By COLlive reporter
New York State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein succeeded in expanding the state’s Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grants Program to include summer overnight camps, which will improve the safety and security of thousands of children.
This grant program, which was introduced in 2017 with $25 million in funding, will be increased in fiscal year 2020 with an additional $25 million in capital funding.
This program was designed to boost security at New York’s nonpublic schools, day care centers, and cultural museums at heightened risk. But Eichenstein saw a glaring omission which he was determined to fix.
At the beginning of the budget season, Assemblyman Eichenstein wrote a letter to Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie urging the Assembly to add summer sleep-away camps to the grant program.
Eichenstein was able to garner the support of twenty-five of his colleagues who signed onto the letter he spearheaded to the Assembly Speaker sharing his concerns for the safety of our children during the summer.
As a result, the Assembly included Eichenstein’s proposal to expand the grant program to include summer sleep–away camps. These camps, most of which are located in upstate New York, are often unprepared for possible safety emergencies, especially given the recent rise in anti-Semitism and hate crimes throughout our state and nation.
This issue was a top priority for Eichenstein and he devoted a tremendous amount of effort to make it happen. After weeks of intense negotiations, Eichenstein prevailed in including his proposal in the final agreed-upon budget that passed both houses and is expected to be signed by the Governor this week.
Moving forward this program will include summer camps seeking funding to update their premises with surveillance cameras, perimeter lighting, alarm systems, fencing, security doors, and other crucial safety measures.
“I’d like to thank Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and my Assembly majority colleagues for recognizing the significance of this issue as well as the Governor for his ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers,” said Assemblyman Eichenstein.
Assemblyman Eichenstein continued, “This is why I ran for office. My top priority is to serve my constituents and make a real difference in their lives and the lives of their families.”
“Keeping our children safe is among our highest priorities,” said Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie. “As the rate of hate crimes grows nationwide, it is important, now more than ever, to ensure our children can attend school, day care and cultural museums without fear of discrimination. By adding sleep-away summer camps to this list we can provide safety and security to our communities not just during the school year but year round.”
“Working closely with Assemblyman Eichenstein on this initiative was a great experience for me,” said Rabbi Joel Rosenfeld, Executive director of Camp Gila D’Bobov, who brought this issue to Eichenstein’s attention as soon as he took office in January.
“I saw firsthand that Boro Park made a great choice by electing an Assembly Member who does not stop and does not falter. I want to thank Assembly Member Eichenstein for working tirelessly on this issue.”
“I am delighted by this great achievement to provide additional security funding for sleep-away camps,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chief Executive Officer of Chai Lifeline. “Our children’s safety and security is our top priority throughout the year, and there’s no reason that should change once the school year ends.”
Assemblyman Eichenstein is gratified that community leaders recognize the significance of this new development.
Ultimately, he says, “it’s all about the children. They deserve to feel safe and secure no matter where they are. Adding the summer camps to the Hate Crimes Grants program will provide an extra level of protection for our children and peace of mind for their parents.”