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Helping the State Spend Smarter on Human Services

Photos and stories from include testimonials from New Yorkers who have been helped by social service agencies.

April 2011

There is scarcely a service that won’t feel the State budget axe, but some hurt can be avoided by helping the State spend its money smarter.

“Budget advocacy on behalf of human service providers must be framed as less of a confrontation and more of a dialogue on smart spending,” says Pat Swann, senior program officer. A $100,000 grant to Human Services Council of New York City, an umbrella group advocating on behalf of hundreds of nonprofits, is helping it re-frame the budget debate to convey the message that nonprofits can play an important role in helping government spend tax money smarter.

One of the Council’s cost-saving proposals would shift operation of mental health clinics from State to nonprofit management, which could save $80 million in Medicaid spending. Another would modernize the antiquated and maligned contracting system by standardizing contracts, centralizing auditing, and making contract terms longer. These improvements could eliminate much duplicative work and save $100 million. Swann continues: “A big part of keeping services running is finding and implementing systematic ways to get the most bang out of State bucks.”

As part of the Council’s conversations with members of the Cuomo administration and elected officials, the agency is highlighting stories of how human services make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers. “People don’t necessarily know that their kid’s after-school program, or their mom’s senior center operates with government funding,” says Allison Sesso, deputy executive director of the council. “We are helping New Yorkers understand the importance of this funding, so that they can tell their elected officials they care.”

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