Candidate Questionnaire Responses

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New York State Senate

Click on each tab to see how Senate candidates responded to our questions related to children’s issues

The Children’s Agenda is an independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advocates for effective policies and drives evidence-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health disparities and trauma. Our Board members and funding sources are both entirely independent of government. Outcomes in children’s health, education and well-being are broadly affected by public policies and government action and inaction. We ask candidates whose districts include Monroe County to share their positions and perspectives on children’s issues so we can in turn share them with our 4,000+ supporters throughout Monroe County and the general public.

We asked New York State Senate Candidates to complete a questionnaire so that they could outline their responses to critical children’s issues in our community.

This is a nonpartisan effort. The Children’s Agenda does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. We understand that voters make decisions based on a variety of qualifications that go beyond responses to any one questionnaire.
Q1: IMPROVING CHILD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Studies show that childhood trauma has lifelong effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. In the Rochester area, too many children grow up in under-resourced families and neighborhoods, and in communities heavily impacted by concentrated poverty. Two-thirds of Monroe County high schoolers report that they have had adverse experiences that research has shown places them at higher risk of challenges later in life.If elected, how will you work to prevent childhood trauma and improve the health and well-being of children and families in your district?

Childhood trauma has its roots in poverty. When parents are stressed due to money issues, healthcare problems and legal issues, children often suffer. By ensuring that parents have the assistance they need to provide a healthy, stable home for their kids, we can reduce childhood trauma at its source. That means investing in a single-payer healthcare system, higher minimum wage, and finding ways to improve job opportunities for our lower-skilled workers. We should also invest in mental health services to ensure that we can identify and treat childhood trauma in its earliest stages—that means funding school counselors and making sure that mental health is assessed in kids at pediatric visits.

Q2: SUPPORTING STUDENT SUCCESS: There are extreme disparities in educational outcomes among students in Monroe County school districts, which include some of the nation’s highest achieving schools alongside some of the worst performing schools. New York State government has authority over a substantial amount of education policy and funding. How do you plan to create more equitable opportunities for all students? What specific funding and policy proposals do you suggest to improve New York schools?

We need to pass a clean APPR reform bill to ensure that our teachers are assessed at the local level, using real student outcomes and not just standardized test scores. We also need to fully fund our foundation aid program, which likely means revisiting the formulas. I oppose tax vouchers in all forms and believe we need to fully fund public school before investing in charter schools.

Q3: CHILDREN CAN’T WAIT: Research shows that early supports for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with developmental delays or disabilities can be a game-changer for many children. But state reimbursement rates paid to providers like physical and occupational therapists and feeding specialists who work with young children are inadequate; some have even been cut in recent years. Because of these low reimbursement rates, programs are closing and a growing number of providers are leaving the field, making it difficult for children to get services in a timely manner with maximum impact. One in 3 young children in Monroe County in 2016 had to wait at least 30 days for services to begin, and some wait months. If elected, what would you propose to ensure timely early developmental services to all children who need them?

The New York Health Act would go a long way towards fixing these disparities in reimbursement, as would raising the minimum wage. The New York Health Act would also free up money currently spent on administrative costs and allow those funds to be diverted to clinical and practical care. We should also begin advertising occupational, physical, and speech therapy as career choices to high school students to help address the growing need. We have a wonderful Bright Start program here in Monroe County, we just need to expand those services and ensure that there is enough of it to go around.

Q4: ATTRACTING AND RETAINING VALUABLE CAREGIVERS AND TEACHERS: Many of the child care educators caring for New York’s youngest are paid wages that leave them living at or near poverty. The average median wage for a child care educator in New York is $12.38 an hour or $25,760 per year. Low compensation in the field causes high turnover rates, in turn causing instability for young children who need consistency in caregivers to establish healthy and secure attachments.If elected, what actions would you take to address shortages in the early childhood education workforce?

I believe we need a $15 minimum wage across the board to ensure that working people can sustain themselves with a full time job. Childcare workers have incredibly tiring and difficult jobs. We need to make sure they are properly compensated and supported on the job to provide appropriate care to our kids.

Q5:MAKING CHILD CARE AFFORDABLE FOR WORKING FAMILIES: The cost of child care in NY rivals mortgage payments. New York State ranks among the most expensive states for child care in the nation, with average cost for full-time center-based care at $15,000 a year for an infant. Thousands of children in Monroe County are eligible for a child care subsidy but are unserved. Statewide, fewer than 20% of families eligible for child care subsidies receive them.Q If elected, what policy or funding changes would you pursue to make high quality child care more accessible and affordable for families?

We need to increase funding for subsidies to ensure those that qualify can actually access that assistance, but we can’t pay our way out of this problem– there simply isn’t enough money. Middle income families struggle terribly with the cost of child care as well, with many people choosing to leave the workforce rather than pay for daycare. We need to find ways to more efficiently spend our tax dollars to provide cost-effective, quality child care to everyone who needs it. I believe partnering with private business and finding ways to provide childcare subsidies as a benefit would be a way to help with the rising cost of childcare and keep parents in the workplace, thus reducing turnover.

Q6: SEAMLESS SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: Funding for New York’s First 1000 Days on Medicaid and the Regents Blue Ribbon Early Childhood Commission presents an opportunity for Monroe County to adopt innovations that will benefit local young children and serve as examples for statewide implementation. Rochester’s “All Kids Thrive” initiative creates practices that seamlessly work with one another and integrate services among health care, early education, education, and human services structures so that families can easily navigate systems that provide support to their children.If elected, how do you propose to ensure that Monroe County is chosen as a pilot site for implementation of First 1000 Days and Regents Early Childhood Commission reforms?

Monroe County, and my district which includes parts of Ontario County, is a microcosm of the entire state. We have an low-income city population, affluent and middle income suburban population and rural communities. This district is a perfect location for a pilot program as it allows the state to test the efficacy of a program in a variety of settings. There is a strong likelihood the State Senate is going to flip majorities this year and we will need someone in that new democratic majority to make sure we have a fighting chance at these kinds of opportunities. I will be a strong advocate for this district and, as someone who has worked with kids throughout this region, I am well placed to articulate the value this area can provide for this sort of pilot program.

Q7: LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM: A 2015 report released by The Children’s Agenda found that only a third of Rochester students had access to a quality afterschool program. National research as well as our local United Way’s data show that children who engage regularly in an afterschool program are more likely to attend school and get higher grades. Summer learning programs have also demonstrated positive impact on academic success by preventing learning loss over the summer months.If elected, what would you do to increase school-age children’s access to high quality out-of-school-time programs?

We need to partner with existing local and municipal programming to provide a diverse and affordable set of opportunities for kids, especially in the summer when brain-drain sets in. Making sure we have funding for transportation from school to off-site programming is a more efficient use of funding than providing programming at each school. Using a community school format to coordinate programming can help increase access to programs and also expose students to kids from outside of their home districts.

Q8: GETTING YOUTH ON THE RIGHT TRACK: In 2017, New York State approved a Raise the Age policy in New York that shifts 16- and 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system. This change took effect on October 1, 2018. While this will be better for the youth and for community safety, Raise the Age will require more funding for specialized detention beds and more alternative-to-detention, probation and diversion services. Governor Cuomo committed to 100% state reimbursement for County expenditures related to Raise the Age. If elected, how will you work to achieve full and effective implementation of Raise the Age in your district? What else will you do to keep youth out of prison and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline?

I have spent a large part of my legal career working with the Rochester Teen Court, a judicial diversion program that gives first time, non-violent teen offenders a second chance to make the right decision. The realities of the school to prison pipeline result in many of our area’s youth entering adulthood ten steps behind. Because of youthful indiscretions, many of which would have resulted in a suspension in a suburban school, our young adults missing out on educational and job opportunities. We need to stop treating high school like a prison. We need to recognize that teenagers’ brains are not fully developed and that they lack the kind of impulse control and understanding of consequences that we expect from adults. In short, we need to treat kids like kids. I was very pleased with the passage of Raise the Age and I will work to ensure that appropriate funding is provided to fully implement that institutional supports necessary to support that endeavor. I also believe we should invest more in diversion and alternative dispute resolution programs to help keep kids out of detention centers whenever possible.

Q9: PROMOTING WORK, REDUCING POVERTY: The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, has been shown to increase family resources, promote employment, and lead to better outcomes for children. New York provides it own EITC on in addition to the federal credit, payable in a lump sum once a year.Other states’ experiences have demonstrated that there are changes to EITC that can make it more effective in lifting families out of poverty. If elected, what would changes would you support to increase its positive impact on families and children?

This is a more important issue than ever given the threat to our SALT deductions at the federal level. I would support an effort to broaden the eligibility for the EITC and to increase the amount. I think we also need to educate people about the fact that the EITC exists. I have encountered people who did not even realize it was something they were entitled to.

Q10: EVERY CHILD DESERVES A BRIGHT FUTURE: The are racial disparities present in outcomes related to every aspect of children’s lives, including education, health, and social-emotional well-being. Recent research points to the disparities that start in the earliest days of life, with Black mothers more likely to die during childbirth and Black infants more likely to die in the first year of life.If elected, what strategies will you promote to reduce the institutional racism in New York State’s systems that serve children?

We need to recognize that racial disparities exist all around us. When we look at how our underfunded transit system is failing our communities, it is our communities of color that are impacted the most. When we look at the disparities in school funding, we see that again, it is our communities of color that are most undercut. And when we look at labor issues, especially those in minimum and low wage jobs, it is our communities of color that have the largest wage disparities. By investing in people, and working to lift up everyone, we can provide parity in the services that are delivered to our most negatively impacted communities. The New York Health Act would allow women better access to contraception, which would help ensure that more pregnancies are wanted pregnancies. It would give women access to prenatal care to help make every pregnancy as healthy as possible. And it would provide real access to quality post-natal and pediatric care, including dental treatment, that would help set our kids off on the right foot. Raising the minimum wage and protecting our unions (where people of color, especially women of color, see the lowest wage disparities) will help lift communities of color out of poverty. Legalizing marijuana would have an enormous impact on our communities of color, which are disproportionately affected by enforcement of these drug laws. We must also face head on the way our criminal justice system targets people of color, especially young, black men.
Q1: IMPROVING CHILD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Studies show that childhood trauma has lifelong effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. In the Rochester area, too many children grow up in under-resourced families and neighborhoods, and in communities heavily impacted by concentrated poverty. Two-thirds of Monroe County high schoolers report that they have had adverse experiences that research has shown places them at higher risk of challenges later in life. If elected, how will you work to prevent childhood trauma and improve the health and well-being of children and families in your district?

Mental and physical health of our students has become a growing concern over the last several years. Just this session, I co-sponsored S7805, which would establish the school mental health services program to provide qualifying schools with mental health services professionals. This bill would also establish a grant program to reimburse school districts who hire mental health service professionals. I believe we can improve the health and well-being of our students by putting more mental health professionals in our schools.

Q2: SUPPORTING STUDENT SUCCESS: There are extreme disparities in educational outcomes among students in Monroe County school districts, which include some of the nation’s highest achieving schools alongside some of the worst performing schools. New York State government has authority over a substantial amount of education policy and funding. How do you plan to create more equitable opportunities for all students? What specific funding and policy proposals do you suggest to improve New York schools?

My district has one of the state’s highest performing districts in Brighton, and one of the lowest in the City of Rochester. The State of New York spends more money per student than any other state in the country, $23,000/student. While that is great, there are certainly measures we can take to improve results. I was proud to sponsor the Rochester School Modernization program to renovate and improve our city schools so our students have modern, state-of-the-art facilities to learn and grow. I will continue to work with the Rochester City School District to create more community schools, which I believe benefit the students, families and neighborhoods of our city.

Q3: CHILDREN CAN’T WAIT: Research shows that early supports for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with developmental delays or disabilities can be a game-changer for many children. But state reimbursement rates paid to providers like physical and occupational therapists and feeding specialists who work with young children are inadequate; some have even been cut in recent years. Because of these low reimbursement rates, programs are closing and a growing number of providers are leaving the field, making it difficult for children to get services in a timely manner with maximum impact. One in 3 young children in Monroe County in 2016 had to wait at least 30 days for services to begin, and some wait months. If elected, what would you propose to ensure timely early developmental services to all children who need them?

I have been a loud voice for increasing the state reimbursement rate for providers who help children with developmental delays or disabilities. I am the sponsor of S5992, which will help create development milestones for dear and hard of hearing children. Whether its programs through Boces or a private service, I have worked to improve early childhood intervention. I voted in favor of legislation during the 2018 session to mandate autism screening that is in compliance with guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children three years of age and younger. I also supported S3895, which would direct multiple state agencies to study and report the costs for the early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and the long-term treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. I also voted for and help pass S.7408 that creates a study to assess the use of “baby boxes” or other products that can benefit infant health and reduce mortality rates. I also helped pass in the Senate S.8924 to ensure health insurance coverage of medically necessary enteral formula. As someone with a child with a hearing impairment, I know that the services she got at a young age helped her later in life. I will continue to support programs that help our youngest students.

Q4: ATTRACTING AND RETAINING VALUABLE CAREGIVERS AND TEACHERS: Many of the child care educators caring for New York’s youngest are paid wages that leave them living at or near poverty. The average median wage for a child care educator in New York is $12.38 an hour or $25,760 per year. Low compensation in the field causes high turnover rates, in turn causing instability for young children who need consistency in caregivers to establish healthy and secure attachments. If elected, what actions would you take to address shortages in the early childhood education workforce?

Along with being a loud voice for increasing the state’s reimbursement rate, I have long advocated for increased support to help wages for child care educators in New York. While these professionals often make less than K-12 teachers, their job is no less important. This is why, as a member of the Rules Committee, I voted in favor of S.7362 that would have enabled all school districts to adequately fund full-day pre-kindergarten programs.

Q5: MAKING CHILD CARE AFFORDABLE FOR WORKING FAMILIES: The cost of child care in NY rivals mortgage payments. New York State ranks among the most expensive states for child care in the nation, with average cost for full-time center-based care at $15,000 a year for an infant. Thousands of children in Monroe County are eligible for a child care subsidy but are unserved. Statewide, fewer than 20% of families eligible for child care subsidies receive them. If elected, what policy or funding changes would you pursue to make high quality child care more accessible and affordable for families?

The Senate has often advocated for increases in the State Budget for the value of tax credits that families receive every day, like day care. We proposed doubling the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and included special help for families with more than one child in a day care setting.

Q6: SEAMLESS SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: Funding for New York’s First 1000 Days on Medicaid and the Regents Blue Ribbon Early Childhood Commission presents an opportunity for Monroe County to adopt innovations that will benefit local young children and serve as examples for statewide implementation. Rochester’s “All Kids Thrive” initiative creates practices that seamlessly work with one another and integrate services among health care, early education, education, and human services structures so that families can easily navigate systems that provide support to their children. If elected, how do you propose to ensure that Monroe County is chosen as a pilot site for implementation of First 1000 Days and Regents Early Childhood Commission reforms?

I was pleased to carry the State Senate letter in support of Monroe County’s selection as a pilot site for the implementation of the First 1000 Days and Regents Early Childhood Commission. I will continue to support this initiative and Monroe County’s place in the pilot program.

Q7: LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM: A 2015 report released by The Children’s Agenda found that only a third of Rochester students had access to a quality afterschool program. National research as well as our local United Way’s data show that children who engage regularly in an afterschool program are more likely to attend school and get higher grades. Summer learning programs have also demonstrated positive impact on academic success by preventing learning loss over the summer months. If elected, what would you do to increase school-age children’s access to high quality out-of-school-time programs?

I have supported community schools throughout my tenure in the State Senate. Having safe, quality after school programs in our schools can benefit the students and families of our City.

Q8: GETTING YOUTH ON THE RIGHT TRACK: In 2017, New York State approved a Raise the Age policy in New York that shifts 16- and 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system. This change took effect on October 1, 2018. While this will be better for the youth and for community safety, Raise the Age will require more funding for specialized detention beds and more alternative-to-detention, probation and diversion services. Governor Cuomo committed to 100% state reimbursement for County expenditures related to Raise the Age. If elected, how will you work to achieve full and effective implementation of Raise the Age in your district? What else will you do to keep youth out of prison and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline?

I do not believe that juvenile offenders should be kept in the same prisons as adults. However, I also believe that juveniles who commit violent felonies are a danger to society and therefore should not be released early. I will work with all of my colleagues in the Senate to pass a Raise the Age bill that is equitable to our state’s children and ensures that our communities are safe.

Q9: PROMOTING WORK, REDUCING POVERTY: The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, has been shown to increase family resources, promote employment, and lead to better outcomes for children. New York provides its own EITC on in addition to the federal credit, payable in a lump sum once a year. Other states’ experiences have demonstrated that there are changes to EITC that can make it more effective in lifting families out of poverty. If elected, what changes would you support to increase its positive impact on families and children?

One of my primaries goals in the State Senate has been to make the State more affordable to families and to alleviate the tax burdens that cripple households. There are several pieces of legislation introduced in my conference that I would support including S.6417 and S.6915. I will continue to push for and support any legislation that puts focus on initiatives that help more families afford to stay and thrive in their communities.

Q10: EVERY CHILD DESERVES A BRIGHT FUTURE: The are racial disparities present in outcomes related to every aspect of children’s lives, including education, health, and social-emotional well-being. Recent research points to the disparities that start in the earliest days of life, with Black mothers more likely to die during childbirth and Black infants more likely to die in the first year of life. If elected, what strategies will you promote to reduce the institutional racism in New York State’s systems that serve children?

I have worked for decades to ensure that all of my constituents from every background is given the resources they need in order to have a fair chance to succeed. One of the fundamental issues that drives the disparity is the ability of families and individuals to maintain financial stability when they access or utilize the health care system. In accordance with these concerns I helped pass S.986 that made changes to the Medical Indemnity Fund to allow children better access to health services. Greater access helps end these disparities by improving physical and social quality of life.

New York State Assembly

Click on each tab to see how Assembly candidates responded to our questions related to children’s issues

The Children’s Agenda is an independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advocates for effective policies and drives evidence-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health disparities and trauma. Our Board members and funding sources are both entirely independent of government. Outcomes in children’s health, education and well-being are broadly affected by public policies and government action and inaction. We ask candidates whose districts include Monroe County to share their positions and perspectives on children’s issues so we can in turn share them with our 4,000+ supporters throughout Monroe County and the general public.

We asked New York State Assembly Candidates to complete a questionnaire so that they could outline their responses to critical children’s issues in our community.

This is a nonpartisan effort. The Children’s Agenda does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. We understand that voters make decisions based on a variety of qualifications that go beyond responses to any one questionnaire.
Q1: IMPROVING CHILD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Studies show that childhood trauma has lifelong effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. In the Rochester area, too many children grow up in under-resourced families and neighborhoods, and in communities heavily impacted by concentrated poverty. Two-thirds of Monroe County high schoolers report that they have had adverse experiences that research has shown places them at higher risk of challenges later in life. If elected, how will you work to prevent childhood trauma and improve the health and well-being of children and families in your district?

Create more access to mental health and talk about it often. There is too much stigma attached to it.

Q2: SUPPORTING STUDENT SUCCESS: There are extreme disparities in educational outcomes among students in Monroe County school districts, which include some of the nation’s highest achieving schools alongside some of the worst performing schools. New York State government has authority over a substantial amount of education policy and funding. How do you plan to create more equitable opportunities for all students? What specific funding and policy proposals do you suggest to improve New York schools?

There are many disparities in the schools. I suggest a longer day, time on task, and more homework at the end of the school day. I believe we should cut down on the testing and let the creative teachers, of whom there are many connect with the schools. In some schools the children have to be given hope. That means there must be hope for a job market. There should be partnerships with businesses so students have a step to a job.

Q3: CHILDREN CAN’T WAIT: Research shows that early supports for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with developmental delays or disabilities can be a game-changer for many children. But state reimbursement rates paid to providers like physical and occupational therapists and feeding specialists who work with young children are inadequate; some have even been cut in recent years. Because of these low reimbursement rates, programs are closing and a growing number of providers are leaving the field, making it difficult for children to get services in a timely manner with maximum impact. One in 3 young children in Monroe County in 2016 had to wait at least 30 days for services to begin, and some wait months. If elected, what would you propose to ensure timely early developmental services to all children who need them?

I would set up a not for profit clinic in the district which would get funding in the district from grants and donations as well as conventional payments. This would enable someone to be available at any time.

Q4: ATTRACTING AND RETAINING VALUABLE CAREGIVERS AND TEACHERS: Many of the child care educators caring for New York’s youngest are paid wages that leave them living at or near poverty. The average median wage for a child care educator in New York is $12.38 an hour or $25,760 per year. Low compensation in the field causes high turnover rates, in turn causing instability for young children who need consistency in caregivers to establish healthy and secure attachments. If elected, what actions would you take to address shortages in the early childhood education workforce?

I would fight for more day care and for raises for the educational workforce who are involved in early childhood.br>
Q5: MAKING CHILD CARE AFFORDABLE FOR WORKING FAMILIES: The cost of child care in NY rivals mortgage payments. New York State ranks among the most expensive states for child care in the nation, with average cost for full-time center-based care at $15,000 a year for an infant. Thousands of children in Monroe County are eligible for a child care subsidy but are unserved. Statewide, fewer than 20% of families eligible for child care subsidies receive them. If elected, what policy or funding changes would you pursue to make high quality child care more accessible and affordable for families?

There is money in the Monroe County Budget for child care. Too much has been paid to cover scandalous programs which led to nowhere.

Q6: SEAMLESS SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: Funding for New York’s First 1000 Days on Medicaid and the Regents Blue Ribbon Early Childhood Commission presents an opportunity for Monroe County to adopt innovations that will benefit local young children and serve as examples for statewide implementation. Rochester’s “All Kids Thrive” initiative creates practices that seamlessly work with one another and integrate services among health care, early education, education, and human services structures so that families can easily navigate systems that provide support to their children. If elected, how do you propose to ensure that Monroe County is chosen as a pilot site for implementation of First 1000 Days and Regents Early Childhood Commission reforms?

That is the point-as a member of the majority party I could go to Albany to fight for our district the 133. Until now the district has had nay sayers who vote no and get nothing done.

Q7: LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM: A 2015 report released by The Children’s Agenda found that only a third of Rochester students had access to a quality afterschool program. National research as well as our local United Way’s data show that children who engage regularly in an afterschool program are more likely to attend school and get higher grades. Summer learning programs have also demonstrated positive impact on academic success by preventing learning loss over the summer months. If elected, what would you do to increase school-age children’s access to high quality out-of-school-time programs?

There has be more time in school. School days need to be longer. There is no way a round this fact.

Q8: GETTING YOUTH ON THE RIGHT TRACK: In 2017, New York State approved a Raise the Age policy in New York that shifts 16- and 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system. This change took effect on October 1, 2018. While this will be better for the youth and for community safety, Raise the Age will require more funding for specialized detention beds and more alternative-to-detention, probation and diversion services. Governor Cuomo committed to 100% state reimbursement for County expenditures related to Raise the Age. If elected, how will you work to achieve full and effective implementation of Raise the Age in your district? What else will you do to keep youth out of prison and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline?

First check on how the program is doing. My understanding is that the counties are having a hard time getting the program in place. First step is to get program in place. Second step deal with foster care issue. I know this well as I adopted two boys out of foster care who were ten and thirteen. They are grown and fine but many are not. Third with children who live at home. They must be given hope and schools that connect with them and offer some possibilities make a difference. There must be training for jobs that really exist. Also if their parents were paid a living wage they might be home for the kids more often and not in such dire poverty.

Q9: PROMOTING WORK, REDUCING POVERTY: The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, has been shown to increase family resources, promote employment, and lead to better outcomes for children. New York provides its own EITC on in addition to the federal credit, payable in a lump sum once a year. Other states’ experiences have demonstrated that there are changes to EITC that can make it more effective in lifting families out of poverty. If elected, what changes would you support to increase its positive impact on families and children?

I would have to explore the changes and would certainly support the ones I thought effective.

Q10: EVERY CHILD DESERVES A BRIGHT FUTURE: The are racial disparities present in outcomes related to every aspect of children’s lives, including education, health, and social-emotional well-being. Recent research points to the disparities that start in the earliest days of life, with Black mothers more likely to die during childbirth and Black infants more likely to die in the first year of life. If elected, what strategies will you promote to reduce the institutional racism in New York State’s systems that serve children?

That answer is a book. But as too Black mothers more likely to die…. the health care system does not welcome or believe black pregnant mothers in the same way as whites. Blacks are more reluctant to go to the health clinics for all sorts of reasons. And they don’t get the same care. There are many studies about this and there are pediatric nurses who study it. The hospitals and post and prenatal care units must find community advocates to work to get more women to take advantage of the service. That is the first step to taking down the barriers.
Q1: IMPROVING CHILD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Studies show that childhood trauma has lifelong effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. In the Rochester area, too many children grow up in under-resourced families and neighborhoods, and in communities heavily impacted by concentrated poverty. Two-thirds of Monroe County high schoolers report that they have had adverse experiences that research has shown places them at higher risk of challenges later in life. If elected, how will you work to prevent childhood trauma and improve the health and well-being of children and families in your district?

My responsibility as an elected official is to listen to the childhood development and educational professionals who are able to provide the services needed and ensure they have the resources to service our families. There are many programs across our state and region designed to address aspects of poverty such as housing, nutrition, financial assistance and mental health, among other areas that are a challenge to families. Experts on trauma and brain research have developed classroom strategies that are essential for teachers to achieve maximum effectiveness addressing the needs of students suffering from trauma, whether caused by being raised in concentrated poverty or for any other reason. I am proud of my record of providing the resources needs to execute those strategies through programs such as “Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative. I will continue to seek out best practices and seek resources to fund them.

Q2: SUPPORTING STUDENT SUCCESS: There are extreme disparities in educational outcomes among students in Monroe County school districts, which include some of the nation’s highest achieving schools alongside some of the worst performing schools. New York State government has authority over a substantial amount of education policy and funding. How do you plan to create more equitable opportunities for all students? What specific funding and policy proposals do you suggest to improve New York schools?

Throughout my service as a NYS Assemblymember, I have worked to support increased funding for education so every New York student has the tools and resources they to need to succeed in the classroom. The 2018-19 state Budget includes a total of $26.6 billion in education funding. That’s an increase of $914 million over the previous year. This year’s state budget helps ensure every student, no matter where they live or what challenges may stand in their way, has more opportunities to succeed.

I believe the following funding and policy proposals included in this year’s budget will help create more equitable opportunities for all students:
  • provides $12 million for Breakfast After the Bell for high-need school districts to serve breakfast after the beginning of the school day;
  • increases school lunch reimbursement for schools that purchase 30 percent of their food from New York State farmers, growers or producers from 6 to 25 cents.
  • increases funding by $50 million to help high-need schools – including struggling schools, districts with a large number of English language learners (ELLs) and districts with increasing numbers of homeless students – become community schools;
  • includes a $2.8 million increase in funding for students who face language barriers, as well as $2 million for bilingual education grants for a total of $17.5 million, and $770,000 for training programs to increase the number of teachers providing bilingual and multilingual education;
  • increases the minimum community schools funding amount from $10,000 to $75,000;
  • invests $10 million in a second round of Empire State After School awards, which will be directed to districts with high rates of childhood homelessness so that more children have a safe place to learn and grow outside of the classroom;
  • restores $1.5 million for adult literacy education, for a total of $7.8 million;
  • adds $15 million to expand prekindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds for a total of $827 million

Also, this year’s budget that establishes a working group to evaluate computer science education standards for grades K-12 to help ensure students are better prepared for emerging industries and STEM fields. To safeguard that everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue an education, the budget allocates $2 million toward the Dignity for All Students Act, which helps create a safe environment for students in public elementary and secondary schools free from discrimination, intimidation and harassment on school property, school buses and at school functions.

The state budget also provides $18.8 million in ongoing funding for President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which promotes family and community engagement, encourages professional development and addresses racial disparities in education to tackle opportunity gaps and institutional injustice for young men of color. New York became the first state in the nation to implement the program two years ago thanks to the efforts of the Assembly.


Q3: CHILDREN CAN’T WAIT: Research shows that early supports for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with developmental delays or disabilities can be a game-changer for many children. But state reimbursement rates paid to providers like physical and occupational therapists and feeding specialists who work with young children are inadequate; some have even been cut in recent years. Because of these low reimbursement rates, programs are closing and a growing number of providers are leaving the field, making it difficult for children to get services in a timely manner with maximum impact. One in 3 young children in Monroe County in 2016 had to wait at least 30 days for services to begin, and some wait months. If elected, what would you propose to ensure timely early developmental services to all children who need them?

Early intervention is paramount to achieving educational success of our children with developmental delays or disabilities. We must increase the number of evaluators and have reimbursement rates to assure effective evaluations are conducted. I supported legislation sponsored by my colleague, Assemblymember Nolan that will allow school districts regularly provide evaluation of school-age special education students. With appropriately licensed or certified professionals, a school district may apply to the Commissioner of Education to be an approved evaluator of preschool special education students. The extra application requirement to the Commissioner is burdensome and unnecessary because school districts currently provide these evaluations for school-age students. This bill will allow school districts to provide preschool evaluation services without wasting staff time in applying for a waiver. While this will provide for an increase in students being evaluated and specific needs being identified, I will still fight for the funding needed to ensure our children have the services they need.

Q4: ATTRACTING AND RETAINING VALUABLE CAREGIVERS AND TEACHERS: Many of the child care educators caring for New York’s youngest are paid wages that leave them living at or near poverty. The average median wage for a child care educator in New York is $12.38 an hour or $25,760 per year. Low compensation in the field causes high turnover rates, in turn causing instability for young children who need consistency in caregivers to establish healthy and secure attachments. If elected, what actions would you take to address shortages in the early childhood education workforce?

I have supported an increase in state funding for our not-for-profits that will allow those monies to be directed toward pay increases. I have also fought for training dollars as well as an increase in workforce training dollars that can be used by employers for recruitment and retention.

Q5: MAKING CHILD CARE AFFORDABLE FOR WORKING FAMILIES: The cost of child care in NY rivals mortgage payments. New York State ranks among the most expensive states for child care in the nation, with average cost for full-time center-based care at $15,000 a year for an infant. Thousands of children in Monroe County are eligible for a child care subsidy but are unserved. Statewide, fewer than 20% of families eligible for child care subsidies receive them. If elected, what policy or funding changes would you pursue to make high quality child care more accessible and affordable for families?

Child care is out of reach for too many local families. To help more working families access quality child care, I voted for this year’s budget which provides: $31 million for pre-licensure and annual licensing inspections for child care providers; $17 million for conducting background checks on child care providers and staff members; $15 million for infant and toddler care quality efforts; $12 million for ongoing training on health and safety programs; and $2 million for staffing system changes. In addition, a minimum of $10 million is allotted for new subsidized child care slots, giving more parents relief from this heavy financial burden. Parents who work hard day in and day out should be able to rest assured that their kids are safe and in good hands. These funds will not only improve current programs, they’ll also help open up new slots so more parents can rely on affordable, dependable child care.

Q6: SEAMLESS SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: Funding for New York’s First 1000 Days on Medicaid and the Regents Blue Ribbon Early Childhood Commission presents an opportunity for Monroe County to adopt innovations that will benefit local young children and serve as examples for statewide implementation. Rochester’s “All Kids Thrive” initiative creates practices that seamlessly work with one another and integrate services among health care, early education, education, and human services structures so that families can easily navigate systems that provide support to their children. If elected, how do you propose to ensure that Monroe County is chosen as a pilot site for implementation of First 1000 Days and Regents Early Childhood Commission reforms?

Joining my delegation colleagues, I will work with the governor and the legislature to place this important program in our region.

Q7: LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM: A 2015 report released by The Children’s Agenda found that only a third of Rochester students had access to a quality afterschool program. National research as well as our local United Way’s data show that children who engage regularly in an afterschool program are more likely to attend school and get higher grades. Summer learning programs have also demonstrated positive impact on academic success by preventing learning loss over the summer months.If elected, what would you do to increase school-age children’s access to high quality out-of-school-time programs?

Last year represented a historic investment in afterschool programs through the Empire State After-School Program. However, while this investment will go a long way towards providing afterschool and summer programs to students in targeted school districts, too many children in other cities, communities, and school districts are at risk of losing access to their afterschool programs beginning next school year. I have joined my colleagues in calling on the governor to provide afterschool program funding a priority in the New York State Executive Budget proposal by appropriating $22.3 million for Advantage After School Programs.

Q8: GETTING YOUTH ON THE RIGHT TRACK: In 2017, New York State approved a Raise the Age policy in New York that shifts 16- and 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system. This change took effect on October 1, 2018. While this will be better for the youth and for community safety, Raise the Age will require more funding for specialized detention beds and more alternative-to-detention, probation and diversion services. Governor Cuomo committed to 100% state reimbursement for County expenditures related to Raise the Age. If elected, how will you work to achieve full and effective implementation of Raise the Age in your district? What else will you do to keep youth out of prison and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline?

In this year’s budget, the Assembly adds language that would require the State to fully fund the implementation of Raise the Age for every local social services district. I will continue to work with the governor and my Senate colleagues to ensure we fully fund this important criminal justice reform.

Q9: PROMOTING WORK, REDUCING POVERTY: The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, has been shown to increase family resources, promote employment, and lead to better outcomes for children. New York provides it own EITC on in addition to the federal credit, payable in a lump sum once a year.Other states’ experiences have demonstrated that there are changes to EITC that can make it more effective in lifting families out of poverty. If elected, what changes would you support to increase its positive impact on families and children?

I have written legislation that will expand earned income tax credit to youth workers. New York State tax law does not provide exemptions for young, independent adults ages 17-24. This age group is often ignored and left out of exemptions, left with lower income deduction rates and not provided the benefits on par with the Federal government on student-loan deductions. Our youngest population of adults deserves tax relief on the same level as the rest of our independent residents throughout the state.

Q10: EVERY CHILD DESERVES A BRIGHT FUTURE: The are racial disparities present in outcomes related to every aspect of children’s lives, including education, health, and social-emotional well-being. Recent research points to the disparities that start in the earliest days of life, with Black mothers more likely to die during childbirth and Black infants more likely to die in the first year of life.If elected, what strategies will you promote to reduce the institutional racism in New York State’s systems that serve children?

I will support legislation, sponsored by my colleague Assemblymember Sepulveda, meant address racial inequality. The proposal provides New York with a mechanism to ensure that legislation will consider racial equity. As the sponsor has stated, numerous studies (such as Clark, Tims) have shown the disproportionate negative outcomes for people of color across systems and while legislation is often enacted with the intention of ameliorating social issues, it often, does not recognize the unintended consequences for people of color or the inherently embedded racial inequities faced by such populations.

New Yorkers have firsthand knowledge of the differential and negative impact on communities of color as a result of legislation and policies that aimed at tackling problems, but resulted in negative outcomes with intergenerational ramifications. During the 2016 election, the 1994 Crime Bill became a focal issue directly linked to the disproportionate negative outcomes and mass incarnation of people of color. A racial equity impact assessment would have examined potential differential outcomes embedded in the proposed legislation prior to it becoming law. Economic and Environmental Impact Statements are commonly used for legislative and policy, systemic, decision making. Such assessments are used to evaluate potential harm and ensure fiscal and environmental protections in the face of limited resources. In the same fashion, the REIA will be a vital tool for preventing institutional racism and for identifying new options to remedy long-standing inequities.
Q1: IMPROVING CHILD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Studies show that childhood trauma has lifelong effects on an individual’s mental and physical health. In the Rochester area, too many children grow up in under-resourced families and neighborhoods, and in communities heavily impacted by concentrated poverty. Two-thirds of Monroe County high schoolers report that they have had adverse experiences that research has shown places them at higher risk of challenges later in life.If elected, how will you work to prevent childhood trauma and improve the health and well-being of children and families in your district?

I will fight for universal healthcare that will provide the needed physical and mental health support that every child deserves. I will fight to expand funding for all schools to have the support resources necessary to assist those that experience trauma.

Q2: SUPPORTING STUDENT SUCCESS: There are extreme disparities in educational outcomes among students in Monroe County school districts, which include some of the nation’s highest achieving schools alongside some of the worst performing schools. New York State government has authority over a substantial amount of education policy and funding. How do you plan to create more equitable opportunities for all students? What specific funding and policy proposals do you suggest to improve New York schools?

We need to overhaul the school system in Rochester because it supports segregation and relegates students that have difficulties in learning or behavioral difficulties to schools that are already under performing and have limited resources. We must diversify our schools so that socio-economic status doesn’t outweigh the needs of the whole. We need strict school boundaries that create diverse schools and that will return all schools to a normal distribution curve. This will make it so that one or two schools are not left with the largest portion of students in need of help. The current structure perpetuates poor performance because resources are limited in the schools that need the most help. If we restructure the school zones and diversify the student body of each, we can build a structure that with full funding will be able to support all of the children of Rochester.

Q3: CHILDREN CAN’T WAIT: Research shows that early supports for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with developmental delays or disabilities can be a game-changer for many children. But state reimbursement rates paid to providers like physical and occupational therapists and feeding specialists who work with young children are inadequate; some have even been cut in recent years. Because of these low reimbursement rates, programs are closing and a growing number of providers are leaving the field, making it difficult for children to get services in a timely manner with maximum impact. One in 3 young children in Monroe County in 2016 had to wait at least 30 days for services to begin, and some wait months. If elected, what would you propose to ensure timely early developmental services to all children who need them?

Funding for disabled or delayed support services should be a robust and comprehensive focus of our healthcare. I will fight for long term aid/care and support services for children to be included in our universal health care act.

Q4: ATTRACTING AND RETAINING VALUABLE CAREGIVERS AND TEACHERS: Many of the child care educators caring for New York’s youngest are paid wages that leave them living at or near poverty. The average median wage for a child care educator in New York is $12.38 an hour or $25,760 per year. Low compensation in the field causes high turnover rates, in turn causing instability for young children who need consistency in caregivers to establish healthy and secure attachments. If elected, what actions would you take to address shortages in the early childhood education workforce?

I support creating a 12-month certification process (implemented through our public community colleges and universities) to create well trained individuals that are specialized in caregiving and supporting our children. This certification process will insure that each person is suited to this important field. The establishment of credentialed career paths in conjunction with increasing state funding for these careers in combination of raising their minimum wage to be above the fast food mandated minimum wage will increase the pool of workers because it will be a job that is compensated at a higher level than other industries and requires skilled/certified employees.

Q5: MAKING CHILD CARE AFFORDABLE FOR WORKING FAMILIES: The cost of child care in NY rivals mortgage payments. New York State ranks among the most expensive states for child care in the nation, with average cost for full-time center-based care at $15,000 a year for an infant. Thousands of children in Monroe County are eligible for a child care subsidy but are unserved. Statewide, fewer than 20% of families eligible for child care subsidies receive them. If elected, what policy or funding changes would you pursue to make high quality child care more accessible and affordable for families?

I would fight to expand/establish pre-k programs through our public schools. Additionally, I would work to establish before and after school programs that are subsidized by the state. I believe that large corporations should look at establishing child care where possible and if not work with local schools to help fund expanded programs to offset the costs their employees face with childcare.

Q6: SEAMLESS SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: Funding for New York’s First 1000 Days on Medicaid and the Regents Blue Ribbon Early Childhood Commission presents an opportunity for Monroe County to adopt innovations that will benefit local young children and serve as examples for statewide implementation. Rochester’s “All Kids Thrive” initiative creates practices that seamlessly work with one another and integrate services among health care, early education, education, and human services structures so that families can easily navigate systems that provide support to their children.If elected, how do you propose to ensure that Monroe County is chosen as a pilot site for implementation of First 1000 Days and Regents Early Childhood Commission reforms?

Monroe County has a large population of Medicaid recipients I would work with all involved parties to re mind them of the significant number of people that would greatly benefit from this program. Additionally Monroe county has major insurance providers, educators, and research institutions that are already invested in how best to help the children in this category. Compiling compelling data and working closely with key decision makers will be crucial in securing Monroe County as a pilot location.

Q7: LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM: A 2015 report released by The Children’s Agenda found that only a third of Rochester students had access to a quality afterschool program. National research as well as our local United Way’s data show that children who engage regularly in an afterschool program are more likely to attend school and get higher grades. Summer learning programs have also demonstrated positive impact on academic success by preventing learning loss over the summer months. If elected, what would you do to increase school-age children’s access to high quality out-of-school-time programs?

I will work to establish expanded after-school programming by building coalitions within the community. Neighborhoods and community recreation centers could work with local schools to create educational and entertaining programing that would help children thrive, expanded state aid to fund these programs would increase resources which would help in supporting the large demand for after school programming.

Q8: GETTING YOUTH ON THE RIGHT TRACK: In 2017, New York State approved a Raise the Age policy in New York that shifts 16- and 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system. This change took effect on October 1, 2018. While this will be better for the youth and for community safety, Raise the Age will require more funding for specialized detention beds and more alternative-to-detention, probation and diversion services. Governor Cuomo committed to 100% state reimbursement for County expenditures related to Raise the Age. If elected, how will you work to achieve full and effective implementation of Raise the Age in your district? What else will you do to keep youth out of prison and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline?

Governor Cuomo is already working to legalize recreational marijuana, I would fight to insure that a portion of the tax revenue would be allotted for programs to keep youth out of prison and to help fund public education and after school programs.

Q9: PROMOTING WORK, REDUCING POVERTY: The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, has been shown to increase family resources, promote employment, and lead to better outcomes for children. New York provides its own EITC on in addition to the federal credit, payable in a lump sum once a year. Other states’ experiences have demonstrated that there are changes to EITC that can make it more effective in lifting families out of poverty. If elected, what changes would you support to increase its positive impact on families and children?

I would support expanding EITC to allow an additional amount (percentage based on the EITC received) that can be given in addition if the family has an education savings account for each dependent listed in the return. This amount would only be awarded if the family qualifies for the EITC and they cannot withdraw the money until the dependent is over 18. This would create an educational support fund for each child that could be used to cover books, housing, or other higher education related expenses.

Q10: EVERY CHILD DESERVES A BRIGHT FUTURE: The are racial disparities present in outcomes related to every aspect of children’s lives, including education, health, and social-emotional well-being. Recent research points to the disparities that start in the earliest days of life, with Black mothers more likely to die during childbirth and Black infants more likely to die in the first year of life. If elected, what strategies will you promote to reduce the institutional racism in New York State’s systems that serve children?

We must fully fund education, decrease our systemic use of prison to oppress and segregate people of color. I will fight to fully fund public education and support resources to help children of all backgrounds receive the aid they need in order to gain a quality education. I will fight to establish a comprehensive approach in education that will partner our schools with employers and higher education institutions to break down socio-economic obstacles and build strong career-oriented trajectories for all students.
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