Expanding access to Regional Enrichment Centers to students who are homeless

Amid the COVID-19 situation, the New York Junior League is still identifying ways to serve our community. As New York City schools adjust to the new normal, educators settle into remote teaching, and students grapple with a new, ad hoc way of learning, more than 100,000 students who are homeless might not have the same opportunities to learn.

This week, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) opened up Regional Enrichment Centers (RECs) to provide safe child care to students whose parents are first responders, health care workers, and key transit employees. Yesterday, the mayor added the children of grocery store and pharmacy workers to the list of children eligible to enroll in a REC.

However, the 114,000 children experiencing the daily trauma of housing instability are not eligible to enroll. The NYJL signed on to a letter, organized by Advocates for Children, urging the mayor and the DOE chancellor to open these enrollment centers to students who are homeless, so they may have access to reliable technology for remote learning and the space to focus on their lessons, with the help of a volunteer DOE educator. The letter also requests that the the DOE expand enrollment eligibility to the children of shelter workers.

Read the letter here, and follow NYJL on Twitter for more advocacy updates.



Advocacy for Women and Children

The New York Junior League champions policies that support women and children and works to hold local and state government accountable to the women, children and families it serves.

For more than a century, the NYJL has been on the forefront of some of the city’s most defining moments: civil rights movements, political reforms, cultural evolution, technological transformation, and the ongoing crusade to realize equity in health care, education, economic stability, and political voice. 

The NYJL began its work in New York City’s settlement houses, addressing the health, education, and social welfare needs of immigrant families living on the Lower East Side. As an early supporter of women who sought professions outside the home, the NYJL operated a hotel for single, working women during the early twentieth century and launched a childcare program in the 1930s. From 1970 to 1990, the NYJL focused on advocacy efforts from children’s rights to education, job discrimination, medical insurance coverage, domestic violence, the Equal Rights Amendment, and reproductive health. And as a longstanding advocate for survivors of domestic violence, the NYJL has supported policies that protect survivors of violence, such as the Clinic Access and Anti-Stalking Act, which became law in 1999.

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Recent Advocacy Achievements 

  • 2005: NYJL advocated for the Sex Offender Registration Act, or “Megan’s Law,” creating a state-wide registry for convicted or formerly incarcerated sex offenders when it was signed into law in 2006. 
  • 2006: The NYJL convened a forum of service providers, legislators, and government agencies to spark dialogue about the complicated policy issues surrounding foster care. The NYJL went on to advocate for the reduction of cases assigned to caseworkers and the provision of Medicaid to youth aging out of the foster system. 
  • 2007: In partnership with the National Organization of Women (NOW) NYC, the NYJL advocated for New York State’s first comprehensive anti-human trafficking legislation.
  • 2008: The NYJL successfully advocated for New York State funding for shelters protecting survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. 
  • 2010: Alongside the Women in Prison Project, the NYJL began advocating for the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) to grant judges discretion when issuing sentences to survivors of violence who are convicted of crimes related to their abuse. Under this law, judges may order lesser sentences or send survivors to community-based programs instead of prison. Governor Cuomo signed this bill into law in May 2019.
  • 2012 to 2015: The NYJL called for the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) to place greater accountability on traffickers and purchasers and to defend survivors of trafficking from prosecution for sex work. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the TVPJA into law, along with seven other bills in the Women’s Equality Act, in late 2015. 
  • 2015: NYJL met with state senators, urging them to pass the Paid Family Leave Act. This legislation took effect in January 2019.
  • 2017: The NYJL advocated for a bill preventing employers from asking for applicants’ salary histories, a practice that exacerbates the wage gap between white men and people of color, especially women. In 2019, the bill became law in New York State.
  • 2018 and 2019: NYJL actively advocated for the passage of the Separation of Children Accountability Reporting (SCAR) Act. While this legislation passed the State Senate in May 2019, as of November 2019,  the legislation is still under consideration and awaits passage by the full Assembly.  

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Education Councils

  • The Community and Citywide Education Councils give parents a powerful voice in shaping the policies and priorities for New York City schools. From advising the Chancellor to working directly with the district superintendent and reviewing district educational programs and needs, the 32 Community Education Councils and 4 Citywide Education Councils play a major role in education policy and help make our public schools the best they can be.
  • Community and Citywide Education Councils are elected every two years.
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