Lead Free Kids NY Commends New York State Assembly for Restoring Funding to Protect Children’s Health

Applauds New York State Assembly Support but Calls on Senate For the Same and the State for Significant Investment in Lead Poisoning Prevention Measures

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2024
Contact: Chris Dobens, 718-679-8542, chris@weact.org

 

ALBANY, NY — Both the New York State Senate and Assembly released their one-house budgets today. Within the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, the State invests in a seven-center network of Children’s Environmental Health Centers (NYSCEHC) from Buffalo to Long Island. These Centers provide critical support to pediatric practices to identify, treat, and prevent diseases with environmental origins. They foster the next generation of Environmental Health-educated pediatricians and other clinicians, engage current pediatricians in understanding environmental health contributors to their patients’ health, and offer solutions to these issues, especially through resources like the Prescriptions for Prevention. Each Center works with community partners to expand their reach and impact, and as the state continues this investment, the power of these Centers’ work deepens and grows.

Originally funded at the level of $2 million per year, in the past two years the State has allocated $4 million annually for this important work. Due to COVID-19, contracting for this additional level of funding moved slower than anyone would like, but the Centers have ramped up their efforts and have had even more of an impact with this essential higher level of funding. NYSCEHC outlined important implications of reduced funding in their public letter on the New York State FY25 budget allocation:

“Since 2017, the NYSCEHC network has provided critical services addressing mold, pests, pesticides, lead, and other environmental hazards in homes, schools, and communities across urban, suburban, and rural New York settings. NYSCEHC has provided more than 256,000 services for families, educated 41,000 health care providers in children’s environmental health and trained 2500 future leaders. Amendment funding allowed NYSCEHC to build the children’s environmental health workforce across the seven NYSCEHC centers in New York, allowing us to significantly scale our services to serve more families and offer additional educational services to families as well as the clinical and public health community. […] Budget cuts would force us to reduce and/or terminate NYSCEHC Scholars positions, critical NYSCEHC clinical and programmatic staff positions, and collaborations with community partners providing families with needed environmental interventions. Restoring the budget to $4 million will allow these services to continue.”

Unfortunately, the New York State Governor’s draft budget proposed to cut this funding back to $2 million, which would significantly hamper the reach of the Centers and their ability to connect with pediatricians statewide. The Lead Free Kids New York coalition and the JustGreen Partnership urged fully restoring the Environmental Protection Fund line for these centers to $4 million. Today we applaud the New York State Assembly for restoring $4 million to support children’s health, but there is still so much work left to do. We urge the New York State Senate to also make this move to support New York’s children by also restoring the fund line for the Centers back to $4 million, and then to see the Governor include it in her final budget come April.

Noticeably, lead poisoning prevention measures that were not included in this year’s one house budgets was $50 million to crucial county health department lead programs, which leaves county staff in the incredibly challenging position of having more children who by law must receive care to prevent further harm from lead, and no more staff to do it, creating a backlog across the state. Financially investing in lead poisoning prevention- including resourcing the Health Departments across the State, investing in lead service line and other waterline replacements, and supporting funds to remove lead paint from homes- will reap significant rewards for the health of New Yorkers, and will have positive financial ripple effects for the state’s health care, education, judicial, and carceral systems.

“The New York State Children’s Environmental Health Centers are crucial to identify, treat, and accurately measure our state’s lead crisis. In 2017, 25 upstate counties had higher percentages of children testing positive for lead poisoning than in Flint, Michigan at the height of its crisis. Since then, the state has not taken enough action to remove lead paint from homes, homes that are some of the oldest in the country. I look forward to our state legislature continuing to support children’s health by passing the Lead Paint Right to Know Act (S.2353/A.4820) this session.” said Briana Carbajal, State Legislative Manager at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, which is a member of the Lead Free Kids New York coalition.

# # #

 

Lead Free Kids New York (LFKNY) is a growing statewide coalition of individuals, groups and organizations working together to end New York’s childhood lead exposure and poisoning crises. Visit our website (LeadFreeKidsNY.org) and follow us on Facebook (@LeadFreeKidsNY) and Twitter (@LeadFreeKidsNY) to learn more about who we are, our policy priorities and how you can get involved in our movement to ensure all New York children are #LeadFreeKidsNY.

Stay Up To Date