Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Staying Healthy in Troubled Times: Recession Healthcare Toolkit

The PhillyHealthInfo.org Recession Healthcare Toolkit, created by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, provides valuable information that can help you stay healthy in these hard times. Whether skipping meals or delaying a trip to the doctor, the current recession is affecting the health of many, while the stress of doing more with less affects us all. Families have stopped their gym membership, cut back on healthy but more expensive foods, and even lost their jobs and/or health insurance.

For information on issues from insurance to dealing with stress, this website provides tips on how to cope with a wide range of issues and problems.

Below is an example of tips on Shopping and Eating Smart:
Deciding which foods to serve your family each week can be hard, especially if you are on a tight budget. Creating a healthier food plan depends on what foods are in season, what foods your family likes, and what foods you have at home already. You can also plan around sale items. Not only will you make more informed choices, but you may also be able to save money and time.

Make a Plan, read more.
Grocery Shopping Tips, click here for more tips.
Saving Money (and Calories) on Healthy Meals and Snacks, read more.
More Great Resources PhillyHealthInfo.org Nutrition page.

Other topics covered include:

Image courtesy of:

Monday, December 28, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: December 28, 2009

State Budget Update

While the announcement of next year’s budget is almost a month away, the state legislature is still working to complete the table games legislation that plays a key part of the FY 2009-2010 budget. With that portion of the $27.8 billion state budget still unfinished, the state ledger sheet is short $250 million of being legally balanced. Gov. Ed Rendell wants a table games bill on his desk by the second week of January.

Table game legislation stalled after the House and Senate each amended and approved a bill. The Senate bill was referred back to the House on December 16th, which is in recess until January. The remaining major disagreement surrounds permitting an additional casino license in the state.

The Governor has stated that if a table games bill is not approved by January 8, 1,000 state employees will have to be laid off.

While the debate over table games continues, legislation has been signed that will allow funds to start flowing to universities, museums, and hospitals. However, funding for institutions other than the state-related universities is being cut by 50 percent


Federal

Senate Passes Health Care Reform

At 7:00 AM on December 24, Senators cast their vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The next step is for the House and Senate to bring their bills together in a Conference Committee. While the Senate bill does make great strides towards reforming health care, the House bill (minus the Stupak Amendment) is a much stronger bill that will provide more Americans with the health care they desperately need.

Please sign this letter to urge the House and Senate to finish the job of making health care affordable for more Americans by including strong regulations and consumer protections.


Urge Congress to Support Job Creation Measures

More than one in six workers - 27 million people - are out of work or working fewer hours than they want or need to. On December 15th, The House of Representatives passed the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 (H.R. 2847) which includes important elements needed to spur job growth. However, more needs to be done, such as providing more training to help workers move into permanent jobs with good pay and benefits and preventing harsh cutbacks in state and local government jobs that will jeopardize the beginnings of the economic recovery.

This bill includes funding for such programs as:
  • an Education Jobs Funds for states
  • school renovation grants
  • extension expanded unemployment benefits
  • grants for job training in high growth fields
  • summer youth employment
  • small business loans

Please urge your members of Congress to make it their New Year’s Resolution to create more jobs for Americans and provide them with the work supports needed to keep those jobs.


Information/Events

Recession Health Care Toolkit

Whether skipping meals or delaying a trip to the doctor, the current recession is affecting the health of many, while the stress of doing more with less affects us all. Families have stopped their gym membership, cut back on healthy but more expensive foods, and even lost their jobs and/or health insurance.

The PhillyHealthInfo.org Recession Healthcare Toolkit, created by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, provides valuable information that can help you stay healthy in these troubled times. From information on insurance to dealing with stress, this website provides tips on how to cope with a wide range of issues and problems.


Healthy Philadelphia Community Meeting

Join the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to share your health care stories in the first Healthy Philadelphia Community Meeting on January 28th in North Philadelphia.

Healthy Philadelphia is a non-profit organization dedicated to working to solve heath care problems Philadelphians face. It grew out of a voter mandate, which passed by 87% in North Philadelphia, that required the Department of Health to develop a plan for universal health care.

Please attend and tell your story about the challenges you or your family have faced in getting high quality on-going health care. Please contact Mayla Henderson at 215-686-5263 or mayla.henderson@phila.gov for time and location.


Foreclosure Crisis Group

The Philadelphia Unemployment Project is hosting a Foreclosure Crisis Committee meeting on Tuesday, January 5th at 6pm at112 N. Broad Street, 11th Floor. The Foreclosure Crisis Committee is a support and advocacy group of homeowners helping each other and advocating for Philadelphia homeowners to keep their homes.

The discussion at the next meeting will be on loans for unemployed homeowners and President Obama’s Making Home Affordable plan.

For more information, call Tim Styer at 215-557-0822 or tstyer@philaup.org.


PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • 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.

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 Kelly Binder at kbinder@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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

PathWays PA in the News in December

Planning on Healthier Living in the New Year? Help Everyone be Healthy With Earned Sick Time!

Bonne Année 2010 avec Ciel d'Afrique(This letter to the editor was sent to the McKeesport Daily News earlier today by PathWays PA.)

New Year’s marks the time when we pledge ourselves to new diets and healthier living. This year, let’s add a pledge towards creating public health by ensuring that all workers have the opportunity to earn paid sick time. At PathWays PA, a nonprofit organization serving women and families, we have seen firsthand what happens when working families do not have earned sick days.

In Pennsylvania, 46 percent of all workers lack access to earned sick time. Nationally, 48 percent of private sector workers have no paid sick days, including 79 percent of childcare workers and 78 percent of food-service workers. Workers in this situation lose their pay or their jobs when they stay home sick. Not surprisingly, many choose to work sick, putting themselves, their coworkers, and the populations they serve at risk of contracting illness.

Unlike many countries, the United States has no federal laws establishing earned sick time. While there is no federal policy, some areas have either enacted or considered laws to create a minimum standard of earned leave. In Pennsylvania, Representative Marc Gergely has introduced the “Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act.” This Act would give workers the ability to earn up to 7 days of paid sick time per year.

Working families should not risk their financial security to do what is right for their own health and for that of the public. As the New Year begins, please ask your legislators to ensure that all workers have access to a healthier future through earned sick time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter - December 21, 2009

Snow Update

While PathWays PA and many other local offices are closed today due to snow, we wanted to send out information about events that will still be happening. Please stay safe and warm, and look for policy updates throughout the week on our blog and Twitter!

Homeless Memorial Day

On the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, we come together to remember homeless and formerly homeless Philadelphians who have passed away in 2009, honor those still living on our streets and in shelters, and call for a renewed commitment to end homelessness.

WHEN: Monday, December 21, 4:30 to 5:30 PM
WHERE: City Hall

For more information about the event contact Kendra Johnson at 215-232-7272 or kendrajohnson@projecthome.org or click here.

To help someone who is homeless: Call the Philadelphia Homeless Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984

Let's Raise Our Voices in Philadelphia

Health Care For America Now (HCAN) will be hosting a press conference calling for real health care reform. Raising Women's Voices of Southeastern PA, a recently formed coalition that is working to ensure women's voices are heard during the health reform debate, will be joining this important effort to urge Congress to protect women's reproductive rights during the health care reform process.

WHEN: Monday, December 21 at 2:00
WHERE: Philadelphia City Hall, Caucus Room 401

Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • 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.

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 Kelly Binder at kbinder@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.

Friday, December 18, 2009

State Data Systems and Community Colleges

A new policy brief from The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP), "Building and Strengthening State Data Systems to Measure Community College and Workforce Outcomes," shows the benefits and challenges to creating a state data system that follows students through their K-12 education into post-secondary degrees, certificates, other adult education, and into the work world. Using this data, states can determine the programs that best meet the needs of both employers and potential employees. Yet, as the report shows, many states have not incorporated data systems into their educational programs.

The report cites four common reasons for the lack of state data systems:
  • Leadership and management: Creating a strong system requires leadership and commitment from throughout agencies and educational institutions
  • Privacy laws and data-sharing agreements: Institutions must clearly show that their work will "improve instruction" in order to fit under federal law regarding student privacy. Data must be also trackable across agencies, which can result in a "tedious legal process."
  • Missing data and links to wage records: Many states have missing or incomplete data on nontraditional community college students as well as those that participate in other skills development systems. Even when data is available, it does not always link to wage and other achievement-related information.
  • Creating a culture of using data for continuous improvement: Finally, the report notes that for data systems to function well, they should provide information that can "inform and empower" educators as well as advocates and policy makers.
Strong data systems in several states are noted in the report, as well as recommendations and policy action steps for states.

How does Pennsylvania fare when looking at these recommendations? Pennsylvania has developed a student identification system and will begin calculating graduation results starting with the high school class of 2010. In 2008, the Commonwealth won the 2008 Leadership Award from the Data Quality Campaign for implementation of the statewide Pennsylvania Information Management System, which assigned unique identification numbers to students. Pennsylvania is currently applying for a federal grant to help make the connection between wage data and its existing system.

Interested in learning more about Pennsylvania and community colleges? Take a look at our reports in the sidebar, and watch for a new report coming early next year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fewer Receiving LIHEAP This Season

As temperatures and employment figures continue to fall in Pennsylvania, more families may be looking to the LIHEAP program for assistance in paying heating bills. Yet according to the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and Peco, far fewer of their customers have received the grants this year than in past years.

An article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer notes that 11,523 PGW customers have received LIHEAP grants this year, only 1/3rd the amount of customers with grants in 2008. Peco reports "that 4,000 of its customers had received grants by Dec. 1, down from 19,000 a year ago."

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission reported that 18.5 percent more households (for a total of 17,037 households) would begin the winter with their heating utilities cut off. Even more may find themselves losing their utilities during the heating season or after April 1, when regulated utility companies can shut heating off (they cannot do so during the winter). Those who may lose heating during the winter would include families relying on propane or oil deliveries (many of whom live in rural areas) who have no protection from winter shutoffs.

One reason less households are receiving LIHEAP this year is because the eligibility level for the program decreased from the previous season. In 2008, families earning below 210 percent of the Federal Poverty Level- or about $44,520 for a family of four- could access the program. This year, only families earning below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($33,075 for a family of four) can access it.

While not discussed in the article, it is also possible that less families are receiving LIHEAP this year because they are unaware of the program. With so many households newly unemployed, there may be many eligible families who have never before used LIHEAP.

To see if you qualify, visit the Department of Public Welfare's LIHEAP site. Their recommendation for 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. Individuals living in Philadelphia interested in being prescreened for LIHEAP and other programs may call PathWays PA at 215-387-1470, and those in Delaware County can call PathWays PA at 610-543-5022.

(photo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:VBRITTO-building-radiator-Paris.jpg // http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ )

Sign a Petition to Protect Women's Health Rights

Last month the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced new guidelines for breast cancer screenings that are a drastic change from prior guidelines. The new guidelines suggest that only women 50-74 should get regular mammograms occurring every two years. They also recommend that doctors do not urge women to do monthly self-exams.

The Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition has joined with Representative Karen Boback to urge Congress not to apply the new guideline in health care reform legislation. Instead they are calling on Congress to use the American Cancer Society guidelines, which state that women start mammograms at age 40 and continue with yearly mammograms starting at age 50.

Please click here to sign a petition asking Congress to uphold the American Cancer Society’s guidelines.


Image courtesy of http://www.cb2blogger.wordpress.com/.../09/pink-ribbon3.jpg

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Children "Most Often Missed" in Decennial Census - And May Be Harder to Count in 2010


A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation discusses an issue that we brought up earlier on this blog regarding the Census - children are among those most likely to be undercounted when the Decennial Census is held every ten years.

According to the report, young children are missed at a higher rate than any other group. 1 million children were undercounted in the 2000 Census. Minority children are most likely to be undercounted, with black males under 5 undercounted at a rate of 5.3 percent and black females under 5 undercounted at a rate of 5.4 percent (compared to a 3.3 percent undercount of non-black males and a 3.8 percent undercount of non-black females).

The report also states that young children may be even harder to count in 2010. One reason for this change is that minority children have higher rates of being undercounted, and the share of young children that are from a minority population has increased by 6 percentage points since 2000. More children are also living in families of undocumented immigrants, and more children are "doubling up" in households due to the housing crisis.

When children are undercounted, it leads to a loss of fund for schools, HeadStart, and other important programs. To ensure that everyone is counted in this Census, please begin talking to clients, local advocacy organizations, and the news media to dispel the myths about the Census and prepare everyone for the Census to begin next year.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kencf0618/ / CC BY-SA 2.0)

All I Want This Holiday Season is Health Care Reform

When you are sending out your holiday cards this season please remember to send one to your member of Congress.

Georgeanne Kohler has devoted herself to working tirelessly for health care reform. She has her own personal story to share: her brother lost his job and his health insurance, and, because of a serious heart condition, he lost his life. (Watch a short video of Georgeanne telling her brother's story.)

Her holiday message to Congress reads: “Dear President Obama, if on Dec. 15th, 2007 we had had healthcare reform with a public option, our family wouldn't have an empty chair at our Christmas dinner this year. Thank you for loving Americans so much.”

To share your own holiday message please click here. These wishes will be gathered and personally delivered to our member of Congress by Georgeanne before the holiday recess on Thursday, December 17th, so please share your story or message today.

Image courtesy of:

Let’s Raise Our Voices in Philadelphia

Health Care For America Now (HCAN) will be hosting a press conference calling for real health care reform. Raising Women's Voices of Southeastern PA, a recently formed coalition that is working to ensure women’s voices are heard during the health reform debate, will be joining this important effort to urge Congress to protect women's reproductive rights during the health care reform process.

WHEN: Monday, December 21 at 2:00

WHERE: Philadelphia City Hall, Caucus Room 401

Last week, the U.S. Senate defeated the anti-choice Nelson-Hatch Amendment to the health care reform bill. This amendment mirrored the language of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment that passed in the House health care reform bill, which puts dangerous and devastating new restrictions on women's access to abortion. This victory is a step in the right direction, but there is still much more work to be done to ensure that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is not included in the final bill, which is why we need a strong presence at this press event!


About Raising Women's Voices of Southeastern PA
PathWays PA recently join a coalition formed by WOMEN'S WAY, Raising Women's Voices of Southeastern PA, which is working to ensure that women's voices are heard during the health care reform debate and, in particular, that women's reproductive rights are not jeopardized during the health care reform process. For more information about this coalition, contact Rebecca Foley.

PathWays PA Job Postings

Part-Time Financial Educator
Part-Time Innovative program that promotes economic well-being in low-income families seeks a BS/BA level Financial Educator. You must be comfortable with people, computers and TANF system and have the ability to discuss basic financial planning and budgeting. Must be able to work some evenings and Saturday mornings. Independent transportation required; bilingual a plus. 4 year degree required - no exceptions - prefer BSW, background in education, or related field. Counseling experience also preferred. This position will split time between Delaware County and Philadelphia. Fax resumes to LD/LK 610-328-2807.

Full-Time Financial Educator
Innovative program that promotes economic well-being in low-income families seeks a BS/BA level Financial Educator. You must be comfortable with people, computers and TANF system and have the ability to discuss basic financial planning and budgeting. Must be able to work some evenings and Saturday mornings. Independent transportation required; bilingual a plus. 4 year degree required - no exceptions - prefer BSW, background in education, or related field. Counseling experience also preferred. This position will be located in Delaware County. Fax resumes to LD/LK 610-328-2807.

Part-Time Teacher
Non-profit organization has a part-time teaching position opening that will be located in Delaware County. Must have experience in adult education teaching. BA is required for this position. The hours will be two afternoons and two evenings a week. Access to a car a must!! Please fax resumes to 610-328-2807, attention: LD/JP EOE

Part-Time Income Tax Preparer
Would you like to have a P/T job that can help save people in Southeastern Pennsylvania area thousands of dollars? Working as a Tax Consultant with PathWays PA’s VITA Program you can prepare taxes for low income people helping them receive hundreds of dollars in earned tax credits without incurring any fees. This is a P/T position requiring between 20 to 25 hours of work per week between January and April 2010. Applicants for this position should have an Associate or Bachelor’s degree, relevant tax experience, knowledge of and sensitivity to issues concerning low income individuals, and the ability to pass the IRS VITA exam at the intermediate or advanced level. As a tax consultant you will also serve as a resource for other preparers.

Tax preparers are needed for sites in Philadelphia, Delaware County, and some travel to Bucks County and Pottstown may be requested at a higher hourly rate. Your own reliable transportation is also required. Interested parties should submit a resume by fax at (610) 328-2807, attn: LD/MDP EOE
Location: Delaware County/Philadelphia

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

Monday, December 14, 2009

More on Caregiving from the New York Times

Elderly Couple - Brasov - RomaniaOne of many highlights from the New York Times article:

The most recent report on care-giving in the United States provides rich details on the type of care that most of us both expect to give and hope to get: About 19 percent of United States residents provide some care to those 50 or older, averaging about 19 hours a week.

If we paid for these services, the total price tag would exceed total Medicaid expenditures — or, if you prefer a private-sector comparison, total sales of Wal-Mart.
Please read the full article, as well as PathWays PA's recent blog post, and let us know what you think in the comments!

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: December 14, 2009

State Budget Update

While the announcement of next year’s budget is less than 60 days away, the state legislature is still working to complete the table games legislation that plays a key part of the FY 2009-2010 budget. The legislation, and the $200 million it is supposed to raise, must be approved before authorizing payments to the universities, hospitals, and museums.

There is speculation that further delay in table games legislation may lead to more layoffs and potentially second semester tuition increases at universities.

A vote on the bill is anticipated this week



Federal

Send a Holiday Health Care Message to Your Legislator

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network is working with Georgeanne Koehler to collect health care stories or messages of support for health care reform. Georgeanne has devoted herself to working tirelessly for health care reform. She has a her own personal message to share: her brother lost his job and his health insurance, and, because of a serious heart condition, he lost his life. Watch a short video of Georgeanne telling her brother's story.

Submit your story on the PHAN web site or mail your postcard directly to Georgeanne Koehler, 4114 Penn Avenue, Second Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15224.

Georgeanne will deliver the messages to Congress before they leave for recess. Please share your story now.


House Passes Bill to Protect Consumers

On Friday, the House of Representative passed legislation that will protect consumers with the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). The CFPA would be a single federal agency whose mission would be to protect consumers from dangerous financial products and practices. This would include credit cards, mortgages, debit cards, all consumer loans, payment systems, bank accounts, and more. For years, consumers have dealt with toxic mortgages, outrageous interest rates, and unreasonable bank fees, all in a largely unregulated market.

The action will now go onto the Senate. Please contact your Senator and tell them the importance of the CFPA, which will protect consumers from abusive lending practices, thus supporting low- and middle-income families as they work to find sound financial footing.


Support the Casey CHIP Amendment

Urge your Senators to stand up for kids in the health reform debate. In just a few days, Senators will vote on the Casey CHIP amendment, which would make sure that the 7 million children enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) continue to have high-quality and low-cost coverage after the enactment of health reform. Ask your Senators to co-sponsor and support this important amendment.

Please contact your Senators. In Pennsylvania, please thank them for their support of health care reform and ask them to continue their support for children.

Health reform holds the promise of finally providing secure and stable healthcare for families. We must take action now to make sure that it does not inadvertently cause some kids to have more expensive and less comprehensive coverage than they have now.


Information/Events

Homeless Memorial Day

On the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, we come together to remember homeless and formerly homeless Philadelphians who have passed away in 2009, honor those still living on our streets and in shelters, and call for a renewed commitment to end homelessness.

WHEN: Monday, December 21, 4:30 to 5:30 PM
WHERE: City Hall

For more information about the event contact Kendra Johnson at 215-232-7272 or kendrajohnson@projecthome.org or click here.

To help someone who is homeless: Call the Philadelphia Homeless Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984


Save the Date: Healthy Philadelphia Community Meeting

Join the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to share your health care stories in the first Healthy Philadelphia Community Meeting on January 28th in North Philadelphia (time and location to be announced).

Healthy Philadelphia is a non-profit organization dedicated to working to solve heath care problems Philadelphians face. It grew out of a voter mandate, which passed by 87% in North Philadelphia, that required the Department of Health to develop a plan for universal health care.

Please attend and tell your story about the challenges you or your family have faced in getting high quality on-going health care. Please RSVP to Mayla Henderson at 215-686-5263 or mayla.henderson@phila.gov.


PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • 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.

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 Kelly Binder at kbinder@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.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PathWays PA on Facebook


PathWays PA is thankful for the support of its Fans on Facebook! Because of them, we reached a milestone of 25 Fans on our Facebook Page, making us eligible to create a more user-friendly URL address.

From now on, you can find us easily on Facebook by typing www.facebook.com/PathWaysPA into your search bar or web browser! Our new URL makes accessing our Facebook page easier than ever before and we encourage all of our supporters to share the link with friends and family. Please join us on Facebook today!

(photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LG_L194WT-SF_LCD_monitor.jpg// http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ )

Table Games and Other Updates

Lawmakers took to the House floor last Wednesday evening to move on long-awaited table games legislation, but substantive debate on the measure was bogged down for much of the night as legislators debated parliamentary maneuvers. Before wading into lengthy debate over procedure, the House also rejected five motions to consider non-preferred university appropriations, one for each school. Democrats argued the legislative body needed to approve table games legislation, and the $200 million it is supposed to raise, before authorizing payments to the universities, such as Penn State. Debate will continue in the hope to bring final passage soon.

Governor Ed Rendell stated similar points to House Democrats about funding for non-preferred universities during an afternoon press conference, where he also officially announced the resignation Estelle Richman, Secretary of Public Welfare. Secretary Richman will join the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as Secretary Shaun Donovan’s Chief Operating Officer. Secretary Richman has been DPW secretary for the last seven years and will join the Obama Administration shortly after the New Year. Deputy Secretary Harriet Dichter has been nominated by the governor as the next secretary of the department.

“Our loss is Washington’s gain, and Pennsylvania’s loss is the United States of America’s gain,” said the governor, who lauded Secretary Richman for her accomplishments at DPW. The governor noted many of DPW’s many awards and accomplishments under Secretary Richman, most notably her work with Rep. Denny O’Brien (R-Philadelphia) in establishing funding for autism care and prevention. The governor also praised Secretary Richman for her work in increasing mental retardation and substance abuse services. DPW has made improvements to the state food stamps program, child support services, and welfare-to-work programs, along with retaining jobs with medical benefits.

These improvements during Secretary Richman’s reign have garnered numerous federal monetary awards totaling $151 million, plus numerous federal commendations, said the governor. Child welfare saw positive results, including a 45% increase in children moving from foster home care to permanent home care and a decrease in child abuse cases over the past six years, the governor said. Medical benefits through the Medical Assistance and Access Plus programs provide over 2 million people with health care, along with decreasing health care acquired infections by 7%. In terms of long-term living, DPW has doubled those seniors using home and community based services, saving the state money on nursing home subsidies.

Under the direction of Secretary Richman, DPW has saved or raised over $5 billion cumulatively for the state, said Governor Rendell who added that accusations of DPW being a culprit for waste in state government are unfounded. He supported this claim by highlighting that DPW has cut its costs on pharmaceuticals by 25%, and brought in $2.2 billion in federal funds. Secretary Richman said being raised in segregated Virginia added to her decision to work for the Obama administration. She still has unresolved issues at DPW including work on adult protection services and creating a child ombudsman; efforts she hopes will continue into the next Administration.

Deputy Secretary Dichter, who currently serves a dual role as Deputy Secretary for Office of Child Development and Early Learning for the departments of Public Welfare and Education, was praised by Governor Rendell and Secretary Richman for her work in early childhood education. The governor applauded Dichter’s work with Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts early childhood education program, which was commended by the Obama administration as the best early childhood education program in the nation. Dichter said she was “humbled to be a part of this next chapter of service,” and also vowed to carry on the legacy left by Secretary Richman.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/locomotion/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Caregiving in the United States Today

A new report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP reveals the demographics and characteristics of adults providing care for other adults over 50 in the United States. This report, Caregiving in the U.S.: A Focused Look at Those Caring for Someone Age 50 or Older, examines the changes in caregivers and care recipients since 2004.

Among the numbers, one set that stands out shows the number of caregivers who needed work accommodations to provide care. 68 percent of caregivers reported needing some accommodation, an increase of 5 percentage points from 2004. Most caregivers (64 percent) reported a need to go to work late, leave early, or take time off to provide care, an increase of 6 percentage points since 2004. Almost 75 percent of caregivers work.

The need for caregiving is only going to grow as the US population continues to age. In the next 25 years, the number of Americans over age 65 is expected to double. In 2012, little more than two years away, half of the labor force is expected to be a caregiver.

We need to take steps now to ensure that caregivers have the support they need in the workplace. Legislation such as the Healthy Families Act, which gives workers the opportunity to earn up to seven days of paid leave per year to care for themselves or their family, can mean the difference to caregivers who struggle to keep their jobs and provide the services their recipient needs. The CLASS Act, meanwhile, would give workers the opportunity to begin setting aside money now that could be used in retirement to pay for long-term care in the home. It is currently part of the healthcare reform package.

Please take action on these important bills, and continue reading to learn more from the new report on caregiving. A few other findings:
  • In 2009, there are 43.5 million caregivers (about 19 percent of all adults) providing unpaid care for someone over 50. Most care for family members, often their mother. On average, caregivers are 50 years old, while care recipients are 75. In contrast, caregivers and care recipients in 2004 were on average two years younger than those surveyed this year.
  • Old age and Alzheimer's/confusion were tied as the main illness identified by the caregiver, with each receiving 15 percent of the results. Interestingly, those reporting Alzheimer's increased significantly, from 8 percent in 2004 to 15 percent in 2009. The study's authors attribute increased reports of Alzheimer's to the aging of the population in care. Most other illnesses remained unchanged, although there were significantly decreased reports of diabetes as the main factor.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Under 30 in PA? You Might Be Able to Get Insurance Through Your Parents

Until this week, Pennsylvania families in many cases could only keep children on a parent's health insurance until they reached age 19. However, a law passed in May has now gone into effect, allowing parents to cover their children under 30 as long as they:

Are single
Have no dependents
Have no health insurance
Live in Pennsylvania or are a full-time college student

According to the Insurance Department, family members with insurance should work with their benefits administrator to determine if their children can be covered.

How will this help you? Let us know in the comments!

(photo: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/cwLk1OFOwPdbjA3iqIWwfQ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)

Unemployment Across the Country

For those of you who like pictorial representations of different statistics, we thought this map of unemployment nationwide might be interesting. (PS - The Keystone Research Center has been creating terrific "heat maps" showing how unemployment numbers have increased statewide throughout this recession as well.)

As unemployment continues, a key provision helping families who are unemployed is set to expire on December 31. Without reauthorization, one million people will lose their unemployment benefits in January 2010, and 3.2 million are expected to have lost benefits by March 2010. Please ask Congress now to extend this important program.

We Need a Consumer Financial Protection Agency

Seal of the United States CongressThe Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) would be a single federal agency whose mission would be to protect consumers from dangerous financial products and practices. This would include credit cards, mortgages, debit cards, all consumer loans, payment systems, bank accounts, and more. For years, consumers have dealt with toxic mortgages, outrageous interest rates, and unreasonable bank fees, all in a largely unregulated market.

After months of hard work, debate, and consideration the House is going to vote on financial reform and the creation of the CFPA this week. This is our last chance to tell our Representatives that we need reform!

Ask Your Representative to:
  1. Support H.R. 4173: The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.
  2. Vote against any amendments that would weaken this legislation. We need protection from abusive lending practices and outrageous bank fees.
  3. Create a CFPA that serves as a regulatory floor, not a ceiling. The new agency should not preempt stronger state laws.

Our current economic crisis highlights the need for these reforms. Working families and our communities cannot sustain themselves without critical reforms to the financial industry. Unfair and dangerous lending practices must not be allowed to continue. Please take action today!

This Holiday Season Even Santa is Scared of the Swine Flu

If you take your children to see Santa for the holidays this year, he may first inquire about your health. As Santa Claus works in malls and shops to spread the holiday spirit, he and his helpers are taking extra precautions this year to ensure they do not contract or spread H1N1.

Thousands of children line up every day to tell Santa what they want for the holidays, bringing him into contact with more children than virtually any other profession during this season. Unfortunately, for some Santas, getting the H1N1 vaccine is difficult. It is in limited supply and Santa is not officially in the high-risk group as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Other precautions in place this year include Santa being asked not to wear his white gloves, so that he can better use hand sanitizer. Many Santas are encouraging children to sanitize their hands before meeting Santa as well. Santa is also having his suit cleaned more frequently than in most years. Finally, if parents notice their child is sick, they should not bring him or her to see Santa until they are better.

Whether or not your family will be visiting Santa, the holiday season brings an excellent opportunity to ask Congress for a “present:” the ability to earn sick time and access to health care. What will you be asking for this year?


Image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SantasLap.jpg

Letters to the Editor on Earned Sick Time Published

The Pocono Record and the Lancaster Sunday News have published PathWays PA's letters to the editor on earned sick time. Please take a moment to comment on their websites!

Also, if you are interested in learning more on earned sick time, please join us on Facebook or take our survey!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Introduction of Stupak-Like Amendment in Senate

Ben Nelson official photoYesterday, Senator Nelson introduced an amendment based on the language of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which passed at the last minute as part of the House’s health care bill.

Debate on the amendment has begun on the Senate floor and a vote may occur soon. This amendment goes much further than the Hyde Amendment, which currently does not allow the use of public funds for abortions. This and the Stupak Amendment instead say that no plan receiving federal subsidies, nor the public option, may provide abortion coverage. Effectively, women who purchase coverage with their own money through a federally subsidized plan or a private plan that includes individuals receiving federal subsidies will be banned from purchasing abortion coverage.

Please contact your Senator today and tell them that health care reform should not come at the expense of women’s reproductive rights.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Things You Didn't Know Were In the Senate Health Bill

While a lot of the conversation around the Senate health care overhaul bill has been around the public option and reproductive rights, the bill is full of interesting but little publicized provisions. Below is a list of other pieces to the health care puzzle put together by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Breaks for Nursing Mothers: Employers would be required to provide an unpaid "reasonable break time for nursing mothers" in the first year after giving birth. Women would be provided a private place, other than a bathroom, to use a breast pump. The provision exempts companies with fewer than 50 workers if the requirement would impose "an undue hardship," a determination left to the employer to make.

Learning To Be An Adult: Being a teenager is tough. The Senate wants to help with a provision allocating $400 million from 2010 to 2015 to help teens make the transition to adulthood. The money goes to states primarily to set up sex education programs and can also be used for "adult preparation" programs that promote positive self esteem, relationship dynamics, friendships, dating, romantic involvement, marriage and family interaction. In addition, the programs can teach financial literacy and other skills such as goal setting, decision-making and stress management.

Promoting Use Of Bone Density Scans: Rapid increases in Medicare payments for imaging services led lawmakers to reduce payments for some services, including those that test bone density. The Senate bill is trying to boost payments, which have dropped by more than half since 2006, for a bone test known as dual energy X-ray absorptiometry or bone densitometry.

Setting ER Prices: Nonprofit hospitals would have to limit how much they charge low-income uninsured emergency patients to the lowest amount they receive from insured patients for the same services. A 2007 study published in the journal Health Affairs showed that many "uninsured and other 'self-pay' patients for hospital services were often charged 2 1/2 times what most health insurers actually paid and more than three times the hospital's Medicare-allowable costs.

(Photo: http://allhealthcare.monster.com/nfs/allhealthcare/attachment_images/0003/5475/healthcare_reform_crop380w.jpg)

Has Your Legislator Cosponsored the Healthy Families Act Yet?

We just got word that Senator Specter has become a cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act, joining Senator Casey and 22 other senators! Is your senator one of the cosponsors?

Over 57 million workers nationwide have no access to earned sick time. Under the Healthy Families Act, workers would be guaranteed the opportunity to earn up to seven paid sick days per year to recover from their own illness or care for a sick family member. It would also give victims of domestic violence the opportunity to use that time as "safe days" in which they can receive medical or psychological attention, look for housing, or otherwise address their needs.

In Pennsylvania in addition to Senators Specter and Casey, the following Representatives have cosponsored the bill:
  • Representative Robert Brady
  • Representative Michael Doyle
  • Representative Chaka Fattah
  • Representative Allyson Schwartz
  • Representative Joe Sestak
Please take some time today to thank our senators for cosponsoring the Healthy Families Act. If your representative is a cosponsor, please thank him or her as well. If not, now is the perfect time to ask your Representative to cosponsor the bill!

For more information on the Healthy Families Act and other information on paid sick days in Pennsylvania, please read our earlier blog posts.

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: December 7, 2009

Federal

Urge Your Senator to Support Full Reproductive Rights

Millions of women are on the verge of losing access to private health insurance coverage for abortion. Members of the Senate are going to vote on an amendment to the health care reform bill modeled after the Stupak amendment that passed in the House. If this amendment becomes law, it will be the most serious restriction of abortion coverage in a generation.

A vote on this amendment is expected today. Senate leadership may be calling for a vote to table this amendment. This action will require 50 votes.

Please contact your Senators today and ask them table this amendment. Health care reform is meant to allow individuals more access to coverage, not to make more limitations on the care one can received.


CHIP and Health Care Reform

Right now, there is an important debate happening in the U.S. Senate about health coverage, and we must make sure that all kids are represented.

Last week, an amendment to the Senate Health Bill was introduced by Senator Casey to ensure the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) continues with full funding through fiscal year 2019. This program provides high quality and comprehensive coverage to about 7 million children. The amendment would continue to fund and maintain CHIP until there are concrete assurances that the new health insurance exchange provides low-income children with coverage that is comparable or better than what kids currently get through CHIP.

Contact your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor and/or support the Casey CHIP Amendment to the health reform bill.


State

Support the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund

Since September 2005, the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund has expanded housing opportunities for more than 4,000 families and individuals while leveraging over $281 million in additional funding to support the development of 1,279 new affordable homes, repair of 1,200 existing homes, and assisted 1,583 families to stay in their homes through foreclosure and homelessness prevention programs.

Despite this success, revenues for the Housing Trust Fund have declined by nearly half Two bills have been introduced to expand dedicated funding for the Trust Fund.
  • Bill No. 090849 would increase local Deed and Mortgage Recording Fees by $30 and dedicate these funds to the Housing Trust Fund.
  • Bill No. 090850 would dedicate half of the $30 increase in the Deed and Mortgage Recording Fees approved by City Council in Spring 2009 at the request of the Nutter Administration to the Trust Fund, instead of the General Fund.
Both bills have been scheduled for a hearing before City Council’s Finance Committee on Wednesday, December 9, at 1:00 p.m.

In addition, House Bill 1645, introduced by Representative Taylor, would enable Philadelphia to decide whether to raise its Deed and Mortgage Recording Fees to support the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund when the City raises such fees for the General Fund (the maximum fee for the Trust Fund is currently capped at the fee level in affect on January 31, 2005). The bill was approved by the House Urban Affairs Committee and Rules Committee in July and is currently in the Appropriations Committee.

What can you do:
  • Please call the Mayor’s office today (215-686-2181) and urge Mayor Nutter and his Administration to support expanded dedicated funding for the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund.
  • Call your District Councilmember and At-Large Councilmembers today and let them know you support expanded funding for the Trust Fund as well.

Information/Events

CLASP Audio Conference: Hourly Workers and Scheduling

Fluctuating hours are a glass half full or half empty, depending on your perspective. Typically, employers like the idea of having employees at work when they most need them, but for employees changing hours may translate into unpredictable or unstable work periods. This instability can have huge implications not only for home life and income but also access to benefits.

On Friday December 11th from 12:30 to 1:30 EST, join CLASP to learn about the latest research regarding how employers with low wage workers are addressing this issue and hear first-hand how Costco approaches scheduling of workers.

Register now by clicking here. Make sure to register soon, as spaces may be limited!


Webinar Invitation: Highlights of Youth ARRA (Recovery Act) Summits

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) invested $1.2 billion in WIA Youth Activities. The Employment and Training Administration hosted two "Recovering America's Youth Summits" which addressed how to use Recovery Act funds to develop and strengthen programs and service delivery systems that provide employment opportunities for youth in emerging industries.

On December 15th at 11:30 AM, Workforce3 One is holding a webinar that will summarize the content of each of the themes of the summit and highlight one local service delivery provider that participated in the summits in each of the segments.
Summit themes include:
  1. Lessons learned from ETA's involvement with the 2009 summer employment programs with a workforce development topics including work readiness, employer engagement, and ensuring quality work experiences.
  2. Capacity building activities for state and local areas to serve older out-of-school youth, ages 18-24, in year-round activities and
  3. Strategies for creating pathways in emerging industries such as "Green" jobs and Healthcare.
Registration for this Webinar is limited and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please click here to login to Workforce3 One and register today!


Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • 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.

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 Kelly Binder at kbinder@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.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Information on SNAP

Food stamps (SNAP) has been a focal point in recent weeks following the publication of a report showing that half of all children in the US will use the program at some point before they turn 21. Courtesy of Foodlinks, here are some more facts on SNAP:


  • More than one in eight Americans now receives benefits from SNAP, with 20,000 more joining their ranks every day.
  • At least a quarter of the population receives food stamps in 239 US counties
  • At least one in three children use food stamps in 800 US counties
  • Nationally, only about one out of every three people eligible for food stamps actually received them in 2007
  • In Pennsylvania, 72 percent of eligible people participated in the food stamp program, ranking the state 11th in the country.
If you, your family, or anyone you know is struggling to pay for food, please contact PathWays PA for a prescreening over the phone to see if you qualify for food stamps. We can be reached at 610-543-5022 if you live in Delaware County, or 215-387-1470 in Philadelphia. You can also call the PA Hunger Action Center at 800-FOOD-997.

(Photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/maulleigh/ / CC BY 2.0 )

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Families Benefit When Low-Income Parents Save for a Rainy Day

Flickr - NewsPhoto! - paraplu'sAs Pew's Economic Mobility Project points out, the concept of the American Dream, where anyone can rise above their background with hard work, is not as strong as many would like it to be. While 2/3rds of Americans have higher incomes than their parents, many children still end up in the same economic category as the one they were born in. 42 percent of children born in the bottom income quintile and 39 percent born in the top income quintile stay there throughout their lives. Yet as a recent study from the Project shows, high parental and personal savings can improve the likelihood of a child's economic mobility.

According to the report, "A Penny Saved is Mobility Earned,"50 percent of Americans born to low-saving parents in the bottom income bracket remained there as adults. But if their low-income parents were "high savers," only 29 percent remained in the lowest income bracket. Since 25 percent are estimated to remain in the bottom bracket even with "perfect income mobility," the change correlated with savings is large. In other words, very low-income families saving more than the median amount had a higher likelihood of their children moving up the income ladder. Personal savings also increased the chances of economic mobility.

These results should encourage savings among all income brackets, especially very low-income families, but those trying to save may run in to roadblocks. In order to qualify for most public benefits programs, low-income households are limited in the amount of savings they can have. While asset limits are designed to ensure that families only apply for benefits when they really need them, they have the unintended effect of encouraging families not to save. While some changes have been made in recent years, asset limits in many programs continue to discourage savings.

Savings should not be luxury that only higher-income families can afford. Programs designed to allow families to keep their savings for a rainy day (and the accompanying roof leaks and car accidents) ensure that low-income families don't have to lose everything for the short-term gain of public benefits. When savings benefit families across generations, our whole country loses by denying families the opportunity to save.