As we recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I recently sat down with our friend Wayne Ho, CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council (“CPC”), to learn more about the community issues the nation’s largest Asian American social service organization is working to address. Since 2021, Proskauer has partnered with the CPC to host several educational workshop series with CPC teens, centering on social justice and academic enrichment. Proskauer employees volunteer as mentors on a regular basis, through programs like those sponsored by the CPC, imparting their expertise beyond the law to inform and inspire students to succeed in college, their careers and other aspects of their lives.
Education and social justice have long been core pillars of Proskauer’s commitment to public service. Despite the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our corporate social responsibility programs have enabled lawyers and business services professionals throughout the Firm to connect with student groups across the country for engaging, interactive workshops focusing on college and career readiness topics. Expanding that mission, this week we are pleased to launch a new partnership with the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) and its “Learn and Earn” youth-focused programming.
Founded in 1965, CPC empowers Asian American, immigrant, and low-income communities in New York City by ensuring they have equitable access to the resources and opportunities needed to thrive. Today, CPC is the nation’s largest Asian American social services organization, supporting 60,000 individuals and families. The “Learn and Earn” program is a year-round afterschool enrichment program for high school juniors and seniors. Youth are actively engaged in leadership development, college preparedness, career exploration, community service, internships, and more.
The New York Statewide Central Register (SCR) of Abuse and Maltreatment maintains records of calls, allegations, and results of investigations regarding suspected child abuse and maltreatment. Although these records are not public, many employers and agencies are legally obligated to check the database before hiring applicants and accepting volunteers. Having an “indicated” report on file severely decreases the chances for an applicant to gain employment, as well as detrimentally affects one’s ability to secure housing and apply for government benefits.
Through a recent training conducted by Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), Proskauer now has the opportunity to file motions to vacate findings of neglect in family court, where called for under the law. In doing so, you can make a fundamental difference in the lives of poor families.
Last week, Proskauer obtained a critical victory for our client—a grandmother acting as guardian for her two learning-disabled grandchildren—in an appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department. The appeal challenged a lower court holding that an amendment to New York’s Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (“KinGAP”) did not apply retroactively to beneficiaries, such as our client’s grandchildren, who entered the program before the amendment took effect.
KinGAP, established in 2011, enables foster-care children for whom returning home or adoption are not available options, to achieve a permanent placement with a guardian relative. To subsidize the costs of caregiving for guardians of limited means such as our client, KinGAP provides monthly assistance payments pursuant to a statutorily prescribed form of agreement between the guardian and a local department of social services.
When our client entered into a KinGAP agreement in 2014, New York Social Services Law § 458-b(7)(a) made the duration of the subsidy dependent on whether the agreement was entered into before or after the child’s 16th birthday. Continued assistance payments were available beyond the age of 18 only if the agreement commenced after the child was already 16 years of age. Section 458-b(7)(a) thus drew a distinction between foster parents and adoptive parents on the one hand and guardians on the other because foster and adoptive children were entitled to assistance payments until they turned 21 notwithstanding their age at the time their subsidy agreements were commenced.
According to a compelling report issued by the non-profit organization Win, every night in New York City over 23,000 children go to bed in a homeless shelter. It is estimated that one in 10 students in New York City public schools experienced homelessness during the 2016–2017 school year. Even more troubling, the number of homeless families and children is growing.
Founded in 1983 as Women In Need, Win started by serving four homeless women and their six children. Today, led by former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Win provides daily shelter to more than 2,400 families, including nearly 4,700 children. Win now operates 10 residential shelters, and provides 240 permanent supportive housing units, which are primarily financed by the government but require the resident to pay a small percentage of her income as rent. In response to the severe lack of affordable housing, Mayor DeBlasio launched “Housing New York 2.0,” which promises to create 15,000 supportive housing apartments in NYC over the next 15 years. Win is partnering with various large NYC developers to create these units, and as a Win board member and chair of the real estate committee, I am privileged to be part of these efforts.