It’s budget season in Albany! And that means it’s critical to continue to tell our legislators that whole child health matters. The $299 billion dollar state budget covers spending in a variety of areas including health, education, and aid to localities. In other words – it makes sure money moves to key areas.

That’s why the state budget is a key focus of our advocacy to drive policy, systems, and environmental changes that support healthier kids in our region. 

Here’s what our team is pushing in Albany this budget season, thanks to the tireless efforts of our coalition partners. 

Building Foundations in Early Childhood 

1.    Investment in Kids and Families through the 1115 Medicaid Waiver 

  • Support New York State’s $7.5 billion Medicaid 1115 waiver that will reduce health disparities for kids and families, and strengthen access to primary and behavioral health care across the state.
  • Support an amendment to provide continuous coverage for Medicaid eligibility for kids up to age 6. 

2.    Increase access to Early Intervention Services for all families awaiting critical developmental services 

  • Increase Early Intervention reimbursement rates by 11% for all in-person services to attract more providers and reduce wait times for children.
  • Fund a cost study to update the rate formula and ensure long-term investments that keep up with rising costs.
  • Create and fund a student loan forgiveness program to attract professionals to the Early Intervention sector.

To learn more, visit the Kids Can’t Wait Campaign by the Children’s Agenda. 

3.    Funding for accessible and high-quality infant care in early care and education (ECE) programs

  • Create a permanent state childcare fund of $1.2 billion to increase child care worker compensation.
  • Increase funding for special needs supports in ECE classrooms.

4.    Expand access to early childhood mental health consultants

  • Provide necessary funding to increase the number of infant toddler mental health consultants available to support ECE providers throughout New York State. 

To learn more, visit Early Care and Learning Council's 2024-25 budget testimony.

5.    Maternal mental health training

  • Allocate $1.5 million annually to expand Project TEACH mental health and substance abuse supports for individuals during pregnancy and postpartum. This funding will enhance provider education, consultation, and awareness of mental health and substance use resources for therapists, lactation consultants, Women, Infant and Children (WIC) staff, home visiting nurses, and other frontline practitioners working directly with the perinatal population.

6. Establish loan forgiveness program for mental health clinicians serving children

  • Provide $4 million in loan forgiveness for licensed mental health clinicians serving children and families in OMH and OCFS-licensed settings.

Healthy Learning Environments

1.    Invest in the expansion of the community schools model across New York State.

  • Dedicate $100 million to expand community schools statewide.
  • Maintain the current Community Schools Set-Aside of $250 million to ensure sustainability for current community schools.

To learn more, visit the NYS Community Schools Network

2.     Ensure kids and youth have access to high quality out of school time (before, after school and summer) programming.

  • Invest an additional $119 million towards a new and improved afterschool program grant to ensure program viability and sustain current student capacity.
  • Provide an additional $3 million through CCDBG professional development allocation to expand the Educational Incentive Program (EIP).
  • Allow high-quality child care providers with statewide accreditation to qualify for increased differential payment rates.

To learn more, visit the Network for Youth Success.

3.    “Healthy School Meals for All”

  • Provide $134.6 million for increased access to free school meals for all children in NYS.

To learn more, visit the Healthy School Meals for All Campaign

4.    Advance Farm to School programming across New York state to improve the quality of school meals.

  • Maintain $10 million for 30% NY Farm to School Reimbursement Incentive and expand to ALL school meals. 
  • Change the 30% bill language from "not to exceed 25 cents per meal" to "an additional 25 cents per meal," so that it coincides with other child nutrition programs.
  • Maintain funding for the New York State Farm to School Grants Program at $1.5 million.

To learn more visit the New York Grown for New York Kids Coalition

Equitable Communities

1.    Increase funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure across state 

  • Increase funding in the Department of Transportation Capital Projects Budget for Complete Streets from $5 million to $10 million.

To learn more, visit the Safe Streets Coalition.

Power of Play

1.    Invest in capital funding for state parks and continue programming to ensure all kids have equitable access to parks and play spaces 

  • Provide $250 million to Address Infrastructure Needs
  • Invest $150 million to expand municipal swimming opportunities throughout the state.
  • Continue to expand promotion of the “Every Kid in a Park” pass program.

To learn more, visit Parks and Trails New York.

To see a full breakdown of the Healthi Kids 2024-25 NYS legislative strategy, click here. If you have any questions or thoughts about Healthi Kids state priorities, please reach out to