Our Plan to Support Youth

As your City Council Member, I will fight for all New York City youth to have the support and resources they need to thrive, with equity and justice front and center:
  • Create opportunities for all youth to have bright futures.
  • Invest in initiatives that protect and uplift vulnerable youth.
  • Give youth a seat at the policy-making table.

Read more below...

The Issues

 

Young New Yorkers have had their lives totally disrupted this past year. Thousands of young people, particularly in communities of color, have lost family members and economic stability to the pandemic. School, extracurriculars, and socializing can only happen through a screen, taking away critical safety nets. I’ve worked with many youth throughout my social work career, from preparing youth to age out of foster care to advocating for reduced sentences in court. I understand the complex needs of these young New Yorkers, and how important it is to set our youth up with the skills necessary for good jobs and the support they need to realize their potential. Yet even prior to the pandemic, too many of our youth faced huge challenges, from mental health struggles, to high rates of homelessness, to a totally inequitable incarceration system. As the climate changes, young people have also inherited the burden of ensuring the future livability of our planet. 

 

We can’t let them carry these responsibilities alone. It’s time for our City to do more to give our youth the bright futures they deserve—and a seat at the table to determine what that looks like.

 

The Bronx's Black and brown youth face disproportionate hurdles to opportunity. One in ten youth in District 11 experience homelessness, compared to 8% citywide, and almost all are youth of color. Latinx youth consistently make up more than half of the Bronx’s juvenile prison population. In terms of the number of juvenile arrests (under age 16) made every year, The Bronx ranks second in the city, with 872 arrests made in 2018. We have seen the release of some youth from detention centers during the pandemic, but research has shown these youth were more likely to be white, while Black and Latinx youth specifically mostly remained incarcerated.

 

Young people are facing a mental health crisis that’s only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Even before, in 2019, 1 in 3 high school students nationally reported feeling persistent sadness or hopelessness—a number that had increased by a striking 40% since 2009. In addition to having to shelter at home for months on end (for those who had housing), experiencing the daily difficulty of remote schooling, and so many other challenges, 1 out of every 1,000 children in New York State lost a parent or caregiver to the coronavirus. More than half of those young people live in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or Queens. Further, mental health challenges and rates of homelessness are consistently significantly higher among LGBTQ+ youth.

 

Our Solutions

 

In order to build back better we need to make sure that all youth, especially the most vulnerable, have the support and opportunities they need to succeed. To give young New Yorkers the strongest start we must ensure that their families have access to high quality health care; fresh, healthy food; affordable housing; liveable wages; universal child care; and excellent education.

 

Beyond those fundamentals, we need to create and expand youth-focused programs and policies that center youth voices in their creation. Community-based organizations and City agencies like the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) have developed impactful programs, like the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), that can give young New Yorkers a brighter future. All of our youth need to have access to opportunities like these. 

As your City Council Member, I will fight for all New York City youth to have the support and resources they need to thrive, with equity and justice front and center; and for investment in community-based solutions to prevent violence and end the school-to-prison pipeline.

 

Create opportunities for all youth to have bright futures:
  • Ensure that every student who wants to participate in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) has the opportunity to do so by building the capacity of DYCD and worksite providers to accommodate more participants.

  • Prioritize and baseline funding for community-based youth development programs.

  • Call on  the City to reinvest in vocational training programs, making these accessible for all high school-aged youth, up to one year post-high school. Investing in vocational training programs leads to good jobs including union jobs, ultimately lifting families out of poverty.

  • Support passage of New York State legislation that would make CUNY undergraduate tuition free for New Yorkers, decrease the student to faculty ratio, increase mental health resources, and fix up campuses. These investments would support brighter futures for young people and a stronger economic recovery.

  • Prepare youth for the tech economy by investing in 21st century workforce training, including funding innovative community-based organizations that are already doing this work.

 

Invest in initiatives that protect and uplift vulnerable youth:
  • In addition to ensuring access to safe, affordable housing for all, I will fight for youth homelessness prevention, and increase youth and family awareness of and availability of city-sponsored resources, including counseling, to support family reunification.

  • Protect the safety and well-being of  LGBTQ+ youth, including advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusive K-12 general and sexual health education, where all educators and school staff receive relevant training.

  • Support the hiring of more social workers and counselors to work in every school, working towards ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

  • Ensure adequate funding for mental health services, and expand access to mental health care, including supporting community-based organizations providing mental health services for youth, and prioritizing LGBTQ+ youth.

  • Prioritize financial investment in services and resources that support youth who are or have been incarcerated—such as workforce development programming, job and internship placement, educational services/academic support, community engagement, and mentoring.

 

Give youth a seat at the policy-making table:

  • Call for the creation of a youth advisory council that would interact directly with the City Council Speaker, and have a dedicated youth liaison within my constituent office.

  • Advocate for all New York City students to receive a robust civics education, so students across the city understand and are prepared to engage in local policy issues.

  • In conjunction with expanded civics education, support the voting age for local elections to be lowered to age 16.

Abigail Martin for City Council

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