The NYJL’s Open Letter of Support to Protect Unaccompanied Children

Dear Members of the New York State Assembly,

The New York Junior League supports the Separation of Children Accountability Reporting (SCAR) Act (A01436B/S00222B), as well as the intentions of the Child Trauma Response Act (A07816/S06225), that have been introduced to the New York State legislature. The New York Junior League is one of the oldest and largest women’s non-profit volunteer organization in the city. We have more than 2,800 volunteers—of all races, religions, and ethnicities—who donate more than 250,000 hours of service every year. We are leaders, philanthropists, and activists. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We are a community of women, bound by a single goal—to improve the health and well-being of women, children, and families in New York.

The Separation of Children Accountability Reporting (SCAR) Act, sponsored by New York State Senator Brian Benjamin and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, promotes transparency of information about the number of unaccompanied immigrant children placed in the care of agencies in New York – a number that may be surprising to some. The New York State Senate just overwhelmingly ratified the bill, and it is in committee within the Assembly. The bill requires consistent reporting of the number of separated children who are placed in the custody of foster care agencies by the federal government, so that the people and government of New York know how many of these vulnerable children are in our state and who is responsible for their care. Reports would be submitted to the state twice a year, or within 30 days upon the governor’s request, with the aim of mitigating the risk of losing track of these children.

The Child Trauma Response Act, sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biagi and Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, seeks to provide support and services for unaccompanied minors, including physical and mental health services, legal services, language services, and assistance with educational rights and enrollment in public schools. The legislation seeks to alleviate and remediate the trauma that children endure in being separated from their families and support networks.

With so little time left in the New York State legislative session before the break, the New York Junior League strongly supports moving these bills forward. As an organization with a focus on the well-being of women, children, and families, the New York Junior League believes this legislation is critical to protecting unaccompanied immigrant children–and is calling for substantial support and action from the New York Governor, Senate, Assembly, and underlying legislative committees for its passage.

Sincerely,

The New York Junior League

 

Dancing the Night Away at Bal en Blanc

On February 23rd, The New York Junior League hosted its 67th Annual Winter Ball. This year, the organization’s members and guests came together at a stunning new venue, Pier Sixty overlooking the Hudson River. Bal en Blanc was the theme this year, but that did not stop attendees from wearing showstopper gowns of all colors.

The evening began with cocktails and a silent auction followed by a seated dinner and ceremony honoring the outstanding sustainers and volunteers, followed by a cocktail reception and silent auction. The fabulous dinner served nearly 350 who were in attendance enjoying a fine three course meal while listening to brief speeches given by the President Lauren Chung, and one honoree, Angel Rodriguez from Avenues of Justice who was the President’s Council Award recipient.

From left to right: 2019 Outstanding Volunteers (Allison Davis O’Keefe, Leighanna Morbey Favale, Dayna Barlow Cassidy, Shelby Spears Carroll and Beth Batiuchok-Colon) and 2019 Outstanding Sustainers (Dorothy Echols (“Dee Dee”) Scarborough and Robin Stratton Rivera)

During the dinner and through dessert, a brilliant live auction began which raised $40,000 for the NYJL. Auction items included luxurious travel getaways, including a magical trip to Morocco and an enchanting ski trip to Courchevel for an Alpine Escape! The auction also offered exclusive tours and dinners around Manhattan, and even an opportunity to host a personal event at the historic Astor House, home to the New York Junior League headquarters.

Dessert and Dancing guests arrived and were joined by the VIPs who attended the dinner for several hours of dancing the night away to the lively band who kept the vibe going. A glorious change from the previous Winter Ball events at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side, Chelsea Piers premiering as the new venue was a hit!  Guests appeared to really enjoy the view and also the atmosphere of the open waterfront party.

Each year the New York Junior League works tirelessly to organize their largest fundraising event of the year so that its members and non members can come together and honor the year’s most outstanding sustainers and volunteers for their incredible dedication and accomplished work as women leaders within the organization. The Winter Ball also earns substantial proceeds to directly benefit the NYJL and this year raised over $500,000!  Next year will surely be tasked to top the 67th Annual Winter Ball, but we are sure only something greater will be in store! 

NYJL’s Advocates for Public Policy Working for Change

The New York Junior League is a powerful force for the betterment of women and children in New York. In recent years, the determined efforts of our Advocates for Public Policy (APP) committee have spurred legislative change related to human trafficking, paid family leave, the ban on salary history, and more. So we’re celebrating Women’s History Month by highlighting the amazing work of these women who have driven change in our community.

  • In 2008, APP successfully advocated for the provision of funding for domestic violence shelter services for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Governor Spitzer signed the legislation into law in September that year.
  • For over a decade, APP worked to bring human trafficking to the forefront of the legislative agenda, urging the New York State Assembly and Senate to enact a strong, comprehensive state law that recognizes human trafficking as a crime, punishes traffickers and establishes services for victims. APP continued its work through advocacy for the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), a bill recently signed by Governor Cuomo, along with 7 other bills in the Women’s Equality Act.
  • In 2015, APP traveled to the state capital to meet with Senators to advocate for the Paid Family Leave Act. Shortly thereafter, Governor Cuomo included a Paid Family Leave Program in his 2016 budget.
  • In 2017, the committee successfully advocated for the passage of an NYC bill that prevents employers from seeking salary history from their applicants.

While this month is about women’s history, we’re also excited about continued impact in the future. In 2019, APP will once again be traveling to Albany to meet with state representatives. The committee is now focusing its efforts on the Separated Children Accountability Response Act, also called the SCAR Act, demanding more transparency in the reporting of unaccompanied alien children.

The Advocates for Public Policy committee invites all NYJL volunteers to learn more about how to participate in our advocacy efforts. To learn more or to join us in Albany in May, contact advocates@nyjl.org.

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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Congratulations to the NYJL’s 2019 Outstanding Sustainers and Volunteers!

Please join the New York Junior League in congratulating our 2019 Outstanding Sustainers and Outstanding Volunteers! Toast to this year’s honorees and hear stories about them from their friends and family during the upcoming Outstanding Sustainer and Outstanding Volunteer Announcement Party, taking place on Friday, November 16, 2018 at the Astor House.

Our Outstanding Volunteers for 2019 are Beth Batiuchok-Colon, Shelby Spears Carroll, Dayna Cassidy, Leighanna Morbey and Allison Davis O’Keefe. Our Outstanding Sustainers are Robin Stratton Rivera and Dee Dee Scarborough. The awards represent the highest honor that a NYJL active or sustainer can receive. 

Join us at this year’s Announcement Party to make the evening an extra special event for this year’s honorees. All members, friends, and family are invited to attend.

Congratulations again to these extraordinary women who will be honored on February 23, 2019 during the 67th Annual Winter Ball at Pier Sixty.