Friday, October 30, 2009

One Step Closer to Health Care Reform: The House of Representatives Announces a Bill

Yesterday, the House announced they have combined the three bills passed by the House Committees. The almost 2,000 page bill includes the public health insurance option and is estimated to cost $894 billion over ten years while extending insurance coverage to 36 million Americans.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will guarantee that 96 percent of Americans have health insurance (20 percent of individuals under age 65 were without health insurance in 2008).

In addition to the public option, the bill:
  • subsidizes insurance for poorer Americans,
  • creates health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to purchase coverage,
  • caps annual out-of-pocket expenses, and
  • prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Through tax surcharges on wealthy Americans and spending constraints in Medicare and Medicaid, the bill is expected to cut the federal deficit by roughly $30 billion over the next decade. Specifically, under the bill
  • individuals with annual incomes over $500,000 -- as well as families earning more than $1 million – will have a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge, and
  • Medicare expenditures would be cut by 1.3 percent annually.
The next step is for the bill to go to the floor of the House to be debated and eventually voted on. Any bill passed by the House will then have to be merged with any legislation passed by the Senate. Then the merged bill would have to be voted on both chambers and if passed would then go to the President for his potential signature.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Global Gender Gap Index: United States’ Ranking Slips

On Tuesday, the World Economic Forum released its annual Global Gender Gap Index. This Index is a comprehensive ranking of gender gaps in 134 countries across the world.

While some countries are closing the gender gap, the United States ranking fell from No. 27 to No. 31 on the list. This latest drop was unfortunately not something new, as the United States was No. 23 in 2006.

Countries were measured by looking at women's health, education, economic participation and political empowerment. Historically, the Index has shown that the United States performs well on measures of education and economic participation, but has mediocre scores in women’s health and political achievement.

The 2009 report found that 67 percent of countries are improving their gender equality, while 33 percent are getting worse. The United States is not the only developed nation to slip down the list, the United Kingdom is currently at No. 15 (down two spots) and Germany is at No. 12 (down one spot). Globally, the economic participation gap totals 40 percent, while a startling 83 percent gap in political empowerment remains.

This study shows just how much work needs to be done nationally and globally to ensure that women are given equal opportunities. In the United States, we can work together to ensure health care reform includes provisions that allow women equal access to insurance, that women are hired for their share of green jobs that are being funded by the stimulus, and that the Healthy Families Act passes Congress to allow women some flexibility so they can keep their jobs.

Support Young Women, Support the Breast Cancer EARLY Act

In the U.S., about 10 percent of all breast cancer occurs in women under age 45. When breast cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. But when it is not detected early, as is the case for many young women, the survival rate is much lower. For women under 45, who are diagnosed at later stages with more aggressive breast cancer, there is a lack of awareness about the risks of breast cancer and therefore there is a lack of screening and detection.




The Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act – just introduced in the Senate – is a chance to change that. The EARLY Act will address the unique concerns facing young women with breast cancer by:
  • Initiating an evidence-based public education campaign about breast cancer in women under age 45 - with an emphasis on women at higher risk due to their race, ethnicity or genetic heritage.
  • Educating health care professionals about the risk factors, opportunities for genetic counseling and testing, and unique challenges that face young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Providing grants to organizations that provide credible health information directed to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation is offering an opportunity to contact legislators about the EARLY Act on their website.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PathWays PA Special Budget Alert - October 28, 2009

Unfortunately, eventhough a budget was passed and signed weeks ago, funding for state-related universities, museums, and hospitals will not be released until the state passes the table games legislation. However, this will be the last budget alert until something new occurs.


In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay turned, as next year’s budget is already right around the corner.


More Work to Be Done: Legalization of Table Games

After the Governor signed the $27.8 billion budget on Oct. 9, lawmakers had yet to vote on a proposal to allow table games at slots parlors. Revenue from table games is projected to reach $200 million this fiscal year, which is needed to help balance the state budget.

Universities, museums, and hospitals have been allotted $730 million in the budget, but that money has been held up while legislators work on the table games bill. Legislators met briefly on October 19 to discuss the legislation and a meeting scheduled for yesterday was postponed.

The remaining issue being debated is the tax rate on the casinos’ revenue. The House is calling for a 34 percent rate while the Senate wants to set it at 12 percent. Legislators are trying to balance having a tax rate that is high enough to generate the needed revenue and one that is not too high that casinos will not be able to or want to come to Pennsylvania.

While the debate continues, universities, museums, and hospitals will have to find a way to stay open without state funding.


Long Term Impact of the Budget Impasse

While many are relieved that the budget impasse is over, numerous organizations and services are still waiting for funding or have seen their funding cut. Below are some stories and examples of the impact those cuts are having.

  • Calcutta House, which provides housing and other highly supportive services for people living with AIDS in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley region, has so far received $50,000 in back payments and is still awaiting more than $100,000 from the city, which cannot dispense the money until it is paid by the state.
  • FIGHT, a comprehensive AIDS service organization, has received some federal money but as of yet has not received any back payments from the state.
  • The recently signed state budget gives the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority $20 million this year, down from $50.7 million last year. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania is one of the primary sources of seed and early-stage capital for information-technology, medical-device and biotechnology companies in the area. The cut means the company will have to reduce the number of new companies it invests in so it can focus on supporting the groups it already has invested in.
  • While 300 state workers were laid off before the budget was passed, even more will have to be laid off now because of cuts in the budget. The Governor believes the next round of layoffs will also number in the hundreds.
  • While libraries around the state of Pennsylvania seen a 20 percent cut in state funding, the Reading Public Library has been hit especially hard, losing not just state funds but also the support from the city, which contributes $450,000. Three branches of the library and the bookmobile will have to close, leaving only the main library open.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Care? Take a Number

Women pay up to 48% more than men for the same insurance policies, and are denied coverage with "pre-existing conditions" like pregnancies and c-sections. Be counted for gender equity in health care, visit the SEIU site and take a ticket.

The ticket is for health insurance reform, which would end discrimination against women by health insurers. We are all waiting for Congress to pass health care legislation that outlaws insurance company practices like "gender rating" and "pre-existing conditions."

The virtual "line" is rapidly growing. I am 7213th against discrimination by health insurers. Women deserve equal coverage for equal premiums. Take a ticket and join the line


A Guide to Understanding the Health-Care Debate

(h/t Time)
As the health care debate continues there appears to be more terms whose meaning and importance are unclear. Time put together a list of these terms discussing what and why they matters in the debate. Below are just a few:

Bending the Curve

What it is: Slowing the growth in health-care spending, which at its current rate would exceed 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2018.

Why it matters: Both sides of the political aisle agree that health-care spending is growing at an unsustainable rate. A central goal of reform proposals is to "bend the curve" of spending — i.e., for citizens, insurance companies and the government to spend less money overall on medical care. One example of a reform proposal that could bend the curve is providing and funding more preventive care, which is cheaper than treating chronic diseases that develop when people don't get regular checkups.

Health-Insurance Exchange

What it is: A government-administered marketplace or portal (via a website) where private or public insurance policies are sold.

Why its important: Reform proposals would create national or state-based exchanges open to individuals and small businesses. Policies offered there would be vetted by the government to make sure they meet minimum standards and would be less expensive than those now sold on the open market.

Postsecondary Education in Pennsylvania

In late September, the PA WIB's Task Force on Adult Learning released a report making recommendations on degree and certificate completion. The report focused on a number of issues critical to ongoing student success.

The report covered the following topics: preparedness, affordability, articulation, and cultural barriers, and also made recommendations on how Pennsylvania could move past the barriers it faces. Below are some of the highlights under each topic - please read the report in full to learn more:

  • Preparedness: When students enter postsecondary education or training, they often do so without the requisite skills to be successful: 59 percent of students entering community colleges need remedial courses, and only 3-4 of every ten students who begin remediation actually finish it.
  • Affordability: Pennsylvania's public colleges and universities are the sixth most expensive nationally. (PathWays PA has also written a report on community college affordability, which you can find on our website).
  • Articulation: Articulation agreements allow students to transfer credits from one school to another, which is particularly important when students move from community colleges to four year schools. However, not all credits transfer, forcing some students to retake (and pay for) courses they have already passed successfully.
  • Cultural Barriers: Students face family and cultural barriers that do not prioritize degree or certificate completion or do not understand the post-secondary system.

Health Care Reform Update – Opt Out Proposal

Yesterday, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he will include a government-backed insurance plan in the Senate’s health care reform legislation. This legislation would allow states to opt out of the government plan.

While no individual would be forced to buy the public option if their state participated, some legislators have cited that they would be more willing to support a public option with this opt-out provision. As of yet, there are few details as to how the opt-out mechanism would work.

While there is broad based public support for such a plan, it is unclear whether there is enough support in the Senate to pass this proposed legislation.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Birth Certificate Clinic - Tuesday, October 27

(Thanks to Project H.O.M.E. for this information)

Students from the Villanova Pro Bono Society will be at in the Project H.O.M.E. Backspace Tuesday, October 27, to assist our residents and other community members who need help with getting their birth certificate, FREE OF CHARGE. Vote for Homes members and others are welcome to participate.

11:00 AM TO 2:00 PM

Project H.O.M.E.
1515 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Questions? Call 201-306-8501

Hosted by Villanova University School of Law Pro Bono Society

More Materials for the Census

The Census Bureau has released some new materials that may be helpful for client outreach around the Census. All of the toolkits are on their website. They include toolkits to reach out to various racial and ethnic groups, immigrants, businesses, college students, and many more.

For those looking for state-specific resources, Nonprofits Count has a webpage devoted to listing Census-related information about each state.

SNAP Update

According to a recent article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the number of Philadelphians receiving SNAP benefits, formally known as food stamps, has increased by 3% over the last two years. In addition, experts, including Rachel Meeks from the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, anticipate that this number is likely to continue rising over the upcoming year.

Fortunately, on August 3, 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the eligibility standards and deductions for the new 2010 fiscal year (see the table below for more information). Because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the Stimulus Package, SNAP benefits this year are significantly greater than they would be otherwise. As a result, the eligibility levels for qualifying families have increased.

This means that more families needing assistance will be able to receive SNAP benefits. Even individuals who already have jobs may be able to qualify.

PathWays PA encourages all families to check to see if they qualify for food assistance. This can be done either by contacting PathWays PA directly, by going online to our Online Training and Benefits Eligibility Tool, or by going directly to Pennsylvania’s benefits checker, COMPASS.

The following charts are effective from October 2009 to September 2010.

--Anna Walker

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: October 26, 2009

PA Budget

Even though the budget was signed weeks ago, funding for state related universities, museums, and hospitals is being held up until the gaming bill is complete.

House and Senate negotiators are still working on the tax rates for table games and the one-time license fees that casino operators would be required to pay.

Please continue to see our PathWays PA Policy Blog for updates on the budget and other important policy issues.

In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey about PathWays PA Special Budget Alerts. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay tuned, as next year’s budget is already right around the corner.


Federal

Urge Your Senator to Extend Unemployment Benefits

Currently, 5.4 million Americans have been out of a job for six months or more. Approximately 7,000 workers run out of unemployment insurance each day. Hopes of getting a new job are slim as an average of six workers are competing for each job opening. All of these numbers add up to thousands of families facing cold weather with no job and no income.

A bill in the Senate would help families across the country by extending unemployment insurance. Tell your Senators to hurry up and extend unemployment insurance -- families cannot wait any longer!


State

Help Ensure Adequate Funding for the State Food Purchase Program

The Pennsylvania Association of Regional Food Banks is working with other concerned organizations throughout Pennsylvania to ask Governor Rendell to recommend adequate funding for the State Food Purchase Program in the next state budget.

To help, please click here and read the prepared letter to the Governor. If you agree that more resources should be provided to help Pennsylvanians struggling with hunger, click the "Sign-On" box to be taken to an email message form.

In your email, please include:

1. Organization Name

2. Organization Location [Municipality]

3. Your Name

4. Your Title

You and your organization will be added to the list of signers. Please only one email per organization. The deadline for signatures is Friday, October 30th.


Information/Events

PathWays PA – PathWays to the Stars 31st Anniversary Celebration

For the past 31 years, PathWays PA has offered residential programs and social services to vulnerable women and their children. Now, more than ever, the economic climate and rising unemployment rate emphasize the need for agencies like PathWays PA. We could never do the work we do and lend support to our 6,000 low-income clients without daily generosity from our corporate and individual donors. This year, at the PathWays to the Stars 31st Anniversary Celebration, we would like to pay tribute to those who assist us as we strive to help those in need.

WHEN: Thursday, October 29th 6:30 – 9:00
WHERE: Valley Forge Radisson 1160 First Ave, King of Prussia

As part of this event there will be a silent auction with items such as a corporate box at Citizens Bank Park, gift certificates to a number of amazing restaurants, and tickets to local cultural events. In addition to the silent auction each week the PathWays PA website will feature a different auction item.

This week’s featured item is Luxury Suite to see our 2008 World Champion and 2009 National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies & the New York Mets on Saturday, May 1, 2010.

Tickets to the PathWays to the Stars Celebration are only $50 in advance and $60 at the door, so please plan to join us! You can purchase tickets online by clicking here.


It's Time To Read The Bill!

Today, Monday, October 26th, from 5:00 am until 10:00 pm, health care reform supporters will be on lawn by the Liberty Bell (5th and Market) to read America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200). PathWays PA took part in reading the bill this morning. There will also be a candle light vigil at 6:30 this evening.

Health reform is crucial to the well-being of all Americans, so please stop by to show your support.


National Call In Day: Women of Color United for Health Reform

Congress is working to finalize a health reform bill that - if passed - will improve access to quality, affordable care but there are lots of people out there who are trying to block the process. We must add our voices to the debate.

On October 27, Women of Color United for Health Reform is hosting a NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY in support of real health reform. Take action and join the call!

1. Dial 877-264-4226

2. Ask the operator to connect you to your Senator or Representative and give the operator your zip code. Once the operator connects you to your Representative/Senator's office, a staffer in the office will answer the call.

3. Say: "My name is _____ ________, and I am calling today to ask you to support health reform.

I work hard, and I deserve a national health care system that works hard for me. As a woman of color, I see first-hand how the current system is failing. More people in my community are likely to be uninsured or under-insured. We also have a higher rate of chronic or pre-existing conditions, and spend a greater percentage of our income on health care than others.

This country should have a health care system that ensures everybody can access affordable, quality, culturally appropriate care over the course of their lifespan.

[If you would like, insert your own story!]

Remember to call both your Senators and you Representative!


Luncheon Briefing on Programs to Help the Uninsured Get Savings on Prescription Medicine

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Pfizer are pleased to present a briefing on patient assistance programs for those who serve clients lacking prescription drug coverage. This important briefing will focus on programs available from Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies to help those who are uninsured.

WHEN: Friday, November 13, 2009 12 Noon to 1:30pm
WHERE: United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 7 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia

Attendees will learn about the Pfizer Helpful Answers program and other industry programs. Program experts will be on hand to answer questions and provide materials to help communicate about these programs to individuals who need help paying for their medicines.

For those without health insurance or prescription drug coverage, getting their medicines can be a challenge. This briefing will enable you to make a difference in the lives of the people you serve.

Registration required. To reserve your space, please register by Thursday, November 5, 2009.
  • Register by email: Email pfizerhelpfulanswers@apcoworldwide.com. Please reference the event date in your response.
  • Register by phone: 1-877-852-0461 and provide Participant’s Name, Title, Organization, Address, Phone Number and Email address.
For more information about this event please call 1-877-852-0461.


End Childhood Hunger Listening Sessions

The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutritional Service (FNS) will be hosting four webinar listening sessions to gather input from a range of stakeholders including current, former, or prospective beneficiaries of the nutrition assistance programs, State Governments, local program offices, professional organizations, private industry, community and faith-based organizations, and other interested parties. During these sessions, FNS staff will listen and record your recommendations and comments.

The webinar listening sessions are scheduled as follows:
  • Tuesday, November 17, 2009: 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm EDT
  • Thursday, November 19, 2009: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm EDT
  • Monday, November 23, 2009: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
  • Thursday, December 3, 2009: 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm EDT
All comments and suggestions are welcome and will be considered as our Agency creates a plan to end childhood hunger in the United States by 2015. While not required, participants are encouraged to provide written or electronic copies of their comments.

In order to ensure adequate availability of time for each speaker, please register. If you are unable to attend, please submit written comments and recommendations via email to ECH2015@fns.usda.gov. Also, please feel free to share this invitation with other colleagues and organizations.


Do Something Awards to Honor Young Social Change Activists

Since 1996, Do Something has honored some of America's best young "world-changers" (age 25 and under) with the Do Something Awards (formerly the Brick Awards).

Award winners will have:
  • identified a problem and have devised clear and measurable methods for addressing the problem
  • made a significant long-term commitment to improving the lives of others
  • cultivated long-term and respectful relationships within their community
  • demonstrated that they have directly and individually fueled the success of their work
  • extensively and tangibly improved the lives of others (the award is not for ideas)
  • created great awareness about their issues or causes
  • serve as program founders and/or leading activist/advocates
  • have a clear growth plan for their work that ensures sustainability and continued impact; and
  • already be recognized as top leaders within their issue or cause.
Partnerships or larger groups should select an individual they believe would best represent the project for the application. The applicant must be 25 or under, and must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen.


Digest This: Co-Sleeping and Bedsharing

Digest This is a weekly, hour-long online discussion hosted by WHYY’s Health and Science team every Tuesday at noon. You can pose questions to experts and our reporters; voice opinions, and connect to folks with similar concerns.

The topic of this week’s show, Tuesday October 27th at noon, is putting a baby to bed safely. Many pediatricians believe that sharing a bed with your infant is simply not safe. They say the risk of suffocation or strangulation is just too great. Other experts and many moms say bed-sharing allows parents to connect with their child and monitor a baby’s needs. They say it ups the chances for successful breast feeding. Public health officials say better education on safe sleeping could prevent sudden, unexpected infant deaths, but what should the message be? Join the discussion on co-sleeping and bed-sharing by clicking on the join chat button at the side of the WHYY News and Information page.


Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Greg Potestio at gpotestio@pathwayspa.org.


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.


Upcoming Webchat on Cosleeping

If you do an internet search on cosleeping (the practice of a child, often an infant, sleeping in the same bed as a parent), people both for and against the practice show up immediately in the search results. WHYY will host a webchat on cosleeping on Tuesday, October 27, to discuss both sides of the story.

Those against cosleeping point to statistics showing that SIDS as well as accidental suffocation and strangulation are heightened when parents and children sleep together, while those for cosleeping believe it improves parent-child bonding and encourages breast-feeding.

Here at PathWays PA, we continue to work with parents to warn them of the dangers of cosleeping, since many parents feel they are aware (even when asleep) of their child's location in the bed, or think that accidents will not happen to them. Unfortunately, parents are not always aware, while their beds hold many hazards for children, such as space where a child could become wedged or too-soft bedding.

We're interested in learning more about your thoughts - please let us know in the comments what you think, and please join the webchat!

It's Time To Read The Bill!

Today, Monday, October 26th, from 5:00 am until 10:00 pm, health care reform supporters will be on lawn by the Liberty Bell (5th and Market) to read America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200). PathWays PA took part in reading the bill this morning. There will also be a rally and press conference at noon and a candle light vigil at 6:30.


While the Senate Finance Committee recently passed their own bill, HR 3200 has a strong public option plan and more regulations on insurance companies. Health reform is crucial to the well-being of all Americans so please stop by to show your support.

Friday, October 23, 2009

CDC: 1 in 5 Children Had Flu-Like Symptoms in Early October

Findings from a survey done by the CDC in early October 2009 show that 1 in 5 children whose families were polled had a flu-like symptom in the past week. One CDC official said there have been as many flu-related hospitalizations in the past month as there usually are in an entire flu season.

While many of the cases have been mild, the CDC and many others recommend that those who are sick stay home until they are fever-free - one county has even told workers to stay home or risk being fired.

For many workers in the US, though, the opposite is true - working sick may be all that keeps them from being fired. In fact, one in six workers reports that they or a family member have been disciplined, fired, or threatened with termination for taking sick time for themselves or a relative. 48% of private workers have no paid sick time to care for themselves when they are ill. 94 million people do not have paid sick time to use to care for their children.

What can you do?

  • Ask your legislators to cosponsor the Healthy Families Act! While some of Pennsylvania's legislators have cosponsored the bill already, the rest need to hear from you about why paid sick time is important to you and your family.
  • 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.
Also, please tell us what you think about the need for paid sick leave in the comments: do you have paid leave? If not, what do you do when you or your children are sick?

Resources for Women Looking for Green Jobs

Below are some additional resources on women and green jobs:
  • The Green Economy Post, 10 Active Networking Groups for Women Pursuing Sustainable Energy and Environmental Careers - Networking is considered one of the most valuable strategies for ensuring career success and often, the most effective ways to network is through professionals groups. See the link above for a list of active networking groups for women pursuing sustainable energy and environmental careers.
  • Women’s Economic Security Campaign – Creating Opportunity for Low-Income Women in the Green Economy - The first in a series of publications focusing on job creation, training and supports for low-income women.
  • The Pathways Advancing Career Training Act (HR 2074) provides grants to states with approved plans for programs that provide preparatory and supportive services, information on career and technical education, training, pre-apprenticeship assistance, and related services, including tuition assistance, to single parents and displaced homemakers and individuals pursuing nontraditional training and employment in fields where individuals from one gender compose less than 25% of workers. Please contact your legislators, ask them to support this bill and move it forward.

Women and Green Jobs Presentation Given at SBN Meeting Today

PathWays PA was given the opportunity to speak today on the subject of women and green jobs at an event held by the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. Along with the Women's Bureau, green employers, and women working in green jobs, PathWays PA was able to share important information on how green jobs affect women. Our presentation is below.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Latest PathWays PA Job Postings

Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable Clerk
Busy Delco non-profit seeks FT A/P, A/R clerk. Experience required. Friendly, flexible atmosphere. Fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: JR/LD

Tax and Benefits Specialist
This is a year round position providing tax preparation, benefits support, outreach and advocacy, financial education, special projects and other responsibilities as necessary. Prefer candidate with experience as a Tax Site Coordinator. Must have a Bachelor’s Degree. Familiarity and commitment to helping low-income/TANF recipients preferred. Anticipated start date: late November, 2009. Fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: LK/LD/SS

EITC Coordinator
This position will be to coordinate and provide data management and support in preparation for, during, and after the 2009/2010 tax season. Must have experience with VITA, Site Coordinator experience. This position also trains tax season staff and volunteers. Bachelor’s Degree required. Familiarity and commitment to helping low-income/TANF recipients preferred. This is a 6-7 month position beginning in late November. Fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: LK/LD/SS

Seasonal Tax and Benefits Specialist
This is a five month position, beginning in late November. This position will provide tax preparation, benefits support, outreach and advocacy, financial education, special projects and other responsibilities as necessary. Bachelor’s Degree required. Familiarity and commitment to helping low-income/TANF recipients preferred. Fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: LK/LD/SS

Manager, Community Financial Education, Outreach, and Tax Program
This position is based in Delaware County (Holmes). Strong organizational and interpersonal skills, fluency with data management and reporting required. Need strong written and oral communication skills, staff management experience and familiarity and commitment to helping low income/TANF recipients. Requires management of an established and growing tax program that includes Philadelphia and surrounding counties. Masters Degree required. Fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: LK/LD/SS

Truancy Case Manager
Maturity and ability to handle pressure, flexibility, detail-oriented, good organizational skills, and familiarity working with at risk families. Provide own transportation and hold flexible hours. Bachelor Degree in Social Work or related field and Valid Driver’s license required. Fax resume to MT/LD 610-328-2807.

Life Coach
North Philadelphia EARN Center. Candidate must have experience in behavioral health problems and ability to resolve issues with clients. Must have clinical background. Two years of related experience, and be familiar with TANF regulations. Need strong communication and written skills. Required to be available on nights and weekends, as requested by the supervisor. Possess case management skills. Must have access to and in-depth knowledge of external resources within the City of Philadelphia. Bachelor’s Degree (Master’s preferred) in Social Work, Behavioral Health, Psychology or related field required. Fax resumes to: EF/LD/EARN 610-328-2807

Job Developer
North Philadelphia EARN Center. Previous experience in case management, job development, and/or job training environment required. Prefer experience with Job Specific Skills Training (JSST) programs, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation (PWDC) and/ or Employment Advancement and Retention Network (EARN Centers). Must be able to communicate professionally with employers to build ongoing relationships. Must be detail-oriented; possess good organizational skills, and be familiar with issues of at-risk women, children and families. Ability to work under pressure and handle ever-changing deadlines. Bachelor’s Degree required. Fax resumes to: EF/LD/EARN 610-328-2807

Career Coach
North Philadelphia Workforce Development Agency seeking qualified Career Coaches to:
  • Provide initial and extended interviews and assessments with customers to identify customer’s needs interests and abilities.
  • Provide information to customers about the types of programs and services for which he or she may be eligible.
  • Provide crisis intervention counseling and referrals addressing barriers to job search and employment including accessing the local TANF agency and community support services for child care, transportation, housing, clothing, medical care substance abuse, counseling, and domestic assault.
Job Requirements include: Excellent communication skills; ability to effectively interact with customers and provide short term counseling intervention; knowledge of community social services support/ supportive services; commitment to providing friendly customer centered services; knowledge of word and data processing; bilingual in English/Spanish preferred.
Minimum Qualifications include: Baccalaureate Degree in human services, behavioral science, social work, or a minimum 2 years experience, and demonstrated prior work experience in a similar counseling area. Fax resumes to: EF/LD/EARN 610-328-2807

Data Clerk
North Philadelphia EARN Center. Knowledge of office procedures, experience with Word, Excel, Outlook online tools and data entry. Perform accurate, timely data entry for the following systems: Comprehensive Workforce Development System (CWDS), Connecting All Partners for Success (CAPS) and Kronos. Ability to handle pressure; flexible, and detail-oriented with excellent organizational skills. Ability to handle ever-changing deadlines. High School Diploma with additional computer training courses required. Fax resumes to: EF/LD/EARN 610-328-2807.

Full and Part-Time Residential Worker
Need caring and motivated individual to provide support and supervision for Delco group home serving women and children; HS/GED, Associates Degree and experience preferred; driver’s license required. Includes nights and weekends. Fax resumes to: ES/LD/CFF 610-328-2807.

Trauma-informed Therapists
PathWays PA is seeking quality therapists to provide trauma-informed therapeutic services to women, teen mothers and teen girls in their homes. Must be trained-in trauma-informed services and be familiar with the S.E.L.F. model; must also be comfortable addressing sexual abuse and domestic violence issues. Flexible hours required. LSW and credentialed/eligible to be credentialed to provide services to CBH members required. Philadelphia and some DELCO area. Full time and Part time position available. Fax resumes to: BD/LD 610-328-2807

PathWays PA is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Personal Story: Husband Joins Army to Ensure his Wife will have Health Care to Treat her Cancer

During this recession people are not only loosing their jobs, they are also losing their health insurance at a rate of nearly 14,000 Americans daily.

Bill Caudle is just one person who lost his health care when he was laid off from his job. Without insurance, his family was in an especially precarious position, because Bill’s wife, Michelle, was an ovarian cancer patient. After months of unsuccessfully looking for other employment, at 39 years old Bill did the only thing he could do to get his wife the care she needed, he joined the army.

For four years he will have to leave his wife, while she battles cancer, and their three children in order to solve the family’s health coverage problem. While Bill has always wanted to do something for his country, the main reason that he decided to enlist was for the insurance.

While Bill’s decision is a courageous one, it is something that the need for health care should not have forced him to make. Health care reform is necessary to ensure that individuals are able to get the care they need, when they need it, and without having to make enormous personal sacrifices to do so.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

H1N1 Flu Continues to Spread, Precautions Are Urged

Pennsylvania is among the 41 states reporting widespread flu activity this fall, and the H1N1 flu is the most commonly reported strain.

According to some officials, the power to slow the spread of H1N1 is in your hands by taking precautions such as covering coughs and sneezes as well as frequent hand washing. However, for some workers, the ability to stay home when sick is in the hands of local, state, and national legislators who have the power to pass legislation that ensures everyone can have earned sick days.

Congress is considering the Healthy Families Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would guarantee workers up to seven paid sick days per year to recover from short-term illness, to care for a sick family member, for routine medical care, or to seek assistance related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

A basic workplace standard of paid sick days would help prevent workers from being forced to choose between their own health or the health of their family and their paychecks or even their jobs, something of particular concern for many during this flu season. This legislation would keep our communities and businesses healthy by giving workers the all the tools to slow the spread of H1N1 this flu season.

PathWays PA Special Budget Alert - October 21, 2009

We are continuing this budget alert for the time being to keep readers updated on the ongoing debate on the table games legislation, which affects the final budget, as well as information on the disbursement of public funds.

PathWays PA would especially like to thank all of our readers for their support and feedback on our alerts. We are particularly grateful for everyone’s efforts to urge legislators to pass a fair, responsible budget.

In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay turned, as next year’s budget is already right around the corner.


Budget Payments

Now that we finally have a state budget, many service providers, school, organizations, and others are wondering when they will start to receive payments for services provided during the impasse (and for some, services provided since April).

Earlier this week Governor Ed Rendell held a press conference with State Treasurer Rob McCord and Secretary of Budget Mary Soderberg to announce that $3 billion in delayed payments have been made to education and social service programs. Payments were first made to high-priority items such as basic education, special education, child care services, child welfare, the Children's Health Insurance Program, Pre-Kindergarten Counts and Head Start.

While funding has gone directly to some, the delay for funding continues for many service providers who receive funding from third party entities.


More Work to Be Done: Legalization of Table Games

On Monday, legislators continued talks on the legalization of table games at Pennsylvania's slot machine casinos.

There appears to be agreement on a license fee of $15 million from each slot-machine casino wanting to operate table games. The disagreement is over the state’s tax rate on casino revenue from table games. Proposals range from a tax of 14 percent to 34 percent, and legislators are unsure if a potion of the tax revenues will be set aside for the counties and municipalities that host the casinos. Governor Rendell said he would veto any bill on table games that would not produce at least $200 million this year.

Until a table games bill is passed, $730 million in discretionary funding for universities and other institutions will not be released.


Long Term Impact of the Budget Impasse

For those considered “non-preferred,” the budget impasse is far from over.
  • Penn State is suffering the largest budget hole, waiting on roughly $334 million from the state, or 9 percent of its budget.
  • Temple University is supposed to receive about $173 million
  • The University of Pittsburgh is waiting to receive about $168 million
  • Lincoln University is waiting on $14 million.
  • Another $34.5 million is set aside for the University of Pennsylvania. Much of that money is for the university's School of Veterinary Medicine, a key link in Pennsylvania's agriculture and food safety network.

Since the 101-day impasse:

The state rushed payments to schools and some agencies; but many need time to recover from the three-month stalemate and move forward after laying off workers, cutting programs, and taking out loans.

The Children's Palace Day Care in Susquehanna County has received their state money, but that funding will not help with the hundreds they owe in interest on loans. The center’s attendance is also down by 19 children because state programs were put on hold and the owner is unsure whether those children will return.

Many providers are calling on the state to pay for interest accrued on loans they had to take out to stay open during the impasse. Governor Rendell and legislators have said they would consider a proposal that called for that payment, however, the likelihood of such a bill being passed depends on the state’s ability to afford it.

PathWays PA Celebrates its 31st Anniversary Next Week!

For the past 31 years, PathWays PA has offered residential programs and social services to vulnerable women and their children. Now, more than ever, the economic climate and rising unemployment rate emphasize the need for agencies like PathWays PA. We could never do the work we do and lend support to our 6,000 low-income clients without daily generosity from our corporate and individual donors. This year, at our PathWays to the Stars 31st Anniversary Celebration, we’d like to pay tribute to those who assist us as we strive to help those in need.

The event, presented by Endo Pharmaceuticals, will take place on Thursday, October 29, from 6:30-9PM at the Valley Forge Radisson, located at 1160 First Ave. in King of Prussia. United States Senators Arlen Specter and Robert Casey, Jr. will co-chair this exciting evening of commemoration and fun!

We’re quickly garnering support for our 31st Celebration. To date, major sponsors include: DNB First Bank; Michael & Jennifer Hrischuk; Kimberly-Clark Corporation; Amy Mathis; Patty Miller & Bill Schultz; Elizabeth Moran; David Park; Sherman & Zoe Perkins; QVC, Inc.; Carol Smith; Trinity Thrift Shop; Richard Whittington & Jane Coleman; and Michael & Sarah Yow.

Always a popular feature of our annual event, our silent auction is back and better than ever! Lincoln Financial has promised a corporate box at Citizens Bank Park for an April game during the 2010 Phillies season. This will certainly be a highly sought after item. We also have dining gift certificates from places such as: Creed’s Seafood & Steaks; D'Ignazio's Towne House; Giampino's and Stephen’s on State Street. Guests will be able to bid on theatre tickets from the likes of: the Delaware Theatre Company; Lantern Theatre Company; Philadelphia Theatre Company and the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City. We have many more items up for auction, including original artwork from local artists, autographed memorabilia from the Philadelphia Eagles, a golf outing at the Waynesborough Country Club and free admission to various museums, wineries and gardens.

Tickets for the PathWays to the Stars 31st Anniversary Celebration are $50. You may also purchase a tribute page for $250 which provides you with a full page in the program guide and two tickets to the event by calling Pam Przybylski at 610-543-5022, x234.

Personal Story: After a C-Section, Mother told to be Sterilized if She Wanted to Keep Her Health Insurance

(h/t SEIU)

It is difficult to find someone who does not have a story about insurance premiums being too high, their coverage being denied, or they inability to find health insurance they can afford.

Peggy Robertson is a mother of two young boys. After she had a doctor-ordered C-section, her insurance company told her to get sterilized if she wanted to keep her coverage.

To hear more about her story please watch the video below:




Health care reform is crucial to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality health care. Please share any stories you may have in the comment section below or email us.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Being a Woman is Not a Pre-Existing Condition

In a new report, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) found that many women still have nowhere to turn for their health care.

The report found that women continue to face unfair and discriminatory practices when obtaining health insurance either in the individual or group health insurance market.

Practices include gender rating, or the practice of charging same-aged women and men different premiums for identical health coverage; exclusions of coverage that only women need, like maternity care; and rejecting applicants for insurance coverage for reasons that include status as a survivor of domestic violence.

To learn more please click here or see the video below:

Health Care Reform National Day of Action – Where We Are and What You Can Do

Where We Are:

On this day of action, it is important to understand the status of the health care reform legislative process so we can see how to move forward. Below is a brief summary of the process (for more details, please see the Health Care for American Now website).

In a historic first, all Committees in Congress with jurisdiction over health care reform have each passed a bill. These Committees include three in the House (Ways & Means, Education & Labor, and Energy & Commerce) and two in the Senate (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) and the Finance Committee). All of the bills have some differences, which will now be merged in each chamber. Following a vote in the House and the Senate, a compromise will then have to be reached through a Conference Committee.

In the House, there are substantial differences between the bills passed by the Energy & Commerce Committee and the bill coming out of both Ways & Means and the Education & Labor Committee. The Energy & Commerce bill differs substantially by requiring any public option plan to negotiate payment rates with providers, rather than building off the Medicare rates.

In the Senate, there are also substantial differences between the bills passed by the HELP Committee and the Finance Committee. In particular, the HELP bill has a public health insurance option and an annual fee on employers who do not provide coverage.

For a comparison of all bills, please view the side-by-side tables put together by the Kaiser Foundation.

What You Can Do:

There are many things you can do to help reform health care:

Valuing Families at Work: Reasons to Support Earned Sick Time

Family Values at Work: A Multi-State Consortium and the National Partnership for Women and Families have just released an agenda that has been cosigned by over 40 other organizations throughout the country. Valuing Families at Work looks at the need for earned sick time, paid family and medical leave, and flexible scheduling.

There will be an audio conference later today to discuss this release.

WHO: Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families; Ellen Bravo, Family
Values @ Work Consortium; and Avis Jones-DeWeever, National Council of Negro
Women.

WHAT: Release of Valuing Families Agenda

WHEN: Tuesday, October 20, 12:30 p.m. EDT

How: Toll-Free Number: 888-455-2265 - Pass Code: Agenda

To reserve a spot, please call Nancy Bennett, (800) 834-1110

Media wanting a list of workers who can speak from personal experience about
needing paid sick days, affordable family leave or flexible schedules can contact Ellen
Bravo at bravo@uwm.edu. Media participating in the audio conference can ask
speakers about the same list.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Update: Insurance Companies Denying Coverage to Survivors of Domestic Violence

As discussed in a recent blog post, it at one time was legal in nine states and the District of Columbia for insurers to count surviving domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. The good news is that one of those states, Arkansas, has banned this practice and passed legislation ensuring that domestic violence survivors cannot be denied coverage based on that status. The bad new is that eight states and DC continue to discriminate against applicants who are survivors of domestic violence.

Health care reform is necessary to ensure that everyone has access to and the ability to purchase quality health care. For individuals who have survived domestic violence in those states and areas that permit insurers to discriminate against them, people are either going without necessary care or paying too much for coverage. People should not be penalized for seeking care, which is exactly what happens when insurance companies are able to deny coverage or charge more for pre-existing conditions.

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: October 19, 2009

PA Budget

Even though the budget was signed, lawmakers still have work to do on a gaming bill that would allow table games in casinos. House and Senate negotiators are still working on the tax rates for the games and the one-time license fees that casino operators would be required to pay. Funding for state related universities, museums, and hospitals is being held up until the gaming bill is complete.

In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey about PathWays PA Special Budget Alerts. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay turned, as next year’s budget is already right around the corner.

Please continue to see our PathWays PA Policy Blog for updates on the budget and other important policy issues.


Federal

Healthy Families Act

The Healthy Families Act is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would guarantee workers up to seven paid sick days per year to recover from short-term illness, to care for a sick family member, for routine medical care, or to seek assistance related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Please contact your member of Congress and let them know you support this bill. It is crucial that all members of Congress understand the importance of the Healthy Families Act, especially in this economic climate. A basic workplace standard of paid sick days would help prevent workers from being forced to choose between their own health or the health of their family and their paychecks or even their jobs.

For more information about the Healthy Families Act please visit the National Partnership’s website or read PathWays PA Policy Blog Post, Healthy Families Act – Contact Your Legislators Today!


State

LIHEAP to Open Earlier than Expected

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides funding for heating to low-income families. This program has an influx of federal funding which will allow the state to open the program one month earlier than originally planned.

The program will be open from November 2 to March 15, 2010, while crisis assistance will be available from January 4 to March 15. Families who earn below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (for instance, $33,075 for a family of four) are eligible. Benefit amounts vary - a table is available from the Department of Public Welfare.

If you have clients who will need assistance, it is best to apply as early as possible. This holds especially true for clients who are recently unemployed or working at reduced wages who may not be aware of the LIHEAP program.

More information can be found at the Department of Public Welfare's LIHEAP site. They state that the fastest way to apply is through the COMPASS website. For more information, you can contact your local county assistance office or the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095, Mondays through Fridays. Individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 1-800-451-5886.


Information/Events

PathWays PA – PathWays to the Stars 31st Anniversary Celebration

For the past 31 years, PathWays PA has offered residential programs and social services to vulnerable women and their children. Now, more than ever, the economic climate and rising unemployment rate emphasize the need for agencies like PathWays PA. We could never do the work we do and lend support to our 6,000 low-income clients without daily generosity from our corporate and individual donors. This year, at the PathWays to the Stars 31st Anniversary Celebration, we would like to pay tribute to those who assist us as we strive to help those in need.

WHEN: Thursday, October 29th 6:30 – 9:00
WHERE: Valley Forge Radisson 1160 First Ave, King of Prussia

As part of this event there will be a silent auction with items such as a corporate box at Citizens Bank Park, gift certificates to a number of amazing restaurants, and tickets to local cultural events. In addition to the silent auction each week the PathWays PA website will feature a different auction item. This week’s featured item is a Myrtle Beach Getaway.

Tickets to the PathWays to the Stars Celebration are only $50 in advance and $60 at the door, so please plan to join us! You can purchase tickets online by clicking here.


Green Career Workshop for Women

Did you know that Green Jobs can pay 10% to 30% more than the average job?

Did you know a woman without a college degree is 49% more likely to have a higher wage if she has a Green Job?

Do you know about all of the opportunities available to you in the Green Economy?

The U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau and the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia are hosting a Green Careers Workshop for Women in Philadelphia!

You will hear presentations from companies in various sectors of the Green Economy and the personal stories of women already working in the Green Economy. Carol Goertzel, President and CEO of PathWays PA will also be presenting on the topic of women and green jobs.

Employees from Gamesa, SEPTA, Energy Coordinating Agency, and many more green businesses, will talk about their careers in the Green Economy.

This workshop will help you make an informed decision about whether a career in the Green Economy is right for you.

WHEN: Friday October 23, 2009, 8 am – 12 pm
WHERE: Drexel University's Bossone Center on Market St. between 31st and 32nd Sts. - Located 1 block west of the 30th St. Station

If you are interested in attending, please register on the event website or by phone at (215) 922-7400 ext. 4


Health Care Reform National Day of Action

On October 20th advocates are coming together all over the state and county to hold events to show their support for health care reform. Together, they will show the country and Congress that America demands action on real health care reform this year.
To find an event near you please click on the area below or visit the Pennsylvania Health Care for America Now (HCAN) Blog.

It's Time To Read The Bill!

On Monday, October 26th, starting at 5:00 am, health care reform supporters will meet in Philadelphia on the lawn by the Liberty Bell to read America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200). While the Senate Finance Committee recently passed their own bill, HR 3200 has a strong public option plan and more regulations on insurance companies.

To be part of this important action and support this bill, sign up to read part of HR 3200 for fifteen minutes.

If you would like to read or to RSVP to the event, please email Antoinette at akraus@philaup.org.


Women You Know & Women You Want to Know Networking Event

The Friends of the Delaware County Women’s Commission and the Delaware County Women’s Commission are working to enable women and girls to realize their fullest potential and provide leadership within their communities. They will be holding an event to link, meet, and network.

WHEN: Thursday, November 5 6:00 – 8:00
WHERE: Generations Restaurant, 9 State Road, Media PA

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Carol Staubach at 215-942-5534 or cstaubach@wellnow.us.


Conference on the Health of Latino Children

Family Services will be offering a conference on Latino children and health. Latino children are at high risk for diabetes mellitus, tooth decay, asthma, and mental health issues. They often lack health insurance and experience linguistic and cultural barriers to quality health care. At the Conference, panelists will discuss some of the unique Latino and cultural aspects that have an impact on these important issues.

WHEN: Thursday, November 5 8:30 – 12:00
WHERE: Montgomery County Community College – Science Center Auditorium 213, Blue Bell, PA

The conference is $50 per person. Pre-registration is required. To register, contact Family Services 610-630-2111 for a registration form

Three social work CEU credits are available. Scholarships are available. For scholarship information, contact Larry Fiebert at 610-630-2111 ext. 223 or lfiebert@fsmontco.org.


Ages and Stages Training

The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program is offering the Ages & Stages Training Program in Philadelphia.

WHEN: December 11 9:00-4:00
WHERE: Temple University, Center City Office, 1515 Market Street

Best practices have become the driving force behind Child Welfare philosophy and practice. Current best practice research has pointed to the positive effects of early intervention in the lives of young children at risk for developmental delay due to environmental factors such as poverty, abuse and neglect.

The goal of this workshop is to make connections between the work of child welfare and early intervention agencies; discuss indicators of developmental delays and increase the child welfare professional’s understanding of child development and how to administer the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and the Ages and Stages Questionnaire – Social Emotional.

Who Should Attend?
Child Welfare Professionals seeking to continue their knowledge relating to Ages and Stages while assuring child safety, well-being and permanency.

Please contact Rachel Ickes to register for the training at: rmi6@pitt.edu or 1-877-297-7488.

Please do not delay in registering.

When e-mailing, please include the following information: name, agency, address, telephone number, email, and fax number.


Prescription Saving Pass

For those with limited prescription coverage or no coverage at all, CVS/pharmacy is offering a Health Savings Pass. This is a prescription savings pass that allows a person to save on some medications. A person can enroll in the program for $10 a year per person. After enrolling those with the pass also receive 10% off MinuteClinic services inside select CVS/pharmacy stores.
To sign up you can:
  1. Sign up online now
  2. Sign up in-store by filling out an enrollment form and handing it to your CVS pharmacist
  3. By phone at 888-616-CARE (2273)
For more information about this program, please click here.


The Philadelphia Out-of-School Time Resource Fair

The Resource Fair is presented by the Out-of-School Time Resource Center.

WHEN: November 19th, 10am-3pm
WHERE: Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia PA

Pre-Register to participate in a city-wide event for Out-of-School Time Professionals. Join over 200 staff to learn more about opportunities and resources for the OST community. Attend workshops, visit over 40 vendor tables, enjoy food and raffle prizes. Admission is FREE! Pre-registration is recommended, however, walk-ins are welcome.

For more information, please visit the Out-of-School Time Resource Center website.


Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Greg Potestio at gpotestio@pathwayspa.org.


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.


Support Earned Sick Days in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia!


Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia!

Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. Visit this link to support earned sick time in Pennsylvania, and visit this link to support earned sick time in Philadelphia. Support both!

Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.

Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.

If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is?
Simply type your address here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Law Protects Students from Losing Health Care Coverage

A federal law which came into effect Friday will help protect full-time college students from losing their health insurance in the event of a serious medical issue.

Whether students remain on their parents' plans, which are typically employer-subsidized, or transfer to an institutional plan (one provided through the college), Michelle's Law permits students to retain coverage for twelve months if a serious illness forces them to take a reduced schedule or a leave of absence.

The law was named after Michelle Morse, a New Hampshire college student diagnosed with cancer who maintained a full college course load so she could remain on her parent’s health insurance, despite her doctor's recommendation to leave school while undergoing chemotherapy. Michelle lost her battle with cancer shortly after graduation.

This law will be a relief for many students unable to afford insurance in the individual market, especially when many could be denied coverage because they have a serious illness which would be considered a pre-existing condition.

How Will Climate Change Affect Pennsylvania?

(This post is one of many linked to this year's Blog Action Day topic, climate change. To read more, visit the Blog Action Day Website, or look for #bad09 on Twitter.)

Generally when I think of the impact of climate change, Pennsylvania is not the first place that comes to mind. After polar bears, penguins, and the impact climate change will have on poverty throughout the world, I might start wondering about the changes that will come to my daily life.

But even here in Pennsylvania, the changes will be big. The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report last year noting that through climate change:
  • Air quality in PA is likely to decrease, thereby increasing the prevalence of asthma, allergies, and other respiratory ailments.
  • Yields of certain crops and dairy products will decrease.
  • Certain species of hardwood trees and birdlife may disappear.
  • Under best-case scenarios, Western PA will have a climate similar to today's climate in West Virginia and Ohio within 30 years. In 60 years, the Western PA climate will be similar to Kentucky. For Eastern PA, a best-case scenario leads to a climate similar to Virginia.
  • Under worse-case scenarios, Western PA will feel like Kentucky in 30 years and Alabama in 60. Eastern PA will feel like North Carolina in 30 years and southern Georgia in 60.
Other reports indicate that in economic terms, Pennsylvania could soon be spending billions on infrastructure, water resources, and agriculture due to climate change.

There is much more to read about climate change, and also much that you can do. What's important is that you begin taking action today.

Are you worried about climate change? Let us know in the comments section!

The Role of VITA in the Community

October is not a month that we often associate with tax returns. With refunds long since spent and months to go until this year’s W-2s start arriving, we would forgive VITA programs across the country if they wanted to use October to take a break. Nonetheless, the National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) has chosen to make October a time of action for these VITA programs. The NCTC has encouraged VITA programs and other organizations that support VITA to make October 21st, 2009 a national Day of Action.

VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is a program sponsored by the IRS to help low- and middle-income people file their income tax returns. Through the program, community partners engage and train volunteers and set up sites where clients can come to have their basic returns completed.

VITA was created especially to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable credit that means big returns for working LMI filers. According to a 2007 study by the Brookings Institute, more than one in six taxpayers nationwide received the EITC in 2004. In the past, the EITC has gotten strong bipartisan backing, but with the current economic climate, that support is not guaranteed.

Yet the EITC can be the most money that filers will see in a check all year – this table shows how much they can expect to receive. For instance, the federal poverty level for a married couple with two children is currently $22,050. The family earning that amount in 2008 would have received $4,120 in EITC this tax season, which is nearly 20% of their yearly income.

Many families look to these large refunds to pay for essential services and to begin saving or building assets for the future. VITA programs encourage filers to spend this money on asset-building expenditures and advancements in school, both of which enhance economic security and promote economic opportunity.

In addition to the federal EITC, 23 states and the District of Columbia (though not Pennsylvania) offer a state version of the program. According to this toolkit prepared by the NCTC, most states report additional administrative costs of less than one percent.

NCTC invites VITA advocates to Washington, D.C. for the 21st to support the federal EITC and other issues relevant to the VITA program. Here is a planned schedule of events for the day:
  • Kick-off breakfast with Congressional staffers on the Hill
  • Meetings with Congressional Members and Committee staffers
  • Forum on the regulation of paid-preparers
  • Evening Reception
NCTC also has information available for learning more about the EITC and the Day of Action on their website.

--Greg Potestio