Monday, August 31, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: August 31, 2009

PA Budget

It is nearly September and Pennsylvania is still without a complete state budget. The Conference Committee is scheduled to meet again this Tuesday, and the current proposals stand at just under $29 billion from the House and $27.1 billion from the Senate. There has been some willingness from groups to bring their proposals more to the middle with talk of some recurring revenue included in the final bill. In the meantime, preschools and other pre-kindergarten programs are shutting their doors, along with child care centers and many other state programs.

Many institutions and organizations that rely on state funding are going without until the remainder of the budget is passed. These include our schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations, which are now faced with tough decisions that could lead to layoffs, service cuts, or having to close their doors. If you work for one of these organizations or if the services you rely on have been cut, please tell your story! Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or tell your story to PathWays PA. We will share these stories on our blog and in our e-newsletters.

If you are upset about the budget proposals, which include cuts ranging from education to hospitals to the elimination of the Industry Partnership program, please tell your legislators how you would finish this sentence: “If the choice is between reducing/eliminating spending on hospitals, burn units, Industry Partnerships, and childcare, or increasing revenues, I would support…”

During this recession, some budget cuts are inevitable. But too many cuts will lead to long-term impacts on our families, our health, and our economy at a time when we cannot afford to do without.


Federal

Remembering Senator Kennedy

Last week, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), an outspoken and respected force among legislators, died at the age of 77. Senator Kennedy’s interest in health care reform began in the 1960s and, during his later years, became the cornerstone of his career. Yet, his dedication to expanding coverage and access to many other services and institutions that assist Americans and their families will also be honored, as many of us continue to the fight to provide care for families in need.

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” – Sen. Ted Kennedy, 1980 Democratic Convention


Tell Your House and Senate Members to Support Comprehensive Health Care Reform!

Please join the Direct Care Alliance in asking your representatives in Congress to support comprehensive health care reform -- and to make sure it includes initiatives to support direct care workers.

Hearing from you, their constituents, will bring this issue to their attention and tell them that voters care about whether they support it.

To contact your legislator please click here.

For more information about health care reform visit PathWays PA’s Policy Blog and click on the tag “hcr”.


Urge Your Legislators to Fund Nutrition Program

The House and Senate recently passed a version of the Agriculture Appropriations bill and are negotiating the differences in the Conference Committee. Please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to champion nutrition program funding in the conference. This funding is vital to provide critically needed food and nutrition support for low-income families and individuals. Members of the House and Senate Subcommittee are the first contacts to make, followed by other House and Senate members. FRAC is also offering a comparison of the House and Senate nutrition program funding levels.

For additional information, contact Ellen Teller, eteller@frac.org, 202-986-2200, x3013 or Etienne Melcher, emelcher@frac.org, x3012.


State

Support Earned Sick Time

When people are sick, the best place for them to be is home or in the hospital in order to get the care they need and prevent the spread of illness. However, in Pennsylvania, 46 percent of all workers have no access to earned sick time, which means if they or their family members get sick, they are stuck in a no-win situation: work sick, or stay home and lose their pay (or their jobs).

Earned sick time is good for public health, its smart for business, and it helps individuals find and keep economic security.

If you would like to learn more about Earned Sick Time please visit PathWays PA’s Policy Blog and click on the tag “earned sick time”. You can also visit our Earned Time Facebook page where you can share your story about how having earned time has helped you or how not having it has been a struggle.



Industry Partnership Program

Unfortunately, the importance and critical need of the Industry Partnership Program is getting lost in the state budget reporting. Right now there is no funding included for this important program in some of the budgets being proposed.

Take Action! 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. 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.
  • Read more about how the Industry Partnership program is helping in one county


Information

Learn How to Use New Data about Poverty and Health Insurance

In September, the Census Bureau will release the first surveys showing some of the recession's impact on poverty, income and the number of uninsured.
On Wednesday, September 2, from 2:00-3:00, the Coalition on Human Needs and the Half in Ten Campaign: From Poverty to Prosperity are sponsoring a training session about how to use this data:
  • to talk about growing poverty and lost income, both nationally and in states and communities, and to make the connection to the steps government should take
  • to underscore the need for health care reform
This webinar will give special emphasis to the use of state and local data, so you can talk about the impacts in your state and community.

Click here to register.



Financial Advice and Assistance – Get Help Now!

"Get Help Now PA!” is a volunteer initiative to connect Pennsylvanians facing financial difficulties with advice and assistance from professionals in their communities.

Volunteer professionals will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at locations across the Commonwealth to provide free assistance and referrals on issues related to credit, finance, and bankruptcy.

For more information, call toll-free 1-888-799-4557 or visit the Get Help PA website.


Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dispelling the Myths of Health Care Reform: Individual Choice – Pre-Existing Conditions

Myth: Under health care reform, choice will be taken away from the individual and people will be forced into certain plans as decided by the government.

Fact: Heath care reform will open up more options for individuals to purchase the health care they choose by regulating the grounds on which insurance companies can deny coverage(including denial based on pre-existing conditions).


A pre-existing condition is considered to be any medical condition that existed before an individual applies for a new health insurance policy. The condition can be something as serious as heart disease or cancer, or as common as hay fever, asthma, or a sports injury. These conditions can lead to higher premiums or a complete denial of coverage.

In 45 states, it is legal for insurance companies to discriminate against people purchasing health insurance based on their pre-existing conditions. In nine states, being a survivor of domestic violence is considered a pre-existing condition.

Insurers can deny coverage, charge higher premiums, and/or refuse to cover medical conditions of individuals with pre-existing conditions. If a person with a pre-existing condition is able to obtain coverage, insurers are then permitted to exclude whole categories of coverage that relates to the pre-existing condition. For example, someone considered to have a pre-existing condition of hay fever, could have coverage for a respiratory system disease, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, excluded from their coverage. For many individuals, the options available for insurance are very limited or even just partial coverage, and it is still very expensive.

Under health insurance reform, insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing coverage because of someone’s medical history or health risk. Coverage will be more affordable, so people with pre-existing conditions will not have to pay exorbitant costs for partial coverage. People will have more choices when it comes to affordable and complete coverage.

Devastating Impact of the Budget Impasse

To keep you updated on the budget crisis, below are some articles we recently saw:


Child Care Hard Hit by Pennsylvania Petty Politics – On September 1, JoAnna Collins, co- owner and Early Educational Director of Creative Play Day School will have to lay off 21 of 27 employees and will no longer be able to care for children whose parents pay for their care with funding from the state.

Service Agencies in Crisis over Pa. Budget Impasse – “Senior centers have cut staff hours. Adults who want to learn to read are told to wait, and classes have been cut. Agencies that help bathe and feed people with disabilities have sought hundreds of thousands of dollars on credit, not knowing when the state will reimburse them or if their credit will run out.”

School Districts Fight to Stay Above the Water – Schools have either started the school year or will start it soon, without funding from the state that many need to keep their doors open.

Class Must Go On – “‘Because we are a poor school district, having missed a second subsidy payment creates jeopardy for all of our educational programs,’ [Altoona Area School District Superintendent Dennis Murray] wrote. ‘It makes us very nervous about being able to meet payroll in the very near future.’”

Cambria Eyes Cuts as Funds Dwindle
– Due to the budget impasse, Cambria County is edging closer to layoffs or shortened work weeks for some human services employees and has been forced cut some important services.


Please tell us about any articles you have found or stories you would like to share in our comments section.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are You Ready To Be Counted?

In 2010, the Census is coming to a home near you.

In fact, it is coming directly to your home.

In March 2010, you will receive in the mail a form asking questions about income, race, age, and other characteristics of all those living in your household. If you don’t fill out that form, you will receive a “second-chance” notice, and if the second-chance is ignored, you might just get a knock on the door from one of the thousands of Census takers hired to ask those questions of you directly (peak recruitment for hiring will begin soon for jobseekers). Many programs will take place as part of the Census, including personal interviews with people who are transitory and follow-up interviews.

With every Census comes the opportunity for many questions and myths to circulate. So below, we have tried to address some of the common questions about the Census, as well as some of the more nuanced misconceptions that are out there.

  1. How long does it take to fill out the Census?
  • In past Census years, one in six households received a “long-form” questionnaire asking not only for demographic information but also how much a household paid in property taxes and whether or not they had indoor plumbing. For lovers of statistics, the answers were a dream come true, but for households filling out the form, it was more of a nightmare. The 2010 Census will be “short-form” only, requiring “only minutes” to fill out. Data normally collected in the long-form is now collected yearly though the American Community Survey.
2. Why do I have to fill out the Census form?
  • There are a few reasons why you need to fill out the Census form, but the one that will get people’s attention first is this: it’s the law. Besides the fact that you have to fill out the form, there are many other benefits: the Census helps determine your community’s representation in Congress as well as the allocation of federal and state funding. It also helps determine where to build roads and schools and what services may be needed in a given area.
3. What if someone steals my information?
4. What if I am an illegal immigrant?
5. What languages will the Census form be sent in?
6. Why do we have a Census in the first place?
  • The Constitution mandates that everyone living in the United States be counted every ten years. This count is used to determine Congressional redistricting, community funding, and other information.
7. What is statistical sampling? Does it matter to me?
8. Have certain groups of people been “miscounted” in the Census?

New Ways to Measure Poverty?

We talked in a recent blog post about the problems with the Federal Poverty Level: basically, it uses an outdated means of determining income and applies it uniformly to the 48 contiguous states. But what else is out there?

Mark H. Greenberg at the Center for American Progress just wrote a great article explaining this recommendation, which originated in the 1990s and is being considered by Congress as a replacement of the Federal Poverty Level. The Measuring American Poverty Act would create a new measure of poverty as well as a new “decent living standard.” Under the NAS threshold, the actual cost of food, clothing, and shelter, along with a little additional money, would make up the new poverty level. It would vary geographically, and count money available through food stamps, tax credits, and other subsidies as part of a family’s resources. At the same time, it would not count money that must be used to pay taxes, child support, or certain other out-of-pocket expenses as available resources. There are strengths and weaknesses to this method, with strengths including a more relevant, applicable, and logical measurement, and weaknesses including a poverty threshold that may still be too low to accurately reflect needs.

Since the late 1990s, PathWays PA has released The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania every two years to show the basic cost of living in every county in Pennsylvania. The author of these reports, Dr. Diana Pearce, published an article last month comparing the Standard, the NAS guidelines, and the current FPL (she also references another project PathWays PA partners with, The Working Poor Families Project, which looks at the needs of working families earning less than 200% of the FPL). Her article is a great tool for learning more about how the NAS is calculated as well as some of the differences between the NAS and the Standard. The Standard, as we have discussed before, shows the cost of living for 70 different family configurations in each county in a given state based on the cost of food, housing, healthcare, childcare, transportation, and miscellaneous items. It includes the impact of taxes and tax credits on a family, and has room to incorporate the impact of subsidies as well.

While the NAS guidelines are more often referred to in current federal legislation (the Measuring American Poverty Act), the Self-Sufficiency Standard is also included as an alternative measure. As we move towards developing a new measure of poverty, it is important that we look at the strengths and weaknesses of both measures, and of others that are available.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On Women’s Equality Day, Unfortunately Not Everything is Equal

Today marks the 89th Anniversary of women finally getting the right to vote. Unfortunately, after 89 years not everything is equal.

When it comes to health care women still face many barriers.

In the individual insurance market, many states allow insurance companies to calculate premiums based on characteristics such as existing health problems, age, and gender. In particular, women are often charged higher premiums than men during their reproductive years. For example, holding other factors constant, a 22-year-old woman can be charged one and a half times the premium rate of a 22-year-old man.

Beyond cost, the coverage in the individual market is woefully inadequate. A recent survey by the National Women’s Law Center found that the vast majority of individual market health insurance policies did not cover maternity care. Some insurance companies even consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition and therefore will not provide coverage for a woman who is pregnant.

Take Action!
Urge your members of Congress to support legislation that provides Americans with access to quality, affordable health care that is equitable to women.

For more information, visit American Association of University Women's new health care issue page and read their new health care position paper.

Special Budget Alert - August 26, 2009

It is now week eight of the budget stalemate. A budget is needed quickly, but it must also be a budget that supports Pennsylvanians. As budget proposals continue to be negotiated, important programs are still at risk of being cut. It is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about what programs are important.

While state workers have begun receiving paychecks and some essential services have received funds, many institutions and organizations that rely on state funding continue to go without until the remainder of the budget is passed. These include schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations that will have to make tough decisions that could lead to layoffs, service cuts, or closing down their businesses because funding is tied up until the budget is passed.

If you work for one of these organizations or if the services you rely on have been cut, please tell your story! Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or tell your story to PathWays PA. We will share these stories on our blog and in our e-newsletters.

If you are upset about the budget proposals, which include cuts ranging from education to hospitals to the elimination of the Industry Partnership program, please tell your legislators how you would finish this sentence: "If the choice is between reducing/eliminating spending on hospitals, burn units, Industry Partnerships, and childcare, or increasing revenues, I would support..."

During this recession, some budget cuts are inevitable. But too many cuts will lead to long-term impacts on our families, our health, and our economy at a time when we can't afford to do without.

For more information throughout the week on the budget and other issues, be sure to check out the PathWays PA Policy Blog.

Budget News Featuring PathWays PA

PathWays PA and other agencies have been in the news in the past weeks regarding the impact of the budget crisis on their work. We are trying to track budget stories of the day on our blog, but you can find the stories about PathWays PA below:


Budget Update

Democratic House and Senate negotiators are reporting that they have cut the budget impasse gap at least in half. What formally was a $1 billion difference in funding levels may be as close as $300 million or as far as $500 million. However, Republicans state they have not yet seen the official figures.

Today, a press conference is being held in Harrisburg on behalf of schools suffering during the budget crisis. A rally is also taking place in Delaware County which will bring together nonprofits from southeast Pennsylvania to discuss the impact of the budget on their programs.


Philadelphia Budget Update


The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that would allow Philadelphia to increase the sales tax and delay payments to city's pension fund. According to the Mayor, these measures are necessary to keep the city from having to implement severe cuts that include 3,000 layoffs, the closing of libraries and recreation centers, and limiting trash collection to twice a month. The bill coming out of the Senate Committee was amended from the original House bill and if approved by the full Senate will have to go back to the House.

Action Alerts

Budget Rallies Throughout the State

Individuals and organizations are coming together throughout Pennsylvania to remind legislators of the need to quickly pass a responsible budget that fully funds essential programs. If you are interested in taking part or attending any of these rallies, please visit the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's website.


Local Impact of Working Without a State Budget

While the "stop-gap" budget has allowed state workers and some services to be paid, many other departments, organizations, and agencies are still without any funding. Below are some local examples of how the delay and some of the budget proposals truly impact different parts of the state.

  • The South Central Community Action Program, which has served the residents of Adams and Franklin counties for 44 years, must close the door on some of its programs for the first time ever. The agency is waiting on $1.7 million in state payments and has temporarily suspended 75 percent of its services and laid off 68 of its 108 staffers. Programs suspended include its housing, emergency services, and career programs. With community support the agency is able to continue operating its food pantries, shelters and a handful of other services on very limited hours.
  • Community Women's Education Project in Philadelphia reduced their staff to keep its literacy programs and assistance for children, the unemployed, and parents whose children are in foster care open. However, the Project cannot enroll the 125 adults who usually partake in its literacy classes until it receives the $60,000 it is expecting from the state. Residents in the area depend on the agency to get the skills they need to apply for jobs.
  • Survivors Inc. of Gettysburg, a nonprofit that provides shelter to those fleeing from domestic violence, had to get funding from a local foundation for emergency operations cash to prevent what could have been a closure of its 22-bed emergency shelter at the end of August. Other shelters have been forced to impose pay cuts on their staff or close satellite shelters.
  • In Perry County, the main agency for state homeless assistance dollars, Perry Human Services, has not been able to make any grant payments this summer to landlords for programs aimed at helping needy families pay back rent to avoid eviction, or those coming out of shelters with first month's rent and security deposits.

School is Almost In, But the Funding is Still Out

School districts have already missed one state subsidy payment, and, unless a budget is passed today, they will miss the second payment this week, totaling $1.3 billion. Some school districts are able to weather this crisis, however, many receive up to 80 percent of their funding from the state, which means they must rely on cuts and loans. These schools cannot invest in new teachers or new equipment for their students. Even with loans and frugal spending many school districts will not be able to stay afloat for much longer. They are urging state legislators to pass a responsible budget quickly.


United Way Survey

The United Way released the results of a survey of 500 non-profit organizations that shows how they are being affected by the budget crisis. The organizations surveyed, most of which contract with state and county governments to provide social services, rely on $150 million in state and local funding to provide services, pay their employees, and pay their bills.

Of the organizations surveyed:

  • Almost 70 percent will have to cut or eliminate services if they are not paid by September 30th;
  • 1 in 4 have already or are planning to layoff employees;
  • 35 percent are delaying bill payments;
  • 33 percent have missed a utility payment
  • 34 percent have missed a rent payment;
  • 50 percent have delayed or postponed repairs, and;
  • 63 percent have reduced the amount of supplies.

Many of the surveyed non-profit organizations have not been paid since June and will not be paid until after a state budget is passed. Many federal grants to these organizations also flow through the state, preventing payment of the federal resources until the final budget is passed.

The survey results show that many non-profit organizations, which provide essential services all over the state, are on the brink of collapse and may have to close their doors if a responsible state budget is not passed soon.

Testimony at Public Hearing on LIHEAP

Testimony at Public Hearing on LIHEAP Presented by Carol Goertzel, President/CEO of PathWaysPA August 25, 2009


Thank you for allowing us to testify today. My name is Carol Goertzel, and I am President and CEO of PathWaysPA, an agency that has been committed to keeping families together and providing both advocacy and services to and on behalf of at-risk children, teens, women, and families for over thirty years. We work directly with over 6,000 individuals each year.

Based on our experiences, we know that families are struggling every day to make ends meet, and the struggle has only been getting harder during this recession. We ask today that you reconsider the decision to reduce LIHEAP benefits and shorten the season so drastically.
Our request is based on the needs in Pennsylvania shown through our interactions with clients on a day-to-day basis as well as the findings in several of our studies, including The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania and Overlooked and Undercounted: Struggling to Make Ends Meet in Pennsylvania.

In the past year, PathWays PA has been able to offer emergency grants to clients in need through funding from the United Way. In recent months, we have noticed a sharp increase in requests for funding related to utility payments. More than half of the requests we fund in Philadelphia are related to utility payments. In Delaware County, where we do not have access to emergency grants, we receive 2-3 calls daily from people in need of utility help.

Our research supports what we see from our clients. Throughout the state, PathWays PA is best known for The Self-Sufficiency Standard of Pennsylvania, a yardstick that takes into consideration the real costs families face to maintain self-sufficiency. Since these costs vary throughout the state, we have calculated the needs of families in all 67 counties, and adjusted the costs accordingly based on family size and configuration.

Since 2001, costs as measured by the Standard have increased by 34%. Median income, meanwhile, has only increased by 1% when adjusted for inflation. In Philadelphia today, the Self-Sufficiency Standard shows that a family of two adults, one preschooler, and one schoolage child needs to earn $53,611 to make ends meet. In Delaware County, that same family would need $61,593 to be self-sufficient.

Although this wage only covers the necessities, it is still beyond the reach of many Pennsylvanians. As shown in our recent study, Overlooked and Undercounted, 21 percent of all Pennsylvania households live below the Self-Sufficiency Standard. In Philadelphia County, 32.7 percent of families live below the Standard, and in Delaware County, 21.9 percent live below the Standard.

This is not just a problem in Philadelphia, as you can see:


When families are struggling to make ends meet, they must make difficult choices: should they buy food, or pay the electric bill? Purchase their medicine, or send in their rent check? These are the decisions that many families, including working families, are faced with each day. With LIHEAP, families can be sure that one of the most important services, heating, will remain during the winter, allowing them to focus on food and other essentials. Without LIHEAP, many may choose cold housing or unsafe heating systems so they can pay their rent or medical bills.

Under the changes proposed for LIHEAP, many families will not be able to receive all of the help they need to pay for their utilities. By limiting the income of households who can apply to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level, the LIHEAP guidelines prevent those struggling but earning more than $33,075 per year (for a family of four) from applying. Families throughout the state need to earn a minimum of 182% of the FPL in order to make ends meet.

By shortening the LIHEAP season, those families who are new to the program (such as the newly unemployed) may not have time to learn of the service and apply for it. Families who stretch their incomes to the last penny before applying will also lose out on the opportunity to pay their bills. Meanwhile, families whose utility service has already been turned off will have to wait even longer to receive LIHEAP so they can have their heat turned back on.

While we do not yet know how much funding for LIHEAP will come from the federal government, since the federal appropriation grew by $0.7 billion, it is likely that the state appropriation will grow as well. We understand this is a difficult time for our state and our nation, but that is all the more reason why families should be able to turn to LIHEAP for heating during the coming winter. Please make LIHEAP available and accessible to families this winter so that they can make it through safely and securely.

Dispelling the Myths of Health Care Reform: Individual Choice – Death Panels

Myth: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at the end of your life. Health reform creates death panels that will encourage or even require euthanasia.

Fact: Health care reform may provide for the reimbursement of voluntary end of life counseling with your physician once every five years.


Under the House’s health care reform bill, Medicare would help to cover the cost of voluntary, private end-of-life counseling for individuals who want to consult with their family and physician about their care and their options to ensure that the patient is informed and their wishes are known. The Senate may choose not to address this issue in their bill.

When the time comes for end-of-life treatment, it is hard to make decisions on proper care amidst the emotions and grief of the moment. Yet studies show that people who discuss end-of-life care before they reach the need for treatment suffer less physical distress (and, yes, fewer costly procedures) in their final days.

Whether individuals prefer to receive every available treatment or want to set up a do-not-resuscitate order, putting plans in place ahead of time helps to alleviate both individual and family stress at critical moments. This is where end-of-life counseling comes in, covering such topics as managing symptoms, treatment preferences, hospice, living wills and appointing a trusted person to make decisions when the patient is incapacitated. End-of-life counseling helps individuals live with a diagnosis and allows patients to make choices about the care they want. It ensures that the patient, their family, and their physician are on the same page when it comes to the patient’s care. The end-of-life counseling allows a patient to have more informed choices and more control over their care. These are difficult topics to make decisions about – or to even talk about before making decisions - but important ones for a family’s peace-of-mind.

Since the service is voluntary, no one will be forced to attend a counseling session. But since the counseling covers such important material, many elders may be relieved to know that they can attend one at little to no charge.

Letter to the Editor: Pa. budget must serve the neediest citizens

This letter was published today in The Delaware County Daily Times.


To the Times:

The past month has been an anxiety-ridden time for both legislators and nonprofits looking to balance available funding with Pennsylvania’s needs.

As the commonwealth continues without a budget, many are working without pay, stopping their critical services, or facing layoffs – including the nonprofit organizations that care for vulnerable people at times of critical need.

PathWays PA, an organization working in the Greater Philadelphia region to provide residential, child welfare, and job-training services to women and their families, is one of hundreds of organizations providing services without government payment.

While PathWays PA has been weathering this crisis, we know of sister agencies that have endured payless paydays or were forced to lay off staff at a time when these organizations are most needed in the commonwealth.

Even without a budget, we know that contracted services through EARN Centers, DHS programs, and other training programs must continue to ensure families remain safe and on a path to self-sufficiency.

We write today in the hope that a budget comes swiftly in order to lift this immediate burden from nonprofits, but also as a reminder that our budget must focus on the long-term needs of Pennsylvanians.

If it is necessary to include increased revenue in order to keep vital services for Pennsylvanians, we support that decision and the lawmakers who must make such a difficult choice.

What we cannot support is an extended struggle for a budget which does not serve the most vulnerable people, low wage earners trying to gain more skills, children and those that provide services to them.

CAROL GOERTZEL

President/CEO,

PathWays PA

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do Your Homework: Making Sure Students Access Free and Reduced Price School Meals

In coming weeks, you may see PathWays PA's AmeriCorps* VISTAs posting information on our blog from time to time. We are looking forward to their contributions!


With the start of a new school year, millions of children will need access to nutritious school meals and afterschool snacks. Many of these children qualify for these meals at a free or reduced price. While most schools are working diligently to identify children, extra efforts to reach out to eligible and newly qualifying families are needed.

There are two reasons why schools need to accurately enroll qualifying students for free and reduced price meals. First, studies show that students succeed better in school when their bellies are full than when they are empty. Second, the more accurately a school accounts for these students, the more likely that school may qualify for additional funding to improve important educational resources, such as technological learning tools and library books.

There are two ways that families may qualify for school meal programs.
  • Direct certification allows families who currently receive Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or participate in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) to enroll automatically with school meal programs.
  • A family’s income level may qualify children for free or reduced price meals even if they do not participate in the above programs.
The following resources provide tips for improving student access to free and reduced price school meals.

(h/t FRAC)

-Anna Walker

Monday, August 24, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: August 24, 2009

PA Budget: Calling Eric Bruntlett?

Today is the 55th day of the fiscal year and Pennsylvania is still without a complete state budget. Three weeks ago. the House passed legislation approving the $27.3 billion Senate spending plan. The Governor then used his line-item veto to delete many of the budget items, leaving $11 billion to pay state workers and fund services essential to public protection. Last week, the Senate attempted to override some of the Governor’s line-item vetoes but they were unsuccessful. The Governor plans to hold a press conference today at 1:30.

While state workers have begun receiving paychecks and some essential services have received funds, many institutions and organizations that rely on state funding will have to go without until the remainder of the budget is passed. These include schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations that may have to make tough decisions that could lead to laying-off workers, cutting services, or having to close their doors because their funding is tied up until the budget is passed (see United Way Survey below). If you work for one of these organizations or if the services you rely on have been cut, please tell your story! Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or tell your story to PathWays PA. We will share these stories on our blog and in our e-newsletters.

At this point, many of you have probably seen or heard about the great unassisted triple-play made yesterday by Phillies player Eric Bruntlett. Though not an everyday player, Bruntlett had several hits in the game, and, despite some missteps in the 9th inning, made one of the rarest plays in baseball to end the game for the Phillies.

It may be time to start asking legislators to be the Eric Bruntlett of the PA Budget Debate. Everyone has made missteps throughout this budget process. But while the Phillies could have survived a loss yesterday, our state cannot survive the loss of the many services and programs that Pennsylvanians rely on – a loss that has already begun.

If you are upset about the budget proposals, which include cuts ranging from education to hospitals to the elimination of the Industry Partnership program, please tell your legislators how you would finish this sentence: “If the choice is between reducing/eliminating spending on hospitals, burn units, Industry Partnerships, and childcare, or increasing revenues, I would support…”

During this recession, some budget cuts are inevitable. But too many cuts will lead to long-term impacts on our families, our health, and our economy at a time when we can’t afford to do without.


Federal

Urge Your Legislators to Fund Nutrition Program

The House and Senate recently passed a version of the Agriculture Appropriations bill and are negotiating the differences in the Conference Committee. Please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to champion nutrition program funding in the conference. This funding is vital to provide critically needed food and nutrition support for low-income families and individuals. Members of the House and Senate Subcommittee are the first contacts to make, followed by other House and Senate members. FRAC is also offering a comparison of the House and Senate nutrition program funding levels.

For additional information, contact Ellen Teller, eteller@frac.org, 202-986-2200, x3013 or Etienne Melcher, emelcher@frac.org, x3012.


State

United Way Survey

The United Way released the results of a survey of 500 non-profit organizations that shows how they are being affected by the budget crisis. The organizations surveyed, most of which contract with state and county governments to provide social services, rely on $150 million in state and local funding to provide services, pay their employees, and pay their bills.

Of the organizations surveyed:
  • Almost 70 percent will have to cut or eliminate services if they are not paid by September 30th;
  • 1 in 4 are have already or are planning to layoff employees;
  • 35 percent are delaying bill payments;
  • 33 percent have missed a utility payment;
  • 34 percent have missed a rent payment;
  • 50 percent have delayed or postponed repairs, and;
  • 63% have reduced the amount of supplies.
Many of the surveyed non-profit organizations have not been paid since June and will not be paid until after a state budget is passed. Many federal grants to these organizations also flow through the state, preventing payment of the federal resources until the final budget is passed.

The survey results show that many non-profit organizations, which provide essential services all over the state, are on the brink of collapse and may have to close their doors if a responsible state budget is not passed soon.


Industry Partnership Program

Unfortunately, the importance and critical need of the Industry Partnership Program is getting lost in the state budget reporting.

Take Action! 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. 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.
  • Read more about how the Industry Partnership program is helping in one county
  • Talking points are available from Workforce PA, as is a sample letter to send to legislators (please email wib@papartners.org with any legislators you contact as well).


Budget Rally

Join Pennsylvanians from around the region in the fight for essential services.

WHEN: August 26th, noon
WHERE: Media Courthouse, 201 West Front Street Media PA

Why should you attend? Because all Pennsylvanians are impacted by the budget stalemate.

Who is impacted?
police, teachers, case managers, caretakers, firefighters, pre-k teachers, artists, park employees, library employees, caretakers, peer supporters, chief executive officers, janitors, accountants, receptionists, trash collectors, operators, nurses, doctors, child care centers, single parents, human resources, recreation centers, senior centers, support staff of all kind, outreach workers, social workers, ambulance drivers, secretaries, IT staff, residential advisors, grocers, emergency room workers, hospital workers, AIDS services, mental health providers, homelessness and housing agencies, people with developmental disabilities, cultural programs, food programs, centers for independent living, children in foster care, youth services, children in after school programs, libraries, seniors, immigrant services, home health care and waiver services, people in hospice care, legal services, victims of domestic violence, victim services, educators, people with disabilities, workforce programs, adult literacy students, and violence prevention programs …….



ECE Works in PA Day!

The Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young People (PennAEYC) is sponsoring an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Works in PA Day on August 28th.

Leading up to the day, they are asking early childhood education providers to post flyers about the day and contact their legislators urging them to support funding in the state budget for child care, Pre-K Counts, and Head Start. PennAEYC is also requesting that providers ask parents to contact their legislators as well.

For a packet with information about ECE and ECE Works in PA Day please contact kjohnson@pennaeyc.org.


Help Support the LIHEAP Program

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), helps seniors and low income families pay their heating bills. Unfortunately, this program is one of many that may be cut this year. Some of the cuts proposed include reducing cash grants from $300 to $100 and crisis grants from $800 to $300. In addition, the time to apply will be shortened.
If these cuts are passed:
  • Thousands of families will not have the money they need to get their utility service re connected before the start of the heating system.
  • Many of the newly unemployed, not familiar with the LIHEAP program will miss the early deadlines and shortened application period and not receive the help to which they are entitled.
  • The reduced benefits will leave tens of thousands of families without enough help, leading to spring shut offs.
There is a statewide conference call scheduled for Tuesday, August 25th at 2:30 pm, to plan a press conference and other events to help people afford their heating bills. The call in number is: 717 901 0620 (no code is needed). Please join on the conference call and help ensure that individuals will not go cold this winter.


Information

Webinar: Update on Children’s Development Account Initiative and State Policy Opportunities

Join the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) as they provide an update and frame for discussion on some key Child Development Account (CDA) lessons as well as local, state, and federal initiatives and opportunities.

WHEN: August 27th 1:00 – 2:00 EST

The first results and lessons from CDAs demonstration efforts include the Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship and Downpayment Initiative (SEED) - made possible by several members of the Asset Funders Network and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. Moreover, interest in and activity around CDAs are growing at the federal, state, and local levels.

To register for the event please click here.


Financial Advice and Assistance – Get Help Now!

"Get Help Now PA!” is a volunteer initiative to connect Pennsylvanians facing financial difficulties with advice and assistance from professionals in their communities.
Volunteer professionals will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at locations across the Commonwealth to provide free assistance and referrals on issues related to credit, finance, and bankruptcy.

For more information, call toll-free 1-888-799-4557 or visit the Get Help PA website.

In Order to Lift PA out of Economic Crisis, We Need to Lift Up One Another

We are sharing this on behalf of our friends at the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, Governor’s Advisory Council on Rural Affairs, and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission


President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

We write out of concern that the people of Pennsylvania are at risk for loosing both privilege and principles. The future that we see for Pennsylvania is one that places value in each of our neighbors, by creating strong individuals. The state commissions, in turn, enhance the opportunities for healthy businesses, brisk economic development, and a state that is poised to lead.

Unfortunately these privileges are at risk. The Pennsylvania state budget proposes to eliminate the funding for the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, Latino Affairs, Asian American Affairs, Governor’s Advisory Council on Rural Affairs and the Pennsylvania Commission for Women....

To read the full text and consider taking action, please click here.

More on Poverty in the US

Last week, we posted on the new poverty data expected in September and what it shows (and doesn't show) about those in need in the US. Another article out this weekend shows that by the end of the year, it is likely that 1 in 5 people in the US will be at or near poverty.

Friday, August 21, 2009

More Local Impacts of Working Without a Budget

While state budget negotiations continue, many departments, organizations, and agencies throughout Pennsylvania are trying to keep their doors open without any state funding. Below are more articles from around the state that discuss how the delay and some of the budget proposals are truly impacting different parts of the state.

Plan C: Mayor Provides a Revised Budget that Cuts 3,000 Jobs, Closes All Libraries & Rec Centers
Ambridge Cancels Pre-K Program Due to Budget Concerns
Impasse Affecting Medical Ride Program
Pa. Budget Impasse Prompts Bethlehem Schools Cuts
Armstrong County Officials on Edge Over State Budget Impasse

For more local stories please see PathWays PA’s Budget Alert and previous post Local Impacts of Working Without a Budget.

Since 2000, Cost of Health Care Premiums is Up Significantly

A report released yesterday from Families USA found that since 2000 the cost of premiums to employers and individuals has risen significantly more than the increase in median income in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, Families USA found that:
  • From 2000 to 2009, the average price of a family health insurance premium purchased by an employer rose from $6,721 to $13,116.
    • The average amount employers paid towards premiums grew by $4,531, to $9,955, or 83.5 percent.
    • The average amount workers paid towards premiums rose 143.7 percent, from $1,297 to $3,161.
  • The price of a premium for an individual climbed 93.9 percent, from $2,467 in 2000 to $4,782 in 2009.
    • The employer share of an individual premium went up to $3,879 from $2,094, an 85.2 percent increase.
    • The employee's share grew 142 percent, from $373 to $904.

The higher prices have also made it more difficult for people to get insurance through their employers. Last year, 63 percent of U.S. companies offered health insurance to employees, down from 69 percent in 2000.

The report found that the higher prices are the result of the rising cost and increased use of medical treatments, inadequate oversight of insurance companies, lack of competition among insurers in many markets, and cost-shifting from the growing numbers of uninsured to the insured.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dispelling the Myths of Health Care Reform: Individual Choice – Public Option

Myth: You will no longer have a choice when it comes to your health care.
Fact: Health care reform will expand your choices, not limit them.

It is a myth that reform will force individuals out of their current insurance plan or force them to change doctors. If you are happy with your health insurance, then you are free to keep it. This reform is meant to give people more affordable options, not take options away.

For those individuals who are unhappy with their current health care or are uninsured, then the government is offering another option, the public option. Through the public option, an individual will be able to choose or select a public insurance plan. The same individual will also still be able to choose a private insurer but will now have more options to choose from.

The public plan will be a government backed insurance plan for:
  • people who do not have insurance or who are unhappy with the insurance they have, it will give them a choice, another option when they are looking to obtain health care
  • individuals who lose their jobs or whose employers do not offer coverage, it will offer affordable insurance options.
  • small businesses who will have more choices due to the opportunity to purchase health insurance through an “insurance exchange” – allowing them to choose among a multitude of plans that provide better coverage at lower costs than they could find in the current small group market.
The public option will not be an option for employers who are already providing health care for their employees. These employers will not be able to move their employees into the public option. However, they will see their costs go down because of the added competition and benchmarks that the public option will bring to the market.

The public insurance plan would compete directly with private insurers within a new national insurance exchange. Through that competition, costs will be reduced and there will be a drive for advancement and innovation. The public option gives us all more choices and more opportunities to be able to afford quality health care.

Duh, employers. Let sick workers stay home (A Guest Post)

by Katie Bethell

On Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control released its new toolkit, Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Businesses and Employers, which includes recommendations from the CDC, and a letter cosigned by the Secretaries of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Labor.

Their advice? Plan ahead and “encourage sick workers to stay home without penalty.” You’d think this would go without saying, right? What employer would want someone with the swine flu to show up at work?

As it turns out, lots of them.

Today, nearly 1/2 of the workforce doesn’t have paid sick days. And, to make matters worse, the people who are most likely to interact with the public, like restaurant employees, hotel staff, and home health providers are the least likely to have paid sick days (roughly 74% in these industries have no paid sick days at all). When illness strikes, people without paid sick days have a tough choice: go to work sick and put their own health and their coworkers at risk, or stay home to recover and lose pay — and maybe even their jobs.

The CDC does right to tell employers that by not having paid sick days, they are putting both their businesses and public health at risk. Commerce Secretary Locke says it himself: “If an employee stays home sick, it’s not only the best thing for that employee’s health, but also his co-workers and the productivity of the company.”

But while educating the public that they should stay home if they get sick is important, education alone isn’t enough. The CDC and the Secretaries of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Labor should publicly support the Healthy Families Act (H.R.2460/S.1152). This bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and in the Senate by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, simply ensures that employers allow all workers to earn a minimum of 7 paid sick days per year.

Without a law in place that sets a standard for earning paid sick days, we will never achieve the kind of economic and public health safety net that we need to combat outbreaks like the H1N1 virus. We’ve encountered flu pandemics before, and we certainly will again, but businesses have not, on their own, adopted paid sick days policies despite the clear case for their benefit to businesses and the public alike.

It’s not rocket science. The simple standard proposed by the Healthy Families Act is necessary for addressing this, and future, public health and economic needs. It’s time for our leaders to speak out, and help bring our laws up to speed with common-sense public health practices.


Katie Bethell is a National Campaign Director for MomsRising.org. MomsRising.org is a grassroots, national, advocacy organization with 1.2 million members nation wide. MomsRising.org works to pass legislation to ensure family economic security and stop discrimination against mothers.

Local Impact of Working Without a Budget

While state budget negotiations continue, many departments, organizations, and agencies throughout Pennsylvania are trying to keep their doors open without any state funding. Below are articles from around the state that discuss how the delay and some of the budget proposals are truly impacting different parts of the state.

Monroe County Upset with Legislators' Failure to Pass State Budget

Foster Parents to Press State for Relief
Impasse Creates Tough Decisions for Parents
Child Care Centers are in ‘Dire Straits’
Westmoreland's Social Services in Peril
Downtown Rally Tells of Hardships Under State Budget Impasse


For more local stories please see PathWays PA’s Budget Alert.

Poverty Numbers Expected To Rise - Do They Tell the Whole Story?

US-Census-ACSLogoGenerally at this time of year, the story turns to "Poverty Day," the day when the newest statistics from the American Community Survey show changes in the Federal Poverty Level. While the stats won't be released until late September this year, reports indicate that we will see a statistically significant increase in the number of people "living in poverty," that is, below the Federal Poverty Level.

However, the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is not the same as a measurement of all people who are struggling in the United States. The FPL was created in 1965 by Mollie Orshansky, who developed the estimate using the Department of Agriculture’s “economy food plan,” which provided a food budget for families to prevent starvation on a temporary or emergency basis.

Orshansky modified the food plan for different family sizes and multiplied the budget for each family size by three, since one-third of household income was spent on food. Though in later years, Orshansky advocated for stronger and more accurate poverty measures, her calculation, adjusted for inflation, became the FPL we use today. In 2009, the FPL for a family of four is $22,050.

However, food now consumes a smaller share of a family’s budget than it did in 1965. Increased housing costs, not to mention child care and healthcare costs that were not part of a 1965 budget, have changed family spending to the point where three times the amount spent on food is not enough to cover all expenses. Furthermore, the FPL was designed to apply to a family’s after-tax income, but today is applied to their before-tax income, which means the family has even less money available to spend. Finally, the FPL remains a fixed amount throughout the continental United States, even though living costs vary widely.

What does this have to do with the poverty numbers? The number of people living in poverty in the US (which is expected to be at least 12.7%) only shows the number of people living below the outdated FPL. In Pennsylvania in 2007, about 9% of households fell below the FPL, but 21% of households actually earned less than what they need at a minimum to support their families. So 12.7% actually underestimates the number of those earning less than what they need, which in turn undermines the ability to locate and serve families in crisis. In other words, when the poverty numbers are released, remember that there are also families who are being overlooked that are in need.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PathWays PA Special Budget Alert - August 17, 2009

It is now week seven of the budget stalemate. A budget is needed quickly, but it must also be a budget that supports Pennsylvanians. As budget proposals continue to be negotiated, important programs are still at risk of being cut. It is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about what programs are important.

While state workers have begun receiving paychecks and some essential services have received funds, many institutions and organizations that rely on state funding continue to go without until the remainder of the budget is passed. These include schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations that will have to make tough decisions that could lead to layoffs, service cuts, or closing down their businesses because funding is tied up until the budget is passed.

If you work for one of these organizations or if the services you rely on have been cut, please tell your story! Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or tell your story to PathWays PA. We will share these stories on our blog and in our e-newsletters.

If you are upset about the budget proposals, which include cuts ranging from education to hospitals to the elimination of the Industry Partnership program, please tell your legislators how you would finish this sentence: “If the choice is between reducing/eliminating spending on hospitals, burn units, Industry Partnerships, and childcare, or increasing revenues, I would support…”

During this recession, some budget cuts are inevitable. But too many cuts will lead to long-term impacts on our families, our health, and our economy at a time when we can’t afford to do without.

For more information throughout the week on the budget and other issues, be sure to check out the PathWays PA Policy Blog.


Budget Update

Currently the House and Senate budget proposals have an approximately $1 billion difference in funding levels. Today, the State Senate plans to vote on whether or not to override certain provisions that were "blue-lined" (aka line-item vetoed) when Governor Rendell passed the "bridge" budget two weeks ago. The votes will cover 10 to 15 lines of the budget involving funds of up to $2.1 billion.

The Senate leaders said most of the vetoed lines they are looking to override have the same funding levels proposed by the House and Governor. However, some of the lines being discussed, such as aid to county child welfare agencies and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency tuition grants, could be funded at lower levels than what the Governor and House have called for.

The Senate will need two-thirds of its members to vote for the override for the procedure to pass. If passed, the override then moves to the House, where two-thirds of House members will have to vote in favor for the measure to pass.

Action Alerts

Community Forum: Raise Your Voice for Kids

State legislators, county administrators, private agency leaders, and foster parents will be taking part in a community forum to support a state budget that supports Prevention, Child Protection and Juvenile Justice Services.

WHEN: Thursday, August 20th 1:00-3:00
WHERE: Methodist Services for Children and Families, 4300 Monument Road, Philadelphia, PA.

20,000 Pennsylvania kids currently live in foster care. Without state funding, foster parents receive no reimbursement for the food, clothing, and shelter they provide for these children. Families also lack services to assist with moving the children toward being reunited with their families. Meanwhile, the agencies that help protect children and families might be forced to close. Please come to this forum and raise your voice to protect funds that protect children.


Budget Rallies Through Out the State

Individuals and organizations are coming together throughout Pennsylvania to remind legislators of the need to quickly pass a responsible budget that fully funds essential programs. If you are interested in taking part or attending any of these rallies, please visit the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s website.


Help Define the Current Crisis Facing Nonprofit Health and Human Service Organizations

Nonprofit health and human service organizations are facing an unprecedented crisis due to the delays in finalizing state and local government budgets this year. This is happening at a time when other sources of relief, such as foundations and private donors, are also struggling, which means that the social safety net that nonprofits have created for our region's most vulnerable citizens is becoming seriously frayed.

Through a brief informal survey, the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania seeks your help in better defining the crisis facing nonprofit health and human service organizations in the region. The information you provide here will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared outside of United Way. Information from all agencies that respond will be aggregated, so that the United Way can better inform policymakers and the public about the serious challenge facing the network of community-based services in our region.

The survey is available here: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e2k5bmidfybx466f/a01lufyk6iwgj/questions

While the survey requests identifying information on your agency, providing that information is optional. The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.



The Local Effect of Working Without a State Budget

As yet another casualty of the budget stalemate, teen mothers in PathWays PA’s Supervised Independent Living (SIL) program have a new obstacle in the way of their education: they may have to put classes on hold due to the closure of local child care centers. Since child care facilities have not been receiving subsidies from the state, they have begun shutting their doors, leaving these young women and many others in Pennsylvania without safe care for their children.

SIL provides safe and secure housing, case management, education and employment support for pregnant adolescents and teen moms between the ages of 16 and 21. These young women have overcome serious obstacles, which often include abusive relationships and living in the foster care system. Despite these challenges, the young women in the program have made the commitment to transition themselves to independence through education.

Of the 32 young women at SIL, 90 percent rely on subsidies so they can afford child care while they attend classes. The majority of residents have taken out student loans to pay for the education and training to become nurse’s aides, and can only miss three days of class time before being forced to withdraw. Once they withdraw, they must retake the class, and again pay the full tuition.

The young women residing at SIL have faced and overcome many challenges on their path to self-sufficiency. It is unfortunate that as they take responsibility for their lives and their education, they face even more obstacles as a result of this budget impasse. A responsible budget that fully funds essential services, like child care, is necessary to give these young women and so many other parents the opportunity to become and remain self-sufficient.


Local Impact

While the “stop-gap” budget has allowed state workers and some services to be paid, many other departments, organizations, and agencies are still without any funding. Below are some local examples of how the delay and some of the budget proposals truly impact different parts of the state.
  • In Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter announced that the city will sharply reduce the hours of its new 311 call center, delay a police recruiting class (meaning 100 police cadets will have their hiring, at least, delayed), and cut $1.5 million from a low-income housing fund. As a result of these cuts, 30 city government positions will either go unfilled or workers will be laid off. The city is asking the state legislature to allow Philadelphia to institute a 1 percent sales tax increase and changes in the pension system to keep the city from having to significantly cut even more services.
  • The South Central Community Action Program that serves Franklin and Adams counties will be forced to close their doors on Friday if they are unable to secure no-interest loans from foundations and individuals to keep some services open. The Community Action Program provides services for pregnant women and young mothers, child care centers, food pantries, and homeless shelters
  • The State Library of Pennsylvania, a repository of government documents, had to reduce their staff and cut the hours of operation in half.
  • State budget proposals call for the elimination of, or the drastic cutting of funding for, trauma centers and burn centers, medical and health professional education, outpatient/inpatient disproportionate share, obstetrical/neonatal services, and small and rural hospitals. With hospitals throughout Pennsylvania already struggling, the cuts will lead to more lay offs and potentially put the health care of Pennsylvanians in jeopardy.
  • The Dauphin County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services sent a letter to service providers telling them the county can not pay invoices until the state passes a budget and funding is received.
  • Health centers have learned that "wraparound" payments for patients receiving Medical Assistance from the state to cover their health care costs will be delayed until a budget is passed. Statewide, more than 600,000 people rely on community health centers for their primary care needs and more than 40 percent of these individuals receive state Medical Assistance. Because of the number insured by Medical Assistance, wraparound payments amount to more than $33 million annually, or 15 percent of health center revenue.
  • The Community Action Partnership for Somerset County had to lay off 16 people in their pre-K program, while the Head Start supplemental has cut class time in five centers to a half day. Meanwhile, their seven food pantries are struggling to provide for all those in need.


While the budget is negotiated, many of the already long waiting lists are getting longer
  • More than 280,000 are on the waiting list for adultBasic, the state's low-cost health insurance program for lower-income adults. The number that has doubled in the last eight months, and seven times more people are on the waiting list than are receiving the benefits. The wait for individuals on the list will likely be more than two years long.
  • About 16,000 are on the waiting list for the state's child care subsidy designed to help low-income parents find and keep jobs.
  • More than 13,000 are on the waiting list for day, home and community services for the mentally disabled.

Industry Partnerships

Take Action! 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. 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.
  • Read more about how the Industry Partnership program is helping in one county
  • Talking points are available from Workforce PA, as is a sample letter to send to legislators (please email wib@papartners.org with any legislators you contact as well).
CHIP – Cover All Kids

Take Action! 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.
  • Even during an economic crisis, it is important to pay attention to the long-term effects of short-term cuts.
  • 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 as $15,000.
Child Care Work Subsidies

Take Action! 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 16,000 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.
  • For more information please see a new report from PCCY, “Child Care Works, A Program with a Growing Need
Adult Education and Family Literacy

Take Action! 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 be or become self-sufficient. In Pennsylvania, the Senate proposal cuts adult literacy by 29% and the House is considering a 12% cut. Please contact your representatives today to let them know the importance of this program!