Funding Increased, Not Cut, For New York City Foster Youth Mentor Program


Fair Futures campaign rally outside New York City Hall, pre-pandemic. Fair Futures, a coalition of foundations, nonprofit foster care agencies, and foster youth, will see a budget increase instead of a significant cut because additional resources were identified for the mentorship program. Credit: Fair Futures

New York City child welfare advocates are cheering a budget agreement that spares deep funding cuts from a program providing mentors for thousands of foster youth.

The program, known as Fair Futures, was slated for significant cuts last week, when the city adopted an $88 billion budget that was deeply constrained by the economic fallout from the coronavirus. While core child welfare programs were largely spared, second-year funding for Fair Futures was going to be reduced from $10 million this year to $2.7 million next year — a 73% cut.

Approved only last year, Fair Futures provides paid, trained life coaches and tutors for roughly 2,000 foster youth. About 300 coaches with the program had been screened and trained as of June by most of the 26 nonprofit agencies that contract with the city to serve foster youth. Many faced layoffs just as the program was getting off the ground if the money was not restored.

After a coalition of supporters protested the cut to Mayor Bill DeBlasio and his Administration for Children’s Services, over the weekend, ACS Deputy Commissioner Julie Farber sent a letter to the coalition informing members that there had been a breakthrough.

Farber said she and Commissioner David Hansell were “thrilled to share” the news that the city had identified additional resources, allowing for $12 million in funding for Fair Futures this year — 20% more than the program had hoped to get.

“As such, we are asking agencies to halt any layoffs related to Fair Futures,” Farber wrote. “We look forward to working closely with you, as well as with the private funders, to maintain the investments you have made.”

*The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Redlich Horwitz Foundation provide funding to The Imprint’s parent organization, Fostering Media Connections, and to the Fair Futures campaign. They had no involvement with this article, per our editorial independence policy.

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