Proposed NYS Program Grant May Hurt Local Youth Bureau Programming

OSWEGO, NY – At Thursday’s meeting, the Oswego County Legislature will ask the state to reconsider instituting a program that would be detrimental to upstate youth.

The proposed state budget proposes a $35 million Primary Prevention Incentive Program to provide funding to prevent out of home placements and to reduce juvenile delinquency.

The program combines three Youth Bureau state aid funding streams (Youth Development Delinquency Prevention, Special Delinquency Prevention Program and Runaway and Homeless Youth Act) with six other funding streams.

These programs totaled $70 million last year.

This action assumes $35.4 million in sate general fund savings.

The three Youth Bureau funding streams are currently distributed equitably across New York State on a per capita formula (YDDP) and combination per capita and other factors (SDPP and RHYA).

The other six funding streams are all competitive grants issued by the state to local communities. Oswego County Opportunities has one of these grants (Hoyt Trust Fund); no one in Oswego County receives any of the other grants.

The PPIP funds would be allotted by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services to communities competitively based on the percent of youth in residential treatment and the child protective case rate, according to Kathy Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.

“Our residential placement rate in Oswego County is very low. Our child protective case rate, while not exceedingly high, does fall within the upper half for the state,” she said. “Oswego County, like many upstate rural counties, wouldn’t be considered a high-need county and would receive little if any of these funds based on the stated competitive basis.”

The budget language also states that the funds would be 62 percent state aid, leaving the counties to come up with 38 percent match.

The total YDDP, SDPP and RHYA state aid Oswego County currently receives is $256,000. The city of Oswego Also receives $19,000 for its Youth Bureau administrative allocation.

This state aid is distributed as follows:

  • $154,000 for 14 contracts with local not-for-profit agencies for youth services
  • $39,000 for 25 contracts with local municipalities for youth services and youth recreation programs
  • $63,000 for Youth Bureau administrative and direct programs (Youth Court, Youth Advisory Council, parks and recreation oversight, USTA tennis, Arts in the Parks, mini-grants)

The impact of the proposed PPIP is significant.

“Youth Bureau funding would be eliminated in many counties, which would promote inequities in prevention and positive youth development services across the state. It is economically not prudent to only support youth when they are at the doorstep of the child welfare and/or the juvenile justice system,” Fenlon said.

“It is likely that all programs in Oswego County currently funded by YDDP, SDPP and RHYA will lose ALL of their state aid funding, because we won’t be able to compete with downstate and urban areas using the competitive criteria. The current funding level of $275,000 supports 20 full-time and 80 part-time and seasonal jobs. These programs serve approximately 10,000 Oswego County youth each year,” she continued. “There are 46 programs affected – 24 programs that are contracted out to community not-for-profit organizations or run by the Youth Bureau directly, and 22 programs contracted out to municipalities.”

Currently, Youth Bureau state aid is allocated to local agencies based on local need.

The PPIP would prevent counties from adapting state aid allocations to meet the distinctive needs of their youth and families; local control would diminish and state control would dominate.

“If the proposed PPIP is passed, Oswego County could apply for the funds on a competitive basis. We wouldn’t be considered a high-need county and any funding we received would be minimal. The municipal youth services and youth recreation programs would all lose their funding, as would most, if not all of the contracted services,” according to Fenlon.

Youth Bureau funding is often the building block used to secure other funding, she added.

The legislature meeting is set for 2 p.m. in the Legislative Chamber, fourth floor of the County Building.