Passage of a family-friendly budget in Albany

Long-term Brooklyn Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs says the recent passage of a New York State Assembly’s budget proposal will help struggling families maintain a better quality of life by assisting single-parent households and funding vital family and disability programs for needy New Yorkers.

“During this tough economic time, we cannot allow our most vulnerable New Yorkers to slip through the cracks,” Jacobs said last week in a statement. “By increasing the public assistance grant this year, we can ensure that hardworking families get the financial assistance they need now, not later.”

Jacobs, the Assembly’s assistant speaker, who represents the 42nd Assembly District that includes Flatbush and Midwood, says the budget proposal rejects a plan to delay implementation of the public-assistance grant increase.

Alternatively, she added, “The Assembly earmarks $24 million for full implementation of the 10 percent public-assistance grant increase to take effect on July 1, 2012”.

The Assembly proposal includes language that would temporarily exempt single-parent temporary-assistance households with infants under the age of 1 from work requirements for 12 months — an initiative that would open up 2,200 day care slots statewide.

“This family-friendly initiative would have the added benefit of making more day care slots available,” said Ms. Jacobs, adding: “It’s important to help single-parent households struggling to get by, so they have the opportunity to properly care for their families.”

The Assembly budget proposal also establishes the “Close to Home Initiative,” to benefit at-risk youths, under which New York City will be allowed to oversee non-secure and limited-secure juvenile justice facilities.

The plan would also:

~ require additional public hearings and reports to the Legislature;

~ require the respondent, his or her attorney and the parent to be notified of any placement change;

~ retain judicial authority to order specific services upon placing a youth;

~ limit the time under which a youth may be placed in a local detention facility, pending his or her court proceeding;

~ create a panel of independent experts to assist in validating the risk-assessment instrument used to guide placement determinations; and

~ sunset the authorization to close facilities with 60 days notice in April 2013.

“Currently, when at-risk youths are placed in juvenile facilities, they are sent miles and miles away from their families and communities,” Jacobs said. “By setting up a juvenile system in New York City, we can increase transparency and accountability, while keeping our at-risk children closer to home.”

Jacobs added that budget proposal also restores vital family and disability programs which were eliminated from the executive budget proposal; provides increased aid to the elderly and disabled; and implements a Social Security Income Cost of Living Adjustment beginning January 2013.

“As the cost of living rises, it gets harder and harder for many seniors and disabled individuals to make ends meet,” said Jacobs. “This adjustment for social security recipients will help ease the financial burden on millions of retired and disabled New Yorkers who have seen their medical and prescription expenses skyrocket, and their savings accounts diminish.”

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