Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When Do Job Interviews Cross the Line?

The AARP Bulletin recently published a list of job questions that stray into possibly biased or illegal territory. Among the questions mentioned is one including maternal profiling (aka “Are you married? Who cares for your children?”) An additional question referenced by the AARP (and one that will become even more relevant as Pennsylvanians age) is "Who cares for your elderly parent?"

Pennsylvania is one of many states that does not protect people based on marital status, as Kiki Peppard learned 15 years ago. Make sure that you are prepared for the questions that may come up in your interviews, particularly those that have no right to be asked.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rendell Announces a New Round of Budget Cuts

Pennsylvania Governor's ResidenceAs promised, Governor Rendell released a line by line list of an additional $500 million in cuts to the 2009-2010 Pennsylvania Budget. These cuts combine with previous reductions to bring his overall reductions to just over $2 billion. It is important, now more than ever, to contact your legislators to ensure that important programs are not cut. Please ask your legislators to preserve the Governor’s numbers on Child Care and Industry Partnerships and to reverse the cuts to important programs such as Adult and Family Literacy, State Food Purchase, Teen Pregnancy and Parenthood, and others.

The good news is that in his proposal are no cuts to key investments for early childhood education. The Governor has also committed to continue to fund the important Industry Partnerships program that provides employers the tools to improve and expand their workforce by bringing together companies committed to the development of their workforce.

The bad news is that revised budget plan impacts 80% of the 628 General Fund line items, of which 26% will be completely eliminated, including Classrooms for the Future, Office of Safe Schools Advocate, and Education for Indigent Children, among others.

Some of the major cuts include:
  • $1 million reduction in the State Food Purchase
  • $1 million reduction in Adult and Family Literacy
  • $1 million reduction for Career and Technical Education
  • Reductions in all of the state’s commissions (including $77,000 reduction for the Commission for Women, $48,000 for the Juvenile Court Judges Commission)
  • $1 million reduction for Higher Education for the Disadvantaged
  • Elimination of the Office of Safe Schools Advocate at a savings of $175,000
  • $632,000 reduction for education at Youth Development Centers
  • $170,000 reduction for Teen Pregnancy and Parenthood
  • $2.6 million reduction for Homeless Assistance
  • $1.309 million reduction for Evidence-Based Prevention (Safe Children)

Please ask your legislators to preserve the Governor’s numbers on child care and Industry Partnerships and to reverse the cuts to important programs such as Adult and Family Literacy, State Food Purchase, Teen Pregnancy and Parenthood, and others.

Tell your legislators that particularly in these tough economic times programs that help Pennsylvanians with job training, child care, education, and general support, are programs Pennsylvania cannot afford to cut.

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 29, 2009

June 30: Public Meeting on Health-Care Reform

State Representative Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, has been selected as one of 32 state legislators nationwide to help President Obama reform health care.

The group, named the White House Team of State Legislators for Health Reform, has been asked to solicit input from constituent groups on health-care reform and report back to the White House with feedback as the administration works to craft health-care reform.

Shapiro will hold one of the first of these meetings on Tuesday, June 30th at noon in Room 421 of the Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg. The topic will be Women’s Health.



As the Budget Turns…Help Save Industry Partnerships and Child Care Work Subsidies!

Currently in Harrisburg, legislators are grappling with the state budget. In order for important programs, like the Industry Partnerships and Child Care Works Subsidies, to continue to receive funding, legislators need to hear from you.

Please contact your representatives and let them know how important these programs are.

If you would like to sign onto a letter supporting the Industry Partnerships you can click here.

If you would like to send your own letter to your legislators we have prepared a letters that discuss the importance of the Industry Partnership Programs and the Child Care Work Subsidies. Please feel free to include your own personal stories.

Here is some information about the programs that you can share with your representatives:

The Industry Partnerships are consortiums that allow employers to improve and expand their workforce by bringing together companies committed to the development of their workforce. This program provides workers with access to training that gives them the skills necessary to maintain jobs and obtain employment with sufficient wages so workers can adequately support their families. In Pennsylvania more than 6,300 businesses are involved with more than 70 Industry Partnerships across the state and more than 70,000 workers have been trained since 2005. On average, those workers have seen their wages rise by 6.62 percent within the first year after receiving the training.

The Child Care Works Subsidies allow parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. For many parents the cost of child care may be more than they bring home in a paycheck. Currently in Pennsylvania, over 15,000 people are eligible for the child care subsidies but are currently on the waitlist, where some families remain for months. In the meantime, they must pay more than they can afford for child care, provide childcare through an unreliable patchwork of friends, family, or substandard facilities, or risk losing their jobs at a time when employment is hard to find.

Particularly in these tough economic times when employment is of significant importance, Pennsylvania cannot afford to cut programs that provide training and make work possible for so many.



Programs Not Prisons Rally – Improving Life Chances for Youth and Young Adults

The Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition along with program partners, grassroots organizations, youth, and families made their voices heard at in Love Park on June 24 at a rally to advocate for the restoration of prevention dollars in the State Budget. Thirteen speakers, including violence prevention organization leaders, young people, and pastors, took to the stage to show the power and impact of effective prevention programs on their lives.

Organizers gathered 572 signatures on a petition that urges members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate to pass a budget with a minimum of $12.6 million for violence prevention initiatives supporting positive youth development, afterschool, mentoring, and life skills programs.

If you would like to sign the petition contact Farrah Samuels at 215-851-1713 or fsamuels@gpuac.org. Help reach the goal of 2000 signatures!

If you would like to call or write your legislator contact Farrah for a sample letter or telephone script you can use to write or speak to your legislator.



Find Your Unclaimed Property!

Approximately one in ten Pennsylvanians have unclaimed property – do you?

Each year, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property – things like abandoned bank accounts, forgotten stocks, uncashed checks, certificates of deposit, life insurance policies, safe deposit box contents, and recovered stolen property. Treasury maintains custody of this property and works to return it to its rightful owners.

Search your name and the names of your friends and family in the Unclaimed Property database or call 1-800-222-2046

New Health Insurance Numbers for Pennsylvania

US-DeptOfHHS-Seal(h/t Above Average Jane)

On Friday, Health and Human Services released some of the latest numbers on health care coverage across the country. For those of us in Pennsylvania, the numbers are stark, regardless of health insurance status.

Of those who lack healthcare (10 percent of all Pennsylvanians), 65 percent include families with at least one full-time worker. Between 2000 and 2007, the percent of Pennsylvanians with employer coverage decreased by 7 percentage points from 71 percent to 64 percent.

Those who have health insurance, meanwhile, have seen average family premiums increase by 103 percent since 2000. While 7.9 million Pennsylvanians (approximately) get healthcare through their employers, the family premium averages about $13,646, or $1,137 per month.

Friday, June 26, 2009

For the Record: PathWays PA's Statement on the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act

PathWays PA was given the opportunity to submit a statement for the record regarding the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act. Below is a short quote - you can find the full statement on our website:

PathWays PA would like to commend the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections for holding hearings to discuss the need for a minimum paid leave standard as depicted in H.R. 2460, the Healthy Families Act (HFA), and H.R. 2339, the Family Income to Respond to Significant Transitions (FIRST) Act. Both of these bills would provide much needed opportunities for workers to earn time to care for themselves, their children, and their families.

In short, we support these bills for the following reasons:

  • Paid Leave is a Limited, Regulated Benefit Earned by Workers: Paid leave bills establish a minimum workplace standard that would allow workers to earn a limited amount of time to care for themselves or their families.
  • Paid Leave Makes Businesses Stronger: Paid leave programs increase productivity, decrease turnover, and provide substantial savings for businesses.
  • Paid Leave is Necessary to Strong Working Families: Paid leave gives parents the opportunity to be with their children while they are ill, leading to faster recovery times and better health outcomes.
  • Paid Leave Makes Sense Even in This Economy: Paid leave policies do not create job loss, but they do allow caregiving without loss of income.

Covering All Kids Important During Tough Budget

For Immediate Release - Members of media can contact policy@pathwayspa.org for further information or to conduct interviews


Covering All Kids Important During Tough Budget
Governor Rendell, PathWays PA Client Among June 24 Press Conference Speakers

For PathWays PA client Zee Hurst and thousands of other Pennsylvanians, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provided important access to healthcare at a time when no other options were available. That is why she joined Governor Ed Rendell along with local pediatricians, child psychologists and other parents to speak at the Loving Care Children’s Learning Center on June 24.

During the past three years, CHIP has provided comprehensive health insurance coverage for thousands of children throughout Pennsylvania who would not have been eligible without the Cover All Kids program. However, current budget proposals rescind this CHIP provision, which could result in up to 12,000 kids being cut from the program.

Ms. Hurst’s story of CHIP brought real meaning to those numbers when she described her children’s healthcare needs after she was laid off from an insurance company. “Even with my knowledge of the healthcare system, I could not find affordable coverage for my children,” she said. “Both of my children suffer from asthma, and without CHIP, they would have to go without the nebulizers and treatments they need to be healthy.”

CHIP did more than provide physical health coverage: it gave Ms. Hurst’s son the opportunity to obtain counseling after his father died. “My son was a great student until his father passed, and then he began getting into trouble at school,” she said. “Once he got coverage from CHIP, we were able to help him get counseling, and his grades have improved ever since.”

Throughout the press conference, each story shared led to the same realization: healthy children today lead to healthy adults tomorrow. PathWays PA, a non-profit organization that advocates and provides services for women children and families, sees how important CHIP is every day when clients come to the office seeking assistance and guidance. “Not only does health insurance for children make emotional sense, it also makes financial sense,” said Carol Goertzel, President/CEO of PathWays PA. “A recent report from Rice University puts the cost of health insurance through age 18 at $7,451, while the benefits equate to as much at $15,000.”

Even during an economic crisis, it is important to pay attention to the long-term effects of short-term cuts. The Cover All Kids program remains among the services that are vital to families in Pennsylvania.

PathWays PA began in 1978 as the Women's Association for Women's Alternatives, one of Pennsylvania's first residential programs to keep low-income, vulnerable women together with their children. It has grown to become one of the Greater Philadelphia region's foremost providers of residential and community-based services with a focus on serving women, teens and children. Each year PathWays PA serves over 6,000 clients with a full complement of social services; job training and employment assistance; as well as residential programs.

###

EITC Expansion in Climate Change Bill

U.S. currency iconFor those of you following the cap-and-trade argument underway, the House will be voting on the latest climate change bill on Friday, June 26 (interesting reading on the bill are available from a variety of sources). But for those of you who follow the EITC, there is another important change within climate change – an expansion of the EITC to childless workers. Work Forward does a good job of explaining the expansion. One aspect of note: many noncustodial parents who owe child support do not have access to the EITC. The hope is that expanding the EITC to these workers creates an incentive to work and pay more child support, thereby benefiting those children.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PathWays PA Special E-Alert - June 24, 2009

Help Reform Child Welfare Financing
The Department of Public Welfare has recently delivered amendments to the Public Welfare Code to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in support of their goal to safely reduce the number of children in foster care placement by 20% by 2010.
According to the Pennsylvania Partnership for Children's Porch Light Project, at any given moment, 20,000 children find themselves living in the foster care system rather then with their birth families because they have been abused or neglected. Research demonstrates that children in home settings generally achieve better outcomes than those in institutional setting, including, higher levels of education, less alcohol or other drug abuse problems, more positive relationships with biological siblings, better housing stability, more close relationships and social support, less dependency on public assistance, and less risk of delinquency.
Please contact your local representatives and let them know how important this initiative is to you and to Pennsylvania.

As the Budget Turns...Help Save Industry Partnerships and Child Care Work Subsidies!
Currently in Harrisburg, legislators are grappling with the state budget. In order for important programs, like the Industry Partnerships and Child Care Works Subsidies, to continue to receive funding, legislators need to hear from you.
Please contact your representatives and let them know how important these programs are.
If you would like to sign onto a letter supporting the Industry Partnerships you can click here.
If you would like to send your own letter to your legislators we have prepared a letters that discuss the importance of the Industry Partnership Programs and the Child Care Work Subsidies. Please feel free to include your own personal stories.
Here is some information about the programs that you can share with your representatives:
The Industry Partnerships are consortiums that allow employers to improve and expand their workforce by bringing together companies committed to the development of their workforce. This program provides workers with access to training that gives them the skills necessary to maintain jobs and obtain employment with sufficient wages so workers can adequately support their families. In Pennsylvania more than 6,300 businesses are involved with more than 70 Industry Partnerships across the state and more than 70,000 workers have been trained since 2005. On average, those workers have seen their wages rise by 6.62 percent within the first year after receiving the training.
The Child Care Works Subsidies allow parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. For many parents the cost of child care may be more than they bring home in a paycheck. Currently in Pennsylvania, over 15,000 people are eligible for the child care subsidies but are currently on the waitlist, where some families remain for months. In the meantime, they must pay more than they can afford for child care, provide childcare through an unreliable patchwork of friends, family, or substandard facilities, or risk losing their jobs at a time when employment is hard to find.
Particularly in these tough economic times when employment is of significant importance, Pennsylvania cannot afford to cut programs that provide training and make work possible for so many.

What Will the President’s Upcoming Announcement Mean to Job Training and College?

Official portrait of President Obama and Vice President Biden 2009Since January, interest in postsecondary education has been building at a slow but steady pace from the President’s First Address to Congress to a recent press conference (in which the President noted that his Administration would soon “lay out a fundamental rethinking of our job training, vocational education, and community college programs.”) In the next few weeks, a “major announcement” is expected to lay out at least some of that plan.

The Workforce Alliance has done a great job of compiling many recent articles related to the President’s plan and to middle skills jobs in general. At least half of the jobs in Pennsylvania, and throughout the US, fall into the middle skills job category, requiring at least some postsecondary education (though not a bachelor’s degree).

Having an opportunity to earn additional training is important for the many workers in Pennsylvania who lack education beyond high school: 53 percent of adult Pennsylvanians (age 25 and over) stopped their education at or before high school.

Some of the expectations for the proposal include better funding for the community college system with the goal of educating 5 million additional workers through community colleges in the next ten years. This would be great news for Pennsylvania, which has a great community college system that is unfortunately also one of the most expensive in the country.

While waiting for the national announcement on job training and community colleges, it is important to remember that some action can be taken today here in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s Industry Partnership program, which brings together consortiums that allow employers to improve and expand their workforce by giving workers new educational opportunities, is one of many programs threatened by funding cuts in the state budget. To prevent these cuts, you can add your name to a sign-on letter or write a letter of your own.

Monday, June 22, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 22, 2009

Help Women and Low-Income Workers Gain Green Jobs from Climate Change Bill

In the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), women and other disproportionately low-income workers may be able to get on a pathway to economic security in new green jobs if
Congress adopts a provision targeting jobs and training. The provision will ensure that groups traditionally left out of construction gain a foothold as a result of federal spending on energy projects in the energy bill.

Please ask your representative to contact Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, and urge them to support such a proposal. They are in the process of preparing the ACESA for floor action as early as June 24.

Click here
for the Green Construction Careers Proposal Summary for the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.


Help Ensure Appropriations for Transitional Jobs Programs!

Transitional Jobs programs provide a bridge to unsubsidized employment for individuals with limited work experience, low levels of education, and other barriers to employment, who face a particularly challenging labor market.
Transitional Jobs programs have grown during the past decade, reaching over one hundred thousand people in more than 30 states. A dedicated federal grant program is needed to expand and further develop the comprehensive Transitional Jobs program model and demonstrate its effectiveness.

Please contact your representatives to let them know how important these programs are.

Want other ways to get involved with our efforts? Click here to view other resources and help get the ground moving!


Support Marriage Equality in Pennsylvania!

Please urge your Senator and Representative to co-sponsor Senate Bill 935, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. S.B. 935 would allow our state to join ranks with our neighbors in Maine, Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts by offering full and equal marriage rights to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania.

The legislation would dissolve barriers to building families that gay and lesbian couples currently face.

Please sign the petition to show your support!


Webinar: Women and Social Security

How many women could use more information on Social Security and retirement?

During this economic crisis -- just about all of them. Women have a higher risk of poverty in retirement than men, particularly women of color and single women (whether widowed, divorced, or never-married). According to the Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Pennsylvania, one in four retired elders in the state rely on Social Security as their only source of income.

The National Women's Law Center is hosting a two-part series of free webinars to help women prepare for retirement, for service providers, advocates, and individuals. The first webinar, to be held Tuesday, June 23rd at 1:00, is about women and Social Security; the second will be about pensions and savings.

Register today! This online workshop is free to participants, but registration is required.


Grant Opportunity: Community Living Programs, Administration on Aging

The Administration on Aging will award Cooperative Agreements to assist State Units on Aging. The grant is meant to strengthen the capacity of the Aging Network in order to help individuals who are not eligible for Medicaid but are at imminent risk of nursing home placement to remain at home and in the community and have access to flexible, consumer-directed services.

For more information visit: http://www07.grants.gov/search/search.do?&mode=VIEW&flag2006=false&oppId=47797.


When is Seltzer Water Junk Food? When a School Wants to Add it to a Menu.

MomsRising's most recent action alert starts by listing four food items: Hi-C Blast, Poland Spring seltzer water, french fries, and candy bars. All of these are available at a school near you - except the seltzer water, which is "junk food" according to national school nutrition standards because it contains no vitamins or minerals.

When children aged 6-11 are four times more likely to be obese than children a generation ago, it might be time to look at national school nutrition standards again.

MomsRising has a petition you can sign on updating the nutrition standards, which they plan to take to Congress on June 24.


Save the Date - Bridging the Pennsylvania Network: Linking Food Production and Distribution with Food Security

The PA Association of Regional Food Banks, the PA Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Food Distribution, and the PA Hunger Action Center has collaborated to plan a series of three forums to take place over the next year. The first of this is to be held Wednesday, September 16 from 8:00 to 3:00 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show VIP Room. The cost to attend the event is $60 and registration is required by September 4th.

The objective for these forums is to build a mass of interested parties from all aspects of the “food shed” into an identifiable and interactive Pennsylvania Food Network.

The first forum will include emergency food assistance providers, government and NGO food agencies, and anti-hunger advocates. Generally, the objectives for this meeting will be to:
• gain an appreciation of the scope of this network component
• gain an understanding of organizational commonalities as the departure point for ongoing communication and coordination
• initiate discussion and plans for partnership development to be addressed in the second session


No Cost Medical Eye Care Available to Qualified Seniors

EyeCare America is currently running a national health campaign encouraging seniors to call the EyeCare America Seniors EyeCare Program to see if they qualify for an eye exam and care, often at no-cost. From June 1 to August 31, qualified seniors can get a comprehensive eye exam and care for any disease detected in the initial visit for up to one year at no out-of-pocket cost for seniors who are without an eye doctor.

The program is available to those who:

• Are U.S. citizens or legal residents
• Are age 65 and older
• Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
• Do not belong to an HMO or the VA

For a Seniors EyeCare Program referral, those interested may call the toll-free help line 1.800.222.EYES (3937). The Seniors EyeCare Program help line operates all day, every day, year-round.

EyeCare America also offers programs for eye care needs related to glaucoma, diabetes, AMD (macular degeneration), and young children.


Another Grant Announcement: Reaching Underserved Elderly and Working Poor in the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is soliciting applications to test a range of approaches for expanding access to SNAP among two underserved populations- the elderly and working poor.

The fiscal year 2009 cooperative agreements will be awarded to State agencies responsible for administering SNAP. However, interested State SNAP agencies may assemble teams that include other public, non-profit and/or private organizations to plan and implement pilot projects. FNS will also award and oversee a contract for an independent evaluation of the pilots.

Approximately $3.0 million in fiscal year 2009 funds is available for the pilots, which are expected to operate for three years, including an implementation phase. FNS anticipates awarding six grants of up to $500,000 each. The award amount will depend upon the strategy selected, the proposed budget and the quality of the application as determined by a technical panel.

Complete application packages must be received by FNS on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Tuesday August 4, 2009. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Greg Walton, Grants Management Division, via email at Greg.Walton@fns.usda.gov.

Here is the direct link which is also posted in Grants.gov.
http://www.fns.usda.gov/oane/menu/DemoProjects/UnderservedElderly/Announcement.htm

Like Podcasts? Check Out A World of Possibilities as They Focus on Paid Sick Time

Apple iPod mini blue-2005-03-07This episode actually came out last month, but it is still a good one to listen to. In May 2009, A World of Possibilities broadcast an episode on NPR focused entirely on paid sick time. You can also visit their website to hear the full, unedited interview with each guest. You can also find the episode on iTunes or though a variety of podcast feeds.

Friday, June 19, 2009

No Cost Eye Care Available to Qualified Seniors

Anti-reflective coating comparison
EyeCare America is currently running a national health campaign encouraging seniors to call the EyeCare America Seniors EyeCare Program to see if they qualify for an eye exam and care, often at no-cost. From June 1 to August 31, qualified seniors can get a comprehensive eye exam and care for any disease detected in the initial visit for up to one year at no out-of-pocket cost for seniors who are without an eye doctor.

The program is available to those who:

  • Are U.S. citizens or legal residents
  • Are age 65 and older
  • Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
  • Do not belong to an HMO or the VA

For a Seniors EyeCare Program referral, those interested may call the toll-free help line 1.800.222.EYES (3937). The Seniors EyeCare Program help line operates all day, every day, year-round.


EyeCare America also offers programs for eye care needs related to glaucoma, diabetes, AMD (macular degeneration), and young children.

Follow up on the Healthy Families Act/ FIRST Act Hearing!

Rosa DeLauro PortraitLast Thursday, the Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act. You can watch the archived webcast, shorter video clips, or read the testimony, to learn more. Some of the highlights:


You can also take action (thanks to MomsRising for the great sign-on letters!):

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When is Seltzer Water Junk Food? When a School Wants To Add It To a Menu

New York Seltzer's dispenser
MomsRising's most recent action alert starts by listing four food items: Hi-C Blast, Poland Spring seltzer water, french fries, and candy bars. All of these are available at a school near you - except the seltzer water, which is "junk food" according to national school nutrition standards because it contains no vitamins or minerals.

Now, I love french fries as much as the next person (and probably more), but I am fairly confident that they don't qualify as health food (even if my mom did count them as vegetables when my pediatrician asked if I was eating well). When children aged 6-11 are four times more likely to be obese than children a generation ago, it might be time to look at national school nutrition standards again.

MomsRising has a petition you can sign on updating the nutrition standards, which they plan to take to Congress in June 24.

Equal Pay Act: 46 Years Old but Still More Work to be Done!

Anthony dollar coinThe Equal Pay Act, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work, was 46 years old last week. This Act helped to narrow the wage gap; however, significant disparities still exist that must be addressed. For example, in Pennsylvania women earn only 75% of men in similar positions.

In January, the House of Representative passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. If passed by the Senate, this Act would strengthen current laws against wage discrimination and provide tools to enable the federal government to be more proactive in this fight by:
  • closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages
  • allowing women and men to receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that are currently available to those subject to discrimination based on race and national origin
  • improving the collection of pay information by the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enable those agencies to evaluate pay disparities, facilitate class actions in Equal Pay Act claims, and spark the development of salary negotiation skills training.
To send a letter to your Senators to urge their support for this important piece of legislation please click here.

Remember, Online is an Option When it’s Time for Social Security

Two women operating ENIACA reminder from the Social Security Administration has been making the rounds (along with a video for those who have fond memories of The Patty Duke Show) to let people know that they can apply for Social Security and other important services online. Thanks to @AgingwithGrace for passing it on!

Support Needed for Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs!

Geekcorps computer training class, Bamako, MaliTo support these integral programs, please contact your local representatives to let them know that adult education and family literacy programs are seeing an increased demand for their services.

Sample message to legislators: “Adult education and family literacy are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to support themselves. These services have been seeing an increased demand in recent months. Please ensure funding for these programs.” Please include your own story as well!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New CLASP Report on Drug Testing

CLASP just released a new report on drug testing of welfare recipients, reminding us once again that random drug testing is an expensive and inefficient way to find public benefits recipients in need of treatment (not to mention unconstitutional).

Despite the data showing the inefficiencies of these drug tests, the report notes that at least ten states have introduced bills in the past year to require this testing, in addition to an amendment offered at the federal level (which was defeated). However, in these times of economic crisis, more states (including Pennsylvania) may look to similar bills to provide “savings” in the state budget. It is important to remember that, based on analysis from other states, these savings don't seem to exist.

Rendell Proposes Raising Personal Income Tax 0.5% for Three Years

Earlier today Governor Rendell proposed raising the state income tax from 3.07% to 3.57% for the next three years in order to cover some of the budget gap being seen in Pennsylvania. According to the Governor, the rate increase would raise $1.5 billion for the state.


Last week we posted a quick calculation from PCCY on the impact of a tax increase on families. As this issue continues to be in the news, we wanted to give you the opportunity to see how this increase might affect your family. Below is a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation on what a 0.5% tax would mean per household in Pennsylvania.

Monday, June 15, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 15, 2009


Support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program!

The VITA program provides free tax services for low-income taxpayers nationwide. Congress is currently reviewing the budget for FY 2010 - including funding for VITA programs. The National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) is asking that Congress increase federal funding for the VITA Grant Program to $14 million. Increased funding is needed to ensure that community tax preparers can meet the constant demand for their services.
During the 2009 filing season, 2,500 tax sites that received VITA grants prepared over 700,000 tax returns. However, more funding is needed in order to improve and expand free tax services, particularly for underserved taxpayers in hard-to-reach communities.
For more information or if you would like to help please see NCTC's Action Alert.


Call Today to Save Housing, Services, and Education in PA!
Pennsylvania needs a budget that protects people's homes, social services, and education. The current budget proposals include harmful cuts to education, healthcare, housing, and behavioral health and other services.
The Vote for Homes Coalition is asking people to contact their legislators to let them know just how important these programs are. Some particular services include:
1. Housing Programs - the vital Department of Community Economic Development (DCED) is at risk of losing funds, including the state investment in local housing and community revitalization that generated 4,000 jobs and helped build, rehab or repair 7,000 homes statewide over the past 2 years.
2. Mental health and substance abuse services - the community mental health, behavioral health, and state hospital budgets is still at risk for losing $27 million in funding based on the budget proposals by both the Senate and the Governor.
3. Education and Health Care Programs - 4,200 kids will lose their health coverage and education programs if funding is cut. The economic health of our community depends on the education and health of our youth.
Please help protect housing, services, and education and support the efforts to create a better solution for the Pennsylvania State budget.


Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs!

The Alliance for Children and Families is circulating a sign-on letter to national, state, and local organizations on H.R. 911, The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009.
The letter asks Congress to ensure that all residential treatment programs are appropriately regulated, but also to avoid duplicate regulation by exempting programs covered by existing child welfare, mental health, and similar federal laws and instead addressing those programs, where necessary, through those existing federal laws.
To sign on your organization, please contact Patrick Lester, at plester@alliance1.org by June 22. To sign on, please send your name, organization (as it should be listed), address including state, phone number, and email address.

Campus Philly Opportunity Fair and College Marketing 101!
June 16 - Opportunity Fair
St. Joseph's University
Campus Philly is connecting recent college graduates and local employers through its Opportunity Fair. The event, which is open to all graduates and young alumni from the classes of 2004 through 2009, will include:
  • A career fair
  • A graduate and professional studies fair
  • Career-based education sessions
June 24 - College Marketing 101
Campus Philly is giving area businesses and cultural institutions a crash course in college student marketing. During this presentation and panel discussion, your organization will learn:
  • How to effectively tailor your marketing message to reach the college demographic
  • How to create and utilize branding opportunities
  • How to engage parents and families of prospective and enrolled students
  • How to partner with Campus Philly to effectively engage college students in Philadelphia
Panelists include:
  • Marketing Manager, Philadelphia Orchestra, Liz Madeja
  • Parent and Family Marketing Expert - TBA
  • Student Marketing Expert - TBA
  • Rebekah Rhodes, Temple University
  • Two Current Students

For more information on either event please visit http://about.campusphilly.org


The United Way Statewide Nonprofit Stimulus Legislative Forum

This forum, co-sponsored by the Advisory Committee of the Pennsylvania Charitable Nonprofit Caucus, will focus on how to connect PA nonprofits with stimulus funds that are currently available.


WHEN: Monday, June 22 10:00 - 12:00

WHERE: Hilton Harrisburg, One North Second Street

WHO:
  • General Services Secretary James Creedon, Chief Implementation Officer
  • Ronald J. Naples, Chairman of Governor's Working Group for Stimulus Accountability & Chief Accountability Officer.
Attendance is free. Registration is required. For more information and to register please click here.


Nonprofit Organizations - Apply for Economic Recovery Stimulus Funds!

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, $50 million was approved to help non-profit organizations. Note the deadline: July 7.
Please see the federal notice below:
The Federal Government recognizes the important work carried out by nonprofit organizations to address the needs of disadvantaged and hard-to-reach populations suffering economic hardships and intends to empower these organizations to be part of economic recovery through the new Strengthening Communities Fund. The Strengthening Communities Fund is now available and applications are due July 7, 2009. Please share this information with your list-servs, networks, and partner organizations. We apologize for any cross-postings.
The Strengthening Communities Fund
Objective: The objective of the Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF) is to enable nonprofit organizations to contribute to the economic recovery and help Federal, State, local, and Indian/Native American Tribal governments ensure that the information and services described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) reach disadvantaged and hard-to-serve populations.
Program Focus: The focus of this program is to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations, whether secular or faith based, to address the broad economic recovery issues present in their communities, including helping low-income individuals secure and retain employment, earn higher wages, obtain better-quality jobs, and gain greater access to state and Federal benefits and tax credits, including ARRA benefits.
Grant Program: SCF is made up of two separate grant programs.
1. Nonprofit Capacity Building Program: The SCF Nonprofit Capacity Building program will make one-time awards up to $1 million to experienced lead organizations to provide nonprofit organizations -- or project partners -- with capacity building training, technical assistance, and competitive financial assistance. A minimum of 55% of the Federal funds awarded must be provided to project partners through a competitive process. The grant period for this award is 24 months. To read the full program announcement for the SCF Nonprofit Capacity Building program visit: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/HHS-2009-ACF-OCS-SI-0091.html

2. State, Local, and Tribal Government Capacity Building Program: The SCF State, Local, and Tribal Government Capacity Building program will make one-time awards up to $250,000 to State, city, county, and Indian/Native American Tribal government offices (e.g., offices responsible for outreach to faith-based and community organizations or those interested in initiating such an effort), or their designees, to build the capacity of nonprofit faith-based and community organizations to better serve those in need and to increase nonprofit organizations' involvement in the economic recovery. Grantees will use program funds to provide free capacity building services to nonprofit organizations and to build their own capacity to provide such services to nonprofits. The grant period for this award is 24 months. To read the full program announcement for the SCF State, Local and Tribal Government Capacity Building Program visit: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/HHS-2009-ACF-OCS-SN-0092.html
For more information about this new program, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/scf/
For recordings of technical assistance calls for potential applicants, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/scf/online_training.html


Seminar: Nonprofits in a Post-Madoff World - A New Era of Legal Challenges with Respect to Protecting Assets and Executive Compensation

The seminar will cover challenges facing nonprofit organizations in light of recent scandals.
WHEN: June 23, 8:30 -10:30
WHERE: Saul Ewing's Philadelphia Office - 1500 Market Street
Attend this seminar to learn the latest on challenges facing nonprofit organizations, including managing/securing investments, increased government scrutiny of compliance matters, and executive compensation.
Topics:
  • How to best secure and protect assets in an uncertain investment environment
  • What to do if the worst happens and your organization is victimized in an investment fraud or scandal
  • Compensation policies: best executive compensation practices, how to avoid IRS penalties for excessive compensation
  • Issues in retirement plans, both qualified and nonqualified
For more information please visit click here.
Space is limited. Please register or RSVP to Mary F. Brightman at mbrightman@saul.com or 215-972-7773.

Federal Grant Programs to Focus on Adult Students and Displaced Workers

The U.S. Education Department on Friday said that its primary grant program to stimulate higher education innovation would focus this year on community college programs designed to help adult students and displaced workers.
In an announcement in the Federal Register, the Education Department said it would give special priority in this year's grant competition in the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education to "innovative strategies to benefit working adults and displaced workers who are pursuing degrees or credentials in community colleges," including those that improve "academic remediation; tutoring; academic and personal counseling; registration processes; students' course selection and scheduling; instructional delivery, student support services related to childcare," or other purposes.

To view the application please click here.

Parental Wage Discrimination

Vintage family from englandWe’ve discussed pay equity and maternal profiling on this blog. But this June 11 posting by Womenstake brings the two together, highlighting a study that shows mothers were far less likely to be hired than non-mothers, and earned about $11,000 less than non-mothers. Fathers, meanwhile, were judged to be more committed than non-fathers - a study in 2000 even showed that fathers received a “wage premium” in comparison to non-fathers.


The fathers in our lives should be honored, especially in this week leading up to Father’s Day. But let’s not confuse honoring one parent by discriminating against another.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"No Correlation Between Paid Sick Time and Job Loss" - New CEPR Study (#sickdays)

Sickness remediesAs you get ready to watch today's Paid Sick Days Hearing, you might want to take a minute to read the CEPR's latest report, "Paid Sick Days Don't Cause Unemployment," which shows that countries implementing paid sick time policies do not experience job loss as a result. In fact, there are savings created by implementing paid sick time, both from a lack of presenteeism and by limiting the spread of contagious illness.

Once you read the report (or even if you don't), please take action:

  1. Ask Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, ensuring that everyone who works has paid sick time to care for themselves and their families. Please write an email, Tweet your friends (you can use @MomsRising 's short tag http://is.gd/XgBT), or make a phone call today.
  2. You can also join us on Facebook to support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia, or become part of our coalition of advocates and businesses working to ensure all Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to earn sick time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Smart Pharmacy Facing Problems

Walgreens Prescription BottleSmart Pharmacy, also known as the pharmacy carve-out, would yield significant savings to the state on the cost of Medical Assistance prescription drug benefits. These savings would be achieved by giving DPW authority to administer the drug prescription program for all 2 million MA recipients. Currently, DPW does not administer the benefit for 1.2 million MA recipients who are enrolled in managed care organizations in the Southeast, South-Central, and Southwest parts of the state.

However, the program is facing some opposition from legislators and providers, as it has over the past two years when it has come up for a vote.

Smart Pharmacy is estimated to save the state $146 million per year in reduced costs. In this time of budget crisis, every dollar is needed to reduce cuts in programs that are vital to our state.

Support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program!

Dollar symbolThe VITA program provides free tax services for low-income taxpayers nationwide. Congress is currently reviewing the budget for FY 2010 - including funding for VITA programs. That National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) is asking that Congress increase federal funding for the VITA Grant Program to $14 million. Increased funding is needed to ensure that community tax preparers can meet the constant demand for their services.

During the 2009 filing season, 2,500 tax sites that received VITA grants prepared over 700,000 tax returns. However, more funding is needed in order to improve and expand free tax services, particularly for underserved taxpayers in hard-to-reach communities.

For more information or if you would like to help please see NCTC’s Action Alert.

Universal Feeding Program Saved -- for Now

20111012-FNCS-LSC-0144 - Flickr - USDAgovThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided that the popular and successful Universal Feeding program, which provides school meals to tens of thousands of low-income Philadelphia school children, will continue. Thanks to all of you who took action on this important issue!

The USDA has postponed making a decision on program until Congress considers a national update of child nutrition programs, in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. This postponement came following “vocal and persistent” efforts from the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation and from constituents.

The Universal Feeding program allows more that 120,000 students in poor school to eat free meals without having to fill out application. The continuation of this program is vitally important because studies have shown that large numbers of children go hungry when they are required to provide school meal applications. According to state figures, nearly twice as many students get free meals when parents are not required to fill out the applications, due in large part to the fact that parents do not always complete the forms. Families with the lowest incomes and in the greatest need, where the school meals are likely the only meals the children eat, are unfortunately the least likely to return complete applications. The paperless system also reduced administrative costs for the School District of Philadelphia.

This program was scheduled for termination in June of 2010 but this extension will hopefully provide Congress with time to work on a permanent and national universal paperless school lunch program.

The Child Nutrition Act is scheduled to be reauthorized this year. Several legislators are considering the introduction of separate legislation that would extend similar programs to other cities in the US. Please keep reminding your representatives of the importance of this program, and thank them for their work in ensuring the program remains in Philadelphia!

Reminder: Legislative Hearings on Earned Sick Time on June 11

Alberto y PadreYou can act now on the Healthy Families Act by asking Pennsylvania’s legislators to cosponsor it. You can also write to your legislators about the FIRST Act – a sample letter of support has already been written by the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Watch the webcast live, and view our June 8th blog post for more details!

Check out "Worker's Rights to Paid Sick Days" on the WLP Blog

One of PathWays PA's partners in work on earned sick time has a great blog posting up regarding the issue. Check it out, and take action on earned sick time today by:

  1. Asking Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, ensuring that everyone who works has paid sick time to care for themselves and their families. Please write an email, Tweet your friends (use the hashtag #sickdays if you can), or make a phone call today.
  2. You can also join us on Facebook to support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia, or become part of our coalition of advocates and businesses working to ensure all Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to earn sick time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Senate’s Budget Proposal Struck Down!

Seal of the Senate of PennsylvaniaYesterday, Senate Bill 850 did not receive the votes needed by the House Appropriations Committee to move on. The bill was defeated by a vote of 20-14.

If passed Senate Bill 850 would have substantially reduced funding for critical programs including those involving childcare, education, affordable housing, and industry partnerships.

Thank you to everyone who spoke out against this bill! Please keep reminding your representatives that in these difficult times investments in programs that involve education and economic development are needed more than ever, to create jobs as we strive to get through this recession.

Study on Philadelphia Public High Schools Shows that Graduation is Good, But Postsecondary Education is Better

Graduation GirlI just started reading “Untapped Potential,” a study of a cohort in Philadelphia’s public high schools, released June 4 by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins. Among other issues this report raises, the gender gap in income is most evident not among high school dropouts but among students who have a high school diploma but no postsecondary education. According to the report, the earnings gap “virtually disappeared” for students who went on to get some college education.

A middle skills education, where students get at least some postsecondary education, is increasingly more important to Pennsylvania’s workforce. While Philadelphia’s high dropout rate among high school students has led us to focus on high school diplomas and GEDs, we must remember that high school is only one step on the educational ladder to success.

Monday, June 8, 2009

To Raise or Not to Raise? (h/t PCCY)


As legislators continue examining ways to close the over $3 billion budget gap in Pennsylvania’s budget, one idea keeps percolating to the top: raising the state Personal Income Tax (or PIT). Pennsylvania’s PIT is one of the lowest in the country, and it is possible that raising it would cover the budget gap, at least for this year.

PCCY recently put together a chart showing how raising the PIT would affect individual taxpayers, which you can see above (there are actually two charts for the two different scenarios being proposed right now). We don’t know if the PIT will be raised, and if it is, the hike is likely to be temporary, according to the Governor.

As you can see from the chart, someone earning $40,000 per year would pay an additional $120 per year under Scenario 1, which is a 3/10 percent increase. Under Scenario 2, people earning $40,000 would pay about $400 more per year than they do now. (Households earning below $32,000 for a family of four are currently exempt from the PIT altogether, while those earning up to $34,400 can receive a partial refund. If the PIT is raised, these incomes may increase as well.)

We know that any tax increase could be hard on families, particularly as they are trying to get by in this economy. However, in order to provide the services that many of these families rely on, our budget gap needs to be closed. As the discussion on PIT continues, we hope that families will be informed about the costs and benefits of all the scenarios that are discussed.

Legislative Hearings on Paid Sick Time (#sickdays)

Seal of the United States CongressOn Thursday, the first legislative hearings will held on paid sick time as the House reviews the Healthy Families Act and the FIRST Act. The Healthy Families Act provides workers with the opportunity to earn up to 7 days of paid sick time per year, while the FIRST Act provides grants to states so that they can create paid leave opportunities for workers with FMLA-type issues.

You can act now on the Healthy Families Act by asking Pennsylvania’s legislators to cosponsor it. While five of our legislators (four House members and Senator Casey) have cosponsored the bill already, the rest need to hear from you about why paid sick time is important to you and your family.

You can also write to your legislators about the FIRST Act – a sample letter of support has already been written by the National Partnership for Women and Families.

And finally, you can watch everything as it happens online – there will be a webcast on June 11 on the Committee’s website – just click on “Live Webcast.”

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 8, 2009

June 9: Save Our Homes Day!

The Save Our Homes Coalition is sponsoring a Save Our Homes Day for Pennsylvania homeowners to educate legislators on the need to help families facing the loss of their homes.

WHERE: Harrisburg – Capitol Rotunda
WHEN: June 9 – Noon

Transportation is leaving Philadelphia at 7 AM from 16th and JFK.

The state’s Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) loans money to deserving homeowners to pay their mortgages until they get back on their feet. Unfortunately, this vital program is hugely under-funded. This is an opportunity, prior to the passage of the state budget, to make it clear to the Legislature that we need a working, fully-funded, HEMAP program to get people through the current recession.

Please contact John Dodds 215-557-0822 or Tim Styer at 215-557-0822 with any questions or if you would like a ride to Harrisburg.



Urge Your Senators to Support the Family Tax Relief Act!

Families are struggling to make ends meet and the cost of child care has skyrocketed over the past decade. Currently, the maximum deduction parents can take on their taxes for the cost of child care is $3,000 per year.

The Family Tax Relief Act would improve the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for millions of families by more than doubling the maximum credit families can claim for child care expenses and by making it fully refundable so that low and moderate income working families will also benefit.

Please click here to urge your Senators to co-sponsor this important legislation!



Summer Food Service Programs: Food That’s In When School is Out

Each summer, 18 million students are at risk of going hungry when the school year ends and school lunches are no longer available. For many children, school meals are the only complete and nutritious meals they eat.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps to fill the summer meal gap for low-income children. Faith-based, community and private non-profit organizations can make a difference in the lives of hungry children by serving meals with SFSP, a federally funded program administered by states that reimburses organizations for meals served to children during the summer.

Schools, churches, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, and camps can serve meals in neighborhoods with high percentages of low-income families. These venues are safe and familiar locations where children naturally congregate during the summer.

There are two ways to get involved with the SFSP. Your organization may become a SFSP site where meals are served or a SFSP sponsor that both serves meals and keeps track of the accounting and paperwork. Sponsors are reimbursed for all meals served that meet USDA’s nutrition standards.

The number of children participating in the SFSP is only a fraction of the students that participate in school meal programs. Please consider partnering with the USDA to feed more children this summer.

Please click here to view a webinar presentation about participating in SFSP: http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/outreach/sfsp_webinar.wmv

Additional information, resources about hosting a site and providing reimbursable meals, as well as SFSP contacts by state are available at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Summer/



June 16: Yes We Can Day! Support Early Childhood Education!

Pre-K Today is sponsoring a day to flood district offices of the House and Senate with calls, letters, and emails in support of programs that work and support Pennsylvania’s kids and families: Pre-K Counts, Head State, Keystone STARS, T.E.A.C.H, and Child Care Works.

These important and critical programs are threatened for radical reductions in the 2009-2010 budget!

To participate or to find out how you and/or your organization can do more please visit www.paquest.org.



The Governor’s Budget Bus Tour – Help Save State Funding for Important Programs!

Join Governor Rendell, Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak, and other advocates to urge legislators to preserve critical funding for education.

WHEN: June 12 – 10:30 am
WHERE: Ridley High School, 901 Morton Ave., Folsom, PA 19033


The Senate enacted budget bill would:

• Cut Pre-K Counts and Head Start state funding in half!
• Cut State funding for basic education for the first time in history!
• Cut education funding by $1 billion!

Join us to save quality early and basic education, keep property taxes down and do what is best for kids!



Webinar: Taxes for the Common Good – What you Need to Know

Congress has started work on health care reform. The likelihood that the plan adopted will finally put us on a path towards covering all will depend on whether there is a way to pay for it. There are responsible and fair sources of taxation to allow the nation to invest in meeting human needs.

The Coalition on Human Needs is sponsoring a webinar that will give you examples of responsible and fair taxes, help you answer the special interests, and be a voice for the common good.

WHO: Joan Entmacher, National Women’s Law Center
Alison Goldberg, Wealth for the Common Good
Deborah Weinstein, Coalition on Human Needs
WHEN: Thursday, June 11 – 3:30 – 4:30

To register for this webinar please click here.


17-Year-Old School Meals Program Saved!

The popular and successful Universal Feeding program that provides school meals to tens of thousands of low-income Philadelphia school children will continue until the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act.

This important program was in jeopardy but thanks to an outpouring of support it will continue. Thank you to everyone who contacted their representatives to let them know the importance of this program!