Westchester Children's Association – Vote for Kids 2014

1. What is your name? Howie Hawkins

2. For which elected position are you running? Governor

3. In which district are you running (if applicable)? New York State

4. Under what party/ies are you running? Green

5. How can citizens best reach you? (email, phone, and/or address)

[email protected]


Hawkins for Governor

P.O. Box 562

Syracuse NY 13205

For question 6-9, please limit answers to 150 words or less. Note: All sources for statistics available upon request. 

6. Both neuroscience and economics have shown the critical importance of the earliest years to lifelong learning and success. Research shows that as many as 40 percent of America’s children start school well behind what is expected for their age and, even with high quality K-12 education, have difficulty catching up. What specific actions will you take to increase the quality and affordability of early education and to close the “readiness gap” that appears before kids start school?

Short Term: Fully fund statewide, full day, and developmentally appropriate Pre-K and Kindergarten for children ages 3 to 6, with certified and unionized educators and low child-to-adult ratios under the administration of local school districts.

Long Term: Desegregate schools, including early childhood education, by desegregating housing and residential patterns. Research is conclusive that the race and class readiness gap is established by age 3 and that diverse, desegregated schools not only benefits all children from all backgrounds, they close the achievement gap. Education reform requires broader social reform, especially metropolitan desegregation of housing and thus schools through the enforcement of fair housing laws and the development of mixed-income housing – including humanly-scaled, scatter-site, mixed-income public housing – in the cities and the suburbs.

7. New York is one of only two states in the country that automatically prosecutes 16- and 17-year olds as adults in the criminal justice system. Approximately 46,000 16 and 17- year-olds were arrested in New York State in 2010. 74.4% of those arrests were misdemeanors. Youth released from adult prisons re-offend more often than their peers who are released from juvenile facilities, and they are more likely to commit more serious crimes.

What specific actions will you take to address 16- and 17- year olds who commit crimes?

I will support legislation to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 in New York State. New York and North Carolina are the last two states that automatically send children who turn 16 into the adult criminal justice system. More than 30,000 youth were treated as adults in New York's criminal justice system in 2013. More than 600 children from 13 to 15 years old were also sent into the adult criminal justice system for certain offenses last year. Children's brains, characters, and personalities are still developing. They should be sent into the juvenile justice system for offenses. Children incarcerated in adult facilities are more likely to suffer physical and emotional abuse. Children prosecuted as adults return to prison at higher rates than those prosecuted in juvenile courts. Treating children as adults in the criminal justice system undermines the goal of rehabilitating youth and protecting public safety.

8. Children are the age group most likely to live in poverty. 1 in 4 children in

Westchester live in families at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is $47,700 for a family of four. From 2008 to 2012, the percentage of children relying on Food Stamps in Westchester County increased from 9% to nearly 15%.

What specific actions will you take to address child poverty in New York?

Enact a Job Guarantee: A WPA-style public jobs program that provides a public job at a living wage in public works or public services for everyone who is willing and able to work when they cannot find a job in the private sector.

Enact a guaranteed minimum income above poverty. Make it basic income grant that every adult receives, with adjustments for dependents, and is included in the progressive state income tax.

Raise public assistance grant above the poverty level.

End workfare for individuals on welfare and instead provide a job, education, and/or job training.

Fully fund universal Pre-K/child care statewide.

Expand public housing and affordable housing programs.

9. New York Office of Children and Family Services has designated Westchester as a high need community for early childhood home visiting services due to more than 27% of pregnant women in Westchester receiving late or no prenatal care and roughly 40% of families using Medicaid or Child Health Plus as financial coverage at birth, among other factors. Early childhood home visiting programs have been shown to improve many aspects of child and family well-being.

Do you favor expanding early childhood home visiting programs? If yes, what specific actions will you take to expand home visiting services in Westchester County?


First I support making health care a right for all residents through a New York public single-payer universal health care program. This program would ensure that all pregnant women have access to pre-natal care.

Make WIC an entitlement program.

Increase funding for expanded home visiting services, including funds to increase the pay of home health aids. 

Over the past few years funding for important services that keep children healthy, safe and prepared for life have been cut. Complete the two charts below to tell us how, in light of tight budget constraints and competing constituent demands, you will prioritize services for children and youth.

10. On a scale of 1 to 5, please indicate your level of support for shifting financial resources to each of the following:

1 (Don't Support)2 3 4 5 (Definitely Support) 

Raising New York's minimum wage above scheduled increases 5

Increasing early childhood home visiting services

Expanding job readiness/summer youth employment 5

Implementing QUALITYstarsNY 5

Expanding low-income child care subsidies 5

Expanding Universal Pre-K to all New York school districts 5

Additional Comments: 

Raise the state minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, indexed to productivity, with the right of local governments to set higher local minimum wages. The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom demanded a $2 minimum wage. That would be $15.57 as of August 2014 adjusted for inflation. Real GDP has grown by 2.7 times since 1963. The economy can afford it. It would raise demand and stimulate business and hiring to meet that demand.

Guarantee full employment through WPA-style public jobs in public works and community services to ensure that every person aged 16 and up who is willing and able to work has a living-wage job. Training and apprenticeship programs should be part of the public jobs program. Youth should be included for summer and after-school part-time work. The tight labor market that full employment would create would raise wages in low-wage sectors.

11. How important are each of the following policy reforms: Not important at all, Not very important, Important, Highly important

Raising the Age” of criminal responsibility so that 16- and 17- year olds are adjudicated in the juvenile justice system

Highly important

Implementing Nicholas’ Law (child access prevention and safe storage of guns)

Highly important

Reforming reimbursement for Early Intervention services

Highly important

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