White Plains, NY – At last night’s regular meeting of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL), ten concerned residents associated with the County’s Invest-in-Kids (IIK) programs spoke in support of legislation on the BOL agenda that would return money to successful IIK programs but were notified at the end of January there would be no funding in 2015.

One such resident was John Savage, the CEO of Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc. (WestCOP), who asked the BOL to provide continuity to longstanding programs, like its YES program, that serve Westchester’s most vulnerable young residents and help them overcome economic, educational and social barriers to self-sufficiency. Through most of the YES program’s twenty-year history, it has been funded through the County’s Youth Bureau to provide resources and improve academics, enhance health and mental development and improve social skills of middle school aged children. “This program has always received positive evaluations and reviews,” said Savage before noting it was one of the programs denied funding in 2015.

BOL Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers) last night sent the legislation back to committee with the promise of “an important and timely discussion” by the BOL on the matter of restoring funding for these established and proven providers.

The recommitted Act will be taken up now by the BOL Community Services Committee, where it has been approved already, and the BOL Budget & Appropriations Committee, which will discuss it on Monday, March 2.

Getting the funding restored to the twenty IIK program providers as quickly as possible is behind the proposed legislation, which has the support of the BOL’s Democratic caucus members.

“While I’m disappointed that the Board of Legislators was not afforded an opportunity to vote on the Invest-in-Kids legislation last night, I am grateful that Chairman Kaplowitz is eager to resolve the issue of lost funding for these programs, which have been documented as being successful and worthy of the County’s continued support,” said BOL Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining).

In regard to seeing whether the IIK funds can be restored to the twenty proven providers, Kaplowitz also stated last night that the Administration and Board of Legislators “need, shall, must work together on this…to get to the bottom of this as quick as possible to see what relief and ameliorative action can be taken to bring about as good a resolution as possible, in as timely a fashion as possible.”

Contrary to a law passed in 2011 that guaranteed funding for current IIK programs with proven success as part of the County Budget, the Administration issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for IIK youth services in October 2014 and asked current program providers to apply as well. To date, the BOL has not been privy to the 133 RFPs received by the Administration, the criteria for evaluating the RFPs, or the scores put on the RFPs—all of which Williams has asked Pagan to provide to the BOL.

“Because the entire process for deciding the 2015 contracts for Invest-in-Kids was conducted without regard to County law, restoring the funding to agencies that have long been serving our at-risk youth makes sense,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the BOL Community Services Committee. “I look forward to working together with the Administration to undo this egregious error in judgment.”