Weekly Round-up: February 7th, 2014

Child Welfare

~16 teenagers were rescued as a result of the crackdown on prostitution leading up to the Super Bowl. The children, ages thirteen to seventeen, were offered social services including food, shelter, and health care services. Michael Harpster, chief of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Section, highlighted that child prostitution and human trafficking are not just problems that surround major sporting events. “It’s easy to focus on this issue in light of a high-profile event, but the sad reality is, this is a problem we see every day in communities across the country,” Harpster said. To read more on this issue, click here or here. (Reuters and USA Today)

Education

~In order to help expand pre-K and reduce class sizes for all students Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed revisions to the Capital Plan for the Fiscal Years 2015-2019, announced Chancellor Carmen Fariña. The proposed changes would increase the funding from $12.0 billion to $12.8 billion in order to add approximately 7,000 seats. The funds would come from the proposed New York State Smart Schools Bond Act, and Charter school and partnership funds. Mayor de Blasio has made universal pre-K a priority in the first months of his term. Less than 27% of 4-year-olds are enrolled in full-day pre-K today.

~This article highlights potential logistical problems Mayor de Blasio’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Plan may face if and when the bill passes through the state legislature. De Blasio’s plan hopes to expand the number of students who are eligible for pre-K in the New York City area. Specifically, he hopes to create classrooms for 53,604 full day pre-K students by September and, by the end of next year, have classroom space for all 73,250 eligible children. Challenges include the lack of space available as well as the strict New York City regulations for making a classroom suitable for young children. Another challenge will be how to provide transportation for these children under NY’s state law that requires car seats for children under four years old who ride the bus. Read more here. (Capital New York)

Elder Law

~Recently, the Gotham Gazette released a five part series examining the five lowest-rated nursing homes in New York City.  Their series would appear to have two main goals.  First, to identify and raise awareness about the conditions of New York City’s worst nursing homes.  Second, to create a discussion about prevailing  issues that may affect all nursing homes throughout the city.  For a link to the first part of this series, please click here.  The additional parts can be seen here. (Gotham Gazette)

Immigration

~In Matter of Maura A.R. -R., a mother filed a petition for guardianship over her own daughter in order to enable the child to petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS). SIJS is governed by 8 USC § 1101(a)(27)(J), which provides that an immigrant child may qualify if: 1) the child is dependent on a juvenile court, 2) reunification with one or both parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect or abandonment; and 3) it would not be in the child’s best interest to be returned to his or her native country. The primary issue in this case was whether a parent could obtain guardianship over his or her own child so that the child would be considered a juvenile dependent on the juvenile court, and thus qualify for SIJS. The Family Court denied and dismissed the petition on the grounds that there was “no proof or need shown for an order of guardianship.” The New York Appellate Division, Second Department reversed the Family Court decision and granted the mother’s petition for guardianship.  The Second Department determined that it would be in the child’s best interest to become dependent on the juvenile court through an appointment of guardianship so that the child may obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States. A second decision, Matter of Marisol N.H., was released this week reaching the same conclusion.

Mayoral Appointments

~Mayor de Blasio announced his final deputy mayor appointment this week, naming Richard Buery deputy mayor for strategic initiatives.  This position will have a focus on universal pre-K and other priority initiatives concerning children.  Buery was previously the president and CEO of the Children’s Aid Society.  He will also face the task of building 100 new community schools in some of New York City’s poorest areas.  For the press release, please click here.