workers.  And unknowingly, 

10           I think, they're touching on some structural 

11           and systemic problems because home care -- 

12           Medicaid reimbursement for home care falls 

13           under the Department of Health, and 

14           institutionalized facilities, nursing homes 

15           fall under the Department of Health under 

16           Medicaid.  

17                  SOFA has social daycare, community 

18           care.  But you mentioned that there's some 

19           non-Medicaid home care that you oversee under 

20           SOFA?

21                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Oh, yeah.

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Can we get some 

23           clarity on that?

24                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Sure.  


 1           Yeah.  So we started our program in 1988.  

 2                  So we serve about 15,000 older 

 3           New Yorkers.  We use the same infrastructure 

 4           that Medicaid does -- licensed home care 

 5           service agencies.  And we have a variety of 

 6           federal, state and local funding streams that 

 7           fund that.  You may know one of them as 

 8           EISEP.  But that is just one funding stream 

 9           of many.  So we have a pretty large in-home 

10           program.

11                  In 2014 when MLTC came in, our rates 

12           used to be tied to the Medicaid rate.  We 

13           couldn't exceed it.  That no longer is the 

14           case.  So our counties are able to work 

15           directly with their local LHCSAs, many of 

16           them are small programs, to raise those 

17           rates, enhance the hours, if needed, in order 

18           to incentivize, you know, aides that would 

19           then be able to serve our customers.  

20                  But yeah, we've been doing this for 

21           over 30 years.

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Let me just reframe 

23           that.  So you no longer are tied to 

24           intermediary managed care MLTC rates, you 


 1           have kind of gone back to a fee-for-service 

 2           county contract direct model where you're 

 3           able to have better rates and better 

 4           reimbursements for the home care workers that 

 5           are in the space that you manage.  Is that 

 6           oversimplified or is it --  

 7                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Yeah, from 

 8           1988 to 2014, when our program was tied to 

 9           the same rate structure that Medicaid had 

10           before MLTC.  Meaning we couldn't pay more 

11           than what Medicaid would.  And that was 

12           really to try to balance the playing field.

13                  Once MLTC came in, they started 

14           negotiating their own rates on behalf of the 

15           state for that service.  We did the same.  So 

16           we have the ability to exceed --

17                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  I'm sorry, 

18           I have like 20 seconds, Greg.  But 

19           unfortunately the daycare centers are still 

20           tied -- they're like a distant cousin to home 

21           care.  They're still tied to some Medicaid 

22           rates.  And MLTCs, they often get left out of 

23           discussions of community care.  So I hope 

24           that we can look at it and fix it and 


 1           restructure it under the SOFA model that's 

 2           working for non-Medicaid home care workers. 

 3                  Thank you.

 4                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Okay, 

 5           thanks, Assemblyman.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7           Thank you, Greg Olsen.  That is all in terms 

 8           of all of the questioners.  So we thank you 

 9           for being here.

10                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  Thanks.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We look forward 

12           to working with you.

13                  And we're going to call in the --

14                  NYSOFA ACTING DIR. OLSEN:  

15           {Inaudible.}.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  -- next 

17           government witness, who is the New York State 

18           Division of Veterans' Services director, 

19           Reverend Viviana DeCohen.

20                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Good afternoon, 

21           everyone.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  There you are.  

23           Okay.  Director, you have 10 minutes.  Feel 

24           free to not use it all and to summarize your 


 1           remarks, which we have already distributed to 

 2           our members.  And the floor is yours.  And 

 3           then there will be some -- the Senators and 

 4           Assemblymembers will have some questions for 

 5           you.

 6                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Thank you.

 7                  Good afternoon, Chairs Krueger and 

 8           Weinstein, and distinguished members of the 

 9           Senate and Assembly.  My name is Viviana 

10           DeCohen.  I'm a Marine Corps veteran, and I 

11           have the distinct honor of being the director 

12           of the New York State Division of Veterans' 

13           Services, or DVS.  Thank you for the 

14           opportunity to discuss Governor Hochul's 

15           2022-2023 Executive Budget as it relates to 

16           New York State Veterans' Services.  

17                  In December 2021, I joined DVS and 

18           found a truly inspiring and hardworking group 

19           of individuals dedicated to our mission of 

20           serving those who have served us.  As a 

21           veteran myself, and having previously served 

22           as the commissioner of the Mount Vernon 

23           Veterans Service Agency, I have benefited not 

24           only as a constituent from the work DVS does, 


 1           but also as a teammate and partner.  

 2                  Governor Hochul has made it clear in 

 3           her administration -- and in her budget -- 

 4           that we are ushering in a culture of respect, 

 5           teamwork, and expansion in this great state. 

 6           The veterans’ services realm is no exception 

 7           to this, and DVS is eager and excited to 

 8           implement the many programs and services to 

 9           provide the highest-quality care for 

10           New York's veterans, servicemembers, and 

11           their families.  

12                  Under Governor Hochul's leadership, 

13           New York remains a state that veterans and 

14           their families are proud to call home.  DVS's 

15           economic impact, which goes straight into the 

16           hands of New York’s veteran families, yields 

17           incredible results annually, with over 

18           $790 million in tax-free federal dollars for 

19           thousands of veterans and their families in 

20           2021.  These funds filter their way into 

21           every community across New York State to 

22           support not only the over 714,000 veterans of 

23           New York, but their entire community and 

24           businesses.  


 1                  The work of this agency delivers 

 2           concrete results and benefits for veterans 

 3           and their families in the form of these 

 4           federal funds and healthcare access.  

 5           Throughout the past year, DVS has shown time 

 6           and time again it is ready and able to 

 7           provide the services our constituents need 

 8           during these challenging and ever-changing 

 9           times.  DVS has addressed food insecurity, 

10           increased public access to veterans' benefits 

11           information through digital technology, and 

12           expanded peer-to-peer mentoring programs to 

13           assist -- 

14                  {Zoom video frozen.}.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  You seem to 

16           have frozen, and we lost --

17                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yup, we've lost 

18           her.

19                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Can we -- 

20           there.  She's coming back, hopefully.  

21                  Director, maybe try and speak without 

22           your video on.  That often helps.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Stop the clock.

24                  (Discussion off the record.)


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Liz, I'm going 

 2           to leave it to you.  I'm going to go walk 

 3           over to the tech people over here and see 

 4           what we can do.

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay --

 6                  THE MODERATOR:  Oh, she seems to have 

 7           sound back.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  She's come back?

 9                  THE MODERATOR:  I could be wrong, I'm 

10           sorry.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay, let me go 

12           check.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  If she comes 

15           back, just let her continue.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  And everyone 

17           else, this might be a good few minutes to 

18           take a break to stretch your legs or eat a 

19           late lunch, quickly -- something.  

20                  (Pause.)

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We are trying 

22           to reach her by phone and see what we can do.  

23           Otherwise, we can go to move on to the 

24           panels, and when we reconnect -- let's just 


 1           give it a few minutes.  A good time to stand, 

 2           stretch your legs.

 3                  (Discussion off the record; brief 

 4           recess.)

 5                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  I'm here.  Can 

 6           you hear me?

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes, thank you.

 9                  Okay, I'm sure you've had plenty of 

10           experience with things not going the right 

11           way all the time, so why don't you --

12                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Absolutely.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  You know, why 

14           don't we reset the clock to 10 minutes and 

15           just let you start from the beginning.

16                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Sounds good, 

17           thank you.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay, fingers 

19           crossed.

20                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Thank you.  

21                  Good afternoon again to Chairs Senator 

22           Krueger and Weinstein and distinguished 

23           members of the Senate and Assembly.  My name 

24           is Viviana DeCohen, a Marine Corps veteran, 


 1           and I have the distinct honor of being the 

 2           director of the New York State Division of 

 3           Veterans' Services, or DVS.  Thank you for 

 4           the opportunity to discuss Governor Hochul's 

 5           2022-2023 Executive Budget as it relates to 

 6           New York State Veterans' Services.  

 7                  In December 2021, I joined DVS and 

 8           found a truly inspiring and hardworking group 

 9           of individuals dedicated to our mission of 

10           serving those who serve.  As a veteran 

11           myself, and having previously served as the 

12           commissioner of the Mount Vernon Veterans 

13           Service Agency, I have benefited not only as 

14           a constituent from the work DVS does, but 

15           also as a teammate and partner.  

16                  Governor Hochul has made it clear in 

17           her administration -- and in her budget -- 

18           that we are ushering in a new culture of 

19           respect, teamwork, and expansion in this 

20           great state.  The veterans' services realm is 

21           no exception to this, and DVS is eager and 

22           excited to implement the many programs and 

23           services to provide the highest-quality care 

24           for New York veterans, servicemembers, and 


 1           their families.  

 2                  Under Governor Hochul's leadership, 

 3           New York remains a state that veterans and 

 4           their families are proud to call home.  DVS's 

 5           economic impact, which goes straight into the 

 6           hands of New York’s veteran families, yields 

 7           incredible results annually, with over 

 8           $790 million in tax-free federal dollars for 

 9           thousands of veterans and their families in 

10           2021.  These funds filter their way into 

11           every community across New York State to 

12           support not only the over 714,000 veterans of 

13           New York, but their entire community and 

14           businesses.  

15                  The work of this agency delivers 

16           concrete results and benefits for veterans 

17           and their families in the form of these 

18           federal funds and healthcare access.  

19           Throughout the past year, DVS has shown time 

20           and time again it is ready and able to 

21           provide the services our constituents need 

22           during these challenging and ever-changing 

23           times.  DVS has addressed food insecurity, 

24           increased public access to veterans' benefits 


 1           information through digital technology, and 

 2           expanded peer-to-peer mentoring programs to 

 3           assist transitioning servicemembers.  We are 

 4           grateful for the support of the Legislature, 

 5           Executive Chamber, and the tremendous work of 

 6           the DVS staff, which have enabled us to rise 

 7           to every occasion.  

 8                  Food insecurity has been repeatedly 

 9           cited as a concern for military-connected 

10           families.  Despite the new challenges brought 

11           on by COVID-19, this season DVS distributed 

12           over $140,000 worth of FreshConnect checks, 

13           which allow veterans, servicemembers and 

14           their families to receive $20 food vouchers 

15           to use at farmer's markets and stands across 

16           the state.  In the past seven years since the 

17           program's creation, DVS staff have 

18           distributed more than $600,000 in 

19           FreshConnect checks.  

20                  To further address this concern, DVS 

21           worked in collaboration with multiple public 

22           and private-sector partners to facilitate an 

23           unprecedented endeavor to distribute healthy 

24           and nourishing meals to veterans and their  


 1           families.  To give perspective to the 

 2           expansiveness of the food distribution 

 3           efforts, since June 2020 approximately 

 4           800,000 nourishing meals have been 

 5           distributed to veterans, servicemembers and 

 6           military families confronting food insecurity 

 7           in Western New York, the North Country, and 

 8           New York City.  We are fortunate to have the 

 9           ability to continue these partnerships to 

10           address this vital concern in the communities 

11           we serve.  

12                  DVS has also worked to provide more 

13           points of access for our veterans to learn 

14           about their benefits.  And we're proud to 

15           announce that on Veterans Day of 2021, just 

16           this past year, DVS joined with several 

17           partners in state government to dedicate 

18           New York State's first-ever digital Veterans 

19           Welcome Center kiosk.  The Veterans Welcome 

20           Center kiosk provides veterans and military 

21           families with quick and easy access to 

22           information about benefits, programs, 

23           services and resources available to them. 

24           Located at the Capital Region Welcome Center 


 1           adjacent to the New York State Thruway in 

 2           New Baltimore -- a spot that welcomes 

 3           approximately 500,000 visitors annually -- 

 4           this digital kiosk marks the first of several 

 5           Veterans Welcome Center kiosks that DVS plans 

 6           to place throughout New York State, and 

 7           Governor Hochul's Executive Budget provides 

 8           funding to support the expansion of this 

 9           valuable resource.  

10                  Lastly, DVS has endeavored to find 

11           ways to best support transitioning 

12           servicemembers and make New York State a 

13           place they'd like to call home.  DVS began 

14           this process by facilitating new partnerships 

15           between New York State and the Expiration of 

16           Term of Service -- ETS -- sponsorship 

17           program, a new federal effort focusing on 

18           training community mentors and connecting 

19           these mentors with servicemembers who are 

20           nearing their date of discharge from the 

21           military.  Already more than 150 New York 

22           State residents have completed the training 

23           to serve as community mentors.  We at DVS are 

24           excited about continuing this fruitful 


 1           partnership.  

 2                  Governor Hochul's State of the State 

 3           agenda and Executive Budget will provide DVS 

 4           with the resources to build upon these 

 5           successes and deliver more support than ever 

 6           to New York's veterans and their families. 

 7           And while we as a division do an immense 

 8           amount of work to serve our veterans and 

 9           their families, we could not do it without 

10           the tremendous support and work done by our 

11           local partners.  It is why we are grateful 

12           Governor Hochul's proposed budget would 

13           increase county and city veteran service 

14           agencies' annual funding from a minimum of 

15           $10,000 apiece to a minimum of $25,000 

16           apiece.  This represents a 150 percent 

17           increase in the annual allocation from 

18           New York State to these agency that provide 

19           vital services in their areas of operation.  

20                  But the efforts don't stop there.  

21           Governor Hochul's agenda also provides for 

22           expanded support for servicemembers 

23           transitioning from military to civilian life, 

24           additional resources to help connect more 


 1           veterans to their benefits, and increased 

 2           support for programs offering assistance to 

 3           struggling veterans.  And DVS itself is 

 4           supported in the Governor's Executive Budget 

 5           with increased staffing and funding, to 

 6           ensure the agency continues providing the 

 7           highest quality of services to veterans 

 8           around the state.  

 9                  DVS appreciates the continued support 

10           of Governor Hochul and her administration in 

11           addressing the needs faced by our veterans, 

12           servicemembers and their families.  Thank you 

13           for the opportunity to discuss the Governor's 

14           Executive Budget with this committee, and on 

15           behalf of New York's veteran families, thank 

16           you for your continued support of the 

17           agency's mission.  I look forward to 

18           answering any questions you may have.

19                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

20                  We're going to go to our Veterans' 

21           Affairs chair, Assemblywoman Didi Barrett.

22                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Thank you, 

23           Director DeCohen.  It's so wonderful to 

24           finally meet you, even virtually, and to have 


 1           you with us.  You know, we have been without 

 2           a director for way too long, and we're just 

 3           thrilled to have you.  And congratulations on 

 4           your appointment.

 5                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Thank you very 

 6           much.

 7                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  I have a few 

 8           questions that I want to pose to you, but I 

 9           do want to say at the outset we're really 

10           pleased -- it's the best budget in the four 

11           years that I've been the chair of Veterans' 

12           Services, and we really appreciate your 

13           advocacy and always the division's 

14           advocacy -- but also, of course, the 

15           Governor's recognition that veterans, from 

16           the outset, need to be supported and funded.  

17                  It always was this kind of, you know, 

18           bargaining chip where the Legislature would 

19           put back funding for veterans, and it just 

20           was so inappropriate and just such a 

21           frustrating experience.  

22                  So I'm really pleased that we've 

23           entered a new phase of cooperation, as you 

24           say, and very happy about the funding for 


 1           Dwyer.  As you know, that doesn't go through 

 2           your division, it goes through Office of 

 3           Mental Health, but that's another topic to 

 4           talk about.  But her recognition that it 

 5           should be statewide, as it should -- this is 

 6           truly a program that saves lives and has made 

 7           a difference in veterans and their families, 

 8           and I'm really happy to see it be part of her 

 9           Executive Budget.

10                  So let me start with a couple of 

11           questions.  The Executive Budget includes an 

12           increase in 17 FTEs.  I think you mentioned 

13           that.  Could you just share with us where 

14           those benefit advisors are going to be 

15           posted?

16                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Yes, thank you 

17           for that question.  I would also like to say 

18           thank you again for welcoming me aboard.  

19                  And I'd also like to thank all of you 

20           for supporting our deputy executive director, 

21           Joel Evans, who I think has done an 

22           outstanding job.  You know, he is a veteran 

23           himself, so I think that he grabbed the bull 

24           by the horns and has continued to take this 


 1           to the level where it is today.  You know, 

 2           just wanted to be able to say that and say 

 3           thank you.  

 4                  Just to answer that question, the 

 5           initiatives throughout the state are going to 

 6           be in the area of outreach.  This is 

 7           something that I'm very passionate about 

 8           because having served as the former 

 9           commissioner of the Veterans Service Agency 

10           in Mount Vernon, I learned of the importance 

11           of not only bringing outside services in, but 

12           also taking the services outdoors.  And it 

13           was through outreach that we were able to 

14           assist many of the veterans that this 

15           department, DVS, had given me the tools to be 

16           able to work with to be able to reach those 

17           not only that had technological prowess, but 

18           those that did not, by utilizing simple 

19           methods of going into communities and going 

20           into places that they would frequent, like 

21           our supermarkets.  So that's going to be huge 

22           as far as the outreach.  

23                  You know, we need to get creative on 

24           reaching veterans that do not identify -- and 


 1           this was one of the expertise areas that I 

 2           was able to make headway in Mount Vernon, in 

 3           a place where 25 veterans were coming every 

 4           other month, and now 100-plus are coming in 

 5           there and receiving those services that, 

 6           again, our partners, who did not hesitate to 

 7           come into the field with me, are now making 

 8           the home visits for our elderly -- because we 

 9           often forget them -- and going to places that 

10           most people would not want to go.  So 

11           outreach is huge.  And we're very excited 

12           about that.

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Great.  Well, 

14           thank you, that sounds like a good use of 

15           those full-time employees.

16                  I think you know that I sponsor, with 

17           my colleague Senator Brooks, who I think just 

18           joined us, legislation to elevate the 

19           division to a one-stop veterans department, 

20           to better serve our veterans and our military 

21           families.  For example, I always use the 

22           example that a Vietnam veteran who's 

23           struggling with PTSD and substance abuse, and 

24           is homeless, must go to five different state 


 1           agencies to access services.

 2                  So a major incentive for this 

 3           legislation was recognizing that we really 

 4           need to better serve our veterans and 

 5           military families.  But in addition to that, 

 6           we held a hearing in October where the 

 7           testimony overwhelmingly supported this.  

 8                  But more compelling to me, even so, 

 9           has been the statistic that only 17 percent 

10           of the overall veterans' population in 

11           New York State are accessing these earned 

12           benefits.  Is that statistic still current?

13                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  No, actually 

14           the statistic is 24 -- 24 percent.

15                  But I would like to give you some 

16           information, because this is how I am sitting 

17           in this seat today.  You know, every day DVS 

18           establishes ourselves with the spirit of 

19           excellence, integrity, strength, but also 

20           leadership.  And I have been the veterans 

21           commissioner in a one-person office, and the 

22           training from this body -- that taught me how 

23           to ensure that the veteran is being serviced 

24           from A to Z -- not only allowed me to 


 1           recreate and turn my office into the 

 2           first-ever veterans' resource closet, that 

 3           partners gave us brand-new clothing, food, 

 4           hygiene products, but also allowed me to know 

 5           that I had to bring the services outside in.  

 6                  In other words, I brought in mental 

 7           health counseling twice a month into my 

 8           office, and the veterans were there.  We even 

 9           brought in the realtors who were savvy in the 

10           VA loans to assist our veterans.  We brought 

11           in education, and it was DVS that I called, 

12           and those counselors came right to the 

13           office.  I created a one-stop shop.  

14                  And I'm so glad to also share with you 

15           that in just the six weeks that I've been 

16           here, and going out to our various veteran 

17           services, they're doing the same thing.  

18           They've gotten it.  They understand that we 

19           as veterans cannot go from place to place to 

20           place.  Some of them are even setting up 

21           transportation services, as I did, to be able 

22           to transport our veterans back and forth.  

23                  You know, we did this in Mount Vernon 

24           and I'm so happy to tell you that I'm finding 


 1           that throughout the state -- I've already 

 2           traveled, started traveling from New York 

 3           City through Brooklyn, Albany, the various 

 4           counties -- they're beginning to set up the 

 5           same services.  And so I'm so happy to be 

 6           able to report that to you, because I know 

 7           that you're so passionate about that.  And it 

 8           makes absolute sense.

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  That's great.  

10           You're clearly already leading by example, 

11           and that's great to hear.

12                  Let me ask you another question, 

13           because I have so few minutes here to talk.  

14           And hopefully we'll have a chance to meet 

15           together and talk, but also that you'll come 

16           to our committee meeting.  I know people 

17           would love to meet you and hear from you.

18                  But let me ask you about our -- we 

19           passed the first State Veterans Cemetery last 

20           year, and the Governor puts in the budget 

21           4.9 million.  But it wasn't included in the 

22           federal government's list of approved 

23           cemetery sites.  So I'm wondering what your 

24           thinking is.  Are you planning to go forward 


 1           with funding or other steps while the federal 

 2           funding approval is pending?  And what's your 

 3           expected timeline on that?

 4                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Well, you know, 

 5           last year our state-appointed committee 

 6           selected the Sampson Veterans Memorial 

 7           Cemetery, that some of you may be familiar 

 8           with, in Seneca County as the location for 

 9           our first State Veterans Cemetery.

10                  DVS then applied to the NCA, the 

11           National Cemetery Administration, for the 

12           federal funding to establish that.  The NCA 

13           grant funding had a list that was published 

14           in October of last year -- they had some 

15           funding cuts.  The NCA could only fund the 

16           first 12 items.  We remain today No. 14 on 

17           that list.  So a grant has not been offered 

18           at this time.  You know, the grant comes from 

19           them.

20                  But the funding opportunity, that 

21           we're hoping will be available this year.  

22           Governor Hochul's Executive Budget includes 

23           appropriations to support the cemetery.  So 

24           we're hoping -- you know, we're hopeful for 


 1           the funds at some point, but we'll have to 

 2           reassess, you know, at that time.  The 

 3           current money in the budget is that -- just 

 4           to support the cemetery.  

 5                  But we are reapplying this year again 

 6           for the grant in August.  And right now, you 

 7           know, we've already moved up to the list on 

 8           No. 2.  So we're very hopeful.

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Okay.  Well, 

10           that's good to know.  Thank you.

11                  One more question, then.  In 2019 the 

12           Restoration of Honor Act was signed into law, 

13           very proud to have sponsored that.  How many 

14           veterans has the division assisted through 

15           this program?

16                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  I'm sorry, you 

17           froze.  Could you repeat the question?

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  The 

19           restoration of honor, where we made it so 

20           that other-than-honorable-discharge veterans 

21           had  access to New York State benefits, even 

22           though not necessarily federal benefits, 

23           through our Restoration of Honor Act.  Are 

24           you familiar with that?


 1                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Yes.  And 

 2           actually, you know, when I was the 

 3           commissioner we had more than a few people, 

 4           especially we're going to find a lot of our 

 5           senior veterans who have those issues because 

 6           they had entered service when they were quite 

 7           young and had a few errors.

 8                  Right now, you know, this program is 

 9           doing wonderfully and we're happy in the 

10           direction where it's going.  We were able to 

11           service quite a few.  I believe the first few 

12           days that I was here, I was given information 

13           that we had honorably restored -- my first 

14           day on the job, I think I approved my first 

15           one, with 31 current.  So that's a great 

16           thing.

17                  And as we continue to get the 

18           information out to our veterans and assuring 

19           them that we are here to restore their honor 

20           and dignity -- so many people don't realize 

21           that for us as veterans, service never ends.  

22           you know:  God, country, family and then 

23           community.  So it's so important for us to be 

24           able to go back and capture those who may 


 1           have felt that they lost their dignity 

 2           because of that stigma on their discharge 

 3           papers.  And so, we're very happy for where 

 4           we're moving, and the direction.  There's 

 5           more to do, but we're right here to do it 

 6           with you.

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 8           Director.

 9                  Senator Krueger, do you have --

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you, I do.  

11           I have our chair of Veterans Affairs, 

12           Senator John Brooks.

13                  SENATOR BROOKS:  Good afternoon, 

14           everyone.  

15                  And I want to pick up where Didi was.  

16           I think we're really on an upswing with the 

17           veterans programs.  I think it's critical to 

18           elevate the agency more and get the 

19           attention.  I think in many ways we've gotten 

20           the message out to the veterans that we care, 

21           and these programs are expanding and growing, 

22           the Dwyer program and all the rest.  I think 

23           the kiosk program is a great way to reach 

24           out.


 1                  I would really -- one thing I'd love 

 2           to try to do is see if we couldn't get, say, 

 3           a bimonthly newsletter to all the veterans of 

 4           the state -- an electronic one, so we don't 

 5           have a big expense -- so we could keep them 

 6           up-to-date with what we're doing.  

 7                  But I think the cemetery's great, I 

 8           think we have to get the funding there, the 

 9           last complete -- but it was shameful that the 

10           state was so far behind in doing that.  I 

11           just think it's a great, great, great 

12           situation here.

13                  The additional funding you're 

14           providing to the local agencies I think is 

15           critically important, that they can expand 

16           that stuff.  One of the things we'd like to 

17           try to do on Long Island is to see if we 

18           couldn't take the daycare program, as it's 

19           referred to, at the Suffolk County facility 

20           of Stony Brook, and bring that kind of 

21           program maybe to the Nassau County Medical 

22           Center to have a program during the day.  The 

23           Island is truly an island, but it's 120 miles 

24           long and the location in Stony Brook, from 


 1           Nassau County, is quite a trip.  

 2                  So if we could expand that program.  

 3           The folks at that agency have had some 

 4           discussions with the folks at the VA that 

 5           they might allow, if you will, some 

 6           co-licensing there.  I'd love to do that.

 7                  But I really want to say -- and I 

 8           think both houses' committees, the folks 

 9           involved in veterans services, their hearts 

10           are in it.  I think the increased penetration 

11           is reflective of the fact that not only are 

12           we providing good programs and showing 

13           interest, but they're responding to those 

14           programs.  So I think, you know, we've got to 

15           keep at it.  

16                  I'm really excited with you joining 

17           the program, and I just feel so positive of 

18           where we are.  And I think in the last two, 

19           three years in particular, we've gotten a lot 

20           of great stuff done.  I think Didi's done an 

21           outstanding job in her house getting stuff 

22           done.  And I think, you know, veterans know 

23           they're respected by our state again.  And I 

24           think we just have to keep on building that.


 1                  So I don't have a lot of questions for 

 2           today.  I wanted to say that I'm really 

 3           pleased with what I saw in terms of the 

 4           budget.  I'm really pleased with what I just 

 5           heard.  And I'm really optimistic with where 

 6           we can go, and I think to elevate your 

 7           department is a critical, important step that 

 8           we do that.

 9                  So I thank you, and Didi, I thank you 

10           for everything you're doing too.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

12           Ashby for five minutes, ranker on Assembly 

13           Veterans' Affairs.

14                  ASSEMBLYMAN ASHBY:  Thank you, 

15           Madam Chair.  

16                  And thank you, Didi.  The work that 

17           you're doing is incredible, and I'm very 

18           grateful for the support and everything that 

19           you've done on behalf of our veterans.

20                  And thank you, Director.  It's great 

21           to meet you virtually, hopefully in person 

22           sometime soon.  I've read a lot about you, 

23           and I'm so impressed with your story and the 

24           work that you've down downstate and for 


 1           veterans all over the place.  And I agree 

 2           wholeheartedly with you that the service 

 3           really never ends.  And I'm very grateful 

 4           that you've continued to demonstrate that.  

 5                  And I think Chair Brooks is right as 

 6           well, in that I feel like we are on an 

 7           upswing here, that there are several pieces 

 8           of veterans legislation that seem to be 

 9           gaining traction, and there's a lot of 

10           bipartisan support for them.  And it's great 

11           to have you on board and a part of this team 

12           and really moving them forward.

13                  I really appreciated your testimony.  

14           And I did have some questions, because I too 

15           am very happy with what's been included in 

16           the Governor's budget, but there are still 

17           some things that are excluded in it, in 

18           particular 20 programs that, for whatever 

19           reason, just seem to be left off the chart 

20           for whatever reason, seemingly every year.  

21                  And I was wondering if you were 

22           familiar with these programs.  I know that 

23           you're new, kind of coming in, but I know 

24           that you have a lot of history with veterans 


 1           groups around the state, and if you've 

 2           managed to contact, or if these groups have 

 3           contacted you at all -- I'm sure you are 

 4           tracking the 20 that have been left out:  The 

 5           SAGE veterans project, Clear Path for 

 6           Veterans, New York State Defenders 

 7           Association Veterans Defense Program.  They 

 8           provide a variety of services, whether it's 

 9           legal, rehabilitation-type programs.  

10                  Have you heard from them, or have they 

11           reached out to you or have you been in 

12           contact with them?

13                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  I'm going to 

14           ask you, if you don't mind -- because you 

15           froze for me, and I missed a portion of what 

16           you said after "programs."  If you listed 

17           them, I did not -- I heard maybe two of them.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN ASHBY:  I don't want to 

19           list all of them, because that would -- 

20           that's not a good use of my time.  I can 

21           certainly -- I can send you the list.  But 

22           some of the ones that have been out there for 

23           a while, Clear Path for veterans, which is 

24           out of Central New York, SAGE veterans 


 1           program, New York State Defenders 

 2           Association's Veterans Defense Program, Legal 

 3           Services of the Hudson Valley Veterans and 

 4           Military Advocacy Project.  Those are just a 

 5           few.  And they're included on a list that I'm 

 6           sure you've seen.  

 7                  Have you heard from them or have they 

 8           reached out to you on anything?

 9                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Well, as you 

10           know, the budget is not final.  I can look 

11           into some of these further.  Some of them I 

12           actually am familiar with because we have 

13           utilized these services for our veterans.  

14           some of these services, we've been utilizing 

15           them since I was working with them as 

16           students, so I'm certainly familiar with 

17           them.  I haven't heard from all of them, but 

18           I will certainly look into them.

19                  I plan on being the boots on the 

20           ground, you know, working with our partners.  

21           Our outside partners have just been so 

22           tremendous.  And, you know, thank you for 

23           speaking of the work downstate.  I want you 

24           to know that in the year that we were able to 


 1           serve veterans, those 3,000 veterans -- we 

 2           served them the one year -- were from the 

 3           Bronx all the way to Rockland County.  And so 

 4           we had to utilize these partners for them, 

 5           especially those that needed the legal 

 6           issues -- you know, you mentioned Hudson 

 7           Valley, who's very familiar, and some of the 

 8           others that you touched upon.  

 9                  These are integral partnerships that 

10           we've forged and that we look forward to 

11           continue to establishing our relationships, 

12           and strengthening, on behalf of our veterans.

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN ASHBY:  I'm happy to hear 

14           that.  

15                  And, you know, what we can do -- 

16           because I know that each year it seems to be 

17           an advocacy race and tremendous effort to 

18           kind of push these programs over the goal 

19           line.  And whether they're being used as 

20           bargaining chips or for whatever reason -- 

21           I'm not sure.  But I think on behalf of your 

22           office and your new leadership post, I think 

23           you can -- I think you can make a strong, 

24           concerted effort and, you know, find a 


 1           victory here.  

 2                  And, you know, I know many, many of 

 3           these organizations would greatly appreciate 

 4           your effort and leadership on here.  And I 

 5           know that you will.  Marines tend to be 

 6           driven.

 7                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  (Laughing.)  

 8           Thank you.  Well, that's why they call me 

 9           Mama V.  The V is not for Viviana, it's for 

10           Victory.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN ASHBY:  That's great.  

12           Thank you, Director.

13                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Thank you, sir.

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

15                  Senator Krueger, I don't see any --

16                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Other Senators, 

17           no.  Apparently we were very happy with this 

18           budget section.

19                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So why don't we 

20           go first to our ranker on Ways and Means, 

21           Assemblyman Ra, and then we will pick up with 

22           several other Assemblymembers.

23                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, Chair.

24                  Acting Director, good to meet you 


 1           virtually here.  Thank you for your service 

 2           and thank you for what you do on behalf of 

 3           our veterans.  And, you know, I can feel the 

 4           passion you have for serving our veterans 

 5           coming across in this forum, so thank you.

 6                  I wanted to ask about -- the state had 

 7           unveiled this -- its first veterans kiosk in 

 8           the Capital Region in the new Welcome Center 

 9           off of I-87 last fall.  And my understanding 

10           is the Executive Budget is proposing an 

11           expansion of this program.  Do we know at 

12           this point how many other kiosks there will 

13           be and where they're going to be placed?

14                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Yes.  First of 

15           all, I've seen the kiosk.  I hope you've seen 

16           it.  And we're very grateful for the $50,000 

17           that is going to be moved towards these 

18           digital kiosks.  There's one right now that 

19           you can visit at the Welcome Center at the 

20           Capital Region.  If you've not seen it, it's 

21           an interactive service that the veterans will 

22           be able to access.  

23                  You know, we started with just one.  

24           The hope is to have them across New York 


 1           State at our major hubs -- the airports, our 

 2           welcome centers, train stations.  You know, I 

 3           want this to be something that's going to be 

 4           the norm, you know.  Imagine veterans that 

 5           are traveling or that have no time or have no 

 6           desire to walk into a building for help -- 

 7           that in the midst of traveling, that all they 

 8           have to do is tap on it.  

 9                  You know, user-friendly -- I tried it 

10           out myself, you know.  And we can have the 

11           ability to upgrade it, you know, like the 

12           credit cards where you can just tap your VA 

13           ID on it, make changes to your address.  The 

14           family members and veteran service dependents 

15           can get information, you know, on that.

16                  You know, I want to give kudos again 

17           to this wonderful division, to Deputy 

18           Executive Director Joel Evans.  You know, 

19           this came under his tenure.  And this is 

20           going to be something that's very pivotal.  

21                  So, you know, we're very grateful for 

22           this $50,000 budget that our Governor is 

23           putting into this program for our veterans 

24           across New York State.  We're very excited 


 1           about that.

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  So with the little 

 3           time I have left, do we -- have you been able 

 4           to, you know, evaluate any type of statistics 

 5           in terms of how much usage it has gotten so 

 6           far at the one location?

 7                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Well, you know, 

 8           we're still rolling out the kiosks and we're 

 9           still gathering the information.  

10                  But I can tell you, while I was there, 

11           the veterans that I did bring with me, it was 

12           important -- you know, I'm a gerontologist.  

13           This time next year, hopefully you'll call me 

14           Dr. Mama V.  So it was important for me that 

15           I brought some of our Vietnam -- and I 

16           brought with me a Korean veteran to the 

17           kiosk.  There was absolutely no issues 

18           utilizing it.  So it's user-friendly for 

19           everyone.  

20                  So, you know, we're still tracking the 

21           numbers, but I want to share that let's not 

22           just look at the quantitative measure, let's 

23           look at also -- and listen to the veterans on 

24           the phenomenological experience that they're 


 1           going to be gaining with this and what it's 

 2           going to mean for them to be able to come 

 3           from traveling hubs and have the assistance, 

 4           even if they're traveling with their family,  

 5           to be able to gain access, some of them for 

 6           the very first time.

 7                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 9                  We're going to move on to -- for three 

10           minutes for each of the next Assemblymembers.  

11           That's for them to ask the question and for 

12           you, Director, to give your response.  

13                  So we go first to Assemblyman Mamdani.

14                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you, Chair 

15           Weinstein.

16                  Thank you, Director DeCohen.  I'm just 

17           going to jump in.  I wanted to follow up on 

18           Assemblyman Ashby's question.  Earlier you 

19           stated that, quote, While we as a division do 

20           an immense amount of work to serve our 

21           veterans and their families, we could not do 

22           it without the tremendous support and work 

23           done by our local partners.  And that, quote, 

24           Governor Hochul's Executive Budget will 


 1           provide DVS with the resources to build upon 

 2           these successes and deliver more support than 

 3           ever to New York's veterans and their 

 4           families.

 5                  Yet when I take a look at her 

 6           Executive Budget, I saw a proposal to 

 7           eliminate 4.2 million in funding for various 

 8           veterans' programs, including the ones that 

 9           Assemblyman Ashby cited, as well as a 

10           $200,000 cut to Helmets to Hard Hats, a 

11           $25,000 cut to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial 

12           Fund, and a $2 million cut from various 

13           grants to municipalities and nonprofit 

14           organizations.

15                  How does your statement fit with the 

16           Governor's proposed cuts?

17                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  You know, 

18           there's a story, sir, of a gentleman that had 

19           two baskets in front of a multitude of people 

20           to serve, and inside those baskets one had 

21           two fish and the other had five loaves.  And 

22           when the baskets were passed around -- and 

23           I'm talking about partnerships here, the same 

24           partnerships that came to my one-man office 


 1           that provided brand-new food and items of 

 2           clothing in an urban and rural community 

 3           where funds are little to none.

 4                  By the time those baskets came around 

 5           and each partner had poured into those 

 6           baskets, not only was there enough to feed 

 7           the multitude, but there was an overflow.

 8                  We are so proud of this Governor, who 

 9           for the first time in a dozen years gave an 

10           increase to small veteran agencies that I 

11           just came out of -- like the one I came out 

12           of in Mount Vernon, increasing the 10,000 to 

13           $25,000.  Never before in 12 years had --

14                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Director 

15           DeCohen, I'm sorry to jump in, but just in 

16           the interests of time -- there's only a 

17           minute left -- how does it -- I understand 

18           that there's been an increase in funding in 

19           certain aspects of DVS.  But how does -- for 

20           me what is very difficult to come to terms 

21           with is a cut to these specific services.  

22           Meanwhile, we have a multi-billion-dollar 

23           surplus and better-than-expected tax revenue.  

24           And it just doesn't -- one and one just 


 1           doesn't come to two in this scenario for me.

 2                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Well, you know, 

 3           sir, this is not the final budget.  But I'm 

 4           going to leave that for you to discuss with 

 5           the Governor in your budget negotiations.

 6                  And listen, we look forward to what we 

 7           have coming.  We're so grateful.  We're so 

 8           grateful.

 9                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you, 

10           Director DeCohen.  And I think, just to end, 

11           I would say that the Governor's vision for 

12           the budget of this state should start at a 

13           point where veterans' services are not being 

14           defunded.  And I hope that we can get there 

15           with the work that we do as a Legislature.

16                  But thank you very much for your time.

17                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Thank you, sir.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

19                  We go now to Assemblymember Rajkumar.

20                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN RAJKUMAR:  Thank you, 

21           Director Reverend DeCohen, for your service 

22           to our country.  And thank you also for your 

23           leadership for the veterans of our state.

24                  I am a member of the Veterans' Affairs 


 1           Committee.  I represent the Borough of 

 2           Queens, home to the most veterans in New York 

 3           City.  I have two questions.

 4                  The first is about services for 

 5           younger veterans from the recent Iraq and 

 6           Afghanistan wars.  What steps are we taking 

 7           to address the needs of this younger veterans 

 8           population?  I recently introduced a bill in 

 9           the Assembly to extend the public housing 

10           benefits offered to Vietnam veterans to 

11           veterans of the more recent wars in Iraq and 

12           Afghanistan.  So what else can be done to 

13           serve our younger, more recent veterans?

14                  And second, I'd like to go back to the 

15           Barrett-Brooks legislation to elevate the 

16           Division of Veterans' Services to an 

17           Executive department, legislation that I have 

18           cosponsored.  I know Chair Barrett asked you 

19           about it, and it's excellent to hear that you 

20           are already creating the one-stop shop 

21           through your own initiative.  Currently 

22           veterans in New York State have to navigate 

23           multiple agencies to access benefits to which 

24           they are entitled.  


 1                  Perhaps this helps explain why only 

 2           17 percent -- and I know you have corrected 

 3           that figure to 24 percent today -- 24 percent 

 4           of New York State veterans and their families 

 5           receive VA disability or pension benefits, 

 6           compared to 29 percent in Texas.  And 

 7           veterans who are disabled or are low-income 

 8           in Florida receive $6.3 billion annually, 

 9           whereas here in New York they receive less 

10           than half of that, at 2.6 billion.

11                  So do you believe that elevating your 

12           division to an Executive department could 

13           provide veterans with the level of service 

14           they deserve and help them cut through the 

15           bureaucratic hurdles to access critical 

16           benefits?  And if so, could you walk us 

17           through how that might look?

18                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  I want to say 

19           that regardless of the nomenclature or who 

20           we're under, you know, our job is to do what 

21           we do with excellence every day, which is, 

22           again, establishing ourselves in the spirit 

23           of excellence, integrity, strength, you know, 

24           to ensure that those who served us will 


 1           receive the highest level of service.

 2                  Whatever your decision is from the 

 3           Legislature, we are on board, we are ready to 

 4           grab the bull by the horns each and every day 

 5           to ensure that those who have served us will 

 6           receive the highest care.

 7                  We're also so glad for the New York 

 8           housing increase for affordable housing for 

 9           the next three years for veterans and their 

10           families, and the wonderful new program that 

11           was rolled out, the Expiration of Term, or 

12           the ETS program, that's going to be able to 

13           link those who are coming home within six to 

14           10 months, that for the first time -- I'm 

15           clapping -- we are going to be able to 

16           capture veterans -- unlike the opportunity 

17           that I had when I was discharged -- that 

18           prior to discharge there is going to be 

19           mentors, there are already 150 of them that 

20           are trained and ready to -- where the 

21           integration, the reintegration process is 

22           going to be easier amidst the course of 

23           accessing services for those who are coming 

24           home. 


 1                  So yes, we are ready.  The budget 

 2           included additional staff.  Governor Hochul 

 3           was excellent in supporting us with that.  I 

 4           have to tell you, when she was Lieutenant 

 5           Governor she was already supporting us, she 

 6           had already supported me with the summer 

 7           programs that we have.  So we are charged, we 

 8           are ready for those returning home, and we 

 9           are right here servicing the ones that are 

10           here on a higher level.  And we know that 

11           with your assistance -- and thank you for 

12           everything that you're doing, because it has 

13           been so appreciated and it has been 

14           ineffable, the service.  

15                  There's not too much that we can do.  

16           There's never enough.  For every 20 programs 

17           you give me, I can think of a hundred more 

18           that need service.  And for everything that's 

19           taken away, I can tell you the quality things 

20           that have been put into this budget.  

21           Quality, quality, quality for our veterans 

22           and their family members means so much.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

24                  We're going to move on to 


 1           Assemblywoman Buttenschon.

 2                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUTTENSCHON:  Good 

 3           afternoon.  Thank you to our chairs as well 

 4           as Director, thank you so much for your 

 5           leadership as well as your service to this 

 6           country.  

 7                  I too support and cosponsor the bill 

 8           that our chair carries upgrading the 

 9           division, as I see it as imperative and will 

10           help in assisting you.

11                  I also echo the concerns of my 

12           colleagues that they have addressed that you 

13           do not possibly have enough resources at this 

14           time to support all those great programs out 

15           there.  

16                  My colleagues discussed the state 

17           cemetery.  I have a district that has spent 

18           years preparing, is located in Central 

19           New York and is minutes off the New York 

20           State Thruway.  So I would be interested in 

21           you keeping me apprised of what will be 

22           moving forward.

23                  And the question I hear from many of 

24           my American Legion posts and VFWs that are 


 1           struggling at this point -- I just wondered 

 2           what your plans were to work with them, as 

 3           many of our veterans utilize that as a first 

 4           step to seeking help.

 5                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  For the -- as 

 6           you know, for the Joseph Dwyer Program, which 

 7           is such an important program, I've sent so 

 8           many of our veterans to that program.  It's 

 9           been funded by OMH to be expanded statewide.

10                  This is a wonderful opportunity where 

11           now the county has the ability to establish 

12           within it a chapter to focus on this 

13           successful program.  

14                  They're also -- just so you know, I 

15           went to visit one last week that's going the 

16           inside-outside approach with the 

17           reintegration of services that are right 

18           there on-site.  And as we speak, they have 

19           clothing that's being delivered and racks 

20           that are being put up to be able to have 

21           services.  

22                  But also throughout the past few 

23           years, improving our collaborations, you 

24           know, with county and municipal veterans 


 1           service agencies as well as the 

 2           not-for-profit organizations, has been a top 

 3           priority.  Our partnerships are important to 

 4           us.  We value them.  

 5                  In 2021, you know, we trained and 

 6           brought under our accreditation a total of 

 7           35 county and city veterans service agencies.  

 8           And we're open to engaging in this process 

 9           free of charge for any local government 

10           veterans service agency that would like to be 

11           accredited with us.  We do not impose any 

12           cost or quotas for our partners, or any other 

13           strings attached for our local government 

14           entities or not-for-profit veterans service 

15           organizations, you know, that want to be 

16           accredited.

17                  Most county veterans agencies in 

18           New York are accredited by the American 

19           Legion, you know, our partners.  We've signed 

20           a memorandum of agreement with the American 

21           Legion of the Department of New York to offer 

22           the opportunity for any Legion-accredited 

23           veterans service officer to receive the 

24           agency's week-long annual training.  I'm a 


 1           benefactor of that training.  

 2                  You know, and we've opened up all of 

 3           the online training to the local-government 

 4           veterans service agencies in the state.  

 5           Again, I'm a benefactor.  I'm sitting here 

 6           trained because of those services.

 7                  And in 2021 --

 8                  (Overtalk.)

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUTTENSCHON:  I don't 

10           mean to interrupt you, but I know my time is 

11           running.

12                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  -- routinely 

13           attended.

14                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUTTENSCHON:  And I 

15           appreciate that, as we do have, with the 

16           assistance of the chair, a Dwyer program in 

17           the county that I'm so excited about as it 

18           moves forward.

19                  But my question just refers to the 

20           concerns that I'm hearing with our support 

21           networks in the Legions, as well as the VFWs, 

22           that are struggling at this point and looking 

23           for those collaborations.  So I will further 

24           reach out and remind them of the 


 1           accreditation, but also would like to just 

 2           bear in mind that they consider that their 

 3           first stop for so many of them.  

 4                  So thank you.

 5                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Well, you know, 

 6           we were just with them on Monday, with one of 

 7           the DAVs that just opened up, and we're doing 

 8           an interview with the American Legion for a 

 9           magazine this week.  I happen to be a member 

10           of the American Legion, I am a Legionnaire 

11           for one of our posts.  So I'm so happy to 

12           support them and do --

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUTTENSCHON:  Thank you 

14           very much.

15                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Thank you.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

17                  We go to Assemblyman Walczyk.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  Thanks, 

19           Madam Chair.  Thank you, Director, for the 

20           time and for your service, of course.  

21                  Just a couple of quick ones.  I'm 

22           wondering if the Governor put anything in 

23           this budget that has to do with assistance 

24           for veterans who served in or around burn 


 1           pits.

 2                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  I have no 

 3           knowledge of that at this time.

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  I'm sorry?  

 5           You're coming in very quiet for me.

 6                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Oh, I'm sorry.  

 7           I said unfortunately I have no knowledge of 

 8           that at this particular time.  But I'd be 

 9           happy to get back to you with that.

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  Okay, great.  

11                  Yeah, I think that's a pretty 

12           important issue, and I think most legislators 

13           understand the importance there and would be 

14           open to hearing your policy ideas as well on 

15           ways that we can assist those.  I kind of see 

16           that as the next Agent Orange wave that -- 

17           you know, it took us a long time to take care 

18           of our Vietnam veterans, and I think we have 

19           the opportunity to do so for a lot of those 

20           returning from the conflicts in Afghanistan 

21           and Iraq.

22                  Another sort of off-the-wall one that 

23           I want to bring up, actually, is the New York 

24           State Police recently talked to me about -- 


 1           you know, they have a test coming up and they 

 2           were talking to me about the standards for 

 3           the academy.  And I was just wondering if you 

 4           would be interested or willing to reach out 

 5           to the superintendent of the State Police and 

 6           start a dialogue about the tattoo policy for 

 7           our State Police.  It's not in line with the 

 8           Department of Defense or the Army's tattoo 

 9           policy currently, and I think what's 

10           happening is we're inadvertently eliminating 

11           a lot of really great candidates that would 

12           be excellent state troopers just based on 

13           some of those things.

14                  Is that something that you'd be 

15           willing to do?

16                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Absolutely.  

17                  In fact, when I was a veteran mentor, 

18           you know, at the colleges, I used to work 

19           with the police and those who were on our 

20           front line to bring them into some of our 

21           veterans' meetings that we were having.  

22           Because, you know, listen, they serve as 

23           well.  And so I have quite a few patrolmen 

24           and state troopers that are under Mama V's 


 1           belt as former students.  

 2                  So, you know, I've always worked with 

 3           our local police, absolutely.

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN WALCZYK:  That's great.  I 

 5           appreciate it.

 6                  And I will yield back the rest of my 

 7           time.  I just want to echo, Helmets to Hard 

 8           Hats, Clear Path for Veterans, and a lot of 

 9           the other programs that were brought up by 

10           Jake Ashby today -- really encourage the 

11           Governor to take a re-look at those, and as 

12           well as the leadership here.

13                  Thank you, Madam Chair.  Thank you, 

14           Director.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

16                  And thank you, Director.  Obviously, 

17           thank you for your service, and we look 

18           forward to, now that you're with New York 

19           State, to good things that you can bring to 

20           our state that you brought to Mount Vernon.  

21           So we're all very excited and happy that 

22           you're here with us.

23                  So there are no further -- oh, wait a 

24           second.  Assemblyman -- now that I said 


 1           goodbye, Assemblyman Manktelow had raised 

 2           his -- no, put down his hand.  Okay, thank 

 3           you.  Thank you again.

 4                  So we're going to have -- oh.  Did you 

 5           want to speak, Assemblyman?  Fine.  Let's let 

 6           Brian Manktelow in.  Your hand went up and 

 7           went down, so if you were there to speak -- 

 8           there you are.  Okay.

 9                  ASSEMBLYMAN MANKTELOW:  Thank you, 

10           Madam Chair.  And I apologize.  I got on a 

11           little late.

12                  Did we talk about veterans' courts at 

13           all?

14                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  We did.

15                  ASSEMBLYMAN MANKTELOW:  You did?  

16           Okay.  I will touch base with you then later 

17           on about that.  I'd like to share a few 

18           things with you, if you're open to that.

19                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Yes, sir.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN MANKTELOW:  All right.  

21           And thank you for your service.

22                  Thank you, Madam Chair.

23                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Thank you, 

24           Mama V.  Wonderful to meet you. 


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.

 2                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Listen, thank 

 3           you, thank all of you for your invaluable and 

 4           ineffable service to those who've served God, 

 5           country, family, and still serving in our 

 6           community.  And I hope to highlight them as 

 7           the volunteers that they are one day.

 8                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  And to you, 

 9           your ongoing service and your service in the 

10           military, thank you.

11                  DVS DIRECTOR DeCOHEN:  Thank you.

12                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Thank you.  

13                  Thank you, Liz.  Thank you, Helene.

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  This ends the 

15           governmental portion of the hearing.  We now 

16           are going to go to the public portion of the 

17           hearing.  These are people who have asked to 

18           speak on the Human Services budget.  

19                  And for the members' edification, we 

20           have people grouped together in panels.  

21           Generally, people in each panel are speaking 

22           on a similar subject so that it will be -- 

23           they'll all be together, and then any 

24           Assemblymember who so chooses to ask a 


 1           question.

 2                  Each member of the panel will have 

 3           three minutes to speak.  When the panel is 

 4           finished, Assemblymembers if they wish to ask 

 5           a question, will be called upon for three 

 6           minutes to ask a question of the panel as a 

 7           whole, not each individual member of the 

 8           panel.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  And I know Helene 

10           really meant to say members of the Senate or 

11           the Assembly who wish to ask questions.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Oh, right, I 

13           keep saying members.  Yes, Senators and 

14           Assemblymembers.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So our first 

17           panel, we have AARP, Beth Finkel, state 

18           director; Disabled in Action of Greater 

19           Syracuse, Sally Johnston, president; and 

20           New York Caring Majority, Kendra Scalia, 

21           Hudson Valley leader. 

22                  So if we can bring those people into 

23           the gallery -- I believe they are, they're 

24           all here.  So why don't we go in that order, 


 1           and Beth Finkel, if you can begin.

 2                  MS. FINKEL:  Thank you very much.  

 3                  I want to thank all of you for being 

 4           on, and I particularly want to think the 

 5           leadership, Helene Weinstein and Liz Krueger, 

 6           and I also want to call out Ron Kim and 

 7           Rachel May for being incredible supporters, 

 8           all four of you.  It's most important for 

 9           New York State's aging.  

10                  On behalf of AARP's 2.5 million 

11           members in New York State, I'm really happy 

12           to be here today to talk to you about how 

13           older adults have been more seriously 

14           impacted and burdened by the pandemic that we 

15           are continuing to go through.  Ninety-five 

16           percent of the COVID deaths in New York have 

17           been among people 50 and older, and in this 

18           year's budget we really must confront the 

19           struggling of older New Yorkers and what 

20           they're feeling right now.  

21                  So here is a quick list -- I know you 

22           have my testimony -- 20 million for the 

23           Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.  You heard 

24           about this before; they are the frontline of 


 1           investigating nursing homes. 

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Sorry to 

 3           interrupt -- I have to interrupt.  Someone 

 4           has their -- if people can mute themselves -- 

 5           I think Didi Barrett.  Thank you.  

 6                  I'm sorry.  You were getting a voice 

 7           over -- 

 8                  MS. FINKEL:  Can you go back for me?  

 9           Because I never can talk fast enough.  

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  That's okay.

11                  MS. FINKEL:  I'm a fast New York 

12           talker, but -- 

13                  (Laughter.)

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  You're back.  I 

15           just didn't want to --           

16                  MS. FINKEL:  We talked about the 

17           Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, which is so 

18           important:  15,000 deaths in nursing homes, 

19           and people feeling like there was no one 

20           there to advocate and look after them because 

21           the long-term-care ombudsmen were basically 

22           volunteers who couldn't go into the settings.  

23                  We really feel we need the $20 million 

24           that was stated before.  We're, I think, 39th 


 1           in the average of other states.  In fact, 

 2           California spends three times more per 

 3           resident than New York does.  They spend $22 

 4           per person; New York spends $7 per person.  

 5                  We need to better support our home 

 6           care workforce.  We believe that older 

 7           New Yorkers who need long-term care must be 

 8           able to stay in their homes.  That's what 

 9           they want, it's less expensive.  

10                  But we have the biggest shortage of 

11           home care workers in the entire nation.  We 

12           need to do something about that.  So AARP 

13           supports May S5374 and Gottfried A6329 to 

14           help ensure that we have adequate pay for 

15           home care workers.  

16                  I want to address parts of what we see 

17           as the unmet need, and this has been talked 

18           about before.  We really appreciate the 

19           investment that is being made in community 

20           and home-based support, but we also need to 

21           look at the Meals on Wheels.  Thank you, Liz, 

22           for pointing that out earlier.  We are asking 

23           for an additional $14.1 million for 

24           home-delivered meals.  


 1                  AARP also requests an additional 

 2           6 million for SOFA to address the nearly 

 3           8,000 older New Yorkers that are still in 

 4           need of ongoing case management.  We need to 

 5           have transparency where these waitlists 

 6           are -- I think we just heard that in the 

 7           testimony earlier.  We need to understand 

 8           where the shortages are and why they're 

 9           there.  And so that's why we support the 

10           legislation from Eichenstein, A2590, which 

11           will give us the transparency that we need, 

12           requiring county aging offices to keep 

13           records.  We need the state to identify 

14           additional investments, and they can't do 

15           that unless they get the transparency of the 

16           data.  It passed the Assembly.  We need the 

17           Senate to pass it, and then we need the 

18           Governor to sign it.  

19                  We need financial relief for unpaid 

20           family caregivers.  I really appreciate May 

21           and Kim talking about the Caregiver Tax 

22           Credit.  That is so incredibly important.  

23                  The average family caregiver in 

24           New York is spending $8,200 personally out of 


 1           their own pocket to help keep a loved one at 

 2           home.  There are over 2.6 million family 

 3           caregivers in New York State, and they are 

 4           supplying 31 billion, with a B, to help keep 

 5           people at home.  

 6                  We need to make sure that keeps 

 7           happening, because if all those people go 

 8           into a nursing home -- you heard Greg Olsen 

 9           say it's 150,000 a year, and Medicaid is 

10           paying for that.  So we're all paying for 

11           that, okay? 

12                  And then, finally, we also want to see 

13           more money going into the tax credit bills, 

14           which is S620, May, and A6932, Kim.  And then 

15           the additional support for kinship 

16           caregivers, that's non-parent family 

17           members -- aunts, uncles, grandparents -- who 

18           are raising nearly 200,000 children across 

19           New York State.  They need more help.  

20                  If we don't give them that help, those 

21           kids are going to end up in foster care.  And 

22           again, they're not going to be in their own 

23           loving homes with relatives that really love 

24           them, and also it's going to cost the state 


 1           so much more money.  

 2                  Finally, we need to put money back 

 3           into the fund for elder abuse, 125,000 in 

 4           funding for Lifespan.  And then one more 

 5           shout-out to the Governor doing the Master 

 6           Plan for Aging.  We're thrilled with that, 

 7           and I know Greg filled you in on that -- one 

 8           of those pieces.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10                  Now we move on to Sally Johnston from 

11           Syracuse.  

12                  THE MODERATOR:  You're on.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes, we can 

14           hear you.

15                  MS. JOHNSTON:  Can you hear me okay?

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.

17                  MS. JOHNSTON:  Good afternoon.  Thank 

18           you very much for this opportunity to speak 

19           today.  

20                  My name is Sally Johnston.  I'm with 

21           Disabled in Action, and I am speaking on 

22           behalf of myself, members of our 

23           organization, and thousands of people with 

24           disabilities and seniors in New York State.  


 1                  And we are in support of the Fair Pay 

 2           for Home Care that we desperately need.  I am 

 3           struggling, like everyone else, to keep a 

 4           home care worker that only gets paid $13.20 

 5           an hour, and that's not a living wage for 

 6           anyone.  And we need that support of 

 7           additional money to give these home care 

 8           workers an increase.  

 9                  I am 79 years old.  I've been married 

10           for 52 years.  I raised a son.  I was born 

11           with a disability, by the way.  I raised a 

12           son, I have three grandkids, and I want to 

13           remain in my home.  But I need therapy for 

14           home care in order to let -- in order for 

15           that to happen.  

16                  You can't do a one-payment bonus.  

17           That's just not going to do it at all.  These 

18           people need an increase -- you know, $13.20 

19           an hour and you can go to Burger King or 

20           McDonald's and get $17, $18 an hour.  You see 

21           how hard it is to get an aide? 

22                  I worked for over 40 years in human 

23           services in a managing position, and I don't 

24           think I ever interviewed as many people in my 


 1           work history as I have in the last two years.  

 2           My husband died in 2016, and I had to spend 

 3           down our small savings.  And then in 2020, I 

 4           had to go on Medicaid.  And since then it has 

 5           been a real nightmare just trying to keep 

 6           home care workers to work for me.  

 7                  I'm on a fixed income.  I only have 

 8           $800 a month to live on.  And I try to -- 

 9           I've got to pay my bills, get my groceries, 

10           and I try to supplement them to keep them 

11           with me, because it's that hard to get by.  

12                  So we really need our state elected 

13           officials to stand strong on this, to really 

14           speak out on this and tell -- to ensure that 

15           the Fair Pay for Home Care is in the state 

16           budget.  We must do this in order to -- for 

17           people to survive.  

18                  I don't want to go to a nursing home.  

19           I know thousands of other people that don't 

20           want to go to nursing homes.  The care is 

21           poor, and COVID runs rampant.  We're capable 

22           of living in our homes, we want to live in 

23           our homes and be independent as long as we 

24           can.  


 1                  I really, really, truly hope that you 

 2           will consider my plea and that you will 

 3           fight, all of the legislators will fight to 

 4           make sure that this is in the state budget.  

 5                  I thank you very much for this time.             

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

 7           being with us today, Sally.  

 8                  And now, Kendra Scalia.

 9                  MS. SCALIA:  Good afternoon.  My name 

10           is Kendra Scalia, and I'm a Hudson Valley 

11           leader with the New York Caring Majority, and 

12           a disabled woman using the Consumer-Directed 

13           Personal Assistance, CDPA, home care 

14           services.  

15                  Last year at this time I submitted 

16           testimony to this Legislature regarding the 

17           home care crisis that our state continues to 

18           ignore.  I told you about my experience 

19           losing three personal assistants, or PAs, 

20           during the start of COVID and how I had just 

21           one PA working seven days per week.  I 

22           expressed the importance of fair pay for home 

23           care workers to make it possible to recruit 

24           new workers to this field.  And I also let 


 1           you all know that, quote, I live in constant 

 2           fear that should something happen to my 

 3           personal assistant, or should he find a 

 4           better-paying job, my literal independence 

 5           and freedom will be taken from me overnight.  

 6                  I wish I could sit here today and tell 

 7           you that I've hired workers, that I'm able to 

 8           eat a hot meal every day, and that my fears 

 9           of institutionalization are quieted.  But 

10           this body failed to provide the bare minimum 

11           attention to slow down the home care 

12           workforce crisis last year, and so today my 

13           fears are being realized.  

14                  My one PA cut back his hours because 

15           he found that better-paying job.  And not a 

16           single candidate in 18 months has accepted a 

17           job offer with me for $13.20 per hour.  Parts 

18           of my independence have been lost as entire 

19           areas of my life I simply can't engage in any 

20           longer.  

21                  Because my one PA can only work four 

22           hours at night, I'm forced to go without the 

23           toilet all day long.  I stay in the same 

24           position in my wheelchair for 20 hours at a 


 1           time.  I sleep in my wheelchair five nights 

 2           per week because I have no one to get me out 

 3           of the bed in the morning.  

 4                  The limited help I receive is packed 

 5           with bare essentials of survival such that 

 6           therapies and treatments are skipped more 

 7           frequently than they are provided.  Medical 

 8           appointments are all but impossible to attend 

 9           in person, and I've developed additional 

10           medical conditions that could have been 

11           wholly prevented were home care worker wages 

12           raised because home care is healthcare.  

13                  If you visited my home today, you 

14           would find plastic bins holding items like 

15           remote controls and Ziploc baggies of cashews 

16           and Cheerios.  A dozen water bottles with 

17           straws line my kitchen table from one corner 

18           to the other, allowing me the ability to at 

19           least stay hydrated while I spend more than 

20           80 percent of each day without the care that 

21           I need.  

22                  We need Fair Pay for Home Care in the 

23           budget.  Governor Hochul missed this 

24           opportunity in the Executive Budget, 


 1           proposing just a one-time bonus that will not 

 2           come close to solving the home care workforce 

 3           shortage.  The solution is fair pay for home 

 4           care, and we're relying on you, our state 

 5           legislators, to make this happen in the 

 6           budget.  Because when our workers are paid 

 7           well, disabled and senior New Yorkers who 

 8           rely on these skilled workers to live 

 9           independently are able to fill these 

10           positions.  We're able to receive the 

11           healthcare we need to be safe and stay 

12           healthy.  

13                  The time is now to address the crisis 

14           of long-term care.  And I hope that next year 

15           I find myself back at this budget hearing to 

16           tell you all about the fabulous personal 

17           assistants I was able to hire after you 

18           passed Fair Pay for Home Care in this year's 

19           budget, how my health improved and I no 

20           longer need these additional medications, and 

21           how comfortable my body will feel when I'm 

22           finally able to lay it down to rest on my 

23           soft warm bed every night once again, just 

24           like all of you.  


 1                  Thank you.             

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I want to thank 

 3           all of the panel for being here -- there will 

 4           be a question or two -- and particularly the 

 5           individuals who are receiving care and 

 6           looking for care, because I think it's 

 7           important that there is a face put on these 

 8           issues of home care.  

 9                  You know, on paper it sounds like one 

10           thing, but when you hear your personal 

11           stories, it certainly rings true.  And there 

12           are a lot of members who are listening.  They 

13           may not be speaking, but you're being heard 

14           by a large number of members from the 

15           Assembly and Senate.  

16                  So I wanted to go to Assemblyman 

17           Mamdami {sic} for three minutes.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you so 

19           much, Chair.  It's actually Mamdani, with an 

20           N at the end.  But thank you very much.  

21                  Thank you all for your testimonies.  

22                  Kendra, I just wanted to ask to follow 

23           up on your statement.  Can you speak a little 

24           bit to whether you think that the one-time 


 1           bonus is sufficient?  And if not, why does it 

 2           need to be permanent wage increases?  And 

 3           what will the fallout be if it's not 

 4           permanent wage increases? 

 5                  MS. SCALIA:  Thank you for the 

 6           question.  

 7                  Yeah, the one-time bonus is absolutely 

 8           not sufficient.  And the major reason for 

 9           that is that a bonus for workers who are 

10           already in these positions does nothing to 

11           recruit new workers to this field.  And 

12           that's what we need.  

13                  We have a severe workforce crisis.  

14           There's a severe shortage going on in this 

15           state.  We need to incentivize new workers 

16           into this field in the hundreds of thousands 

17           to become home care workers.  

18                  So one-time bonuses are not going to 

19           keep the folks that I have around either.  

20           They need a permanent wage increase, and what 

21           that's going to look like should we not have 

22           a permanent wage increase for home care are 

23           more and more disabled and senior New Yorkers 

24           being pushed into institutional settings like 


 1           nursing homes at significantly higher rates 

 2           to the state, a loss of independence and 

 3           dignity to these individuals and, honestly, 

 4           to just not provide folks with the services 

 5           that they need, the healthcare that they 

 6           need.  Nursing homes are not providing 

 7           healthcare at the most basic entry point to 

 8           our healthcare system.  It's home care that 

 9           provides those services.             

10                  MS. JOHNSTON:  Can I answer that? 

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  At this time --

12                  MS. JOHNSTON:  Can I?

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Yes, please, 

14           Sally.      

15                  MS. JOHNSTON:  I just want to say I'm 

16           very much in the same situation as many 

17           others.  I can't get out of bed in the 

18           morning unless there's somebody there to help 

19           me get out of bed.  

20                  If there's no one there, my aide 

21           doesn't show up, then I have to scramble and 

22           try to figure out where I can get help or 

23           just lay there until I can get ahold of my 

24           son and maybe he can come and help me.  And 


 1           that's not something either of us want.  And 

 2           it doesn't always work.  

 3                  I would like to ask you, all of you 

 4           Senators, what you would feel like if you 

 5           suddenly developed an illness or a disability 

 6           and you couldn't -- and you needed help 

 7           getting out of bed, you needed help with 

 8           going to the bathroom, you needed help with 

 9           hydrating -- hydration and getting some food, 

10           nutrition into you.  How would you feel if 

11           your aide didn't show or you couldn't pay an 

12           aide a reasonable hourly wage?  

13                  That bonus is nothing.  These people 

14           need a real hourly raise in order for us all 

15           to survive.  I'm on the edge of going into a 

16           nursing home also, and I don't want that to 

17           happen.  I want to stay in my home.             

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you so 

19           much, Sally.  And thank you, Kendra.  

20                  I fully agree with the both of you.  

21           This is the year for Fair Pay for Home Care.  

22           We need to have it happen now, and the 

23           consequences are too great to allow another 

24           year to pass while we propose a one-time 


 1           bonus.  

 2                  Thank you so much for your courage, 

 3           for your work.  Thank you as well, Beth.             

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to the 

 5           Senate.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  So far it is just 

 7           me. 

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I see Senator 

 9           Serino.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Oh, I'm sorry, 

11           Senator Serino.  No, Senator Serino, I 

12           apologize.  

13                  Please go to Senator Serino.  

14                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you.  

15                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  And also Senator 

16           Mike Martucci showed up, excuse me.

17                  All right, we're active.  Yes.

18                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you, 

19           Madam Chair.

20                  And I just want to say to Kendra and 

21           Sally, oh, my God, your stories just really 

22           touched me.  And I'm sure it's so good for 

23           people to hear what you're talking about.  I 

24           cosponsored the Fair Pay for Home Care Act, 


 1           and it's just -- we need it today, more than 

 2           ever.  

 3                  As for me, I just recently had to take 

 4           care of my mom and mother-in-law -- they both 

 5           had failing health, and for the past month 

 6           and a half I saw firsthand the lack of 

 7           services, and I've been doing this for, what, 

 8           eight years now?  So thank you so much for 

 9           sharing your stories.  We do have to 

10           incentivize and make a living wage that's 

11           sustainable.  

12                  But I would like to go to Beth, if I 

13           could, to ask you to talk about the -- nice 

14           to see you.  I want to say thank you so much 

15           for putting focus on the funding needed to 

16           bolster caregiving, as we're hearing these 

17           stories today, and we really need to fund and 

18           professionalize the ombudsman program.  

19                  You know, it's something I absolutely 

20           love.  One thing that doesn't get as much 

21           attention is the middle-class Fair Family 

22           Caregiver tax credit, and that's something 

23           that AARP has been pushing for quite some 

24           time, and I know it would be a great benefit 


 1           to many families that we all serve.  So can 

 2           you just elaborate on what passing that tax 

 3           credit would mean for New York families?            

 4                  MS. FINKEL:  Yeah, it would -- so 

 5           basically, as I said before, the average 

 6           family caregiver pays out in New York $8200 a 

 7           year out of their own pocket.  And that might 

 8           be because they're helping to pay for chore 

 9           services, they might be paying for medicine, 

10           they might be paying for supplies, they might 

11           be doing renovations on the home to make them 

12           more remodeled and -- it's a myriad of -- 

13           they might be paying for respite services, 

14           et cetera, or caregiving.  

15                  And what we're -- what we're seeing is 

16           that this money would then be able to -- this 

17           tax credit would be for people who have up to 

18           $75,000 a year in income, so it's very 

19           middle class -- and thank you, Senator, for 

20           pointing that out.  And that's the whole 

21           point, is that we have to help the 

22           middle class because they're really not 

23           getting enough help and if we don't, then 

24           what are they going to do?  They are the 


 1           backbone of our long-term-care system.  So 

 2           this would allow them a tax credit of $3500 a 

 3           year, which is -- which would be wonderful.  

 4                  And by the way, it's a pilot program.  

 5           We can see how it works and then we can go 

 6           from there on it.  So I think this would be 

 7           really great -- good government.  Thank you 

 8           for saying that.             

 9                  SENATOR SERINO:  Absolutely, Beth.  

10           You know, and that 3,500 means so much to 

11           middle-class families or anybody right now 

12           with the rising cost of everything.  It 

13           really will be very helpful.  

14                  So thank you so much for your 

15           advocacy.  And once again, thanks to Sally 

16           and Kendra for really telling your heartfelt 

17           stories.  Thank you.  We all needed to hear 

18           that today.  Thank you.             

19                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

20                  Back to the Assembly.             

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

22           Assemblywoman Rosenthal.             

23                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Hi.  Thank 

24           you.  Hi, Beth.  Good to see you, and thank 


 1           you for your testimony and your proposal.  

 2                  You know, the state gives away a lot 

 3           of tax credits, for example, to developers to 

 4           build mostly luxury housing.  That's a place 

 5           we could use a tax credit -- move it from 

 6           there to your proposal.  

 7                  To Sally, I want to keep seeing you on 

 8           the screen with that bookcase behind you.  I 

 9           don't want to see you in a different 

10           setting -- and Kendra, while you're 

11           blurred -- but I want to see you in your 

12           home.  

13                  So let me ask you, what did you feel 

14           when the budget director said all care 

15           workers were taken care of with the minimum 

16           wage?  What did that make you feel and think 

17           about what the state thinks of home care 

18           workers?            

19                  MS. SCALIA:  When I first heard that, 

20           I was really dismayed and disappointed and 

21           angry because it sends a clear message that 

22           he does not understand the state of long-term 

23           care in New York State.  And if he does, he 

24           is wholly ignoring the cries of the 


 1           disability and senior communities as well as 

 2           our providers who have been talking and 

 3           elevating this issue for a number of years 

 4           now.             

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Thank you.             

 6                  Sally?            

 7                  MS. JOHNSTON:  I felt the same way.  I 

 8           couldn't believe it.  You know, how can you 

 9           get somebody like this to understand what 

10           it's really like to have a disability and to 

11           be stuck, to have no care, you know, to just 

12           maybe lay in bed and defecate all over 

13           yourself because somebody didn't come, and 

14           you've got to wait and wait and wait until 

15           someone does come.             

16                  I just don't understand where he's 

17           coming from, and I didn't like it at all.  It 

18           was just so unfair and unthoughtful.  

19                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  You know, I 

20           agree with you.  And I don't know how anyone 

21           can listen to your stories and say "You're 

22           wrong."  And so I think perhaps we need to 

23           summon or have a meeting with Sally and 

24           Kendra and someone from the administration so 


 1           they -- you can tell them directly your story 

 2           and your wide experience and years-long 

 3           experience struggling to hire people who can 

 4           assist you in maintaining your lives the way 

 5           you want to.  

 6                  So this is an official call-out to the 

 7           administration:  Please have someone meet 

 8           with Kendra and Sally -- and I don't know if 

 9           they want to add anyone to this -- so you can 

10           feel and see them, hear them, and do 

11           something about it.  

12                  We need Fair Pay for Home Care, and 

13           it's not just a phrase.  It is a necessity.  

14           And I will continue to work to advance this 

15           cause.  Thank you.             

16                  MS. JOHNSTON:  Thank you.  

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

18                  To the Senate.  

19                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes, we have 

20           Senator Mike Martucci.             

21                  SENATOR MARTUCCI:  Thank you, 

22           Chairwoman.  Great to see you, as always.  

23                  My question is for Kendra.  Kendra, 

24           like Senator Serino and so many others on 


 1           this call, I too am very proud to be a 

 2           cosponsor of Fair Pay for Home Care.  One of 

 3           the things that I've heard has been a 

 4           struggle is obviously not only finding 

 5           someone to serve regularly in a role, but 

 6           sort of what happens if, over the last year 

 7           with things like quarantine and illness and 

 8           sickness, if your regular caregivers are not 

 9           available, are there any substitute folks?  

10           Or is there sort of like no substitute pool? 

11           What does that look like?

12                  MS. SCALIA:  Yeah, when there are no 

13           home care workers to come, there's no one.  

14           So unless you have family, friends, or 

15           neighbors who are willing to leave their job 

16           for the day, go without pay for the day, and 

17           spend their time doing really tough, physical 

18           work -- this is not companionship work, this 

19           is a physical, labor-intensive job -- you 

20           don't have anyone.  

21                  And the sad state is that many, many 

22           disabled and senior New Yorkers do not have 

23           that network.  They don't have those 

24           neighbors and family members around them who 


 1           are able or willing to do this work for them.  

 2                  So to answer your question, there is 

 3           no support.  There is no network to fall back 

 4           on.  When a home care worker calls out sick, 

 5           there is no one to replace them when other 

 6           home care workers are saying, I can't come 

 7           in, it's too risky because of the pandemic.             

 8                  SENATOR MARTUCCI:  Understood, Kendra.  

 9                  And thank you for your perspective and 

10           being here and continuing your advocacy on 

11           this.  What I want you to know, certainly, 

12           is -- as well as several others that are part 

13           of this hearing -- I look forward to doing 

14           everything I can to support this initiative, 

15           see it done in our budget.  It's long, long 

16           overdue.  

17                  Thank you, Chairwoman Krueger.             

18                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

19           much, Senator.  

20                  Back to you, Assemblywoman.  

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Do you have -- 

22           did you want to speak, Senator Krueger?            

23                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I just wanted 

24           to -- actually, I wanted to do exactly what 


 1           Linda Rosenthal already did, which was to 

 2           highlight that we give out a huge number of 

 3           tax credits for seriously questionable 

 4           activities.  We spend $1.6 billion on tax 

 5           credits for the fossil fuel industry at the 

 6           same time as we're trying to get everybody 

 7           off of fossil fuels, and we spend -- Helene 

 8           and I sat through all the hearings -- we 

 9           spend billions and billions on 

10           mega-economic-development deals that we're 

11           never sure whether they created a job at all.  

12                  And yet here we have a huge number of 

13           New Yorkers who need to have a reasonable 

14           wage for home care in order to be able to 

15           live their lives in dignity and stay in their 

16           homes.  They are proven jobs with economic 

17           wins.  When people who are low-income earn a 

18           little bit more money and can go to work, 

19           they immediately spend that money in their 

20           local economy, as opposed to some of these 

21           megadeals that never deliver anything for 

22           anybody's communities.

23                  So I do believe not only that it is 

24           time or beyond time for us to address these 


 1           issues, but that we actually have money that 

 2           we can redirect to take care of these needs.  

 3                  So I want to thank both women for 

 4           coming and telling their stories, and 

 5           Beth Finkel from AARP, who is a long-time 

 6           friend and advocate on behalf of older 

 7           New Yorkers.  

 8                  Thank you very much, Helene.             

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10                  Ditto to Senator Krueger.  And to 

11           answer Senator Martucci, when your home 

12           attendant doesn't come, my sister and I are 

13           the ones who are taking care of my mom.  It's 

14           something that so many of us legislators 

15           ourselves are dealing with on a daily basis.  

16                  So I want to thank this panel and then 

17           move on to Panel B.  We're -- you will notice 

18           as the speakers -- as the panel goes on, it's 

19           mostly going to be on the daycare issue.  

20                  Schuyler Center for Analysis and 

21           Advocacy, Crystal Charles, policy analyst; 

22           Early Care & Learning Council, Jessica Klos 

23           Shapiro, director of policy and community 

24           education; The Children's Agenda, Pete 


 1           Nabozny, director of policy; All Our Kin, 

 2           Steve Morales, New York policy director; 

 3           ECE On The Move, Gladys Jones, CEO/founder; 

 4           New York Association for the Education of 

 5           Young Children, Katie Albitz, public policy 

 6           and advocacy coordinator; and Day Care 

 7           Council of New York, Gregory Brender, 

 8           director of public policy.

 9                  The advantage of being virtual is we 

10           can have a lot of people on the same subject 

11           together.  We couldn't fit you around the 

12           table, but we can fit you on our computer 

13           screens.  

14                  So just a reminder to the panel, each 

15           of you has up to three minutes to make a 

16           presentation.  We have all of your written 

17           testimony; it's been circulated to all of the 

18           members who are present here.  After all of 

19           the panel speaks, any member who wishes to 

20           ask a question of the panel will have three 

21           minutes to ask a question of the panel, not 

22           each individual panelist.  

23                  So with that, if we can go in the 

24           order that I called people and start with the 


 1           Schuyler Center, Crystal Charles.             

 2                  MS. CHARLES:  Thank you.  Good 

 3           afternoon, everyone.  I'm policy analyst at 

 4           the Schuyler Center for Analysis and 

 5           Advocacy.  

 6                  This year the Schuyler Center 

 7           celebrates our 150th anniversary as a 

 8           nonprofit organization dedicated to policy 

 9           analysis and advocacy in support of public 

10           systems that meet the needs of 

11           disenfranchised populations and people living 

12           in poverty.  

13                  We are entering the third year of the 

14           pandemic.  New York children and families 

15           need robust support as they recover from the 

16           severe impacts on their well-being.  New York 

17           State enacted the Child Poverty Reduction Act 

18           in 2021, committing the state to reducing 

19           child poverty by 50 percent in the coming 

20           decade with attention to racial equity.  In 

21           order to achieve this goal, we must 

22           systemically evaluate state budget decisions 

23           for their impact on child poverty.  

24                  To that end, we support the Children 


 1           and Families Reinvestment Act proposed by 

 2           Assemblymember Hevesi and Senator Brisport, 

 3           supported by over 50 Assembly and Senate 

 4           members and many of our fellow advocates.  

 5           The act would infuse chronically underfunded 

 6           child welfare programs with new funds and 

 7           move New York to a universal childcare 

 8           system.  

 9                  This is an important year for child 

10           welfare funding in New York State.  The child 

11           welfare funding statute, which funds 

12           preventive services that help keep families 

13           together in times of crisis, would expire 

14           this year without the reauthorization for 

15           five more years of funding proposed in the 

16           Executive Budget.  However, the Executive 

17           Budget does not restore the state share of 

18           funding for preventive services to the 

19           65 percent written in statute.  

20                  New York's childcare landscape is in 

21           dire straits.  For families, childcare is 

22           their largest monthly bill -- that is, if 

23           they can find and afford childcare in their 

24           area.  For childcare providers, the sector is 


 1           on the edge of collapse, with stabilization 

 2           payments set to end early this year, low 

 3           wages, and many providers having to reduce 

 4           staff or shut down during the pandemic.  

 5                  In order to reach universal childcare 

 6           in New York, robust funding -- $5 billion -- 

 7           is needed for family subsidies, workforce 

 8           supports, and provider reimbursement rates.  

 9           We urge the Legislature to repair over a 

10           decade of underfunding child welfare programs 

11           with new funds, including restoring child 

12           welfare preventive services funding to the 

13           65 percent state share and fully funding 

14           universal childcare in the final state 

15           budget.  

16                  Thank you for the opportunity.             

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

18                  Now, Early Care & Learning Council.             

19                  MS. KLOS SHAPIRO:  Good afternoon.  My 

20           name is Jessica Klos Shapiro.  I'm the 

21           director of policy and community education 

22           for Early Care & Learning Council.  

23                  ECLC and our network of 35 Child Care 

24           Resource and Referral agencies, or CCR&Rs, 


 1           provide direct assistance and support to 

 2           parents, childcare providers and employers in 

 3           all 62 counties.  

 4                  While the childcare system itself is 

 5           fractured, underresourced, and overwhelmed, 

 6           they all focus on the critical support that 

 7           CCR&Rs provide to families, providers, and 

 8           communities to bolster the success of young 

 9           children.  

10                  The ECLC and our network has 

11           experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated 

12           professional development staff who provide 

13           training, best practices, and support to 

14           childcare providers.  The network is 

15           connected to the local providers, 

16           knowledgeable about the communities they 

17           serve and the obstacles facing families.  

18                  CCR&Rs are a key component to the 

19           complex childcare delivery system.  And over 

20           the last two years, they have continued to 

21           step up to serve their communities on the 

22           front line.  They distributed PPE and 

23           cleaning supplies, went into programs to work 

24           with educators to set up their classrooms to 


 1           accommodate changing regulations, and created 

 2           new trainings on how to navigate challenges 

 3           with the social distancing in the classroom 

 4           and remote learning for children.  

 5                  CCR&R also administered various grants 

 6           in partnership with OCFS, such as the 

 7           Essential Worker Scholarship and the CARES 

 8           grants, which totaled nearly $185 million.  

 9           As Commissioner Poole stated this morning, 

10           the network and ECLC recently delivered 

11           technical assistance for childcare providers 

12           to gain access to $901 million in 

13           stabilization grants.  Fifteen thousand 

14           childcare programs were helped.  

15                  At points the adaptability of the 

16           CCR&R network was in the pivotal role that we 

17           played in helping childcare programs succeed.  

18           It does not come without a struggle, though.  

19           If qualified staff have the skills to do 

20           training and stabilization grant 

21           administration, they require competitive 

22           wages.  

23                  CCR&Rs are largely funded by state 

24           contracts, contracts that have been 


 1           flat-funded for many years.  The increases 

 2           that do come are often sporadic, and 

 3           therefore it becomes hard to staff up for a 

 4           project quickly.  Planned-for and sustained 

 5           funded is needed.  An hourly rate for a CCR&R 

 6           employee statewide can range from $15 an hour 

 7           upstate to the low 20s in the suburbs of 

 8           New York City.  Childcare is a strongly 

 9           female-dominated occupation, and that is no 

10           different in the CCR&R.  So if we want to 

11           reach real pay equity, professionalize the 

12           necessary work of a CCR&R, it needs to be 

13           compensated.  

14                  In this year's Executive Budget 

15           proposal it has an increased role for CCR&Rs.  

16           If this is envisioned as a navigator role, we 

17           need to fund this so it can be done in a 

18           systematic, cohesive way.  

19                  We are also a member of the Empire 

20           State Campaign for Childcare, so we are in 

21           favor of Child Care for All by 2025.  

22                  So we thank you for the opportunity to 

23           provide comments today.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.


 1                  Now, The Children's Agenda.

 2                  MR. NABOZNY:  Hi.  Thank you.  My name 

 3           is Pete Nabozny.  I'm director of policy at 

 4           The Children's Agenda, which is located in 

 5           Rochester, New York.  

 6                  We just turned 18 this year, so we are 

 7           a bit younger than Schuyler, but -- and as a, 

 8           I guess, a young adult, we're not quite ready 

 9           to do it all on our own, so it's good to see 

10           so many friendly faces around this panel.  

11                  We're here also in support of the 

12           Empire State Campaign for Childcare's budget 

13           recommendation of $5 billion this year.  

14           That's what's needed to really transform the 

15           childcare system in New York, not just to 

16           help us recover from the pandemic but to 

17           build a better childcare system for families 

18           of children throughout this state.  

19                  I'm just going to touch on a couple of 

20           things quickly.  First of all, we have a real 

21           lack of high-quality childcare throughout the 

22           state.  The recent request for applications 

23           from OCFS revealed that 62 percent of census 

24           tracts in the state qualify as childcare 


 1           deserts.  The pandemic only made things 

 2           worse.  

 3                  Across this pandemic we have lost 

 4           about 10,000 regulated slots across the 

 5           state.  Those losses are primarily found in 

 6           Family and Group Family Child Care settings, 

 7           which are generally more affordable for a lot 

 8           of families.  They're also more likely to be 

 9           located in our state's urban areas, and are 

10           much more likely to be owned by women and 

11           women of color than childcare centers.  

12                  And since it is important to kind of 

13           call out the disparate impact of those losses 

14           over the course of the year, childcare is 

15           also really unaffordable for families.  If a 

16           family is making $75,000 a year and they have 

17           $15,000 in infant childcare costs -- which is 

18           what it costs across the state, higher in 

19           some parts, lower in others -- that is just 

20           impossible for them to afford, given 

21           mortgages, rent payments and other things 

22           like that.  

23                  So a lot of those families that are 

24           just above our income threshholds really 


 1           can't participate in that market.  That is 

 2           driving people out.  

 3                  And even among those who do qualify, 

 4           there's very little information available 

 5           about the childcare subsidy system across the 

 6           state.  So many families don't know that they 

 7           qualify.  

 8                  And the way this is navigated is so 

 9           byzantine that people get excluded just 

10           through the bureaucracy.  We need to change 

11           that.  

12                  And finally, childcare workers are 

13           dramatically underpaid.  Where I live in 

14           Rochester, they make at the third percentile 

15           of all the different job types in our region.  

16           So the average childcare worker here makes 

17           about $26,000 a year.  That's about as 

18           low-paying as any job, and that is not 

19           recognizing the incredibly critical work that 

20           they do nurturing and developing young 

21           people.

22                  So what do we need?  We need 

23           $5 billion this year, really, to push on 

24           three major areas.  One is to expand access 


 1           to every New Yorker who seeks childcare.  The 

 2           second piece is to improve worker 

 3           compensation to recognize the importance of 

 4           the work these folks do and to reward that 

 5           through greater support from the state.  And 

 6           third, we need to raise rates so that the 

 7           childcare business is a sustainable business 

 8           model.  And this $5 billion proposal would 

 9           achieve that.  

10                  Thank you.             

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

12                  We move on to All Our Kin.             

13                  MR. MORALES:  Thank you, honorable 

14           Senators, members of the Assembly.  My name 

15           is Steven Morales.  I'm the New York policy 

16           director at All Our Kin.  

17                  All Our Kin is a national nonprofit 

18           organization that trains, supports, and 

19           sustains home-based family childcare 

20           educators, including nearly 300 family 

21           childcare educators in the Bronx.  We're also 

22           proud members of Empire State Campaign for 

23           Childcare.  

24                  And I'm here today to talk to you 


 1           about the need to invest $5 billion in state 

 2           funding in childcare, including licensed 

 3           home-based family childcare in the upcoming 

 4           budget.  

 5                  Parents across the state rely on 

 6           licensed home-based family childcare for 

 7           high-quality, flexible, culturally responsive 

 8           care.  In my written testimony I have 

 9           included statistics about family childcare, 

10           but the need to fund childcare goes beyond 

11           statistics.  So I want to use my time now to 

12           share some stories that I have heard from 

13           family childcare educators which I think 

14           speak to the urgency of making these 

15           investments at the state level.  

16                  First, Beatriz, who owns a group 

17           family childcare program in the Bronx, told 

18           me that there are families in her program who 

19           have either failed to qualify for subsidies 

20           or who have spent months waiting to receive a 

21           voucher.  So Beatriz has several times had to 

22           make the gut-wrenching decision to take money 

23           out of her own pocket in order to provide 

24           free care to these families because she was 


 1           not going to turn away a family who could not 

 2           afford to pay.  

 3                  No educator should have to decide 

 4           between her own livelihood and serving a 

 5           family in her community.  We need to fund 

 6           universal childcare so that no family or 

 7           educator in New York is ever faced with this 

 8           type of decision again.  

 9                  Another educator I have spoken to, 

10           Isaura, she owns and leads Little Giant's 

11           Group Family Day Care in Williamsbridge, and 

12           she talked about, despite having a full 

13           program, that she's unable to pay her staff 

14           the wages they deserve.  

15                  Isaura spoke of staff members who, 

16           despite their love for children, decided to 

17           take jobs in retail or fast food so they 

18           could earn higher wages and benefits.  Isaura 

19           wants to be able to offer healthcare and 

20           retirement benefits to her employees, 

21           including to her own aging mother, who works 

22           in her program, but she simply financially is 

23           unable to do so with the rates that she 

24           currently receives from the state.  


 1                  No childcare educator should have to 

 2           choose between poverty and leaving their 

 3           profession.  Unfortunately, these stories are 

 4           not unique.  This is a crisis that is 

 5           devastating our entire childcare sector and 

 6           threatening our state's economy.  

 7                  We all know the cliche that our budget 

 8           is a reflection of our values, and we cannot 

 9           afford to wait for federal action.  I urge 

10           you to show that New York State values our 

11           youngest children, and the educators who 

12           teach and care for them, by investing 

13           $5 billion in free and available childcare 

14           for every family who wants it, and in raising 

15           compensation for educators so they can 

16           sustain their businesses, receive ample 

17           take-home pay and benefits, and provide 

18           high-quality care for the long term.  

19                  Thank you for the opportunity to share 

20           today.             

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

22                  Next, ECE On The Move.  

23                  MS. JONES:  Thank you for the 

24           opportunity to testify today.  I was going to 


 1           do this rehearsed testimony, but being here 

 2           today I have to say this.  The connection of 

 3           children, seniors, and disability -- it is 

 4           very sad to me.  That we all are in the same 

 5           boat, it is very sad.  

 6                  My name is Gladys Jones, and along 

 7           with my fellow providers I founded ECE On 

 8           The Move three years ago to address the 

 9           system of policy needs of family childcare 

10           providers in New York city.  I am an early 

11           childhood educator in a residential setting 

12           in Staten Island and have worked in this 

13           capacity in my community on behalf of 

14           low-income children and their families for 

15           18 years.  

16                  ECE On The Move is a provider-led and 

17           provider-serving organization that seeks to 

18           address the systemic barriers and challenges 

19           facing family childcare providers.  We have 

20           over 600 provider members in New York City.  

21           In addition to organizing providers and 

22           parents, ECE On The Move supports providers 

23           in understanding system requirements and 

24           interacting with city and state 


 1           childcare-related agencies.  

 2                  My testimony is informed by these 

 3           voices and experiences of the workforce and 

 4           the families who they serve.  The realities 

 5           we face are dire.  Providers are largely 

 6           living in poverty.  The priority of ECE On 

 7           The Move is to ensure that childcare 

 8           providers and the families who rely on their 

 9           services are well-served by public systems, 

10           earn living wages, and prioritize business 

11           and social support services.  

12                  We are in a crisis.  And without 

13           immediate action, many childcare providers 

14           will cease to operate, eliminating services 

15           that working families rely on.  These 

16           services underpin an economy where working 

17           parents can fully participate.  We are far 

18           from that today and face a future with even 

19           less childcare availability.  We will be 

20           extinct.  

21                  This task ahead for New York is to 

22           stabilize this shaky sector while reducing 

23           childcare costs.  I am on the same page as 

24           Empire State Child Care's campaign -- I won't 


 1           quote the -- what we need, but I am here with 

 2           them, and we are in trouble.  

 3                  I'm very emotional.  I thought I was 

 4           going to be happy to be here, but it made me 

 5           sad to hear all this today.  I see -- I give 

 6           up my time to someone else.  

 7                  Thank you.  

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We're happy 

 9           that you're here to be able to share your 

10           experience, of yourself and other providers.  

11                  Next, the New York Association for the 

12           Education of Young Children.  

13                  MS. ALBITZ:  Hi.  Thank you for the 

14           opportunity to testify today.  

15                  My name is Katie Albitz, and I'm the 

16           public policy and advocacy coordinator for 

17           the New York Association for the Education of 

18           Young Children.

19                  As a statewide organization with over 

20           3,000 members in the field of early education 

21           and care, we work on behalf of the essential 

22           workforce that has been the backbone of 

23           New York's economy by supporting all other 

24           essential workers through the course of the 


 1           pandemic.  

 2                  As we hope to demonstrate through the 

 3           summary of our testimony, six months of 

 4           stabilization funds are not enough to correct 

 5           for a dysfunctional childcare system facing 

 6           decades of underfunding and neglect.  We join 

 7           with our coalition partners in the 

 8           Empire State Campaign for Child Care to ask 

 9           for an investment of $5 billion in this 

10           year's budget to put New York on a path, a 

11           clear path, to achieving universal childcare.  

12                  I cannot emphasize enough that the 

13           $75 million proposed in the Governor's budget 

14           is not sufficient to improve the wages of 

15           childcare providers in our state.  Yesterday 

16           the Washington, D.C., city council voted to 

17           allocate $75 million to improve the wages of 

18           the zero-to-two workforce in a city of 

19           700,000.  This is the same amount the 

20           Governor has allocated for a state of 

21           19 million.  

22                  The reality of low pay as a childcare 

23           provider is something I speak to from 

24           experience.  As a toddler teacher I earn 


 1           minimum wage while playing, soothing tears, 

 2           changing diapers, cleaning, and developing 

 3           lesson plans with 10 children under two and a 

 4           half years old.  

 5                  I relied on my father's health 

 6           insurance and then on Medicaid.  I could not 

 7           afford a car or my student loans.  There is 

 8           no path to a living wage.  Every day people 

 9           like me are leaving the work they love 

10           because they have no way to make ends meet.  

11           Every year that goes by without meaningful 

12           investment in a commitment to wholly 

13           transforming our system is one that weakens 

14           what is left of New York's childcare and 

15           takes advantage of the dedication of early 

16           childhood educators.  

17                  For the remainder of my time, I will 

18           share the words of childcare providers who 

19           are unable to be here today because they are 

20           currently taking care of children right now 

21           across our state.  

22                  Tiffany Diaz, from the Bronx, shared 

23           with us that stabilization grants, which are 

24           now over, meant "survival of my program, 


 1           survival of the childcare industry, survival 

 2           for my staff, survival for my family."  

 3                  An anonymous family childcare provider 

 4           told us that stabilization funds meant she 

 5           won't become homeless.  

 6                  A provider in Croton-on-Hudson told me 

 7           that stabilization funds mean that she can 

 8           try to offer her staff an ethical wage for 

 9           the first time ever.  Her staff had to go to 

10           food pantries during the pandemic.  

11                  Danielle Wright, a director in Auburn, 

12           shared that her local McDonald's is starting 

13           staffs at $18.50 an hour, and they can't 

14           compete.  

15                  A family childcare provider told us 

16           that she is able to pay down her debt with 

17           stabilization funds because many providers 

18           kept their programs afloat by using personal 

19           debt and the stabilization allowed them to 

20           pay that debt back.  Now she can focus on 

21           children and not that debt.  

22                  Another family childcare provider 

23           shared with us that these funds give her hope 

24           that they will be okay and that they will 


 1           survive this economic tragedy, but now those 

 2           stabilization funds are over.

 3                  What happens next is even more 

 4           important, and it is absolutely essential 

 5           that the State Legislature invest $5 billion 

 6           this year.  

 7                  Thank you.             

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 9                  The final presenter on this panel, 

10           Day Care Council of New York.             

11                  MR. BRENDER:  Good afternoon.  Thank 

12           you so much for the opportunity to testify, 

13           and for all of your work both listening to 

14           folks and questioning the commissioners and 

15           really fighting for childcare.  

16                  My name is Gregory Brender.  I'm the 

17           director of public policy at the Day Care 

18           Council of New York.  We are the membership 

19           organization of early childhood providers in 

20           New York City.  Our member organizations 

21           provide services in all five boroughs through 

22           a variety of means, many of them with 

23           contracts with the New York City Department 

24           of Education -- which, as you know, are 


 1           partially state-funded.  

 2                  We are, as my other fellow panelists 

 3           all said, part of the Empire State Campaign 

 4           for Child Care.  As providers of early 

 5           childhood education, Day Care Council members 

 6           engage families at the crucial earliest 

 7           stages of children's development.  The first 

 8           years of a child's life are the only 

 9           opportunity to provide them with the 

10           social-emotional development and early skills 

11           development that supports them throughout 

12           their education and throughout their lives.  

13                  As such, Day Care Council and its 

14           network of community early childhood 

15           educators have long recognized that access to 

16           strong and stable early childhood education 

17           programs have profound effects on their later 

18           learning and academic achievement.  

19                  Moreover, high-quality childcare is 

20           indisputably essential for New York's 

21           economy.  As Governor Hochul has stated, 

22           childcare is the backbone of our economy.  

23           And this transformative investment is 

24           critical to building our economic recovery.  


 1           Childcare makes it possible for working 

 2           parents to return to work, keeping businesses 

 3           open, fueling the economy's growth and the 

 4           state's recovery.  

 5                  We believe that New York leaders can 

 6           and must include transformational proposals 

 7           and funding in this year's enacted budget.  

 8           Now is the time for New York to commit to 

 9           $5 billion to move towards universal 

10           childcare within four years.  

11                  There are three main components of the 

12           Empire State Campaign for Child Care's budget 

13           ask that we support.  The first is that 

14           New York provides universal guaranteed access 

15           to childcare of a family's choice for all 

16           children, regardless of parental work status 

17           or income or immigration status, in Year 1.  

18                  That New York immediately raises 

19           workforce wages by extending stabilization 

20           grants and creating an early childhood 

21           workforce compensation fund until payment 

22           rates have increased.  

23                  And that New York transitions to a 

24           payment rate model that is based on a cost 


 1           estimation model that accounts for geography, 

 2           quality, and assumes all childcare staff are 

 3           paid in parity with elementary school 

 4           teachers.  

 5                  The Day Care Council of New York and 

 6           our partners in the Empire State Campaign for 

 7           Child Care strongly support the Universal 

 8           Child Care Act from Senator Brisport and 

 9           Assemblymember Hevesi, S7595/A8623, which is 

10           built around the core principles for 

11           universal childcare adopted by ESCC:  No 

12           means testing; truly universal access, 

13           including for immigrant families, children 

14           with disabilities, children from underserved 

15           communities; without barriers such as work 

16           and other activity requirements; care for 

17           children throughout the continuum, birth 

18           through 13; and strong work support.  

19                  We are thrilled that so many of 

20           New York's legislative leaders are advancing 

21           and supporting visionary proposals to 

22           dramatically expand access to childcare in 

23           New York.  We believe that the Universal 

24           Child Care Act could be further enhanced with 


 1           components of the Early Learning Child Care 

 2           Act from Senator Ramos and Assemblymember 

 3           Clark, such as including mandates and setting 

 4           up minimum salaries for early childhood 

 5           educators, and a strong role for CCR&Rs and 

 6           other nonprofits to bring together providers.

 7                  This year's enacted budget must 

 8           include a $5 billion investment in childcare 

 9           to put New York on a short path to universal 

10           childcare.  

11                  Thank you so much for the opportunity 

12           to testify, and sorry that it looks like I 

13           ran over.  Thanks.             

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  That's fine.  I 

15           want to thank all the panelists.  

16                  Now we will go to some of our 

17           colleagues for questions, three minutes each.  

18                  Assemblyman Hevesi first.

19                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  Thank you, 

20           Madam Chair, and thank you to that panel.  

21           You guys -- let me just -- I'm so grateful to 

22           you.  

23                  Let me just tell you what I heard so I 

24           can compare notes with my colleagues as we go 


 1           into this budget negotiation.  That there are 

 2           low wages; that the workforce is fractured 

 3           and overwhelmed; that the stabilization 

 4           grants are running out; that the contracts 

 5           were flat-funded for years; that there's 

 6           sporadic funding; that there's no pay equity; 

 7           that there's a lack of high-quality care; 

 8           that 62 percent of the tracts are deserts; 

 9           that we've lost 10,000 regulated slots in 

10           family settings in urban areas that are 

11           mostly owned by women of color; that families 

12           don't know if they qualify; dramatically 

13           underpaid, people have to decide between 

14           their livelihood and caring; families fail to 

15           qualify or months waiting to receive a 

16           voucher; unable to pay staff wages; we're 

17           losing people to retail and fast food; we 

18           have workforces with no healthcare; we don't 

19           have healthcare benefits or any other 

20           benefits for the mother who is in the 

21           program; we have to choose between poverty 

22           and their profession; we have dire realities; 

23           we have providers living in poverty; we're in 

24           a crisis, many will cease to exist; we will 


 1           be extinct; we are in trouble; working 

 2           parents can't work; we have dysfunction, 

 3           decades of underfunding and neglect.  

 4                  If we don't act, we're going to weaken 

 5           what is left of childcare providers.  We have 

 6           staff at food pantries who are on poverty 

 7           wages.  We have personal debt to pay down, 

 8           and we use personal debt to stay open.  

 9           There's no path to a living wage.  The 

10           stabilization grants meant someone couldn't 

11           become homeless.  The reality of low pay is 

12           brutal -- I'm adding brutal.  And minimum 

13           wage while handling 10 kids.  

14                  That's pretty much what I've heard and 

15           what I would like my colleagues to focus on 

16           as we go into budget negotiations.

17                  Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you 

18           to my colleagues on the panel.             

19                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

20                  To Senator Krueger.             

21                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Chair Hevesi can 

22           take my notes for me whenever he wishes.  

23           Thank you very much, Chair.  

24                  And I am going to turn it over to our 


 1           chair, Jabari Brisport.             

 2                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you, 

 3           Madam Chair.  And hopefully maybe we can get 

 4           another -- we can get Andy's extra minute for 

 5           the panelists.  

 6                  So I have three questions.  My heart 

 7           is actually breaking from your testimonies, 

 8           but I wanted to get to Crystal first, and 

 9           your testimony.  

10                  You said with monthly payments set to 

11           end for most providers in early 2022, the 

12           need for a new source of sustained funding to 

13           meet the true costs of providing high-quality 

14           childcare is urgent.  My question to you is, 

15           does the Executive Budget seem sufficient to 

16           you, or does it worry you?  

17                  Second, to Pete, the Executive Budget 

18           predicts it can add approximately 

19           100,000 children to be eligible for childcare 

20           by increasing the criteria from 200 percent 

21           of the FPL to 225 percent.  Do you think 

22           those estimates are accurate or not, and why?  

23                  And third, Gladys, I'm just curious; 

24           if New York State continues on its current 


 1           path, what does that mean for you and for the 

 2           people you know who work as childcare 

 3           workers?  

 4                  Thank you.             

 5                  MS. CHARLES:  Thanks.  So the 

 6           Executive Budget investment in childcare is 

 7           nowhere near enough for what's needed to help 

 8           stabilize the sector and support the 

 9           workforce and the other pillars, such as the 

10           family subsidies.  

11                  Each section of people who are part of 

12           the childcare sector -- the families, the 

13           workforce, and the employees -- are all 

14           struggling right now, especially during the 

15           pandemic.  And the investment from the 

16           Executive Budget is only a small piece of 

17           what is actually needed.  

18                  As my colleagues mentioned, you know, 

19           $5 billion is much closer to what is needed 

20           to help this sector move forward.  Thank you.             

21                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you.

22                  Pete?

23                  MR. NABOZNY:  Yes, so the Executive 

24           Budget included the mention that it would 


 1           cover 100,000 new children.  That would 

 2           assume that all 100,000 of these children 

 3           would be enrolled in the childcare slots, and 

 4           we know that is not possible under state law 

 5           today.  

 6                  For example, any household where all 

 7           parents are not in the workforce, if one 

 8           parent stays home, that family is not 

 9           eligible.  That is about a quarter of that 

10           100,000 families right there.  

11                  You have other families who their 

12           children are enrolled in Head Start, families 

13           that choose to have that child with grandma 

14           or grandpa, or a variety of other factors -- 

15           people who work overnights and they kind of 

16           trade off the childcare.  

17                  So no, it wouldn't cover anywhere 

18           close to that number.  The number would be 

19           much closer to 25,000 to 30,000 children at 

20           most.  

21                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you.  

22                  Gladys?

23                  MS. JONES:  I'm trying to remember 

24           what you asked me.  I do know.  


 1                  What would it mean?  I mean, it's hard 

 2           for me to even answer that at times because 

 3           the nation is in a crisis.  You see what's 

 4           happening, everyone sees what's happening.  

 5           And so I will answer that.  We will no longer 

 6           be here, especially in New York City.  This 

 7           is one of the -- family childcare is one of 

 8           the most used modalities of care, in New York 

 9           City, anyway.  

10                  And also I need to have a goal, and 

11           what this taught me is that I need to stand 

12           up and look for a goal.  And I think right 

13           now the only thing that is here for us is 

14           universal childcare.  

15                  I have to have something.  I have to 

16           have hope, I have to have something.  And I 

17           believe that is our hope, to have universal 

18           childcare, so I won't have to be here feeling 

19           like I have to be begging to survive.  

20                  But it's not for me, it's for my 

21           children, for my grandchildren.  I want them 

22           to be in a system that is going to work.  So 

23           I hope we can come together and listen, 

24           because it's really bad.  The economy is 


 1           going to fail, as we know.  And so y'all 

 2           know, y'all are policy people.  You know.             

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 4                  We're going to go to Assemblywoman 

 5           Clark now, three minutes.             

 6                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN CLARK:  Hello.  Thank 

 7           you all for presenting today.  I'm not quite 

 8           sure -- I have a couple of questions, so I 

 9           guess a few people could answer.  

10                  But I just want to triple emphasize, 

11           Gladys, what you said about listening to both 

12           the crisis we have here in childcare but even 

13           with our seniors and older Americans and our 

14           New Yorkers living with disabilities.  Our 

15           care economy is in the biggest crisis we've 

16           ever seen, and it is the fundamental block to 

17           what we all care about every single day and 

18           what keeps our economy moving, what keeps our 

19           families moving, what keeps everything 

20           moving.  

21                  And if we don't do something, this is 

22           just going to crumble.  And it is going to be 

23           so devastating.  So you are so correct, 

24           unfortunately.  


 1                  What I also heard was that 

 2           stabilization grants were such a success, but 

 3           they are running out or have run out already.  

 4           And yet even though they were successful, we 

 5           still had 2,000 providers close their doors 

 6           statewide, as we heard from the commissioner 

 7           this morning.  So imagine what's going to 

 8           happen now.  So we know that this is an 

 9           equation that doesn't work.  

10                  One of the questions I have, first and 

11           foremost, is -- maybe Pete, you could answer, 

12           or the Schuyler Center -- is we can't fix one 

13           without the other.  We can't get more people 

14           eligible for subsidies on a subsidy that 

15           doesn't pay our providers enough nor pays our 

16           workforce enough.  So we have to fix 

17           everything at once.  

18                  So maybe you could just emphasize why 

19           it's so critical that this huge investment of 

20           money -- and we know the federal dollars are 

21           not enough, even if they come back in in 

22           Build Back Better.  So maybe touch on that.  

23                  And then, second, to our home-based 

24           providers, I'd love to hear your thoughts 


 1           about, as we talk about UPK expansion and EPK 

 2           expansion, we can't close our home provider 

 3           doors either.  That is a choice families 

 4           want.  So how can we make sure that that fits 

 5           into whatever we create as universal 

 6           childcare to say that there's options beyond 

 7           just a school-based UPK program?  

 8                  Because in upstate, transportation, 

 9           work times, all these different things don't 

10           always fit.  Not to mention what someone here 

11           earlier suggested, was that families choose 

12           home-based providers because of -- whether 

13           it's a cultural connection or just a desire 

14           to have a smaller place, or something in 

15           their neighborhood.  

16                  So those are my two questions.  

17                  MR. NABOZNY:  Sure.  So I'll jump in 

18           first.  

19                  So I think the -- I mean, you hit the 

20           nail on the head.  You have to do it at the 

21           same time.  You have to expand access, ensure 

22           that more families or all families can get 

23           support affording care, and you need to raise 

24           rates, move away from the market-rate-based 


 1           methodology, set it at some kind of true cost 

 2           of care so that you can raise worker pay 

 3           without putting that cost on families who 

 4           aren't covered under the system.  

 5                  And that's really the challenge in 

 6           childcare, is that you can't do one without 

 7           the other.  We'd all love to see childcare 

 8           workers get paid a lot more.  I certainly 

 9           would for my children's workers.  But it's 

10           hard to place that cost on families that are 

11           having a hard time affording care.  So you 

12           have to cover everyone and raise the pay at 

13           the same time.  

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

15                  I think we'll -- so we'll go to the 

16           Senate.             

17                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

18                  Senator George Borrello.             

19                  SENATOR BORRELLO:  Thank you, 

20           Madam Chair, appreciate it.  

21                  Let me just start off quickly by 

22           saying that, you know, childcare is something 

23           that I've been very supportive of, I've 

24           worked with Assemblyman Hevesi and Senator 


 1           Brisport.  You know, I actually sit on the 

 2           board of a not-for-profit childcare center 

 3           myself, and I know how difficult it is.  

 4                  And as a business owner, I know how 

 5           challenging it is for people to just want to 

 6           have the dignity of having a job but not 

 7           being able to have childcare.  And not even 

 8           necessarily even affording childcare.  We 

 9           live in childcare deserts, particularly in 

10           rural parts of upstate New York.  

11                  So I just want to ask, I guess, a 

12           general question to Jessica Klos Shapiro and 

13           anyone else who wants to jump in.  You know, 

14           what do you need from us in order to support 

15           those providers?  And also how do we bridge 

16           the gap between businesses that need that 

17           childcare for their employees and the 

18           providers, you know, that can hopefully be 

19           there to support them?  

20                  MS. KLOS SHAPIRO:  Okay, Senator.

21                  So I think one of the things we've 

22           seen with the stabilization grant is that we 

23           are working with them right now to try to use 

24           the funding in a planful way to support them, 


 1           where we're doing some trainingS to make sure 

 2           that this influx sustains them.  

 3                  So I think with additional dollars we 

 4           definitely could add positions to the CCR&Rs 

 5           where we could have a business support 

 6           specialist and have ongoing supports and 

 7           training where we could really train 

 8           childcare providers to actually run their 

 9           small businesses as businesses.  

10                  I think one of the things is people go 

11           into childcare because they want to be 

12           nurturers and educators of children, not 

13           because they're businesspeople.  And I think 

14           that that is something that we as CCR&Rs can 

15           provide if we are adequately funded to do so.             

16                  SENATOR BORRELLO:  First of all, I 

17           will tell you that is a huge issue.  Just 

18           because you are good at something doesn't 

19           mean you are good at running the business, 

20           and that is an issue in the support there.  

21                  We talked a little bit about the tax 

22           credits.  And I think we all agree that we 

23           are concerned about the questionable return 

24           on those investments.  What about the idea of 


 1           a tax credit for businesses that would look 

 2           to locate a childcare center within their 

 3           facility or fund a facility?            

 4                  MS. KLOS SHAPIRO:  I think that's 

 5           definitely a good idea within their facility, 

 6           but I think it's also looking within the 

 7           community.  Because I think there is that 

 8           issue of choice.  

 9                  I think not all parents want to 

10           necessarily put their child in a center-based 

11           facility within a business.  So it's looking 

12           at a mix.  It's looking at locating within a 

13           community, maybe close to the business.  

14           It's -- so I think right now, with this 

15           deserts funding, we're really going to see 

16           developing the communities in ways where -- a 

17           credit to possibly the sustainability of the 

18           community, in a sense, where we look to see 

19           if the childcare is on a bus line, if it's 

20           accessible in a way.  

21                  So just the locations are really the 

22           most important, whether it's in the business 

23           but it's also somewhere that's easily 

24           accessible for parents.             


 1                  SENATOR BORRELLO:  Thank you.  

 2                  And just quickly, I'm going to say, 

 3           you know, this is clearly not a partisan 

 4           issue, and I think we've got a good -- wide 

 5           bipartisan support.  So we're all here to 

 6           help.  Thank you.  

 7                  MS. KLOS SHAPIRO:  Thank you, Senator.  

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 9                  We go to Assemblyman Bronson.  

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you, 

11           Chair.  And thank you, panelists.  Very 

12           powerful testimony today.  

13                  I'm going to pose my questions to 

14           The Children's Agenda and the Schuyler Center 

15           and first thank each of you for being lead 

16           agencies or organizations fighting for the 

17           Child Poverty Reduction Act.  And I noticed 

18           in the written testimony that you both 

19           touched on it.  

20                  Schuyler Center, my question to you is 

21           if you could expand a little bit on lessons 

22           learned from the Great Recession and the 

23           really devastating impact on our families 

24           after that, and what we should be doing as we 


 1           move forward, not only in this budget or 

 2           forward.  And then to Pete at The Children's 

 3           Agenda, you too, if you could just talk about 

 4           the childcare component and how that will 

 5           help us move forward on reducing child 

 6           poverty in the state.

 7                  So Schuyler first, if you would.             

 8                  MS. CHARLES:  Yes, definitely.  

 9                  So after the Great Recession it took 

10           approximately 10 years for the poverty rates 

11           to recover to pre-Great Recession levels.  

12           And, you know, since the pandemic we've seen 

13           a similar impact on poverty.  Some of that 

14           has been alleviated because of the different 

15           stimulus packages that have come in from the 

16           federal government.  

17                  But for New York State specifically, 

18           it shouldn't take us 10 years to recover from 

19           a temporary event.  And the Child Poverty 

20           Reduction Act is something that helps us be 

21           more intentional, and it sets that target for 

22           us to reach for.  And it takes all of us to 

23           implement policies that will reduce the 

24           poverty rate in New York State.             


 1                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you,  

 2           Crystal.  

 3                  And Pete, a little bit about childcare 

 4           and how that will help us reduce child 

 5           poverty here in New York State.             

 6                  MR. NABOZNY:  Yes, thank you, 

 7           Assemblymember.  

 8                  So in the -- I think it was 2012, 

 9           2013, there was a study done at the federal 

10           level, I think by the Urban Institute, that 

11           looked at the -- there's a really strong -- 

12           to cut to the chase, there's a really strong 

13           relationship between increases in 

14           affordability -- for every 10 percent that 

15           childcare becomes more affordable, a 

16           10 percent reduction in the cost to 

17           families -- and a corresponding increase in 

18           maternal employment.  

19                  And we know that most child poverty in 

20           New York State is related to -- well, a lot 

21           of it is single moms with young children.  

22           And so getting childcare to be more 

23           affordable for families has a direct impact 

24           on reducing child poverty, and it has to be 


 1           part of any plan that we put together in the 

 2           future to cut child poverty in half in 

 3           10 years.             

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you.  And 

 5           thank you to all the panelists for the good 

 6           work you are doing out there in our 

 7           neighborhoods.             

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 9                  Seeing no further Senators, I am going 

10           to go to Assemblywoman Lunsford. 

11                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN LUNSFORD:  Thank you 

12           very much to all the panelists, especially 

13           those of you who are providing direct care.  

14           We see you and we hear you, and we are 

15           fighting to make things better.  

16                  I am going to direct my questions also 

17           to The Children's Agenda, which is getting a 

18           lot of heat because of how much Monroe County 

19           is represented here on the Children and 

20           Families Committee.  But I would like to talk 

21           a little about the conflict between expanding 

22           universal pre-K and our childcare centers.  

23                  There is obviously a big push to 

24           ensure that as many kids get access to pre-K 


 1           as possible, but that is causing a financial 

 2           issue in our daycares.  If you could speak to 

 3           that a little bit, and if you have any 

 4           suggestions for how to rectify some of that 

 5           conflict.  

 6                  I'm going to start with Pete, and then 

 7           people can move out from there if they have 

 8           other things to say.  

 9                  MR. NABOZNY:  Sure, yeah.  I mean, I 

10           think that's one of the key issues that has 

11           driven a lot of the business challenges that 

12           childcare providers have faced over the past 

13           decade, is the fact that childcare, sort of, 

14           you know, the -- it makes its money, from a 

15           business sense, on slightly older children 

16           and it loses it on younger children.  

17                  So if the older children are in a UPK 

18           classroom where, you know, it's free to that 

19           family, it makes it very hard for a childcare 

20           provider to charge parents what it would cost 

21           to actually provide the infant and toddler 

22           care.  As well as those kids who are in pre-K 

23           are not in pre-K all the time.  That's 

24           180 days a year, and they still need care at 


 1           other times -- evenings, after school, school 

 2           breaks, things like that.  

 3                  So we've got to -- there's definitely 

 4           some things that we can do.  Part of it is 

 5           more public investment into the childcare 

 6           sector, treating it more like how we treat 

 7           education, with appropriate funding.  

 8                  There's also things -- school 

 9           districts are required to allocate 10 percent 

10           of their UPK slots to community-based 

11           partners.  You could increase that to really 

12           shore up these community-based organizations, 

13           these childcare centers.  

14                  You could also help family childcare 

15           providers become certified as UPK providers, 

16           which other states like Maryland have done, 

17           to sort of bring -- some families want their 

18           pre-K experience in that kind of setting.  

19           And so we should recognize and honor that and 

20           help providers get to that point.  

21                  So there's a lot of other things that 

22           could be done, but it does fundamentally come 

23           down to some policy changes, but a lot of it 

24           is funding.  


 1                  And I'll turn it over to whichever one 

 2           of my panelist colleagues wants to add to 

 3           that.

 4                  MR. MORALES:  Can I just add in on 

 5           that from the family childcare perspective?  

 6                  So, one, Pete 100 percent is right.  

 7           We need to find ways to meaningfully let 

 8           family childcare participate in all of the 

 9           public systems.  

10                  I also just want to mention, you know, 

11           we have a tendency in the policy world to be 

12           talking about early childhood and pre-K as 

13           separate things, when in reality that is a 

14           continuum.  So even the setup of the system 

15           right now is such that, you know, there is no 

16           switch that goes off at 4 years old that 

17           means a child now needs care.  They need it 

18           throughout that entire time.  So we need to 

19           be supporting it throughout that entire time.             

20                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN LUNSFORD:  Thank you 

21           very much.             

22                  MS. JONES:  Can I say something real 

23           quick?

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.


 1                  PANELIST:  You're muted, Gladys.

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.  Yeah.  

 3           Quickly, we still have another member.  Yes.  

 4                  MS. JONES:  You need to let the 

 5           workforce speak for themselves and also 

 6           families speak for themselves.  Let us talk.             

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 8                  We have another Assembly -- still 

 9           no -- right, no one else from the Senate.  We 

10           have another Assemblymember, Assemblyman 

11           Mamdani.             

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Thank you so 

13           much, Chair Weinstein.  

14                  Thank you everyone for your testimony.  

15           I was just wondering -- and this is open to 

16           anyone on the panel -- if you can speak to 

17           how means testing, like income eligibility or 

18           work requirements, prevents families from 

19           getting childcare.  Thank you.

20                  (Pause.)           

21                  MR. MORALES:  Gladys, you don't have 

22           any stories?            

23                  MS. ALBITZ:  I'm happy to take it.  

24                  So means testing is fundamentally 


 1           something that makes it difficult both for 

 2           low-income families and every family.  It is 

 3           harder to access the childcare they need when 

 4           we have means testing because, first of all, 

 5           that adds many layers of bureaucracy.  Second 

 6           of all, when families do not speak English as 

 7           their first language, that adds an additional 

 8           barrier.  

 9                  So having to constantly prove that 

10           you're working, having to prove that your 

11           income is, you know, little enough but not 

12           too much, making sure that, you know, we have 

13           12-month eligibility -- but what happens 

14           after that?  

15                  Making sure that all children have 

16           access to the early childhood education and 

17           care that they deserve in high-quality 

18           settings -- middle-class families cannot 

19           afford this if we're actually paying 

20           childcare providers what they deserve.  So 

21           means testing ends up harming all of us.             

22                  MR. BRENDER:  And I would add the 

23           combination of both means testing and work 

24           requirements makes approving a family for 


 1           childcare a herculean task both for -- I'm in 

 2           New York City, so for the city -- but for the 

 3           counties and then for individual providers.  

 4           And it really leads to families waiting way 

 5           too long.  

 6                  And these are families who are looking 

 7           to get childcare to go to work.  These are 

 8           families who want to get their children 

 9           educated and not miss months of education 

10           because there's a backlog at a local social 

11           service district.  

12                  So you probably gathered we all have 

13           moral reasons that we want to see means 

14           testing done away with.  Early childhood 

15           should be a right.  But even just 

16           implementing it becomes an incredible problem 

17           for families and for providers.             

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  So would it be 

19           correct to say, then, that the answer here is 

20           not the expansion of eligibility to a certain 

21           percentage of the federal poverty line, but 

22           rather the implementation of a universal 

23           childcare system?

24                  MR. BRENDER:  Yes.             


 1                  MS. ALBITZ:  Yes.  Yes.             

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN MAMDANI:  Okay.  Thank you 

 3           so much.  I just wanted to clarify that.

 4                  Thank you for your time, and thank you 

 5           for your work.             

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7                  We have no further questioners.  I 

 8           want to just thank all of you for the work 

 9           you are doing on behalf of families in 

10           New York State.  

11                  And at this point we will call the 

12           next panel.  This is Panel C.  And we have 

13           New York Statewide Senior Action Council, 

14           Gail Myers, deputy directer; Project 

15           Guardianship, Kimberly George, president and 

16           CEO; LiveOn New York, Briana Paden-Williams, 

17           communications and policy associate; 

18           Supportive Housing Network, Laura Mascuch, 

19           executive director; Association on Aging in 

20           New York, Rebecca Preve, executive director; 

21           and SAGE-Advocacy and Services for LGBTQ+ 

22           Elders, MJ Okma, senior manager for advocacy 

23           and government relations.

24                  So if people can go in that order, 


 1           starting with our friend Gail.             

 2                  MS. MYERS:  Thanks for having me.  And 

 3           I appreciate -- so much to say in so little 

 4           time.  

 5                  Our testimony will focus on 

 6           transparency and accountability and improving 

 7           benefits, expansion of programs.  And I will 

 8           start out with our contracts that are funded 

 9           by the state.  

10                  New York StateWide Senior Action 

11           Council learns about problems in the aging 

12           and healthcare delivery system from two 

13           contracts, our help lines that we operate 

14           through the New York State Office for Aging 

15           budget funding that you put into the Aid for 

16           Localities budget -- thank you.  

17                  The first is our Patients' Rights 

18           Hotline and Advocacy Project.  We've run this 

19           since 1987.  And we educate and empower 

20           patients to uphold their healthcare consumer 

21           rights.  As you can be sure, we've spent a 

22           lot of time on nursing home visitation in the 

23           past year and nursing home quality of care, 

24           among other things.  


 1                  I call your attention to page 3 in our 

 2           testimony, which gives you a history of our 

 3           budget funding.  The bottom line is the 

 4           Executive has funded this at 31,500.  The 

 5           Legislature has added 200,000 as a 

 6           legislative appropriation in the past.  We 

 7           need you to do that again, otherwise our 

 8           services are at very big risk for what is a 

 9           vital program to help people.  

10                  The second contract that we have is 

11           the Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program.  

12           And we have had flat funding in the 

13           Governor's budget, so we're starting out with 

14           the same level as last year.  We have had 

15           increased need, and there is increased need 

16           to help people who are eligible for services 

17           to get enrolled.  So we'd like to ask you to 

18           add another $200,000 as a legislative add to 

19           that.  We want to increase our capacity to 

20           reach more underserved and hard-to-reach 

21           older residents and to get them enrolled.  

22                  I just want to also note that while we 

23           are subcontractors of the New York State 

24           Office for Aging -- or a contractor -- we 


 1           have not been earmarked for any human 

 2           services agency COLA, and so we're coming to 

 3           you to ask you for some additional support.  

 4                  In focusing on the services offered by 

 5           the Office for Aging, I just want to stress 

 6           that there -- and when we talk about it, 

 7           there's a difference between unmet need and 

 8           waiting lists.  And we ask you to really 

 9           examine both and to get to the existing 

10           barriers to EISEP home care services.  

11                  Regarding home care, we support the 

12           Fair Pay for Home Care Act.  Regarding the 

13           Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, we'd like 

14           to see an increase in the budget to improve 

15           the staffing but tie that to a report that 

16           shows how the staffing was increased.  

17                  We are advocating for improvements to 

18           the EPIC program that would also allow people 

19           under the age of 65 to use the benefit and to 

20           remove the onerous new EPIC application.  

21           Thgere's a bill, S4603/A5422, that we bring 

22           to your attention.  

23                  We are asking for an expansion of the 

24           Medicare Savings Program.  Right now it's up 


 1           to 135 percent of the federal poverty level.  

 2           We'd like to see that go up to 200 percent 

 3           and get more people benefits, including a 

 4           federally funded benefit for Part D extra 

 5           help.  

 6                  And then the last is we salute the 

 7           Governor for including the Medicaid expansion 

 8           in her budget so that seniors and persons 

 9           with disabilities are not restricted to a 

10           lower level of income eligibility.  And she 

11           removes the asset test as well.  That's a 

12           good thing.  We'd ask you to address what 

13           could be a devastating window between now and 

14           January 1st when her bill, should you accept 

15           it, goes into effect.  And that's in Part N.  

16                  Thank you.  

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

18                  Now we go to Early Care & Learning 

19           Council.  (Pause.)  I'm sorry, Kimberly 

20           George, Project Guardianship?  

21                  There you are.  Okay.  

22                  MS. GEORGE:  Hi, yes.  Sorry.  You 

23           said a different name, so I was waiting.  

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.


 1                  MS. GEORGE:  Hi.  Thank you, 

 2           Chair Krueger, Chair Weinstein, and all of 

 3           the honorable members of the Legislature for 

 4           hearing from me today.  I am Kimberly George, 

 5           president of Project Guardianship, which was 

 6           founded by the Vera Institute of Justice 

 7           17 years ago.  

 8                  As we are all well aware, our 

 9           population is aging and we do not have enough 

10           systems in place that treat older adults as 

11           valuable members of our society.  Add to that 

12           the fact that older adults are facing greater 

13           poverty in retirement than previous 

14           generations, and older adults with 

15           disabilities and cognitive disorders, such as 

16           Alzheimer's and dementia, are living longer.  

17                  Unfortunately, there is a growing 

18           subset of adults who are poor, alone -- which 

19           means they have no one to be their power of 

20           attorney or healthcare proxy -- who need help 

21           making decisions in managing their affairs.  

22           For this population, guardianship is 

23           necessary to prevent neglect and abuse and to 

24           provide the dignity that people deserve at 


 1           every stage of their life.  

 2                  I must distinguish for you between two 

 3           types of guardianship in New York.  There are 

 4           two statutes.  One, Article 17-A, is for 

 5           children with intellectual and developmental 

 6           disabilities aging out of parental control.  

 7           This is intended to allow family members to 

 8           make decisions for that person after the age 

 9           of 18.  

10                  What I am focusing on is Article 81 

11           guardianship, which is for adults who have 

12           had an event or circumstances in their life 

13           that makes it so they can no longer -- they 

14           no longer have the ability to take care of 

15           every aspect of their life.  Under Article 

16           81, the burden of proof that a person needs a 

17           guardian is much higher than 17-A.  The 

18           guardianship also must be the tool of last 

19           resort, and the powers of the guardian must 

20           specifically be tailored to the person's 

21           needs for support.  

22                  New York's current Article 81 system 

23           includes a patchwork approach to who will 

24           serve as guardian.  There are family and 


 1           friends, often referred to as lay guardians.  

 2           And when there is no family or friend to 

 3           serve as private guardian, usually an 

 4           attorney can be paid out of the person's 

 5           resources.  So if a person has no family or 

 6           friends that are able to do the job, and no 

 7           money to pay a private guardian, it can be 

 8           difficult to find a qualified guardian.  This 

 9           is especially true if the person's case is 

10           complex, requiring time and expertise to 

11           untangle issues such as housing instability, 

12           untreated mental illness, and property theft.             

13                  Nonprofit agency providers are trying 

14           hard to fill a big gap, but there is no 

15           designated funding stream in New York State's 

16           budget for these services.  These nonprofits, 

17           including Project Guardianship, struggle to 

18           cobble together the funds needed to meet the 

19           high demand for our services.  

20                  As such, New York leaves unprotected a 

21           population of largely low-income aging adults 

22           and people with disabilities without skilled 

23           guardians.  This population is at risk for 

24           losing their homes, unnecessary 


 1           institutionalizations, repeated 

 2           hospitalizations, increased poverty, 

 3           isolation, and exploitation.  

 4                  Project Guardianship believes that 

 5           $10 million will be needed on an annual basis 

 6           to meet the growing need for nonprofit 

 7           guardianship providers.  Understanding that 

 8           this would be a new program, and given that 

 9           the appointments need to go through a timely 

10           court process, we are requesting $4 million 

11           in this year's budget as a starting point.  

12                  And I thank you for your time and 

13           consideration of our request.  

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So we can go on 

15           to LiveOn New York.             

16                  MS. PADEN-WILLIAMS:  Hello.  My name 

17           is Brianna Paden-Williams.  I am the 

18           communications and policy associate at LiveOn 

19           New York.  Thank you to both the Senate and 

20           the Assembly for the opportunity to testify 

21           today.  

22                  LiveOn New York's members include more 

23           than a hundred community-based nonprofits 

24           that provide core services that allow all 


 1           New Yorkers to thrive in our community as we 

 2           all age.  

 3                  Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the 

 4           human services sector has stepped up to 

 5           ensure that the most vulnerable New Yorkers, 

 6           including older adults, have access to 

 7           critical services to aging communities.  For 

 8           over two years, providers confronted a 

 9           pandemic that put older adults at the 

10           greatest risk -- not only to the virus, but 

11           also to the negative health impacts of 

12           extended periods of social isolation while 

13           staying at home to avoid infection.  

14                  In response to these threats, 

15           providers worked to change their service 

16           models virtually overnight, shifting to 

17           reaching clients via phone, setting up Zoom 

18           calls, and really just continuing to be a 

19           resource to older adults throughout New York.

20                  We appreciate the recent aging-related 

21           commitments by Governor Hochul and the 

22           Executive Budget to support the human 

23           services sector in older New Yorkers.  

24           Nonetheless, we also recognize that work 


 1           still needs to be done to better support 

 2           older New Yorkers.  While the older adult 

 3           population continues to be the 

 4           fastest-growing demographic, making up nearly 

 5           16 percent of the state's population, the 

 6           program that supports older New Yorkers 

 7           remains chronically underfunded.  

 8                  Representative of this underfunding, 

 9           the overall state budget grew by 3.1 percent 

10           in the Executive Budget, while the NYSOFA 

11           budget lagged behind overall growth at 

12           1.8 percent, despite the population it serves 

13           making up a larger and larger share of the 

14           overall population.  

15                  To begin to address the inequities 

16           impacting older adults and providers, at 

17           LiveOn New York we recommend the following 

18           budget recommendations:  

19                  We're asking for 14.1 million to 

20           support NYSOFA-funded home-delivered meals.  

21           We've seen throughout the pandemic that there 

22           has been an increased need, an increased 

23           demand for home-delivered meals, with 

24           providers now serving more older adults than 


 1           ever, and thousands of new clients being 

 2           added to the service since March.  

 3                  In addition, we're asking for 

 4           5 million to create a resident advisor 

 5           program in affordable senior housing.  A 

 6           deepening investment in affordable senior 

 7           housing with services is critical in future 

 8           years, not only to improve the quality of 

 9           life of older New Yorkers and to address 

10           rising senior homelessness, but as an overall 

11           cost-saving measure against increased 

12           Medicaid and Medicare spending.  

13                  And so a $5 million investment in 

14           FY '23, totaling 25 million over five years, 

15           will create a new resident advisor program to 

16           ensure older adults can safely age with 

17           access to light-touch, nonmedical services.  

18                  In addition, like everyone else has 

19           mentioned, we're also asking for a 

20           cost-of-living adjustment for all human 

21           service workers.  While we appreciate the 

22           recent investment of the 5 million, we must 

23           ensure that no one is left behind.  So 

24           implementing a COLA across the board that is 


 1           inclusive of all human services will truly 

 2           help achieve pay equity.  

 3                  In addition, to fully fund Fair Pay 

 4           for Home Care in order to establish a base 

 5           wage for home care workers, to create jobs 

 6           for New Yorkers, to support older adults and 

 7           people living with disabilities, and to 

 8           really rebuild our economy by paying home 

 9           care workers a just wage.

10                  Lastly, we're asking for increased 

11           funding to address the waiting lists for 

12           NYSOFA services.  That truly remains a 

13           chronic issue as New York's counties and 

14           nonprofit providers continue to experience 

15           waiting lists for services.  

16                  And so with that, as we look ahead, 

17           LiveOn New York is ready to work with the 

18           state to continue to move the human services 

19           sector forward to really ensure that all 

20           New Yorkers can thrive in community with 

21           access to equitable community-based services.  

22                  Thank you for the opportunity to 

23           testify today.             

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  


 1                  We can go to Supportive Housing 

 2           Network.             

 3                  MS. MASCUCH: Thank you to the Senate 

 4           and Assembly chairs for the opportunity to 

 5           testify today.  

 6                  My name is Laura Mascuch.  I'm the 

 7           executive director of the Supportive Housing 

 8           Network of New York.  We are a statewide 

 9           membership organization of over 

10           200 nonprofits that own and operate up to 

11           55,000 units.  

12                  Supportive housing represents a 

13           critical tool to ending homelessness, 

14           offering permanent housing solutions with 

15           wraparound social services for people who 

16           have experienced homelessness and have the 

17           greatest barriers to obtaining and 

18           maintaining housing.  

19                  New York State is in the sixth year of 

20           the state's housing plan to develop 20,000 

21           units over 15 years.  We have over 6200 units 

22           in construction or built.  This is an 

23           incredible community achievement.  

24                  We are very pleased that 


 1           Governor Hochul continues the supportive 

 2           housing commitment by proposing to fund 

 3           1.5 billion for the development of the next 

 4           7,000 units and preserving an additional 

 5           3,000 as part of the five-year plan.  

 6                  As part of this commitment, the 

 7           Executive Budget also includes -- and the 

 8           Network strongly supports -- 128 million in 

 9           funding for the Homeless Housing and 

10           Assistance Program, which provides capital 

11           grants to nonprofits to construct and 

12           preserve supportive housing.  To date, we 

13           have built over 18,000 units.  

14                  The Network also supports the 

15           Governor's funding of the Empire State 

16           Supportive Housing Initiative at 110 million.  

17           ESSHI is the services funding that is married 

18           with the capital.  

19                  But while we continue needed housing 

20           development, it is incredibly important to 

21           preserve the housing we have.  I would like 

22           to draw your attention to the New York State 

23           Supportive Housing Program, that is in need 

24           of additional resources.  NYSSHP is a program 


 1           that pays for critical on-site services that 

 2           make it possible to house multi-disabled and 

 3           vulnerable individuals and families in 

 4           permanent affordable apartments.  But before 

 5           ESSHI was developed, it was the main and only 

 6           operating funding source for supportive 

 7           housing rest-of-state.  

 8                  The current NYSSHP budget is funded at 

 9           39.8 million.  The Exec does add 2.8 million.  

10           And although we support this increase, we 

11           feel that much more is needed.  Nearly 10,000 

12           NYSSHP units depend almost totally on 

13           subsidies that have remained nearly unchanged 

14           for 20 years -- approximately 2500 to 3500 

15           per unit.  In comparison, ESSHI is four times 

16           that rate.  

17                  The Network strongly urges the final 

18           budget to include an additional 100 million 

19           for NYSSHP to adjust the current rates to 

20           12,500, mirroring ESSHI.  

21                  In addition, as you heard today, this 

22           program was left out of the Executive's 

23           proposal to provide a 5.4 percent cost of 

24           living adjustment.  With more than 80 percent 


 1           of NYSSHP funding supporting salaries of 

 2           direct care workers, this program should also 

 3           receive the 5.4 percent COLA.  The Network 

 4           strongly urges the final budget to include 

 5           the additional 2.2 million for the COLA.  

 6                  We also urge the Legislature to modify 

 7           the COLA statute language to include this 

 8           program moving forward, and for the COLA to 

 9           be extended, as it is currently slated to 

10           expire on March 31st, 2022.  

11                  Thank you for the opportunity to 

12           testify.             

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

14                  And we have the Association on Aging 

15           in New York.             

16                  MS. PREVE:  You do.  Good afternoon, 

17           and thank you to all Senate and Assembly 

18           members.  

19                  My name is Becky Preve, and I'm the 

20           executive director of the Association on 

21           Aging in New York.  My membership consists of 

22           the 59 Offices for the Aging that are doing 

23           the direct services that have been talked 

24           about today.  


 1                  I'm really thrilled to be here on 

 2           behalf of my members and optimistic with the 

 3           proposed budget and the continued investment 

 4           in aging services.  The past two years have 

 5           been extremely difficult for our network, as 

 6           we have experienced an increase in the demand 

 7           for our services that has almost doubled the 

 8           number of people that we are serving.  

 9                  Additionally, we've had to change our 

10           traditional service structure, transition to 

11           remote services, and were thrust into new 

12           services, including vaccinations and 

13           education regarding the pandemic in the older 

14           population.  

15                  Although the budget includes increases 

16           in funding and allows for innovative new 

17           programs, there are certain areas that 

18           desperately need attention in order for older 

19           New Yorkers to age in place and avoid costly 

20           nurse home placements.  We have heard all day 

21           today and in previous hearings about the need 

22           for Fair Pay for Home Care and the horrific 

23           real-life implications of what not receiving 

24           care means to people just like Kendra and 


 1           Sally, who testified today.  

 2                  Our home care program supports older 

 3           New Yorkers that are above income for 

 4           Medicaid services, but we utilize the exact 

 5           same licensed home care providers as the 

 6           Medicaid population.  And because our 

 7           traditional authorizations for older people 

 8           above income for Medicaid are lower than the 

 9           Medicaid system, we're deferred services from 

10           licensed home-care agencies because of this.  

11                  Our current waiting list is over 

12           90 percent due to the lack of direct service 

13           professionals and not due to funding.  We 

14           were very fortunate to receive $149 million 

15           in federal stimulus dollars, but we are 

16           unable to turn services on for the most 

17           vulnerable segment of our population strictly 

18           due to not having any direct workforce to 

19           support them.  

20                  Our services are predicated on keeping 

21           people in homes and communities and saving 

22           the state Medicaid dollars, and our 

23           traditional client, who is an 83-year-old 

24           female who lives alone, is low-income, has 


 1           four or more chronic conditions, and needs 

 2           help with things such as taking a bath or 

 3           going to the bathroom, are really predicated 

 4           on making sure that we have a robust 

 5           workforce to support them.  

 6                  The aggregate cost of the aging 

 7           services network is under $10,000 per year 

 8           for individuals that would qualify for much 

 9           higher levels of care at a cost of about 

10           $130,000 to $150,000 per year.  

11                  I also want to draw attention to 

12           advocacy items that have been mentioned here 

13           today.  We fully support a $14.1 million 

14           increase for the Home-Delivered Meal Program.  

15           This is due to the overall increased costs of 

16           inflation as well as the food cost, and as 

17           well as losing most of our volunteers who 

18           delivered the meals due to the COVID-19 

19           pandemic.  

20                  We're also asking for a $6 million 

21           investment into our robust case management 

22           system to serve the 8,000 people currently 

23           waiting for case management services 

24           throughout the state, and we're asking for a 


 1           restoration of funding for Lifespan of 

 2           Greater Rochester, for their elder abuse 

 3           funding and mitigation efforts, of $125,000.  

 4                  And lastly, we fully support the 

 5           $20 million investment into the Long Term 

 6           Care Ombudsman Program, which historically 

 7           has been underfunded and has not served 

 8           individuals that we need to serve.  

 9                  I thank you all for your time.  

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

11                  And now, SAGE.

12                  MR. OKMA:  Good afternoon.  My name is 

13           MJ Okma.  I'm the new senior manager of 

14           advocacy and government relations at SAGE.  

15                  SAGE has been serving LGBTQ+ elders 

16           and HIV older New Yorkers for over four 

17           decades, providing comprehensive social 

18           services and community building programming 

19           through our network of six older adult 

20           centers in New York City, affiliates in 

21           Bayshore, Hudson Valley, Syracuse and 

22           Rochester, as well as programs to engage 

23           older LGBTQ+ New Yorkers across the state, 

24           include SAGEVets.  


 1                  Services for elders are more crucial 

 2           than ever, as the population of New Yorkers 

 3           aged 60 and older is growing five times 

 4           faster than those under 18, with LGBTQ+ 

 5           elders making up a significant part of this 

 6           rapidly growing population.  

 7                  Because of thin support networks, 

 8           LGBTQ+ older people rely more heavily on 

 9           community service providers for care.  Yet 

10           they're often distrustful of providers after 

11           a long history of compounding discrimination.  

12           For many of these elders in New York, SAGE is 

13           their lifeline.  

14                  It is because of them that I'm here 

15           today to respectfully ask for the restoration 

16           of our funding in the state fiscal year '23 

17           budget, including a restoration of 300,000 to 

18           support LGBTQ+ residents and community 

19           members in and around New York state's first 

20           LGBTQ+-welcoming affordable elder housing 

21           development, the restoration of 150,000 from 

22           the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance 

23           to increase our multilingual programming and 

24           services, and a restoration of 260,000 for 


 1           SAGEVets.  

 2                  With the support of the New York 

 3           Legislature, SAGE has been able to evolve and 

 4           expand to best address the widespread 

 5           disparities facing LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.  In 

 6           response to the ongoing pandemic, SAGE has 

 7           provided hundreds of virtual programs in 

 8           support services and thousands of phone calls 

 9           each week to combat social isolation.  

10                  Following clearance from the State 

11           Department of Aging, SAGE has also been able 

12           to further redesign our program and services 

13           delivery to provide a variety of in-person, 

14           virtual and hybrid options.  SAGE also made 

15           history in our state in 2020 and 2021 when we 

16           opened New York's first LGBTQ+-welcoming 

17           affordable elder housing developments located 

18           in Brooklyn and the Bronx providing site 

19           services to residents and surrounding 

20           community members, including programming, 

21           wellness checks, grocery delivery, and 

22           coordinated care with other providers.  

23                  We have also expanded our multilingual 

24           programming into Spanish, Mandarin, and 


 1           Cantonese.  

 2                  Utilizing state funding and the 

 3           momentum from the passage of the Restoration 

 4           of Honors Act, our SAGEVets program continues 

 5           to expand our reach, helping older LGBTQ+ 

 6           veterans to navigate the VA and get the 

 7           benefits which they deserve, aiding their 

 8           overall health and wellness, and providing 

 9           referrals to counsel for discharge status 

10           updates.  

11                  SAGEVets provides this life-changing 

12           support while saving New York significant 

13           amounts of funding by ensuring veterans 

14           access all of their federal benefits instead 

15           of relying solely on state programs to 

16           address their housing and health care needs.  

17           SAGE respectfully requests the restoration of 

18           our funding to continue this vital work.  

19                  Thank you so much for your support and 

20           providing me with this opportunity.  More 

21           details can be found in my submitted written 

22           testimony.  

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you all 

24           for presenting.  


 1                  We now have a number of members from 

 2           the Assembly and Senate who have questions.  

 3                  So first we go -- and just a reminder 

 4           to the Assemblymembers and Senators that you 

 5           have three minutes to ask a question of the 

 6           panel or a specific member of the panel, but 

 7           not each member.  

 8                  So we first go to our Aging chair, 

 9           Assemblyman Ron Kim.             

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Thank you, 

11           Chairwoman.  And thank you all for your 

12           testimonies today.  

13                  My first question is to Gail.  Can you 

14           just expand a little bit about the 

15           differences between unmet needs versus the 

16           waiting list?  

17                  MS. MYERS:  Sure.  So unmet needs are 

18           the people who haven't called yet.  They are 

19           the people who have not been put on a waiting 

20           list.  And we saw the huge number of people 

21           who really did need services but didn't come 

22           into the network until this year.  We got 

23           calls for our patients' rights helpline from 

24           people, you know, from all over the state, as 


 1           one example.  But you heard it about food, 

 2           you heard it about services.  

 3                  So unmet need is the projection of the 

 4           percentage of the population that one would 

 5           expect to need supports through the offices 

 6           for aging services, which is a greater number 

 7           than the people who -- many who are on 

 8           waiting lists already.  And you can't just 

 9           turn that spigot on, even though the agency 

10           did such great work last year and the year 

11           before to pivot and turn and try to deliver 

12           great services.             

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Thank you, Gail.  

14           That was very good, thank you.  

15                  The next question is for Kimberly.  

16           There is -- I know this doesn't apply to 

17           Project Guardianship, but there have been 

18           some headlines around guardianship.  And I 

19           want to give an opportunity to dispel some of 

20           those elements around exploitation of people 

21           under guardianship, and so maybe it's an 

22           opportunity to talk about what are some of 

23           the safeguards for your clients and recourse 

24           if there is some sort of exploitative 


 1           behavior.

 2                  MS. GEORGE:  Yes, thank you, I really 

 3           appreciate that question.  Thank you for 

 4           giving me the opportunity to address it.

 5                  You know, there's a lot of things 

 6           going on here.  One is just that cases of bad 

 7           guardianship is what makes the media.  There 

 8           are a lot, a lot of good people doing a lot 

 9           of really hard work on behalf of other people 

10           serving as guardians without much 

11           compensation, and so that doesn't get 

12           highlighted.  

13                  Oftentimes guardianship is the result 

14           of abuse that has happened, and research 

15           shows that elder abuse is more often -- much 

16           more often happens by family members and 

17           under power of attorneys than by guardians.  

18                  Lastly, we believe that a nonprofit 

19           model is a great way to prevent abuse by 

20           guardians.  

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Got it.  Thank you.  

22                  Becky, very quickly, what is the 

23           driving reason for the waiting list again?  I 

24           wasn't clear.  You were --           


 1                  MS. PREVE:  Absolutely.  So over 

 2           90 percent of the waiting list is for 

 3           personal care services, because we did 

 4           receive the federal dollars so we could turn 

 5           on meals, et cetera.  But it's explicitly due 

 6           to not having any direct care professionals 

 7           to actually turn these services on for.  

 8                  So it's not a money issue, it is a 

 9           capacity and resource issue.             

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN KIM:  Thank you.  

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  To the Senate.             

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Excuse me.  

13           Couldn't get the mute off.

14                  First to Senator Brisport.             

15                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you, 

16           Madam Chair.  

17                  My question is just for MJ from SAGE.  

18           You have a center in my district, and you do 

19           incredible work.  

20                  I'm just curious, if you don't receive 

21           adequate funding from the State Legislature 

22           this year, how will that impact the work you 

23           do?            

24                  MR. OKMA:  Thank you so much, Senator, 


 1           for the question and your support of SAGE's 

 2           work.  

 3                  We really have a lot of momentum this 

 4           year, being able to, you know, expand our 

 5           multilingual programming, which has been 

 6           really, really quintessential for the new 

 7           housing developments, as we're seeing a large 

 8           amount of community members who are 

 9           monolingual and can't access our services in 

10           English.  So this funding really, really 

11           helps us provide that and continues our 

12           access and outreach to the communities.  

13                  We're seeing a lot more demand 

14           specifically around homeless LGBTQ+ elders as 

15           we kind of create these new centers across 

16           New York City.  There is an increased demand, 

17           and this funding really makes sure that we 

18           not only maintain our levels of services but 

19           are able to expand our outreach to make sure 

20           that we're reaching more.  

21                  More specifically, we've really 

22           expanded our transgender and gender nonbinary 

23           outreach and program development, and state 

24           funding is very, very important to that.             


 1                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  I really appreciate 

 2           it, and I hope we can do everything we can 

 3           for SAGE in this year's budget.  

 4                  I will cede the rest of my time.             

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 6                  We'll go to Assemblywoman Rosenthal, 

 7           the chair of Social Services, with three 

 8           minutes.             

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Thank you 

10           all for your great testimony.  It was really 

11           concise and well-written, and I really 

12           appreciated it all.  And you're exposing the 

13           real needs the people across the state have 

14           and that our state has a responsibility to 

15           meet.  We really have a lot to do in this 

16           budget to set it right.  

17                  I wanted to ask Laura about vacancies 

18           in supportive housing.  And thank you for all 

19           your great work.  Since I have become the 

20           chair, it's been great to work and reach 

21           our -- hopefully reach our common goals 

22           together.  

23                  In terms of the supportive housing, 

24           there has been discussion about the 


 1           10 percent vacancy, and I spoke to -- I asked 

 2           Commissioner Tietz about that, and he said 

 3           there were a lot of paperwork issues and said 

 4           that units are turned around within 30 days, 

 5           they're not vacant for very long.  

 6                  From your point of view, what is the 

 7           cause of these vacancies?  And how widespread 

 8           are they, and how can we fix that?  People on 

 9           the street need a home now, not in 30 days.             

10                  MS. MASCUCH:  Right.  Thank you, 

11           Chair Rosenthal.  Thank you for your support, 

12           it's been amazing.  

13                  You are absolutely correct.  We have 

14           an approximately 10 percent vacancy rate, 

15           which is leading to about 2,000 to 2500 

16           units.  And we also have new units coming 

17           online from both the Empire State Supportive 

18           Housing Initiative as well as New York -- NYC 

19           15/15.  So that's great.  

20                  But what that means is that really the 

21           previous city administration did not grow the 

22           capacity of the placement unit.  So -- and 

23           then, through COVID, there were hiring 

24           freezes.  And then people retired and people 


 1           are burnt out and they -- you know, they 

 2           really are very much down in staff right now.  

 3           So we're working very closely with the 

 4           administration around the staffing issues and 

 5           the need.  

 6                  We're working with our nonprofits to 

 7           identify their vacancies, and we're working 

 8           with the city to really streamline the 

 9           process.  So we're hoping that this is part 

10           of the mayor's 100-Day Plan and we get these 

11           units filled.             

12                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay, that 

13           sounds very reasonable, actually.  

14                  And we also have to give a COLA to 

15           those workers who were left out, and we 

16           hear -- we've heard all day about Fair Pay 

17           for Home Care and for the people who were 

18           left out of the COLA.  And so I'm sure the 

19           Assembly will do its best to try to make 

20           everybody on the same level, even though they 

21           are all not making enough money for the jobs 

22           we ask them to do and that they want to do.  

23                  So thank you so much.             

24                  MS. MASCUCH:  Absolutely.             


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 2           We go to Assemblyman Jones.             

 3                  No, wait, you have Senators, I'm 

 4           sorry.             

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  That's okay.             

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  The Senate.             

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  That's okay.  

 8                  Senator Sue Serino.             

 9                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you, 

10           Madam Chair.

11                  I just would like to say thank you to 

12           everybody on the panel.  Your testimonies are 

13           amazing, and I really appreciate all of the 

14           work that each and every one of you do.  

15                  But my first question is for the 

16           executive director of the Association on 

17           Aging.  Becky, nice to see you.  And I am 

18           sure that you heard earlier today members 

19           were asking Director Olsen about the 

20           Comptroller's audit.  I was kind of taken 

21           aback by the findings, because I know that 

22           our local offices of the aging really go 

23           above and beyond, they're on the frontlines, 

24           and I've seen at least in my community how 


 1           they really were working 24/7.  

 2                  So were you surprised by the audit's 

 3           findings?            

 4                  MS. PREVE:  Thank you, Senator, and it 

 5           is great to see you.  And thanks for your 

 6           ongoing support.  

 7                  I can speak on behalf of the 

 8           membership.  I represent the counties that 

 9           were actually interviewed for the 

10           Comptroller's report, and we absolutely 

11           disagree with the findings in the audit 

12           report.  

13                  I think it's helpful to understand 

14           that there's intricacies to how this funding 

15           works and what the counties and localities 

16           have to go through to implement dollars.  

17                  And so some of the findings 

18           included that money was left on the table.  

19           That is completely not true.  It did take us 

20           some time, once the state issued the Notice 

21           of Grant awards, for counties to go to their 

22           board of legislators, pass the resolution, 

23           then you have to reassess clients to see if 

24           their services remain the same from their 


 1           first assessment -- did they pass away, did 

 2           they go to a nursing home.  All of the 

 3           allocations were expended for Year 1 of the 

 4           unmet needs funding.  

 5                  I think it's also important to note 

 6           that when the audit took place, it was on 

 7           Year 1 of that funding, which took us an 

 8           extended period of time to get through the 

 9           process to get implemented.  

10                  It additionally cited a few issues 

11           that we wholeheartedly disagree with.  One 

12           was that no on-site monitoring was done by 

13           New York State Office for the Aging at the 

14           localities.  To me, it is absolutely insane 

15           to criticize an organization for not going 

16           for site visits in communities that were so 

17           harshly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

18                  We lost almost all of our volunteers.  

19           We lost staff.  Offices were fully remote.  

20           And the number-one need for New Yorkers was 

21           to get them fed, keep them healthy, and keep 

22           them safe -- and that's what these counties 

23           did.  

24                  In conjunction with that, I can speak 


 1           personally that the commissioner -- Director 

 2           Olsen and I met with our counties twice per 

 3           month and then had one-on-one technical 

 4           assistance calls with all counties to make 

 5           sure that they could expend those dollars.  

 6           That was in addition to program, fiscal, and 

 7           nutrition support calls.  

 8                  And therefore, you know, I think that 

 9           because -- if you're not really well versed 

10           in the intricacies of what our funding 

11           mechanism looks like, you could see those 

12           barriers.  

13                  But we wholeheartedly disagree, and 

14           all of the counties that were interviewed 

15           shared with me that they were extremely 

16           disappointed.  I had one director who was in 

17           tears, because all we have done in this 

18           network for the past two years is to try to 

19           keep people alive, and that's what we've 

20           done.             

21                  SENATOR SERINO:  Yeah, thank you so 

22           much for explaining all of that, too, Becky.  

23                  And this is a question for everybody 

24           about elder abuse.  You know, I'm really 


 1           concerned to see that Lifespan was cut.  And 

 2           we all know that elder abuse did not stop 

 3           when the pandemic started, but it's not being 

 4           reported, and that is so concerning.  

 5                  So I was just wondering, does this 

 6           budget invest enough in elder abuse 

 7           prevention services?             

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  And I'm sorry, we 

 9           don't have time for you to get all the 

10           answers.  We ran out of time already.

11                  SENATOR SERINO:  Okay, thank you, 

12           Chair. 

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  But everybody 

14           feel free to get back to Senator Serino after 

15           your panel is over to share your view about 

16           that as well.  Because it certainly is a real 

17           issue, Senator Serino.

18                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you.             

19                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

20                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                  Now we'll go to Assemblyman Jones.             

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN JONES:  Hi, everyone.  

23           Thank you for all that you do.  And I would 

24           guess this question is towards Becky.  


 1                  First, I want to reiterate how much we 

 2           need to support our home care workers.  We 

 3           need our older adults to age in place.  We 

 4           need to provide those services.  We need to 

 5           get them a living wage so they can do that, 

 6           take care of our loved ones, keep them in 

 7           their homes in our neighborhoods.  

 8                  A couple of questions, actually.  

 9           Could you tell me how we are actually saving 

10           Medicaid dollars in doing that, in keeping -- 

11           you know, in getting those services, getting 

12           those home care workers into those homes, how 

13           we're saving Medicaid dollars?  And also, if 

14           your numbers have increased in the past 

15           couple of years, I want to see and I want to 

16           hear how you've done that.  

17                  But -- and this is a question for -- I 

18           mean, this is a loaded question, but we need 

19           to get our home care workers a reimbursable 

20           rate so that they can make a living, so that 

21           they can take care of our most vulnerable 

22           population, so that they can stay in their 

23           homes and where they are in their 

24           neighborhoods where their families want them, 


 1           where they want to be.  How do we do that?  

 2                  We've been talking all day about this, 

 3           on how we keep people there.  I know it's 

 4           getting more money and getting a better 

 5           reimbursable rate to our home care workers, 

 6           DSPs, all of that, but -- please answer those 

 7           questions.             

 8                  MS. PREVE:  Thank you, Assemblyman 

 9           Jones, and thank you for your ongoing 

10           support.  

11                  You know, it's a loaded question.  

12           What I can tell you is exactly what I spoke 

13           to in my testimony.  Our average client 

14           receiving home care services would require a 

15           skilled nursing facility placement if there 

16           were no services available in the community.  

17           So they qualify on paper to go to a higher 

18           level of care.  

19                  We're able to provide them wraparound 

20           services, from personal emergency response 

21           systems to home healthcare workers providing 

22           the care to keep them in homes and 

23           communities.  The reason that is so important 

24           for Medicaid savings is that we are serving 


 1           the portion of the population that makes just 

 2           above the Medicaid benchmark, but they can't 

 3           afford to privately pay for the service.  So 

 4           the minute that individual transitions to a 

 5           skilled nursing facility, they spend down to 

 6           Medicaid and the state share on Medicaid is 

 7           significantly high.  

 8                  So we know it's a cost savings for us 

 9           to keep people in homes and communities.  We 

10           have also partnered with the entire 

11           disability and Medicaid community on Fair Pay 

12           for Home Care for exactly that reason.  

13           Medicaid is the major payer, but we're 

14           serving older people, people with 

15           disabilities, et cetera, and our goal is to 

16           keep them in homes and communities.  

17                  And I will share with you this has 

18           been an issue since the 1980s when it was 

19           first publicized in the New York Times.  The 

20           Assembly hosted two hearings on this issue 

21           years ago that went on for 12 hours plus.  So 

22           we've been talking about this in aging and 

23           disability and all payer sources for decades, 

24           and its time to finally get a solution before 


 1           people start dying.  And I think -- 

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN JONES:  Why aren't we 

 3           doing that?  What is taking -- first of all, 

 4           it keeps people in their homes.  Second of 

 5           all, it would save the state money if we 

 6           reinvested -- or if we invested this on the 

 7           front end instead of paying for it on the 

 8           back end.  I don't understand why we're not 

 9           doing it.  

10                  But thank you so much for all the work 

11           that all of you are doing.             

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you, 

13           Assemblymember.  

14                  Next we go to Senator Martucci.             

15                  SENATOR MARTUCCI:  Thank you, Chair.  

16                  My question is for all the panelists.  

17           I wanted to use my three minutes to allow you 

18           to respond to a question that both Senator 

19           Serino and I have, but she did not have time 

20           to get to, which was the funding in the 

21           budget for elder abuse.  

22                  So my question to anyone who is here 

23           who can testify to this would be:  Do you 

24           feel like the funding that is proposed in the 


 1           Executive Budget is sufficient?  And if not, 

 2           what should this Legislature be taking under 

 3           consideration with respect to that issue?            

 4                  MS. PREVE:  I can speak to that.  

 5                  I can tell you that we absolutely need 

 6           a $125,000 investment for Lifespan of Greater 

 7           Rochester.  This is traditionally a 

 8           legislative add-on for Lifespan, and I can 

 9           tell you, as referenced earlier, we have seen 

10           an explosion in elder abuse, fraud, scams, 

11           abuse, and neglect.  Caregivers have 

12           increasing issues with alcohol and 

13           substances, et cetera.  The pandemic has made 

14           people ripe for exploitation, and $125,000 

15           for Lifespan to continue their work in this 

16           space is imperative.  

17                  It also draws down additional dollars 

18           through the Office of Victim Services.  And 

19           they work very diligently to get victims 

20           restitution for what they have lost.  So we 

21           think it's imperative that that be added back 

22           into the budget.             

23                  MS. MYERS:  We don't do direct service 

24           regarding elder abuse.  We do a lot of 


 1           referrals when someone calls us to other 

 2           services.  

 3                  But what we are looking at is a piece 

 4           that the Governor has proposed that would 

 5           allow the Department of Financial Services to 

 6           set up a system where they will help people 

 7           paying their bills so that they are not as 

 8           subject to trusting someone that perhaps they 

 9           shouldn't trust.  So as that develops, we'll 

10           be taking a look at that and to seeing what 

11           resources need to get plugged into there.  

12                  But like everything else, this is an 

13           example of unmet need.  There are so many 

14           people that are abused emotionally, 

15           financially, physically, and they are not 

16           reported and they are not self-reporting, and 

17           we need to do more as a state.  Thank you.  

18                  SENATOR MARTUCCI:  Thank you all so 

19           much for your answers.  

20                  Thank you, Chairwoman.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you both.  

23                  To Assemblyman Bronson.  

24                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you, 


 1           Chair.  And thank you, panelists, for your 

 2           sharing with us this important information.  

 3                  My question is going to go to SAGE and 

 4           MJ.  You talked a little bit about the need 

 5           for services.  You know, I think it would be 

 6           beneficial to my colleagues to hear how the 

 7           LGBTQ+ elder community is really perceived to 

 8           some degree as being invisible, and they're 

 9           disconnected from services.  Why is that?  

10           And in particular, why is it for our trans 

11           and gender-nonconforming individuals?  

12                  And then the secondary question I have 

13           for you -- it's great that Brooklyn and Bronx 

14           have elder-affordable housing.  We're 

15           starting something similar in Rochester.  But 

16           how can we scale that up?  So help us 

17           understand this issue for our LGBTQ+ 

18           community.             

19                  MR. OKMA:  Yeah, definitely.  Thank 

20           you so much for that question, 

21           Assemblymember.  

22                  LGBTQ+ elders face really steadily 

23           unique disparities that are not faced by 

24           other members of the population.  There's 


 1           been a lot of studies done on this.  I'd 

 2           point folks to check out AARP has an amazing 

 3           report called "Disrupting Disparities" that 

 4           kind of goes over this.  But there's big 

 5           mental and physical health disparities, a 

 6           lack of competent and inclusive care.  

 7                  Many specifically of our transgender 

 8           elders fear that they have to go into the 

 9           closet or they have to, you know, return to 

10           families who might not be accepting or force 

11           them, you know, to go by a name, pronouns, or 

12           wear clothing that doesn't align with who 

13           they are.  

14                  So there's unique, you know -- we 

15           talked about elder abuse before.  There's 

16           really unique examples, you know, of that 

17           specifically in the LGBTQ+ community.  They 

18           also face economic insecurity, you know, 

19           for -- you know, compounding discrimination 

20           their whole life.  You know, having fewer 

21           financial resources, limited housing options.  

22                  And, you know, isolation and being 

23           disconnected from services, which is 

24           something I spoke a little bit about in my 


 1           testimony.  You know, that they have less of 

 2           a family support system, they might not have 

 3           children who can take care of them.  So they 

 4           rely more on community care providers, but 

 5           those providers aren't competent in providing 

 6           this work.  It can be more damaging, so it 

 7           leads to a lot of distrust and a lot of 

 8           social isolation and isolation from services.  

 9           Which makes this work really important.  

10                  I recently started at SAGE about two 

11           months ago.  I can't speak to the exact way 

12           to scale our housing development, but I can 

13           definitely get you connected with folks who 

14           work in our housing and residence department 

15           to kind of have these conversations about how 

16           we can bring something similar to your 

17           district and elsewhere in the state.             

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you so 

19           much, MJ.  Thank you, Chair.             

20                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

21                  I just have a couple of things, 

22           Helene, to close out for the Senate.  

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Sure.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  


 1                  I want to thank you all for your work.  

 2                  Gail, you propose that the DFS take 

 3           over the bill paying.  I'm not sure that 

 4           would ever work, but I want to suggest to you 

 5           something that I know not-for-profits in 

 6           New York City sometimes do.  They go out and 

 7           they get bonded staff and they handle paying 

 8           the bills for seniors or people with physical 

 9           or mental disabilities.  And it doesn't 

10           require a whole guardianship, but it actually 

11           is working very well with several groups in 

12           my own district.  So I would urge everyone to 

13           take a look at that.  

14                  And Kimberly, I also had concerns 

15           about the guardianship program.  Now, I think 

16           probably in most cases it's working when it's 

17           through not-for-profits, but I've also seen 

18           exploitation of seniors in my own community.  

19                  And so what can we do to make sure 

20           we're building in that extra layer of 

21           protection so that we don't find ourselves 

22           with cases where you actually have to go to 

23           judges, as I have, and demand that they 

24           assign new guardians or remove that person 


 1           from the control of a not-for-profit where 

 2           you see that their money is being spent down 

 3           without their approval for no justifiable 

 4           reason? 

 5                  MS. GEORGE:  One thing is that we need 

 6           more monitoring and oversight of the 

 7           guardians that are appointed.  I'm not sure 

 8           of the details of the exploitation that 

 9           you've seen -- like is it lay guardians, 

10           private guardians, agency guardians?  

11                  But there's certainly -- you know, 

12           guardians are required to submit annual 

13           reports on every financial transaction.  But 

14           there's not a -- there's not a great 

15           enforcement mechanism, and it can take years 

16           for those reports to even be reviewed when 

17           they are submitted and returned.  

18                  So definitely more court resources for 

19           the oversight, and I think more training and 

20           support for family and friend guardians on 

21           what they can and cannot do.  You know, just 

22           like with powers of attorneys, there are 

23           concepts about, like, oh, you know, in 

24           advanced inheritance and things like that.  


 1           And there just needs to be more resources for 

 2           family that are serving as guardians.  

 3                  But certainly, you know, if there is 

 4           exploitation, there needs to be a better -- a 

 5           more -- an easier way for that to get back to 

 6           the judges and for -- you know, successor 

 7           guardianships take a long time.             

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes, they do.  

 9           And it does take -- you're right.  I'm not 

10           sure anybody ever looks at those reports, and 

11           so it is a real concern.  

12                  And when I talk about exploitation, 

13           the guardian has a credit card for the 

14           person, won't let them have it, won't buy the 

15           food for that person, and yet money is being 

16           spent on that credit card on a regular basis 

17           for things that never show up in that 

18           person's apartment.  That's an example.             

19                  MS. GEORGE:  That's a very serious 

20           breach of their fiduciary duties, yeah.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Exactly.  Thank 

22           you.  Thank you all for your work.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

24           Thank you for your work.  


 1                  And just to piggyback on what Senator 

 2           Krueger said, a number of years ago we 

 3           changed the -- I sponsored the legislation 

 4           where we changed the definition of domestic 

 5           violence to include economic abuse, because 

 6           we found -- which also exists, a similar 

 7           situation, and is an elder -- whether they 

 8           call it elder abuse, domestic violence, where 

 9           the party in control does things in the name 

10           of the victim economically to harm them.  

11                  And, you know, it's important that we 

12           do prosecute the bad guys and not taint all 

13           guardians.  And maybe one day we'll have 

14           community guardians, which is really where we 

15           should be moving.  We have a pilot program in 

16           Brooklyn that seems to work pretty well.  But 

17           it needs to expand, it's very limited.  

18                  Thank you all for being here.  

19                  And now we're going to call Panel D, 

20           which focuses on youth.  And Panel D is 

21           New York State Network for Youth Success, 

22           Trudy Morgan, policy director; New York State 

23           YouthBuild Coalition, Bonnie Landi, 

24           president; North Rivers Family of Services, 


 1           William Gettman, CEO; Prevent Child Abuse 

 2           New York, Timothy Hathaway, executive 

 3           director; New York State Kincare Coalition, 

 4           Ryan Johnson, chair; Council of Family and 

 5           Child Caring Agencies, Kathleen 

 6           Brady-Stepien, president and CEO; and Center 

 7           for Court Innovation, Katherine Wurmfeld, 

 8           director of family court programs and gender 

 9           and family justice programs.  

10                  So if we can go in that order, 

11           starting with Trudy Morgan.  

12                  And just a reminder, just a -- before 

13           you speak, let me just remind everybody -- 

14           we'll put the clock back to three minutes 

15           before you speak.  I just want to remind 

16           everybody that you each have up to three 

17           minutes to speak.  And when the panel is 

18           finished, members may have some questions for 

19           you.  

20                  And just to remind everyone that we 

21           have your submitted testimony, it's been 

22           circulated to all of the members who are here 

23           and those who weren't able to join us today 

24           at these budget hearings who are members of 


 1           these committees.  So feel free to summarize 

 2           your testimony; we do have all of your 

 3           written testimony already circulated.  

 4                  And with that, now, Trudy Morgan, you 

 5           can go.             

 6                  MS. MORGAN:  Thank you so much for the 

 7           opportunity to testify today.  My name is 

 8           Trudy Morgan, and I'm the policy director at 

 9           the New York State Network for Youth Success.  

10                  Our goal as a statewide network is to 

11           build an effective and integrated statewide 

12           system of high-quality, expanded learning 

13           opportunities in New York.  After-school, 

14           summer, and expanded learning programs in 

15           New York have risen to the moment.  Despite 

16           program disruptions caused by COVID-19, these 

17           programs have adapted to support caregivers 

18           for more resilience, provide protective 

19           factors, and address traumas and adversity.  

20                  For many New York families, 

21           after-school goes beyond after school.  

22           That's why this, the after-school field, has 

23           experienced dire needs, especially amid 

24           COVID-19, including unprecedented staff 


 1           shortages, low per-student reimbursement 

 2           rates, and other structural challenges.  

 3                  Further, for every child in an 

 4           after-school program in New York, four are 

 5           waiting to get in.  Critical investments for 

 6           after-school are long overdue.  More than 

 7           ever you must strengthen, enhance, transform, 

 8           and leverage after-school programs to empower 

 9           youth success.  Our full priorities are 

10           outlined in my written testimony, and in the 

11           interests of time I would like to highlight 

12           four of our asks today.  

13                  Firstly, we ask the state to restore 

14           the $5 million cut to the Advantage After 

15           School Program and baseline funding 

16           throughout the award term.  Persistent 

17           reductions in the Executive Budget undercut 

18           the Advantage Program and put at least 2,500 

19           kids at risk of losing current after-school 

20           access.  

21                  We also ask the state to provide 

22           $169 million to align the current per-student 

23           rate of state after-school programs -- that 

24           is Advantage, Empire State After-School, and 


 1           the Extended School Day/School Violence 

 2           Prevention programs -- with a true base cost 

 3           rate of $4,300.  This would require a change 

 4           in budget language for the Empire State 

 5           After-School Program, which currently has a 

 6           per-student rate set in statute.  

 7                  Also, please direct a new line item of 

 8           $250,000 this year to the New York State 

 9           Network for Youth Success to strengthen 

10           statewide capacity building for after-school 

11           programs.  The state recognizes the network 

12           as a critical partner in after-school and 

13           school-age childcare issues, and based on 

14           this funding the state would enable the 

15           network to sustain the wide scope of 

16           technical assistance and support it currently 

17           provides.  

18                  Finally, please maintain the proposed 

19           $100 million in the RECOVS Learning and 

20           Mental Health Grants and require school 

21           districts receiving the funds to demonstrate 

22           mutual collaboration with at least one 

23           community-based partner.  

24                  After-school, summer, and expanded 


 1           learning programs address needs that are 

 2           crucial to the recovery, stability, and 

 3           support of students and their families.  

 4           After-school works in New York to empower 

 5           youth success, and we are counting on our 

 6           state legislators and the Governor to 

 7           increase much-needed investment at this time.  

 8                  Thank you for your time.             

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10                  So now can we go to New York State 

11           YouthBuild Coalition.

12                  MS. LANDI:  Thank you very much for 

13           the opportunity to testify about the 

14           YouthBuild programs in New York State.  

15                  YouthBuild is a comprehensive youth 

16           training program, and it serves 

17           16-to-24-year-olds, the most at-risk youth in 

18           the state.  Programs are located in 

19           communities on Long Island, the five boroughs 

20           of New York City, both sides of the 

21           Hudson River from Newburgh to Albany, and 

22           west from Schenectady to Buffalo.  

23                  All of them are structured under the 

24           same comprehensive youth training model.  


 1           That model provides education, one-on-one 

 2           case management, leadership development, 

 3           hands-on work experience training, employment 

 4           readiness, and job placement.  Components 

 5           guide the youth in a more positive direction 

 6           and get them ready for placement in jobs and 

 7           post-secondary higher education.  

 8                  In addition to the core training 

 9           components, YouthBuild programs also have 

10           included mental health intervention, adult 

11           mentoring, and gun and community violence 

12           intervention.  In that regard, YouthBuild 

13           programs have taken a proactive approach 

14           because of the recent drastic rise in gun and 

15           community violence.  And we have already 

16           included strategies from several initiatives, 

17           programs designed to help youth develop a gun 

18           violence strategy.  

19                  The Governor's Executive Budget 

20           proposal for '22-'23 calls for the 

21           development of apprenticeships, gun violence 

22           prevention programs, and an expansion of 

23           workforce training for youth.  We would like 

24           to recommend that the state not reinvent the 


 1           wheel but adequately fund the state's 

 2           YouthBuild programs that already provide all 

 3           of those trainings.  

 4                  We can point to data that clearly 

 5           indicates the effectiveness of the 

 6           comprehensive training provided by YouthBuild 

 7           programs, specifically data that indicates 

 8           recidivism rates at 8 percent compared to 

 9           68.9 percent for court-involved participants.  

10           And programs experience a 75 to 80 percent 

11           completion rate, where nationally they're at 

12           a 51.8 percent completion rate.  

13                  Another tangible item and successful 

14           achievement of YouthBuild programs is the 

15           provision of affordable homes for low-income 

16           homebuyers, a tangible result of our required 

17           housing construction skills training.  

18                  The New York State YouthBuild 

19           Coalition appreciates the recent engagement 

20           we have experienced over the past several 

21           years with various funding amounts from the 

22           State Legislature and participation in the 

23           workforce development demonstration project 

24           grant, which is scheduled to end in 


 1           August '23.  

 2                  However, the YouthBuild programs can 

 3           assist in preventing the most vulnerable 

 4           youth from being more vulnerable in New York 

 5           State.  We have a successful training 

 6           program.  And as such, we would respectfully 

 7           request the following:  

 8                  One, pass the New York State 

 9           YouthBuild Act and fund it at $10 million.  

10           This will provide consistent, sustainable 

11           funding for New York programs.  Without 

12           consistent funding, programs will probably 

13           close and communities will lose this valuable 

14           resource for their youth.  The New York State 

15           YouthBuild Act has been a bill in the 

16           Legislature for the past 10 years.  Each year 

17           the Senate passes their version of the bill, 

18           but it languishes in the Assembly.  Let's 

19           finally get the act passed in both houses and 

20           fully funded.  

21                  Two, provide additional funding to 

22           YouthBuild programs for continuation of the 

23           workforce development project -- removing it 

24           as a demonstration project and sustaining it 


 1           as a workforce development program that has 

 2           proven successful with the outcomes for the 

 3           youth that it served.  

 4                  We would finally like to point to and 

 5           note that the design of the training model 

 6           for YouthBuild programs has been successful 

 7           as a youth training model since 1978 when it 

 8           was launched right here in New York State, 

 9           43 years ago.  Let's finally recognize the 

10           value of YouthBuild programs training and 

11           fund it and invest in the funding stream that 

12           would make it more viable.  

13                  Let YouthBuild be a part of the 

14           solution for youth training of young people 

15           in New York State.             

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  And 

17           now, Northern Rivers Family of Services.

18                  MR. GETTMAN:  Thank you.  My name is 

19           Bill Gettman, and thank you for the 

20           opportunity to speak today.  

21                  First off, I want to thank all the 

22           members of the Legislature for your service, 

23           because you make a difference in the state 

24           and your voice is critical to passing a 


 1           budget that's good for all New Yorkers.  

 2                  Northern Rivers is a provider.  We 

 3           provide services -- mental health, child 

 4           welfare, adoption, mental health 

 5           community-based services, and residential 

 6           care -- to about 18,000 kids and families 

 7           every year.  

 8                  One thing I can tell you firsthand.  

 9           During the pandemic, every one of our staff 

10           left their homes to come care for others.  

11           And I can also tell you that the 400 foster 

12           parents we have took in kids during the 

13           pandemic.  They are the real heroes, and we 

14           need to support them in this budget.  

15                  As my testimony indicates, we support 

16           the Governor's 5.4 percent COLA 

17           recommendation in the $500 million.  However, 

18           we have to make the permanent extension of 

19           the CPI-based COLA part of the budget bill.  

20           We cannot let this bill pass without the 

21           extension of the COLA in the future.  

22                  We also need to include adult and 

23           children health home workers, because they 

24           also took care of kids and families during 


 1           the pandemic.  

 2                  Last, in terms of workforce, we need 

 3           to extend the bonus provisions that are in 

 4           the mental health and the OPW budget to 

 5           frontline child welfare workers.  And of 

 6           course we need scholarships and forgiveness 

 7           and professional development.  

 8                  As you all know, foster parents are 

 9           the backbone of the child welfare system, and 

10           the budget provides an increase to their 

11           monthly per diem rate.  I have to dispute, 

12           though, Commissioner Poole -- since I was 

13           there when the block grant was formed -- this 

14           was never intended to be an unfunded mandate.  

15           The money that's going to increase foster 

16           parent payments needs to be in the Foster 

17           Care Block Grant, or it will just be a cut to 

18           child welfare services.  And that will result 

19           in less preventive services and other 

20           valuable services.  

21                  And that takes me to the point that 

22           Chair Hevesi talked about, is we need to 

23           restore the child welfare preventive program 

24           from 62 percent to 65 percent.  That was the 


 1           basis of the statute originally, and the 

 2           intent to remove it to 62 percent was only 

 3           driven by fiscal realities.  We don't need to 

 4           do that anymore.  

 5                  And last, let me talk about the need 

 6           to reform the scope of practice.  As 

 7           Assemblymember Bronson articulated earlier 

 8           today, we will have devastation if we don't 

 9           extend the diagnosis waiver and, more 

10           importantly, pass a bill that makes sense.  

11           Our agency alone has a waitlist of over 1,000 

12           in our clinics, and we have several hundred 

13           families waiting for community-based mental 

14           health services.  Those numbers will double 

15           if we don't pass the scope of practice reform 

16           here.  

17                  And, of course, not-for-profit 

18           infrastructure was included in the Governor's 

19           budget of $50 million.  We support that so 

20           that we can make sure we have good places to 

21           serve kids and families.  

22                  Thank you very much for your 

23           leadership and -- (muted).

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  


 1                  We go to Prevent Child Abuse New York.             

 2                  MR. HATHAWAY:  Thank you.  

 3                  Good afternoon.  I am Tim Hathaway, 

 4           the executive director with Prevent Child 

 5           Abuse New York.  We are a workforce 

 6           development and policy advocacy organization 

 7           spanning the State of New York.  

 8                  If we really, truly hope to effect 

 9           change and reduce the number of children that 

10           are impacted by child abuse, we have a clear 

11           path in front of us and it is the path of 

12           creating economic security for all of our 

13           citizens across the state.  

14                  We want to be careful always to not 

15           equate poverty with child abuse.  We do want 

16           to recognize that abuse impacts all 

17           socioeconomic classes.  But we know that when 

18           we see reductions in large-scale poverty, we 

19           see reductions in child maltreatment, child 

20           neglect.  

21                  I also want to applaud -- there was 

22           some earlier testimony, questions regarding 

23           the Casey work around -- kind of a comparison 

24           between what New York State does around 


 1           primary prevention work, as opposed to a 

 2           state like Alabama, and recognizing that 

 3           there is a gap and that New York State can do 

 4           better on primary prevention.  

 5                  And with that, I will draw attention 

 6           to our testimony -- we're not going to read 

 7           the whole thing today -- but a couple of 

 8           highlights related to that.  

 9                  First and foremost, around the issue 

10           of prevention -- again, call out the great 

11           leadership from Assemblymember Hevesi on the 

12           Children and Families Reinvestment Act.  

13           Mr. Gettman just addressed some of that.  

14           There is a third leg in that piece that 

15           really talks about primary prevention and the 

16           importance of supporting family resource 

17           centers, helping grow efforts across the 

18           state at screening and parenting education 

19           work like PPP.  So we encourage investment in 

20           that area.  

21                  We also want to just commend the home 

22           visiting investment that has been put forward 

23           in the state budget, $11 million to support 

24           Healthy Families New York serving 1600 more 


 1           families.  

 2                  We also request an additional 

 3           investment of $2 million in ParentChild+ to 

 4           maintain existing services, and an additional 

 5           2 million for a total of 4 million in 

 6           ParentChild+ to extend professional 

 7           development work there.  

 8                  Housing, we want to talk about -- 

 9           again, excellent, wonderful news about the 

10           $25 billion investment around housing, 

11           because we know that good housing protects 

12           children, reduces neglect.  And we are 

13           excited about the idea of a continued 

14           eviction moratorium.  That's an important 

15           piece for us.  

16                  Childcare has been discussed quite at 

17           length today.  I do want to point out that we 

18           need to keep the school-aged after school 

19           care money in the budget.  The $5 million 

20           that has been cut for Advantage After School 

21           needs to stay in the budget.  It's a critical 

22           piece to child abuse prevention.  

23                  Thank you very much for your time.  

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  


 1                  And now we move on to New York State 

 2           Kincare Coalition.             

 3                  MR. JOHNSON:  Thank you.  

 4                  Good evening, Chairpersons Weinstein 

 5           and Krueger and honorable members of the 

 6           Legislature.  My name is Ryan Johnson.  Thank 

 7           you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of 

 8           the kinship community today.  I'm the 

 9           associate director of the New York State 

10           Kinship Navigator and chair of the New York 

11           State Kincare Coalition, which was 

12           established to serve as the voice of kinship 

13           caregivers and professionals in New York.  

14                  The term "kinship care" refers to 

15           family members -- who are often grandparents 

16           and other close relatives -- or family 

17           friends who take on the full-time care of 

18           children when they're not able to be cared 

19           for by their parents.  

20                  We in fact have two child welfare 

21           systems in New York:  One, the public-facing 

22           child welfare system that you've heard so 

23           much about today, from many advocates and 

24           state agency leaders.  But we also have a 


 1           hidden child welfare system, one in which 

 2           grandparents and other relatives are asked to 

 3           take traumatized children by our child 

 4           welfare system, but without court oversight, 

 5           with extremely limited resources, and often 

 6           without a path to permanency.  

 7                  In New York there are an estimated 

 8           195,000 children being raised by kinship 

 9           caregivers.  Most of these children, about 

10           188,000 of them, are being raised outside of 

11           foster care and therefore have limited access 

12           to resources.  I am here today on behalf of 

13           those caregivers who have been asked to step 

14           up in times of crisis to raise children that 

15           they were not expecting to raise and who need 

16           support.  

17                  Funding for kinship service has been 

18           unstable.  Dozens of programs around the 

19           state have opened and then abruptly closed 

20           their doors to kinship caregivers, due to the 

21           loss of funding or to the uncertainty in the 

22           stability of the funds that they receive.  As 

23           a result, kinship caregivers are less likely 

24           to access available resources like public 


 1           assistance, Medicaid, food stamps, and other 

 2           needed benefits.  

 3                  Since 2016, the Legislature has funded 

 4           kinship services at a total of $2.5 million.  

 5           This funds 14 local kinship care case 

 6           management programs and a statewide 

 7           information education and referral resource, 

 8           the Kinship Navigator.  

 9                  I'm here to ask that the Legislature 

10           choose to prioritize these families and, at 

11           minimum, restore the funds for services which 

12           have been underfunded in the Executive 

13           Budget.  These programs are here to help 

14           kinship families navigate a complex system of 

15           benefits and services that they are eligible 

16           for and help stabilize families for a 

17           fraction of the cost of what it would cost to 

18           have them in foster care.  

19                  The need to unify the kinship system 

20           of care under one umbrella has never been 

21           greater.  As New York transitions into the 

22           implementation of the Families First Act, 

23           it's been estimated that kinship caregiving 

24           will increase as a result of fewer children 


 1           going into foster care.  

 2                  Having services available to families 

 3           that meet the needs they present with will be 

 4           increasingly important in order to ensure 

 5           that children who have been diverted from 

 6           foster care stay out of foster care and can 

 7           remain safely in the homes of kinship 

 8           caregivers.  

 9                  Creating a unified statewide kinship 

10           navigator by consolidating the current 

11           programs under one entity with a presence 

12           regionally throughout the state will help 

13           streamline services for caregivers and ensure 

14           that they have access to information and case 

15           management, legal, and respite services.  

16                  We request the Legislature invest in 

17           these families by passing the Unified Kinship 

18           System of Care bill and funding the kinship 

19           service system at $10 million.  

20                  Thank you.             

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So next we have 

22           the Council of Family and Child Caring 

23           Agencies.  

24                  MS. BRADY-STEPIEN:  Good evening.  


 1                  My name is Kathleen Brady-Stepien.  

 2           I'm the president and CEO of COFCCA, the 

 3           Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies.  

 4           We are a statewide membership association, 

 5           and we have as our members the more than 

 6           100 community-based child welfare nonprofit 

 7           organizations around the state.  

 8                  Our highest priority is supporting the 

 9           human services and child welfare workforce.  

10           They have been incredible heroes throughout 

11           the pandemic, going above and beyond to meet 

12           families' needs.  They are essential workers 

13           that have, every day, gone to work securing 

14           food, PPE and other basic needs for families, 

15           as well as keeping families safely together 

16           through prevention services and caring for 

17           children and youth in foster care.  

18                  We were very pleased to see the 

19           Governor's proposed 5.4 percent human 

20           services COLA.  And we note that the statute 

21           is expiring at the end of March, so we want 

22           to work together with the Legislature to make 

23           sure that there continues to be an annual 

24           imperative for the Executive and the state to 


 1           invest in raising these workers' salaries up 

 2           to keep up with inflation.  

 3                  We also want to work together with you 

 4           to raise salaries more significantly for our 

 5           workforce and to build career pathways.  

 6           Workers in child welfare programs have not 

 7           gotten any targeted federal aid like other 

 8           human services workers have, and we need a 

 9           commitment from the state to raise wages in a 

10           meaningful way so that we don't continue the 

11           high turnover and vacancy rates that we see 

12           in these programs.  

13                  We strongly support the increased 

14           foster parent rates.  Foster parents are so 

15           incredibly deserving of more support from the 

16           state, and we are truly glad to see that they 

17           are going to get these long-overdue 

18           increases.  

19                  There are two important points on 

20           that.  Number one, we encourage the state to 

21           put additional money in the Foster Care Block 

22           Grant to pay for these increases so they 

23           don't land as an unfunded cost for counties.  

24                  Number two, we need to ensure that 


 1           MSRA rates are released on time, July 1st, so 

 2           that foster parents don't see delays in 

 3           getting these increases.  

 4                  And finally, we were very disappointed 

 5           to see that the Executive Budget did not 

 6           restore a 65 percent reimbursement for 

 7           counties on prevention services.  By all 

 8           accounts, the state is in a strong financial 

 9           position, and it is time to restore these 

10           cuts that came about during austerity 

11           budgeting in the past.  

12                  New York's child welfare financing 

13           structure has been shown to work in massively 

14           reducing the foster care census.  Let's help 

15           to continue the positive direction of 

16           reducing the foster care census by restoring 

17           this investment back to the statutorily 

18           required 65 percent.  

19                  Thank you for the opportunity to 

20           testify.             

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

22                  And we go to the last member of this 

23           panel, Center for Court Innovation.             

24                  MS. WURMFELD:  Good afternoon, 


 1           everybody.  I'm Kate Wurmfeld, director of 

 2           family court programs at the Center for Court 

 3           Innovation, and I want to talk to you today 

 4           about the Strong Starts Court Initiative, 

 5           which is a family-court-based project of the 

 6           center for Court Innovation.  

 7                  It is a two-generational approach 

 8           focusing on infants and toddlers, birth to 

 9           three years of age, who are subjects of child 

10           protection cases, where courts, families, and 

11           the agencies are provided with more frequent 

12           and consistent information through monthly 

13           convenings that improve outcomes for children 

14           and families.  

15                  It's based on a national model from 

16           ZERO TO THREE.  Several states have now 

17           adopted it as a statewide strategy; New York 

18           State has yet to do that.  

19                  So we focus on these very young 

20           children because they are the largest cohort 

21           of children entering care.  There are more 

22           than 16,000 children, birth to three, who are 

23           known to the New York State family courts.  

24           They are also at a critical stage of 


 1           development where exposure to adversity -- 

 2           significant adversity, including 

 3           system-imposed harm -- has lifelong 

 4           implications.  

 5                  So we also know that these infants and 

 6           toddlers are entering a child welfare system 

 7           that is overstretched at every level and has 

 8           no established expertise in infant mental 

 9           health or early childhood development.  So 

10           Strong Starts brings that expertise to the 

11           courts and the child welfare system, 

12           including expertise in the kinds of 

13           interventions that best shift the balance 

14           between risk and protective factors.  

15                  And here is just briefly how it works.  

16           A dedicated judge in each county is paired 

17           with a specialist in infant mental health.  

18           Cases received intensive outreach and 

19           clinical assessments by a clinical social 

20           worker, so that parents stay engaged with 

21           their children and their cases and families 

22           are referred for meaningful services that 

23           improve parents' capacity for safe and 

24           nurturing care and promote children's 


 1           learning and development.  

 2                  There is also an expedited court 

 3           calendar in which families' entire court 

 4           teams of attorneys, caseworkers, and clinical 

 5           service providers meet on a monthly basis to 

 6           share information, address barriers to 

 7           service provision and case progress, and 

 8           solve problems.  This significantly reduces 

 9           the usual adversarial stance that obscures 

10           problems that need to be addressed and that 

11           contribute to court inefficiencies, since the 

12           judge and all parties convene with the family 

13           once a month, compared to the unpredictable 

14           adjournment schedule in typical cases.  

15                  Strong Starts has been operating out 

16           of the Bronx since 2015 as a pilot, and is 

17           now in all five counties in New York City and 

18           in Westchester County as well.  A recent 

19           program evaluation shows that Strong Starts 

20           is preventing removals and moves in care, 

21           reducing recidivism, and judges and attorneys 

22           are using what they've learned in their other 

23           cases.  

24                  Strong Starts is well-positioned to 


 1           expand capacity in New York City and 

 2           replicate the model for implementation 

 3           throughout New York State.  And while Court 

 4           Administration has set the goal for 

 5           expansion, it doesn't have the means to do 

 6           this.  And we are entirely funded by private 

 7           foundations at this point, except for a grant 

 8           from the New York State Council on Children 

 9           and Families, which is our first non-New York 

10           City-based program that that supports.  

11                  So we're urging government to consider 

12           the assets that Strong Starts brings to a 

13           system that is supposed to help families and 

14           to provide access to this infant-focused 

15           expertise and this collaborative effort and 

16           strength-based approach on behalf of our 

17           youngest children, and to form a 

18           public-private partnership that will allow us 

19           to replicate this model throughout the court 

20           process throughout the state.  

21                  Thank you.             

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

23                  So now we're going to go to questions 

24           from the Assembly and Senate.  


 1                  Members will go first who are -- our 

 2           ranker on Ways and Means, Assemblyman Ra, 

 3           three minutes.             

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, Chair.  

 5                  Good evening, everybody.  I wanted to 

 6           just continue with Kathleen regarding the 62 

 7           percent versus 65 percent and (A) if you know 

 8           what that means in terms of real dollars that 

 9           the state is pushing onto, you know, counties 

10           instead of paying it themselves; and (B) over 

11           this, you know, really decade now, what that 

12           has meant in terms of local investment in the 

13           system.             

14                  MS. BRADY-STEPIEN:  Thank you, 

15           Assemblyman Ra, and thank you as always for 

16           your support.  

17                  So the change to 65 percent we think 

18           would be about $30 million.  That would help 

19           the counties to invest more in prevention 

20           services.  

21                  And I want to tie it to something else 

22           that has been talked about today, which is 

23           the increased foster parent rates and the 

24           fact that the state is not also -- the 


 1           Executive has not put forward additional 

 2           money in the Foster Care Block Grant.  What 

 3           that means is that the counties are going to 

 4           have to pick this up.  Commissioner Poole 

 5           identified earlier that that's $80 million, 

 6           is the cost.  

 7                  And so the counties are going to have 

 8           to spend more to pay these increased rates, 

 9           which are long overdue, for our foster 

10           parents.  And that means they'll have less 

11           available funding on prevention services at 

12           the local level.             

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Great.  And, you 

14           know, I really just think that this budget 

15           year -- like you said, and like so many have 

16           said, there is lot of money out there, and a 

17           lot of opportunities to undo some of the -- 

18           you know, some of the things that were 

19           frankly targeted by the previous 

20           administration and couldn't really get fully 

21           restored.  

22                  So thank you for your advocacy, and 

23           hopefully this is one of the things that I 

24           think that a relatively small investment, 


 1           relative to the size of our budget, could 

 2           make a big difference.  Thank you.  

 3                  MS. BRADY-STEPIEN:  Thank you so much.  

 4           We agree.             

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  To the Senate.  

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

 7           much.  

 8                  We are going to start with Senator 

 9           Pete Harckham.  

10                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Thank you very 

11           much, Madam Chair.  

12                  Good evening, everybody.  Thank you 

13           all so much for your testimony. 

14                  I chair the Committee on Alcoholism 

15           and Substance Abuse, and one of the things 

16           that we know is that one of the large drivers 

17           of substance use disorder is early childhood 

18           and adolescent trauma.  

19                  What can we in New York State do to 

20           better address early childhood and adolescent 

21           trauma before we get to the point of 

22           self-medication?

23                  MR. GETTMAN:  I will start with that, 

24           Senator.  Thank you.  


 1                  One thing we have to do is invest in 

 2           our workforce that we can put into our 

 3           childcare centers and our early headstart 

 4           programs and into our schools.  We need a 

 5           workforce that is sensitive in trauma- 

 6           informed care, culturally sensitive, and also 

 7           has the credentials and professional support 

 8           so they can treat families in a variety of 

 9           settings.  And that gets to Assemblymember 

10           Bronson's bill about licensure and also gets 

11           to compensation.  

12                  So I will toss it over to my friend 

13           Tim; I'm sure he has some ideas on that.             

14                  MR. HATHAWAY:  Yes, thank you very 

15           much.  

16                  You know, I think this is pretty 

17           central to solving some of this.  We have to 

18           invest in workforce.  We've got to be 

19           talking -- and there's some work around 

20           increasing supports for mandated reporters, 

21           changing that from mandated reporters to 

22           mandated supporters, people who are in the 

23           community, prepared, well-prepared to serve 

24           families and not push them to an adversarial 


 1           role in this work.

 2                  So workforce, workforce, workforce is 

 3           the investment.  

 4                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Thank you.  

 5                  Anyone else?

 6                  MS. MORGAN:  Please, I -- 

 7                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Yes, please.  We've 

 8           got another minute.             

 9                  MS. MORGAN:  Yes.  I will quickly add 

10           that we know that after-school, summer, and 

11           expanded learning programs was a preventative 

12           strategy because it provided protective 

13           factors that help young people avoid the risk 

14           of substance abuse and misuse.  

15                  And we're actually glad to see in the 

16           last budget that after-school was included as 

17           an allowable expense for the Cannabis Act.  

18           And so we hope that there will be the 

19           increased investments with the act to help 

20           expand after-school programs so that they are 

21           able to provide those preventative supports.             

22                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Thank you.  

23                  Anyone else?  

24                  MS. WURMFELD:  And I would just -- 


 1           yes, I would just quickly add that substance 

 2           use is a huge risk factor that comes up on 

 3           the cases that we deal with at Strong Starts.  

 4                  The whole -- the main thrust of the 

 5           program is to interrupt those 

 6           intergenerational cycles of system 

 7           involvement.  Many of the parents we serve 

 8           were in foster care themselves, are 

 9           system-involved themselves, which of course 

10           we know leads to the substance use issues.  

11                  So that's something that we're really 

12           dealing with at the court level so that the 

13           court becomes a port of entry for supportive 

14           services instead of a punitive process that 

15           further involves parents in the child welfare 

16           system.             

17                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Terrific.  Thank 

18           you all very much.  

19                  Thank you, Madam Chair.  

20                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

21                  Assemblymember.  

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

23           Assemblyman Bronson.             

24                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you, 


 1           Chair.  

 2                  And my questions are going to go to 

 3           Kathleen Brady-Stepien with COFCCA and 

 4           Bill Gettman at Northern Rivers, regarding  

 5           standardizing the licensure requirements and 

 6           modernizing the scope of practice for our 

 7           mental health practitioners and how that's 

 8           related to the workforce problem that has 

 9           existed for a long time but has only been 

10           exacerbated because of COVID.  And now I'm 

11           hearing that there are community-based 

12           organizations that are closing their intake 

13           because they can't manage the numbers and 

14           there's waitlists.  

15                  Could each of you explain why it's 

16           vitally important because -- vitally 

17           important for us to get this measure passed, 

18           hopefully in the enacted budget -- why that's 

19           necessary for your workforce and necessary 

20           for the people you serve.  

21                  MS. BRADY-STEPIEN:  Thank you, 

22           Assemblyman Bronson, so much for your 

23           leadership on this issue.  

24                  It is critical that we include your 


 1           bill in the enacted budget.  We are coming up 

 2           on a ticking time clock of June for the 

 3           expiration of this exemption.  

 4                  You know, we have workforce shortages 

 5           all across the board of mental health 

 6           professionals.  What you said is exactly 

 7           right.  We have programs that are closing 

 8           intake, not because they don't want to serve 

 9           their communities but because they have a 

10           shortage of appropriately licensed and 

11           credentialed mental health professionals.  

12                  And so we definitely want to support 

13           you in making sure that this gets done in 

14           this year's budget so that we can make sure 

15           we have enough mental health professionals to 

16           support New York's families all across the 

17           state.  

18                  And I will toss it to my friend 

19           Bill Gettman.  

20                  MR. GETTMAN:  Thank you, Kathleen.  

21                  The only thing I disagree with 

22           Kathleen on -- it's not a ticking time clock, 

23           it's a ticking time bomb.  

24                  We have programs that can't expand.  


 1           We have this -- Senator Harckham talked about 

 2           the need to get into schools, which means we 

 3           need more trained and sophisticated 

 4           counselors, mental health professionals, 

 5           et cetera.  

 6                  And the other thing I want to 

 7           emphasize is the schools -- like Rochester, 

 8           Syracuse, Baruch -- they have changed their 

 9           curriculum and modernized it in a way that's 

10           even better than many social work schools 

11           right now.  And I don't want to pick a fight 

12           here, but the profession has changed to meet 

13           the needs.  

14                  We have growing demand.  We have a 

15           35 percent turnover rate.  So we're going to 

16           lose a third of our workforce.  We're not 

17           going to have a pipeline.  Clinics will 

18           close.  School-based programs, while we're 

19           going to want them, will never be able to 

20           open in our school districts despite federal 

21           money that could pay for them.  It's just an 

22           unmitigated disaster.  

23                  I mean, I can't overemphasize the 

24           impact on families, kids, the elderly -- 


 1           everybody is going to be impacted by this.  

 2           And our answer is going to be because we 

 3           can't agree on how to diagnose appropriately?  

 4           We've been talking about this for 20 years.  

 5           Let's -- I agree with you, Assemblyman.  

 6           Let's get it done in the budget.             

 7                  ASSEMBLYMAN BRONSON:  Thank you both.  

 8                  Thank you, Chair. 

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go back to 

10           the Senate.  I see your hand.             

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes.  Thank you.  

12                  We have Senator Sue Serino.  Are you 

13           there, Sue?

14                  SENATOR SERINO:  Thank you, 

15           Chairwoman.  

16                  And I had questions for COFCCA, but 

17           Assemblyman -- oh, yup.  Can you hear me?            

18           My connection -- 

19                  (Zoom dropped.)

20                  SENATOR SERINO:  Sorry.  Chairwoman, 

21           can you hear me?

22                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I can hear you, 

23           yes.             

24                  SENATOR SERINO:  No, no, no.  Oh, 


 1           good.  I'm so sorry.  My connection for some 

 2           reason is squirrelly.  

 3                  I had questions for COFCCA, but 

 4           Assemblyman Bronson covered them.  So my 

 5           question is going to be for YouthBuild, for 

 6           Bonnie Landi.

 7                  And I just want to say to Bonnie -- 

 8           like I have Nubian Directions in my district 

 9           and that I can tell you, I've seen their 

10           success firsthand.  They're amazing.  Those 

11           kids engage with me every time I go and meet 

12           with them.  But I want to tell you that I 

13           think you are dead on in your testimony that 

14           not reinventing the wheel.  You know, 

15           investing in YouthBuild is just like a smart 

16           move.  

17                  But with everything going on that you 

18           mentioned in your testimony, do you think 

19           that now might be a good time to even like 

20           expand the number of programs throughout the 

21           state?            

22                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  You're on -- take 

23           your mute off.  

24                  MS. LANDI:  Absolutely, Senator.  I 


 1           totally agree with what you just said.  

 2                  We would love to see YouthBuild 

 3           programs expand in New York State.  I can 

 4           tell you that I am regularly connected with 

 5           agencies in areas -- Sullivan County, 

 6           Columbia County, many other counties that 

 7           need a YouthBuild program, want a YouthBuild 

 8           program, but the funding isn't there.  

 9                  So if we can get the act passed and 

10           get it fully funded and do the things that 

11           this program does -- it's a youth training 

12           model that has been around in New York State 

13           for eons now.  Let's get it expanded.  Let's 

14           get it moving where it needs to go.  

15                  Our youth are very vulnerable to all 

16           the gun violence, all the gang proliferation.  

17           This is what we need to do.  We need to 

18           expand these programs, programs like 

19           YouthBuild that have an extensive, successful 

20           training model.             

21                  SENATOR SERINO:  Yup, it's a true 

22           success story.  So thank you so much for all 

23           of your good work.  

24                  Thank you, Chairwoman.             


 1                  MS. LANDI:  Thank you.

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 4                  And to close out the questions for 

 5           this panel, we have the chair of our Children 

 6           and Families Committee, Andrew Hevesi.  

 7                  ASSEMBLYMAN HEVESI:  Thank you, 

 8           Chair Weinstein and Chair Krueger for all the 

 9           time you've allowed us to get to these 

10           important points today, and for sitting 

11           through all of these hearings.  I don't know 

12           how you guys do it, and the staff too.  Thank 

13           you very much.  

14                  I'm not going to use all this time.  I 

15           want to thank all of my colleagues for asking 

16           their questions and also all of the 

17           advocates.  I'm am not going to ask you any 

18           questions, I'm just going to provide a little 

19           takeaway.  

20                  We've heard all of the specifics.  We 

21           have all of it, everything you mentioned.  

22           But let me just leave with a couple of points 

23           that jumped out to me.  Number one, I think 

24           there is broad agreement that we're losing 


 1           too many kids to trauma, that too many kids 

 2           are being doomed and defined by their trauma 

 3           every day.  

 4                  I also heard today colleagues from 

 5           both sides of the aisle pushing for the same 

 6           thing, and even colleagues within different 

 7           spectrums within the same party all pushing 

 8           for the same thing.  It's heartening.  You're 

 9           getting the sense that everybody is seeing 

10           this the right way.  

11                  And I want to thank Bonnie, who I have 

12           not yet talked to.  But Bonnie, I think we 

13           need to talk.  You hit it, and I've been 

14           missing this one:  Invest in things that 

15           work.  That's what we're doing in all of 

16           this.  These things work.  Foster parents 

17           work.  Kinship parents.  Ryan, we're going to 

18           keep pushing so that kinship parents are 

19           taken care of, you have my commitment on 

20           that.  And then the workforces.  

21                  And here's what I'm going to end with, 

22           and I hope I finally hit this.  This is my 

23           final takeaway.  That to do this right, we 

24           need to follow the brain and trauma science 


 1           which requires that we support the people who 

 2           are the caring adults that give our kids the 

 3           emotional support and the problem-solving 

 4           skills they need.  

 5                  Because it's now up to us, because the 

 6           reality is it's tough out there for kids 

 7           these days.  They're getting attacked from 

 8           every angle.  There's rampant poverty, 

 9           there's rampant abuse, there's pandemic.  

10           These kids are having trouble.  They need a 

11           stable adult in their life.  That's why every 

12           one of these programs is crucially important.  

13           And that's why we decided to go to help all 

14           of them.  

15                  So thank you all for making the case 

16           for us.  It's now up to us in the Legislature 

17           to go deliver.  Thank you, everybody.             

18                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.  Anyone 

19           else have their hand up?  I don't --

20                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I know --

21                  MR. GETTMAN:  I forgot to say, 

22           Senator:  Go, Bills!            

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Well, it's a 

24           little late, but -- 


 1                  MR. GETTMAN:  I know.

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  But they did 

 3           it.  They were good in that -- they got 

 4           robbed.  What can we say?

 5                  (Laughter.)

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you all 

 7           to the panel and for all the work you do in 

 8           our communities and on behalf of our 

 9           families.  

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you, 

11           everyone.

12                  MS. BRADY-STEPIEN:  Thank you.  

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We will 

14           continue to work with you as we pull together 

15           this year's budget.  

16                  I'm now going to call Panel E, which 

17           is our final panel for this evening:  Hunger 

18           Free America, Joel Berg, CEO; Met Council on 

19           Jewish Poverty, Jessica Chait, managing 

20           director of food programs; Catholic Charities 

21           Community Services, Archdiocese of New York, 

22           Beatriz Taveras, executive director; and 

23           Empire Justice Center, Emilia Sicilia -- 

24           hopefully I didn't mess that up too much --   


 1           senior attorney.

 2                  And if we can go in that order, 

 3           starting with Hunger Free America.

 4                  MR. BERG:  Hello.  I'm Joel Berg, CEO 

 5           of Hunger Free America.  I'm here to announce 

 6           there's no more hunger in New York and we 

 7           don't need any more money.  You have been 

 8           working ridiculously long hours, so I thought 

 9           I'd start with that.  

10                  (Laughter.)

11                  MR. BERG:  On a more serious note, 

12           Senator Krueger, you are correct, there's a 

13           problem with delivery of senior meals in 

14           New York City.  I've already asked the City 

15           of New York to contact you about that.  

16                  In New York today, one in nine state 

17           residents, 2.2 million people, live in 

18           households that struggle against hunger.  One 

19           in six kids, one in 13 employed people, one 

20           in 13 seniors.  And we think, oh, this is a 

21           New York City problem, and the Bronx still 

22           has the highest hunger and poverty rate out 

23           of any county in New York.  But the highest 

24           metropolitan area in food insecurity is 


 1           Utica-Rome, followed by Syracuse, followed by 

 2           Albany, Schenectady, and Troy.  This is a 

 3           problem in every urban, suburban, and rural 

 4           community of New York State.  

 5                  I hope in your voluminous free time -- 

 6           which you don't have -- you read the full 

 7           written testimony I've submitted, which has a 

 8           comprehensive plan for the Legislature and 

 9           the Governor to reduce hunger in New York.  

10           So I will just focus my remaining two minutes 

11           on the biggest-ticket item we have, which are 

12           the federal nutrition assistance programs.  

13                  This year the SNAP program is set to 

14           spend $8.8 billion -- that's billion with a 

15           B -- of federal funds; 2.8 million 

16           New Yorkers are eligible and getting SNAP.  

17           But 25 percent of working people eligible for 

18           SNAP aren't getting it.  Thirty percent of 

19           seniors eligible for SNAP aren't getting it.  

20           Thirty-nine percent of pregnant women and 

21           children under five eligible for WIC aren't 

22           getting it.  

23                  And so I know everyone loves Nourish 

24           New York, and we strongly support it, and 


 1           everyone loves the Thanksgiving-era turkey 

 2           giveaways and cutting, you know, ribbons at 

 3           food programs.  But by far the most 

 4           cost-effective and sensible way to fight 

 5           hunger in New York is to use limited state 

 6           funds to increase federal funding.  Every 

 7           dollar the state spends on SNAP outreach will 

 8           generate $30 to $60 worth of federal 

 9           benefits.  

10                  Even -- you know, SNAP is going to 

11           spend about 176 times more than what Nourish 

12           New York's going to spend.  And that's all 

13           federal money, and Nourish New York is mostly 

14           or all state money.  Even if you increase 

15           SNAP by 5 percent, 5 percent, that would be 

16           $440 million more to fill the grocery carts 

17           of low-income people at farmer's markets, 

18           corner stores, bodegas, supermarkets.  Just 

19           that increase would be nine times the dollar 

20           amount of Nourish New York.  

21                  Archimedes said:  If you give me a 

22           lever big enough, I can move the world.  The 

23           biggest lever for reducing hunger is 

24           increasing wages, and we hope you will end 


 1           the ridiculous subminimum wage for tip 

 2           workers.  We hope you have a serious 

 3           commitment to jobs creation, making housing 

 4           more affordable.  You make housing 

 5           affordable, you're going to reduce hunger in 

 6           New York.  But most importantly and most 

 7           quickly, we can significantly increase access 

 8           to federally funded programs.  

 9                  Thank you, and I leave you five extra 

10           seconds.             

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We'll take 

12           that.  

13                  Next we go to Met Council on Jewish 

14           Poverty.

15                  MS. CHAIT:  Thank you all, and good 

16           evening.  Hello, Chair Weinstein and 

17           Chair Krueger and fellow members of the joint 

18           legislative hearing.  Thank you so much for 

19           your time all day.

20                  My name is Jessica Chait, and I'm the 

21           managing director of food programs at Met 

22           Council on Jewish Poverty.  And it really was 

23           a pleasure to learn more about the important 

24           topics you heard about today and to hear so 


 1           many strong advocates for low-income and 

 2           at-risk New Yorkers.  

 3                  Met Council operates the largest 

 4           kosher emergency food program in the country.  

 5           In response to the pandemic, working with 

 6           hundreds of pantries across the city, 

 7           including dozens of halal pantries, we have 

 8           delivered more than 30 million pounds of 

 9           food, serving 200,000 New Yorkers each month.

10                  Our pantries serve all New Yorkers.  

11           However, we are experts at serving 

12           kosher- and halal-observant communities who 

13           trust us to provide not only the 

14           highest-quality appropriate food, but also 

15           through models that emphasize choice, 

16           dignity, and cultural confidence.  

17                  New York is home to the largest Jewish 

18           and Muslim populations in America, and for 

19           that reason the state can and must do more to 

20           ensure that the needs of food-insecure Jewish 

21           and Muslim residents are met.  Religiously 

22           certified food is more expensive.  Kosher and 

23           halal products are available from fewer 

24           vendors, and public food sources at the 


 1           local, state, and federal levels stock 

 2           extremely limited quantities and varieties of 

 3           kosher and halal-certified food, causing 

 4           tremendous inequalities in the amount of food 

 5           that is available to those who need it.  

 6                  Moreover, sadly, we see every day that 

 7           many food banks and pantries aren't able to 

 8           adequately ensure that the foods that they 

 9           provide are kosher or halal, or that these 

10           foods are going to the populations who 

11           require them.  

12                  Between March 2020 and October 2021, 

13           New York City operated GetFoodNYC, which 

14           delivered nearly 130 million meals to 

15           New Yorkers.  For the first time through this 

16           program, the Mayor's Office of Food Policy 

17           recorded data on what kinds of meals 

18           New Yorkers requested.  Shockingly, 

19           21 percent, or one in five of all meals 

20           delivered, were kosher or halal.  This is 

21           incredibly significant and demonstrates what 

22           my council has long known -- that the need 

23           for kosher and halal emergency food is 

24           extremely high.  


 1                  When you read the report which was 

 2           included with our written testimony, you'll 

 3           see why we believe that demand is even higher 

 4           than 21 percent, and how these challenges 

 5           impact people across the state.  Further, 

 6           given the inflation of food prices, 

 7           especially for kosher and halal-certified 

 8           food, the K-shaped recovery and the vast 

 9           underutilization of emergency food, we 

10           anticipate the need for emergency food to 

11           remain at current levels in the coming years.  

12                  We need your support to ensure that 

13           every New Yorker, regardless of their 

14           religious or dietary restrictions, has equal 

15           access to emergency food.  To do this, in the 

16           FY '23 budget we must ensure that kosher and 

17           halal emergency providers are appropriately 

18           accounted for in all state programs.  

19                  And with this consideration in mind, 

20           we respectfully request increased funding for 

21           New York State's HPNAP or Hunger Nutrition 

22           Assistance Program to $54 million.  The 

23           Governor's proposed budget provides no 

24           increase to HPNAP funding, yet in the past 


 1           five years the per-capita funding of HPNAP 

 2           has fallen over 30 percent.  

 3                  We respectfully request increased 

 4           funding for Nourish New York at $85 million.  

 5           It's an innovative program that similarly 

 6           creates many bottom lines.  

 7                  And in addition, informed by the 

 8           GetFood report, we request that at least 20 

 9           percent of all emergency food that comes to 

10           New York City be allocated to the procurement 

11           and distribution of kosher and halal foods by 

12           organizations that have the cultural 

13           knowledge and capacity to ensure appropriate 

14           certification requirements and handling 

15           processes, and most importantly that this 

16           food gets to those who require it.  

17                  We're grateful to this body and each 

18           of you for your continuing support of 

19           emergency food programs more broadly, and 

20           respectfully request these considerations.  

21                  Thank you for your time.             

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

23                  Now to Catholic Charities.             

24                  MS. TAVERAS:  Yes.  Good afternoon -- 


 1           or maybe it's good evening -- to Chairs 

 2           Weinstein and Krueger and the members of the 

 3           Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance 

 4           committees.  

 5                  I am Beatriz Diaz Taveras, the 

 6           executive director for Catholic Charities 

 7           Community Services, and I thank you for this 

 8           opportunity to testify today.  

 9                  For over 70 years -- in some cases 

10           100 years -- throughout the state Catholic 

11           Charities has provided comprehensive, 

12           professional human services to vulnerable 

13           low-income residents in the poorest 

14           communities throughout the state.  Our 

15           network of services enables a participant in 

16           any of our programs to access a continuum of 

17           services, which include case management 

18           services to help people resolve financial, 

19           emotional, and family issues; long-term 

20           disaster case management services; eviction 

21           and homelessness prevention; emergency food; 

22           immigration legal services; refugee 

23           resettlement; ESOL services; after-school 

24           programs at summer camps and community 


 1           centers; and supported housing programs for 

 2           adults with serious mental illness.  

 3                  Through its programs, Catholic 

 4           Charities serves thousands of individuals 

 5           each year without regard to race, ethnicity, 

 6           gender, or religion.  

 7                  We would like to bring to your 

 8           attention the following items:  Human 

 9           services cost-of-living adjustments and 

10           minimum wage increases.  The Executive 

11           Budget's inclusion of a one-time 5.4 percent 

12           cost-of-living adjustment for human service 

13           providers, 40.7 million in increased funding 

14           to cover minimum wage increases, and over 

15           200 million in retention bonuses for the 

16           frontline workers is a welcome and great step 

17           towards reducing the gap between contract 

18           amounts and the true cost of providing 

19           services.  

20                  Catholic Charities supports the 

21           state's application of these funds to include 

22           the full range of human services programs and 

23           service categories, and the extension of 

24           these initiatives into future years -- that's 


 1           most important.  

 2                  Under immigration and legal services, 

 3           Catholic Charities provides services to tens 

 4           of thousands of immigrants and refugees each 

 5           year.  At Catholic Charities we are asking 

 6           for public support that would allow it to 

 7           bring these vital services to more 

 8           communities and increase the breadth of 

 9           services we offer.  

10                  Catholic Charities urges the 

11           Legislature to preserve and enhance the 

12           Executive Budget inclusion of 12 million for 

13           the Liberty Defense Project and the Pro-Bono 

14           Project to ensure all immigrant New Yorkers 

15           access to free, quality legal counsel.  

16                  I would like to jump to affordable 

17           housing.  Catholic Charities is encouraged by 

18           the Executive Budget inclusion of the 

19           4.5 billion and the 5-year housing plan that 

20           will support the development and preservation 

21           of 100,000 units of affordable housing and 

22           the 10,000 units of supportive housing, and 

23           welcomes the state's continued support of the 

24           Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative 


 1           and the Homeless Housing and Assistance 

 2           Program.  

 3                  In addition, Catholic Charities 

 4           supports the increased assistance and 

 5           resources for the rental assistance programs  

 6           that help the unemployed, and for state and 

 7           local support of similar programs that grant 

 8           access to market-rate housing and assisting 

 9           those, including immigrants, who are 

10           ineligible for financial or federal 

11           assistance.  

12                  The Executive Budget's increased 

13           allocation for the Legal Representation for 

14           Eviction Cases Program will help to provide 

15           much-needed aid for tenants struggling to 

16           remain in their homes, and the establishment 

17           of a state refundable tax credit for 

18           individuals and families under 80 percent of 

19           the area median income for rent paid in 

20           excess of 30 percent of their monthly 

21           adjusted income would provide further relief.

22                  Finally, I have to put in a plug for 

23           Nourish New York.  It was much welcomed that 

24           we were able to distribute good produce, 


 1           New York State produce, to so many families.  

 2           Not only did it help our families, but it 

 3           also helped the farmers, and I would be 

 4           remiss if I didn't say we really do need 

 5           continued funding for Nourish New York.  

 6                  On behalf of New York's most 

 7           vulnerable, and Catholic Charities, thank you 

 8           for this opportunity.             

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you all.  

10           I don't see hands raised.  I just -- I 

11           actually had a question for -- 

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  There was a 

13           fourth person on the panel, Empire Justice 

14           Center?  

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Oh, you're 

16           right.  I'm sorry.  And it's not even close 

17           to midnight, Senator.  

18                  (Laughter.)

19                  MS. SICILIA:  It's been a long day for 

20           you.             

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Empire Justice, 

22           yes.  Emilia.

23                  MS. SICILIA:  Yes, thank you so much.  

24           Good evening to the chairs and committee 


 1           members.  My name is Emilia Sicilia.  I'm a  

 2           senior attorney at the Empire Justice Center.  

 3           I appreciate the opportunity to testify 

 4           today.  

 5                  Empire Justice Center is a statewide 

 6           legal services and advocacy organization for 

 7           low-income New Yorkers.  Support for New York 

 8           human services remains urgent.  As has been 

 9           recognized throughout today, COVID has been 

10           devastating to those who are low-income, 

11           elderly, or have medical conditions -- most 

12           especially in Black and brown communities.  

13                  Our written testimony covers 

14           extensively the need to reform the public 

15           assistance budgeting rules and also the need 

16           for increased funding for MCCAP.  

17                  I would like to spend my allotted time 

18           to tell you about the need to increase 

19           funding for the Disability Advocacy Program, 

20           known as DAP.  Empire Justice provides 

21           support and administrative services to DAP 

22           providers.  The DAP program provides legal 

23           services -- legal representation, free legal 

24           services -- to disabled and low-income 


 1           New Yorkers who are denied or cut off from 

 2           federal disability benefits.  So that is 

 3           Supplemental Security Income, known as SSI, 

 4           or Social Security Disability.  And the 

 5           program was established by this Legislature 

 6           in 1983.  

 7                  DAP services help stabilize people's 

 8           income, which in turn helps stabilize 

 9           housing, health, and quality of life overall.  

10           For every dollar invested in DAP, at least $2 

11           is generated for the benefit of New York 

12           State and local government in the form of 

13           public assistance costs avoided and the money 

14           spent in local economies.  

15                  So the first point I want to highlight 

16           about DAP is that obtaining disability 

17           benefits is very complicated.  The evidence 

18           required by the Social Security 

19           Administration is very demanding.  And for 

20           individuals contending with income and 

21           housing instability, together with physical 

22           and mental limitations, the process can be 

23           difficult to impossible.  

24                  And second, these obstacles have been 


 1           compounded by the affects of the COVID-19 

 2           pandemic.  SSA offices have been closed to 

 3           the public for almost all in-person services 

 4           since March 2020, and they only recently 

 5           announced tentative plans to reopen in the 

 6           spring.  

 7                  Because of local limited capacity for 

 8           phone and in-person contact, even once the 

 9           doors are opened we expect increased claims, 

10           increased appeals, but also more wait times 

11           and logjams.  And throughout this pandemic, 

12           DAP has risen to the challenge of helping 

13           clients opening cases at a rate comparable to 

14           pre-COVID years, and helping clients who 

15           otherwise would have lost their cases due to 

16           SSA closures and to the many other obstacles 

17           that they face.  

18                  Finally, another point I want to make 

19           about DAP is that the demand for services at 

20           this time now also includes DAP clients with 

21           claims based on the long-term effects of 

22           COVID-19.  A TIME article last year noted 

23           that the pandemic represents "the largest 

24           influx of new entrants to the disability 


 1           community in modern history."  

 2                  For the past six years, DAP funding 

 3           has stayed flat while program costs increased 

 4           and the process of pursuing a claim became 

 5           exponentially more difficult.  The Executive 

 6           Budget -- we're grateful it recognizes these 

 7           challenges by increasing funding, but to 

 8           fully meet the demands facing DAP the 

 9           Legislature should maintain its support and 

10           continue its $1.5 million add-on.  

11                  Thank you for your time today.             

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Now I'm going 

13           to say thank you to the panel for being with 

14           us.

15                  I just had a question -- I just wanted 

16           to clarify.  When you said that kosher food 

17           goes to people that don't necessarily request 

18           kosher, that's because when food comes into 

19           the food pantry, that groups that don't 

20           necessarily need kosher or halal food have 

21           access to food.  Like if it's kosher tuna 

22           fish, they don't care whether it's kosher or 

23           not; it's tuna fish, and they take it.  

24                  So that you're saying is that we need 


 1           to somehow segregate kosher -- food for 

 2           people who are kosher-observant and 

 3           halal-observant to maximize the food that we 

 4           have, is that -- do I get it right?

 5                  MS. CHAIT:  Yes.  I mean ideally, 

 6           right, the important framework to think about 

 7           is if kosher -- if food is kosher, anyone can 

 8           eat it.  Or halal, almost anyone -- I mean, 

 9           halal is a little bit more tricky, but 

10           certainly with kosher everyone can eat it.  

11           When it's not kosher, then you are excluding, 

12           you know, people from accessing that.  

13                  And what we found with our work with 

14           many of the halal pantries in communities we 

15           work with is that in many cases kosher food 

16           is an acceptable alternative.  Not always, 

17           but it is often the case.  

18                  Unfortunately, so much of the food 

19           that comes directly from the federal 

20           government has an incredibly limited supply 

21           of kosher food.  So if all food were kosher, 

22           of course that wouldn't be required.  But 

23           given that it is so incredibly limited, then 

24           the way it is administered by the Tikvah 


 1           partner in New York City, which is Food Bank 

 2           for New York City, they make that product 

 3           available to their entire network of 

 4           emergency food pantries.  

 5                  And so in that case you have 

 6           groups that, exactly as you are saying, may 

 7           access or choose the tuna, not prioritizing 

 8           it necessarily because it's kosher -- 

 9           probably not because it's kosher -- but 

10           because it is tuna fish and what they need or 

11           want.  

12                  In fact, Food Bank for New York, even 

13           though they are incredible partners to us, 

14           they cannot guarantee that the food that is 

15           listed on the site will or will not be kosher 

16           when they have multiple variations of a 

17           product.  And so yes, what we have is food 

18           going to communities where it is not 

19           required.  And as a result, the food that is 

20           required is not getting to the communities 

21           where it's needed.             

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

23                  We have a number of -- we have a 

24           Senator who -- at least one who has 


 1           questions, so let's turn it over to 

 2           Senator Krueger.             

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

 4           much.  

 5                  I want to thank all four panelists.  I 

 6           feel like it's a flashback to my previous 

 7           life with all of the topics raised here 

 8           tonight.  Joel Berg knows that I've have been 

 9           working on food stamp/SNAP outreach pretty 

10           much his entire life.  I'm older than him, 

11           but I think his entire life.  

12                  And he's 100 percent right, every 

13           dollar we can bring in in food stamps from 

14           the federal government is worth far, far, far 

15           more than that to our economy, to our 

16           businesses' economy, to our farmers' economy.  

17           Because you don't do anything with SNAP but 

18           buy local food, eat it, and create jobs.  So 

19           the state should do more, can do more, and 

20           thank you for highlighting that.  

21                  Met Council on Jewish Poverty, I also 

22           spent much of my life on emergency food 

23           programs and started the New York City Food 

24           Bank.  And my only concern with your analysis 


 1           is what we wouldn't want to do is have some 

 2           kind of system of emergency food that 

 3           appeared to discriminate for or against any 

 4           given individual or community.  And of course 

 5           kosher food and halal food are significantly 

 6           more expensive also.  So we need to balance 

 7           those needs.  

 8                  But I wouldn't want a two-tiered 

 9           system of emergency food.  Even though I 

10           don't want anybody to have to go to emergency 

11           food programs.  

12                  Catholic Charities, I used to do 

13           eviction prevention services with you all.  

14           And the Empire Justice Center, I used to run 

15           a benefits access program.  And I can't 

16           emphasize enough how important the DAP model 

17           is for helping people with extreme 

18           disabilities finally get the federal benefits 

19           they deserve, which are much more enriched 

20           benefits than the state benefits.  

21                  So it's also -- you help people, 

22           through your legal services offices, get a 

23           benefit that results in their receiving a 

24           higher level of benefit than what they end up 


 1           with on public assistance, and the feds 

 2           paying for it.

 3                  So I just wanted to thank you all for 

 4           your work, and it all improves people's lives 

 5           and actually saves the state money.  So thank 

 6           you very much.             

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8                  I'm going to go to Assemblywoman 

 9           Rosenthal.             

10                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Hi.  Thank 

11           you, Helene, and thank you to all the 

12           panelists for waiting it out.  But it's not 

13           that late, because yesterday's went on till, 

14           I don't know, midnight or something.  

15                  So I wanted to ask Emilia about DAP 

16           just a little bit.  You asked for increased 

17           funding, and we certainly know the importance 

18           of the DAP program.  How do you think you 

19           could best use that funding?  Like explain 

20           how essential it is to the program.             

21                  MS. SICILIA:  Sure.  Well, I think 

22           it's important just to keep in mind the 

23           trajectory of the budget for the program, 

24           where we saw funding cut, I believe it was in 


 1           the aughts, and funding was increased most 

 2           recently in 2016.  But it really is only kind 

 3           of, with the increase in the Executive Budget 

 4           now, essentially making us whole from many 

 5           years of underfunding.  

 6                  So we are, you know, now facing the 

 7           most complex cases and -- you know, that are 

 8           both the result of Social Security rules and 

 9           processes becoming more challenging, and then 

10           compounded with COVID-19.  So additional 

11           funding would help us address all the extra 

12           work that's being done right now by DAP 

13           providers to help with every little aspect of 

14           communication and navigation of SSA.  

15                  While it's been closed and so limited 

16           and so difficult to access -- also, you know, 

17           difficult to obtain the necessary medical 

18           records -- all those things are taking a lot 

19           more extra advocate hours.  And so we need to 

20           make the program whole, to catch up with the 

21           costs of the program, to support the 

22           additional work that's necessary for existing 

23           cases that we have right now -- but then, 

24           with the additional money, expand to meet the 


 1           need, because we do -- everyone expects 

 2           increased claims, especially now with the 

 3           agency opening and hopefully becoming more 

 4           accessible to file those new applications.             

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  You make a 

 6           convincing case.  

 7                  And thank you all for all of your 

 8           work.  Joel, I know we've worked together 

 9           back in the past, so I look forward to maybe 

10           doing some more work together.  And thank 

11           you, thank you all.             

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

13                  Senator Krueger, I see you still 

14           have a colleague.  

15                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes, we have 

16           Chair Roxanne Persaud.  

17                  SENATOR PERSAUD:  Well, thank you, 

18           Senator.  Thank you to all the panelists.

19                  Jessica, it's great seeing you.  You 

20           know, Senator Krueger touched on some of the 

21           things I wanted to say.  I am concerned when 

22           we talk about a separate system for food, for 

23           the food supply.  I spoke earlier to -- when 

24           the Aging commissioner was on and asked about 


 1           the need -- spoke about the need for more 

 2           halal and kosher food.  

 3                  That being said, I just want us to be 

 4           careful when we're talking about 

 5           separating -- separating the food to the 

 6           extent that we're, you know, dedicating only, 

 7           you know, kosher food and halal food during 

 8           the pandemic.  

 9                  Met Council, we've done a lot of 

10           distributions with you.  You have some of 

11           your pantries in my district, and we're 

12           appreciative of that.  I agree with you, some 

13           of the kosher food for the halal population, 

14           they could not use it, and so we had issues 

15           with that.  

16                  At the same time, some of the food 

17           that came from the federal government we had 

18           major issues with, where we had to separate 

19           the food and make sure that the population 

20           that we were distributing the food to were 

21           not receiving the products that they were 

22           going to sort of toss in the garbage.  

23                  But I appreciate everything you do.  

24           But I'm just concerned when we're talking 


 1           about making this great separation.  You 

 2           know, we want to make sure all food pantries 

 3           are funded where they could provide food, but 

 4           I just don't want to see us saying, you know, 

 5           we must do X amount of dollars to one 

 6           particular population for food.  That's just 

 7           my concern.  It doesn't -- because, you know, 

 8           everyone is going to start asking for the 

 9           same thing, and then what do we do?  

10                  So we just say it's one pool of money, 

11           everyone gets from that pool, but we should 

12           not say X should be dedicated to X 

13           population.  

14                  So thank you very much.  And as usual, 

15           you know, Jessica, it's great seeing you.             

16                  MS. CHAIT:  You as well.  Thank you.  

17                  If I could just -- can I quickly 

18           respond, is that --

19                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Sure.  

20                  MS. CHAIT:  Thank you.  

21                  So I appreciate the concerns raised, 

22           and I would say that I think in effect we do 

23           have two systems already, because my council 

24           has to rely so heavily on philanthropy and 


 1           other sources to in effect ensure that these 

 2           pantries that are kosher and halal have the 

 3           resources and the full amount of food that 

 4           they can provide.  

 5                  That said, I think our asks for 

 6           increased HPNAP and Nourish are really using 

 7           the infrastructure that exists.  And we just 

 8           want to make sure that the populations that 

 9           are essentially forfeiting other food, that 

10           when those allocations are made, that that is 

11           being considered.  Because in fact we are not 

12           taking so much from the federal government or 

13           from other programs that are available, and 

14           in effect are unable to supply balanced 

15           pantry bags without additional resources.  

16                  And so that is obviously our goal, is 

17           to create a very equal system where all 

18           New Yorkers and, frankly, all Americans have 

19           equal access to the foods that are required 

20           to feed themselves and their families.  

21                  But we have more detailed 

22           recommendations, and we can follow up with 

23           your offices to share that.  So thank you 

24           very much.  


 1                  MR. BERG:  I just had one quick point 

 2           about SNAP, again, that you can use it for 

 3           kosher, halal, vegetarian or vegan food.  

 4           Another benefit above some emergency food.  

 5                  Thank you.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Correct.

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8                  I want to thank this panel not only 

 9           for being here today but, really -- probably 

10           even more importantly -- for the work you do 

11           on a daily basis on behalf of -- to serve our 

12           constituents.  

13                  And I want to thank all of -- my 

14           cochair, Senator Krueger --

15                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  -- my ranking 

17           member, Assemblyman Ed Ra, and the ranker on 

18           Finance, Tom O'Mara, and the respective 

19           chairs of the committees that were here today 

20           for your participation.  

21                  This will be ending the Human Services 

22           hearing.  Let this be a model for the 

23           hearings next week in terms of the -- and the 

24           week following, in terms of time.  


 1                  And speaking of continuing budget 

 2           hearings, I would ask people to join us -- 

 3           the next budget hearing will be on Higher 

 4           Education.  It will be on Monday the 7th, 

 5           beginning at 11 a.m.

 6                  This hearing is now officially closed. 

 7                  (Whereupon, the budget hearing 

 8           concluded at 6:45 p.m.)