Budgets reveal priorities and values. How cities, counties and states, school districts, and our nation as a whole decide to spend our money declares who matters. That's why The Children's Agenda has since our inception 18 years ago, played a watchdog role for the next generation, advocating for what children need most and what works best.
From the Rochester City School District budget to the City of Rochester to Albany -- elected officials have been deciding what to invest in and how much for our children.
How have our governments invested in kids? Read on!
Strong Children/Strong City of Rochester
The Children's Agenda commends the Rochester Mayor and City Council for investing in:
The Children's Agenda additional made six recommendations to further meet the social emotional and developmental needs of youth:
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." ~ Frederick Douglass
Youth Violence Prevention
Youth Mental Health
Reduce the Rochester Police Department budget by at least $1 million and shift investments to (a) fund a collaboration with Rochester City School District and Monroe County to implement universal mental health screening in all RCSD schools and/or (b) fund an initiative to engage disconnected youth, including a study of housing needs and solutions.
Convene a collaborative of entities with new or expanded initiatives responding to the youth mental health crisis to share data, coordinate planning, and prevent duplication of and gaps in services.
The City of Rochester plays a role in supporting positive youth development and youth mental health. Youth-serving staff in places like the R-Centers, libraries, sports facilities, and neighborhood service centers can have profound impacts on children's lives.
Rochester residents signed petitions and sent letters to the RCSD Superintendent and School Board Commissioners
Parents organized by
The Children's Agenda met with each Commissioner
Public comments made at RCSD and City Council meetings by students and parents organized by
The Children's Agenda
Supporting Student Success
Statewide, this year saw the fulfillment of New York's promise to fully fund Foundation Aid to bring equity to school funding. Foundation Aid was funded at $21.345 billion and Education Aid at $31 billion. This represents more than $3.6 billion in additional funding for K-12 education in New York. It is the result of more than a decade of advocacy by students, parents, community members, educators, and others who care about educating our children.
In Rochester, education funding was not so clear. The Rochester City School District budget shows some promising investments in student mental health, restorative practices, anti-racism professional development, and educator diversity. still unknown, however is:
The lack of detail and transparency in the RCSD budget led the Rochester City Council to vote against it (7-0). Although their vote is not binding on the school district, The Children's Agenda appreciates their listening to the students, parents and community members.
Child Care Holds Our Economy Together
The child care crisis that began before the pandemic and exploded since then, continues. While some child care programs are stabilizing, others closed permanently.
The Children's Agenda, our partners in the Empire State Campaign for Child Care, and hundreds of people throughout the state who sent letters to Albany, secured a commitment of $7 billion over the next four years. That includes almost $2 billion across various child care programs for this year.
In Monroe County this means, starting in August, approximately HALF of children under age 12 will be income-eligible for child care assistance.
There is still work to be done!
Two bills, both championed by TCA together with Assembly Members Andrew Hevesi and Jen Lunsford, passed by the Assembly and state Senate this session. One decouples financial assistance from parents’ hours of work, and the other changes eligibility for assistance from 12 to 24 months. Keep your eyes on your inbox for Action Alerts should we need to advocate for the Governor to sign them.
Listen to parent advocate Stevie Vargas on what is needed in child care here.
Kids Can't Wait
New York is also in a growing crisis over the availability of Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education for children with developmental delays and disabilities.
The rate that New York state pays providers is lower than it was in the 1990s. Consequently, providers like speech, occupation and physical therapists are leaving Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education programs are closing.
A coalition of parents, providers and advocates succeeded in securing an 11% increase in the state rate paid for Preschool Special Education in the New York state budget.
We continue to work on a similar increase for Early Intervention. Scroll down to the Action Alert to learn how you can help make this happen!
Action Changes Things
Kids Can't Wait for Early Intervention
Your voice matters! If your child is waiting for Early Intervention or received Early Intervention in the past, sharing your story can help us get the Governor to sign into law important measures that will help cut the time kids wait for services.
Make a difference in 4 simple steps:
Facebook: @Governor Kathy Hochul
The Governor is not on Instagram, but if you use the #KidsCantWait hashtag, we will make sure she sees it.
Parent Leader Spotlight
Parent leader Tiffany Howard recently stepped up her advocacy to the national level with TCA's help.
On May 23rd she was a panelist on a national Parent Voices Panel hosted by MomsRising, Start Early, UPLAN, Partnership for America's Children, and the Educational Equity Institute. The panel discussion has been watched by more than 3,400 people across the nation.
Tiffany's youngest child is on the autism spectrum. She shared her experiences advocating for her son as well as her insights as an early childhood educator.
The panel highlighted the importance of parent partnership and why it is crucial that parent voices are always involved in policy making decisions.
You can watch the panel here.
Thank you, Tiffany, for representing Rochester and New York parents!
To get involved with our community advocacy group, send a message to Carmen Torres at email@example.com or call her at (585) 256-2620 ext. 2613.
Episode 15 – Danielle Jones on Maternal Wellness
Danielle is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, doula, and a highly involved parent leader working with The Children's Agenda in the Rochester community. This conversation focuses on her background, her involvement in the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, her work as a doula, and maternal wellness.
Episode 16 – Sara Taylor on Mental Health Care for Children in our Community
Sara is a parent of a child with mental health challenges, an advocate for parents and families advocating the mental health system, and the founder of BIPOC PEEEEEEK, a parent organizing effort. She shares her perspective on the state of mental health care for children in our community, inequities within that system, and news about an exciting project that she and other parents are attempting to launch in the fall of 2022.
TCA In the News
Challenges in Child Care (Rochester Beacon)
Shortage of Early Intervention Services in Monroe County a Concern for Hundreds of Parents (WHAM)
Celebrating Parent Power
At the beginning of June we celebrated parent power with parents The Children's Agenda has been working with to pass laws and change systems in ways that support children. Thank you to all the parents, students and community members who give your time and energy to this movement.
Thank You to our Recent Donors!
Black Nurses Association • Candles 4 Kindness • Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation • ESL Charitable Foundation • Feinbloom Supporting Foundation • Rebecca Levine • Sarah Mittiga • Donald and Karen Pryor • Joe Simson • Paul Tremblay and Jennifer West
Children are young for a short time.
You can make a difference by contributing today.
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The Children’s Agenda1 South Washington St., Suite 120Rochester, NY 14614Find Us With Google Maps(585) 256-2620
The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.