Poloncarz, Astorino Voice Opposition To Family First Legislation

Modified: September 20, 2016 3:52pm

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Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined in Niagara Falls by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, President of the NYS County Executives Association, and numerous other County Executives from across New York to voice opposition to pending First Family legislation that could potentially cost New York state and county governments hundreds of millions of dollars a year in funding for preventive services for families and children in crisis. The federal bill, the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 (H.R. 5456 and S.3065), would penalize states such as New York, California, and Texas, which have already invested millions of dollars into services and programs designed to support these individuals.

“Protecting children and families in crisis is one of the chief responsibilities of government, and in New York State we have led the way nationwide in doing so for many years,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Other states have not been as proactive as New York in providing supports and services for these individuals, and this proposed legislation will cost New York residents millions of dollars as funding for these vital services is shifted to states that have not been as forward-leaning as New York in addressing family crises.”

“We applaud the bill’s intense focus on preventive services and the intention of helping states fund more expanded preventive programs. But the funding for other states will come at a cost to New York taxpayers, and worse yet, the bill’s provisions will actually impeded the progress that we have been making on family crisis issues over the past decade,” said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Under New York state law, counties are mandated to provide foster care services under a Foster Care Block Grant. This Block Grant is funded mainly from federal sources which counties access for foster placement services across the state. However, not all states have such a mechanism in place for foster care services and have not invested significant funds in preventive services as New York has. Under the new legislation, new standards of certification will be created that are non-existent today and will require NYS and county governments to meet a maintenance of effort threshold before being able to access federal funds.

The projected financial impact varies, but according to the New York Association of Counties (“NYSAC”) costs could be as high as 4% of the current property tax levy. It is projected Erie County could lose as much as $12 million, which would necessitate significant budget cuts elsewhere or increased property taxes.