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Policy Matters September 2014


Happy Autumn!  We hope you had a wonderful and relaxing summer and are enjoying these gorgeous fall days!  As we transition back to work and school, here at Empire Justice we’re busy working with our talented staff to develop our 2015 legislative agenda.  Once complete, we’ll be sure to share it with you and will, of course, be reaching out to you to work with us to make sure we have another successful year as we work toward our goal of making the law work for all New Yorkers.   

Here are some highlights of what we have been working on since our last edition:  

Child Care
As part of the Winning Beginning Coalition, we were excited to see that the United States House of Representatives and Senate reached a bipartisan agreement on the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant!  We plan to keep a close eye on the process as we develop our child care priorities for the upcoming state legislative session to see what opportunities we can take advantage of here in New York!

We are proud of the work we do with immigrant communities in our Westchester, Long Island and Albany offices, and are appreciative of the fact that we have been able to join in with partners in the important conversations that are taking place as New York and the nation struggle with the recent influx of unaccompanied migrant youth.  Most recently, we were invited to testify at an Assembly hearing in New York City focused on New York’s role in caring for this vulnerable population.  We are confident that the Assemblymembers legislators heard the clear call for increasing access to legal representation for the youth as well as other ideas for how to assist them while they are in New York State.

Civil Rights
Some of you may have heard about 7 year old Devyn Pereira from Rochester, New York, who is fighting to have her seizure alert dog, Hannah, with her at school.  We are lucky enough to be able to working with Devyn on this case, trying to ensure that she can use her service dog at school.  We hope that you will join with us and show your support as well by visiting Devyn’s Facebook page and signing her petition! #dogfordevyn #devynsvoice

In 2013, Long Island advocates were pleased that their collective efforts resulted in a commitment from Nassau County Executive Mangano to increase access to county services for Limited English Proficient (LEP) residents.  Unfortunately, more than a year later, the promises made in Executive Orders 67 and 72 have gone unfulfilled, leaving LEP residents out in the cold as they attempt to navigate government services.  We are proud to be working closely with our Long Island partners and the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC) to put increased pressure on Nassau County to fulfill its promise of increased language access for limited English proficient residents.  In fact, tomorrow, October 1st, there will be a rally at noon at the Nassau County Executive Building calling on the County Executive to immediately take steps to implement the orders.

Shine a Light on Domestic Violence
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month- time to Go Purple!  The NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, now in the seventh year of its campaign, has provided tools for advocates and supporters to raise awareness of domestic violence and the effects that ripple through society and our communities.  From instructions on how to literally light buildings and houses purple, to talking points and palm cards, OPDV has everything you need to make a difference in your community. Please consider joining in!

Public Benefits
As mentioned in our July 2014 Policy Matters, we released the extensive report Don’t Lien on Me, dealing with New York’s archaic practice of placing mortgage liens on the homes of public assistance recipients.  In light of the recent guidance issued by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to local social services districts about the first phase of this impending change, we have compiled a user-friendly update for advocates in the field, so they have up to date information for clients and can assist them during the process.  

Come Work with Us
We are thrilled to announce that we are now accepting applications for our 2015-2017 Hanna S. Cohn Equal Justice Fellowship!  This two year Fellowship is funded in the memory of the wonderful Hanna Cohn, and will be awarded to one talented and passionate law school graduate at the beginning of their career in poverty law.  This individual will have the opportunity to represent low income clients in complex areas of litigation and other types of advocacy in our Rochester office.  Please spread the word - applications are due by October 15, 2014!

And finally, we’re also currently accepting applications for the 2015 Summer Diversity Clerkship program hosted in our Rochester office.  This fellowship is geared toward attracting qualified 2L students from historically under-represented groups.  October 30, 2014 is the deadline, so if you know of any potential applicants, please alert them to this outstanding opportunity.

The Next Few Weeks…
As we move closer to the start of the legislative session, we will be busy crafting our statewide legislative agenda to share with our colleagues and supporters.  In the meantime, please make sure you stay up to date through our Facebook page and our website!  Until the next time...


Kristin and the Empire Justice Policy Team