Wednesday, April 28, 2010

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - April 28, 2010

State Budget

Funding for Education

Last week the Governor spoke at a number of schools to talk abut the need for funding for education. The Governor’s proposal funds basic education at $355 million, an increase from last year’s budget.
The Governor has suggested five ways to possibly generate revenue for the increase:
  • Cut the sales tax from 6 percent to 4 percent, but lift tax exemptions on 74 items, including candy and gum, personal hygiene products, investment gold, dry cleaning and laundry services, caskets and burial vaults. Sales tax exemptions would be maintained for basic food items, clothing and prescription medications.
  • Tax the extraction of Marcellus Shale.
  • Tax cigars and smokeless tobacco.
  • Raise corporate taxes.
  • Take away the 1 percent discount businesses like Wal-Mart and Home Depot receive for paying their taxes on time.
The General Assembly is hesitant to pass any broad based tax increases, so more proposals and/or cuts are likely.

One School District’s Struggle

The Quakertown School District is facing a $5 million budget gap in their $91 million spending plan. To fill that gap, the school board has discussed cutting staff and closing a first though fifth grade school in the district. These changes will mean larger classes with fewer teachers per student. One fifth-grade class will be increased from 18 to 27 students and two teaching positions will be eliminated.

Even with some of the proposed cuts, it is still likely the district’s budget next year will be millions of dollars short. It is estimated that the district will have a $15 million shortfall by 2012-13.

If the state cuts education funding below what is proposed in the Governor’s budget the $5 million budget gap for Quakertown School District could be even larger.

Philadelphia Budget

The City Council is working on other options to close the $150 million budget deficit this year that include proposals other than the trash fee and tax on sugary drinks.

One of the new proposals includes a 10 percent increase in the city property taxes. A 10 percent increase would mean an average increase of about $139. This would cost Philadelphians less than the proposed $300 trash fee; however, it would only raise $85 million, which is short of closing the deficit.

City Council continues to hold hearings on the budget proposed by Mayor Nutter. 

Action Alerts

Did You Know...

That the return for each dollar invested in the Nurse-Family Partnership, which provides home visits to low-income, first time mothers, is $5.70?

If you or one of your clients rely on this program or think it is important please contact your legislators today and let them know.

Support the Nurse-Family Partnership Program

The Nurse-Family Partnership Program provides nurses to deliver the support first-time moms need to have a healthy pregnancy, become knowledgeable and responsible parents, and provide their babies with the best possible start in life. From pregnancy until the child turns two, nurses visit the homes of low-income, first-time mothers. Over its 10 years in Pennsylvania, 91 percent of babies in the program were born at full term and 95 percent received all recommended immunizations. In addition, 45 percent of mothers who did not have a diploma or GED and who completed the program also earned their diploma or GED. Another 22 percent continue to work toward a diploma or GED.

A large part of the funding for this program comes from the state. While the budget is being worked on, it is crucial that legislators hear about the importance of this program.

Other Important Programs and Action Steps:

While the state budget is very tight this year, it is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about programs that cannot and should not see more cuts this year. Even programs that are not undergoing large cuts need to be advocated for to ensure that changes are not made to their funding during the budget debates. Below we have highlighted just a few of those programs:


Industry Partnerships: Workers who participate in the Industry Partnership program have seen an average 6.62% increase in their wages within the first year after training.
HB 2230, currently in the House Committee on Labor Relations, will institutionalize Industry Partnerships to ensure that this important program remains in Pennsylvania for years to come. If you or your clients have benefited from Industry Partnerships, please let your legislators know by emailing or calling their offices.

Adult Education and Family Literacy Programs: The greatest predictor of a child's future academic success is the literacy level of the child's mother. Adult education and family literacy programs are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to become self-sufficient. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for literacy, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.


State Supplemental Program: Help restore cuts to the State Supplemental Payments for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. As a result of the 2009-2010 budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. If you believe the payments are important. please contact your state legislators and urge them to find ways to restore this cut.

adultBasic: Over 350,000 people are on the waiting list for adultBasic. While those on the waiting list can pay full price for the program until they can access the program, but the cost to buy in has increased 80 percent. Meanwhile, coverage under the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget will not expand beyond 50,000 people. If you or your clients believe that when 12 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are without health care, programs that assist them are essential and need to be expanded, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Child Care Subsidy: At least 6,000 families are on the waiting list to receive the child care subsidy. The subsidy allows parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for child care, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Media Advisory: Earned Sick Days as Next Step in Containing Healthcare Costs

PA Workers Head to DC To Call for Earned Sick Days as Next Step in Containing Healthcare Costs

White House Advisor Terrell McSweeny to Address Public Health & Family Advocates Who Are Urging Passage of Healthy Families Act

Secretary of Labor to Give Monday Remarks on Work & Family Policies

Washington, DC – On Tuesday, workers from Pennsylvania will join with small business owners and advocates from around the country to unveil findings showing the effect a national earned sick days standard would have for the 50 million workers in America who lack paid sick time.  Giving these 50 million workers – including 40% of the private workforce in the U.S.– the opportunity to earn sick days would help contain health care costs while preventing workers from “choosing” between their health and their job when illness strikes.

Terrell McSweeny, Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President and Deputy Assistant to the President, will address the group as they call for passage of the Healthy Families Act (HR 2460/S 1152). McSweeny represents the White House Middle Class Task Force, whose annual report notes that the economic stability of middle-class families depends in part on policies that help families balance work and care giving obligations.

Small business owners and workers will travel from Pennsylvania— as well as other states around the country including Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington— to share stories about the value of paid sick leave and family leave insurance during the recession.

The briefing, by the Institute for Women's Policy Research with the National Partnership for Women & Families and Family Values at Work, will present new findings that explain how the federal legislation to provide up to 7 paid sick days would build on the historic momentum of health care reform, establish a critical safety net during the recession and advance the health and economic security of all Americans.

The Tuesday briefing will follow Monday remarks from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis — to be delivered at 6:00PM at the Fairfax Hotel — about workplace policies that help workers manage their responsibilities at work and at home. The events build on a growing tide of support from the Obama administration for work and family policies, including paid sick days and paid family leave.

WHO:    Business Owners and Workers from around the country
Terrell McSweeny, Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President and Deputy Assistant to the President; Middle Class Task Force
Ellen Bravo, Family Values at Work
Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families
Kevin Miller, Institute for Women's Policy Research

WHAT:    Press Conference featuring federal paid sick days analysis and stories from small business owners and workers

WHEN:     Tuesday, April 27th
9:00 AM, Eastern
        
WHERE:     Capitol Visitors Center
Room SVC 202-203
Washington, DC

Contact mbellesorte@pathwayspa.org for more information.

We're at a Conference for the Next Two Days...

But you can still get updates! We will be tweeting what we learn at this week's "Making it Work: Advancing Workplace Policies for Today's Families Conference" on one of our Twitter feeds, @EarnedSickTime.

PathWays PA E-Newsletter- April 26, 2010

Federal

Help Support the Healthy Families Act

On Tuesday, groups from around the country working toward earned sick time, including PathWays PA and the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, will be in DC to urge our legislators to support the Healthy Families Act.

Over 57 million workers nationwide have no access to earned sick time. Under the Healthy Families Act, workers would have 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.

Some reasons why the bill is important are listed below:
  • HFA Supports Families: parents can use time to take their children to the doctor, especially those newly covered by SCHIP
  • HFA Supports Businesses: employers can increases productivity and morale in the workplace while avoiding the high cost of turnover
  • HFA Supports Public Health: patrons have lower risk of catching an illness from a sick food handler, child care provider, or health care worker
On Tuesday, please send a message to Congress to support paid sick days.

State

Urge Your Representative to Support the Children in Foster Care Act

Every year in Pennsylvania, more than 31,000 young people are served through the foster care system. For those young people, the time spent in foster care may be confusing and scary as they go from day to day without knowing who will care for them and where they will be living. Foster care is also confusing for the birth parents and caregivers involved, as they may not fully understand their rights and responsibilities. The combined uncertainty makes it even more difficult to support children and keep them safe.

Much of the uncertainly stems from the fact that children and their families must know and understand requirements that are scattered among various laws and regulations. When there are issues or questions, knowing where to find the information can be difficult. In Pennsylvania, the Children in Foster Care Act (HB 2338) has been introduced to take steps towards ensuring that children and their caregivers are fully informed. The bill will provide easy-to-understand information detailing the protections in place for children as well as common grievance procedures.

House Bill 2338 would help improve the services provided to children in foster care by ensuring that children and their caregivers are fully informed of the requirements and protections for children in care.

Please contact your Representative and ask them to support the Children in Foster Care Act.

Information/Events

Become a Mentor: Achieving Independence Center Mentoring Program

Imagine growing up in a world without a consistent social network of positive, caring and empowering adults in your life. Imagine not having someone to share a secret, triumph or challenge. Imagine not having those who made the most impact in your life. Imagine all that coupled with a childhood that included neglect and a future that does not always seem bright.

Unfortunately, those in foster care can do more than imagine these experiences because for many, it is a reality. This is why the Achieving Independence Center Mentoring Program, managed by PathWays PA, seeks to link caring, supportive adults to our young people (age 16-21) for mentorship. Staff will train and support you as you inspire each other.

The Achieving Independence Center is a “one-stop” center designed to assist young people ages 16-21 achieve their future goals of self-sufficiency. The AIC is dedicated to providing support and real life tools for youth who want to make an investment in their future!

Help a youth build their self-esteem and achieve their personal goals. You make a difference by simply getting involved. If you are interested or need more information please call 215-574-9194 extension 229.

Roundtable Discussion: Ending Child Hunger & Poverty: Real Solutions, Now

In Philadelphia, one in four children is living in poverty, and one in five does not have adequate access to enough food for an active and healthy life. Hunger and poverty are not inevitable. They are political problems with political solutions. Ending poverty in Philadelphia and in the United States requires creative thinking and organizing to address a multifaceted and solvable problem.

Join area experts, advocates and policy makers as we discuss city, state and national goals, strategies, and bench marks for ending child hunger and poverty. This discussion is in collaboration with the Witnesses to Hunger Exhibit now open in the Fox Art Gallery.

WHEN: April 27, 12:00 pm
WHERE: Terrace Room, Cohen Hall, 249 South 36th Street, Philadelphia PA


Lunch will be provided. If you would like to attend please RSVP to cphi@pobox.upenn.edu.

Stand for Children Event

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Join Casa Youth Advocates, PathWays PA and Family Support Line to raise awareness of the problem of child abuse in our communities. Learn about tools to help intervene and prevent trauma.

WHEN : Wednesday, April 28, 2010 8 – 9:30 am
WHERE: The Drexelbrook, Drexelbrook Drive and Valley Road, Drexel Hill, PA

There will be a presentation by Susan Carswell, PhD, PsyD on the impact of trauma on the brain.

To RSVP for the event please see the flyer or email antoneal@familysupportline.org. For more information about Stand for Children please visit this website.

Campus Philly Opportunity Fair

Recruit local college talent into your workforce during Campus Philly’s Opportunity Fair.

WHEN: June 15th, 12:00 -3:00
WHERE: Drexel University’s Bossone Center

This live, in-person fair will connect recent graduates to professional-level internships, jobs, contacts, career resources and graduate/professional school opportunities.

As an employer we invite you to recruit:
  • Full-time entry level positions
  • Part-time entry level positions
  • Professional level internships
The Opportunity Fair is designed to connect regional employers to recent college graduates looking to stay in Greater Philadelphia. Last year we had over 850 graduates attend representing over 140 different colleges and universities

Space is limited, so be sure to register today.

PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

PathWays PA New Publication: Keeping it Real – Teen Finances

PathWays PA is excited to announce the completion of a new helpful handbook for managing money written specifically for teens, Keeping it Real: Teen Finances.

This guide not only discusses what teens should understand about their finances, it also assists them in planning for their future.

The guide focuses on such areas as understanding your paycheck, budgeting, banking, financial contracts, credit, and insurance. It also includes goal setting, finding a job, education, child care, and housing.

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!
  • 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, April 23, 2010

Join the Health Care Conversation


Still interested in talking about health care with others across the country? The New York Times website now includes a place for individuals to share their thoughts and reply to others' about health care.

Health Care Conversations cover such topics as employers and insurance, women and health care, abortion, medical malpractice and tort reform, and Medicare. Under each topic, there is a summary of that issue along with questions to which people can respond. Below is a sample of one of the topics:

The Final Reconciliation Bill

On Mar. 18 Democratic leaders unveiled a budget reconciliation bill, the final version of their plan to overhaul the health care system. The legislation would reduce the number of uninsured Americans by 32 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, at a cost of $940 billion.

The legislation is expected to reduce future federal deficits by $138 billion over that time period. But Republicans have said that government debt is piling up so fast that the health care legislation would barely make a dent.

What do you think?

Image courtesy of: http://ocw.usu.edu/University_Extension/conversation-on-instructional-design

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Do Your Part this Earth Day

From our friends at MomsRising.

Today is Earth Day, a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment. This year Earth Day celebrates its 40th Anniversary.

Though out today people are asked to do their part for the environment, be it recycling, reducing their use of water, or walking instead of driving somewhere. In addition to those things you can do something from your computer that will not only be good for the environment but also for families.

Legislation has been introduced that will overhaul the nation’s chemical laws. The Safe Chemicals Act is landmark legislation that will reform the way the government protects families from toxic chemicals. Through the bill, there will be better information to businesses and individuals so they can avoid toxic chemicals in every day products.

Please contact your members of Congress today and urge them to support the Safe Chemicals Act.

Image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/ / CC BY 2.0

Conference Call TODAY: Using TANF Dollars to Improve Participation in Summer Nutrition

(From our friends at The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC))

On April 22, FRAC, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF), will host a conference call to discuss the new opportunity for states to leverage federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars to improve participation in summer nutrition programs.  This call will be held from 3-4 PM EST

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/ / CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - April 21, 2010

State Budget

Governor Calls for a Special Session

To address the added funding needed for road and bridge repairs, Governor Rendell will convene a special session of the Legislature starting May 4. The special session is necessary as federal officials rejected proposals to place tolls on I-80, which would have generated an estimated $472 million for road, bridges, and mass transit. Without that funding, there is a large hole in the state’s transportation budget.

The Governor is hopeful that the special session will only focus on the issue of transportation funding. Some potential proposals to raise the revenue include:
  • leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private companies,
  • an increase in the state's 31-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax,
  • an increase in the car registration fee,
  • enacting a tax on the natural gas in the Marcellus Share,
  • enacting private-public partnerships on road or bridge projects, where a private firm would build and operate a road and likely charge a toll, and
  • enacting a toll on I-79 in the west, I-81 in central Pennsylvania and I-95 in the southeast.
While some of the above proposals are unlikely to pass, the General Assembly will be asked to consider all options to close the gap.

Another Hole in the State Budget

A court ruling just made the hole in the state budget significantly larger. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court has ordered the state to return $808 million to the MCARE Fund. The Fund is a state-run program that provides medical malpractice coverage to physicians.

The case concerned the transfer of money from the MCARE Fund that were used to balance the 2009-10 state budget. The court ruled that the funds needed to be returned to MCARE due to their finding that the state mishandled subsidies provided to help doctors pay malpractice premiums. The court also found that the transfer of funds left the state MCARE Fund unable to pay future judgments against physicians.

With Pennsylvania already facing a revenue shortfall of nearly $720 million ,this court ruling could push the year-end deficit to close to $2 billion. The state will appeal the court decision, but if the decision is not overturned on appeal Pennsylvania would have to make hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts, raise additional revenue, or both to keep the 2009-10 budget in balance.

Philadelphia Budget

City Council continues to hold hearings on the budget proposed by Mayor Nutter. Council members have started to propose other ways to raise revenue besides those proposed by the Mayor..

Councilman Clark has proposed a 3.6 cent tax on cigars and a 36 cent-per-ounce tax on loose forms of tobacco. His office has estimated that the tax would raise between $5 and $6 million. The Governor has
proposed a similar tax for the state, which, if passed, would prevent Philadelphia from instituting their own tax.

Councilman Green has proposed a plan to close the budget hole though $40 million in spending cuts and $80 million in revenue measures. The spending cuts would come by creating more efficiency in city departments, primarily through the use of technology. His revenue proposals include short-term real estate and business-privilege taxes as well as fines and fees. In anticipation of a budget hole next year, the Councilman proposes a “pay-as-you-throw” trash collection system that would tie citizen trash disposal cost to use. Councilman Green has also proposed a reform of the business-privilege tax. Under the Councilman’s plan, the reform is meant to distribute the tax burden between large and small businesses more equitably, and there will be decreased taxes for sectors of the economy with growth potential.

Board of Revisions of Taxes Plans to Revisit Property Assessments

The Board of Revision of Taxes (BRT) is the Philadelphia agency responsible for establishing property values that were to serve as the basis for real estate taxes levied by the City of Philadelphia.

Yesterday, BRT’s Chairwoman said before City Council that the agency would revisit a freeze on property reassessments. Using the Actual Value Initiative, a sweeping plan to overhaul the city’s real estate assessment system, new property values for every parcel in Philadelphia would be generated.

Whether BRT will be able to revalue properties depends on voters. On May 18, voters are scheduled to approve or reject a charter change that would permanently abolish the BRT and replace it with two new entities. The BRT has challenged the scheduled charter change in Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Financial Forecast

To know what is needed in the city’s budget it is important to look at how it is doing financially. Below are some highlights from the City Controller Office’s Financial Forecast and Snapshot report:

  • Sales tax collections are up 85 percent compared to the same month one year ago.
  • Wage tax collections declined 6.5 percent compared to the same month one year ago.
  • General Fund tax collection increased 6 percent compared to the same month one year ago.
  • The City’s unemployment rate increased almost a full percentage point to 11.4 percent from December to January.

While it is believed that the economy is moving from recovery to expansion, consumer demand remains a big question. Without increased demand, job growth will likely be minimal over the next few months.

Did You Know...
That in Pennsylvania, nearly 20 percent of adults relying on Medial Assistance are employed, usually in the hospitality and food services, retail, or health care and social services sectors.

If you or one of your clients rely on this program or think it is important please contact your legislators today and let them know.


Action Alerts

Medical Assistance in the State Budget

The Medical Assistance (MA) Program provides essential health care to families struggling through out Pennsylvania. More than 2 million Pennsylvanians use the program, including one million children. With the current recession, applications for MA are on the rise.

The Governor’s proposed FY10-11 Budget and the budget which passed the House funds essential increases in Medical Assistance that will meet the growing demand. Individuals eligible for MA include those who are elderly, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and victims of domestic violence. MA provides services that include physician and clinic visits, inpatient hospital care, home health care, medical supplies and equipment, nursing facility care, inpatient and outpatient psychiatric/drug/alcohol services, prescription drugs, dental, and other medically necessary services.

If you or one of your clients rely on this program or think it is important please contact your legislators today and let them know.


Other Important Programs and Action Steps:

While the state budget is very tight this year, it is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about programs that cannot and should not see more cuts this year. Even programs that are not undergoing large cuts need to be advocated for to ensure that changes are not made to their funding during the budget debates. Below we have highlighted just a few of those programs:

Industry Partnerships: Workers who participate in the Industry Partnership program have seen an average 6.62 percemt increase in their wages within the first year after training.  HB 2230, currently in the House Committee on Labor Relations, will institutionalize Industry Partnerships to ensure that this important program remains in Pennsylvania for years to come. If you or your clients have benefited from Industry Partnerships, please let your legislators know by emailing or calling their offices.

State Supplemental Program: Help restore cuts to the State Supplemental Payments for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. As a result of the 2009-2010 budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. If you believe the payments are important. please contact your state legislators and urge them to find ways to restore this cut. 

adultBasic: Over 350,000 people are on the waiting list for adultBasic. While those on the waiting list can pay full price for the program until they can access the program, but the cost to buy in has increased 80 percent. Meanwhile, coverage under the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget will not expand beyond 50,000 people. If you or your clients believe that when 12 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are without health care, programs that assist them are essential and need to be expanded, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Child Care Subsidy: At least 6,000 families are on the waiting list to receive the child care subsidy. The subsidy allows parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for child care, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Equal Pay Could Equal Eight Months of Groceries

Each year on a Tuesday in April, people across the country (including PathWays PA) celebrate Equal Pay Day, the day when women's earnings finally catch up with men's earnings from the previous year.  As we mark Equal Pay Day, it is important to know what the numbers mean, and what effect they have on all families.
  • If women earned equal wages to their male peers, they could use that money to buy groceries for a family of four for eight months. (The USDA estimates that a family of four spending "liberally" on groceries will spend $264.10 per week.  The wage gap per week is $162.)
  • Women are the "breadwinner" or "co-breadwinner" in two-thirds of families in the United States, which shows the extent to which families are relying on wages earned by women.
  • One year after graduating college, women earn on average only 80 percent of their male counterparts' wages.  During the next 10 years, women's wages fall even further behind, dropping to only 69 percent of men's earnings ten years after college.
While the pay gap is something that families face every day, the reasons for the gap are complex.  Part of the reason for pay inequity comes from the fact that many of the most common occupations for women are low-wage.  Approximately 29 percent of all female full-time workers work in the ten most common occupations for women, compared to 20 percent of all male full-time workers finding employment in the ten most common occupations for men.  These numbers show that women often work in a narrower occupational field than men. 

Time spent out of the workforce also has an impact on the pay gap, although it is important to note that even when controlling for "hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors normally associated with pay, college-educated women still earn less than their male peers earn."  According to one study, mothers are less likely to be hired and more likely to be offered lower salaries in comparison to fathers and women without children.

The lifetime earnings of mothers are just 38 percent of the lifetime earnings of men- an issue that follows women into retirement.  When women lack earnings, they also lack the opportunity to save for retirement through pensions or even savings accounts, and they lack the opportunity to set money aside through Social Security.  In Pennsylvania, for instance, the typical single male over 65 in retirement has $3,011 more per year then he needs if he is renting, according to the Pennsylvania Elder Economic Security Initiative. However, the typical single female in the same situation has $5,065 less than what she needs in order to live in her home with dignity. These numbers translate into a $8,076 gap in income between typical Pennsylvania men and women in retirement.

And yes, gender discrimination does play a role in the pay gap, through researchers are divided on how large a role it plays compared to other issues of inequity.  A new study of transgender people in the labor force shows that males who transition to females earn 32 percent less than they did previously, while females who transition to males earn 1.5 percent more.  Other studies show similar results, including one of symphony orchestra players.  When players auditioned behind a screen, women were more likely to be hired than if they were visible during an audition.

So what can you do with all of this information on equal pay? You can contact your legislators regarding the Paycheck Fairness Act- even those who are already supporting the bill need to hear of your support.  You can also visit www.wageproject.org to learn how to determine the wage gap at your workplace.  If you are an employer, you can also do a self-audit of your company's practices to ensure that you are offering equal pay.  Please take a moment today to do one of these activities, or one of the many more that are available!

    Support Foster Children and Families By Supporting the Foster Care Act

    Every year in Pennsylvania, more than 31,000 young people are served through the foster care system. For those young people, the time spent in foster care may be confusing and scary as they go from day to day without knowing who will care for them and where they will be living. Foster care is also confusing for the birth parents and caregivers involved, as they may not fully understand their rights and responsibilities. The combined uncertainty makes it even more difficult to support children and keep them safe.

    Much of the uncertainly stems from the fact that children and their families must know and understand requirements that are scattered among various laws and regulations. When there are issues or questions, knowing where to find the information can be difficult. In Pennsylvania, the Children in Foster Care Act (HB 2338) has been introduced to take steps towards ensuring that children and their caregivers are fully informed. The bill will provide easy-to-understand information detailing the protections in place for children as well as common grievance procedures. This act would provide clear and concise information for the care of the children and youth in foster care.

    Through HB 2238, Pennsylvania has a unique opportunity to improve the services provided to children in foster care with no new state costs. PathWays PA is already helping to make a difference by joining the Children in Foster Care Act Campaign. You can also make a difference by supporting this legislation and joining the Children in Foster Care Act Campaign today.

    Equal Pay Day

    On average, women who work in full-time, year-round jobs earn 77 cents to every $1 earned by a man in full-time, year-round jobs. Today, April 20, 2010, marks the point when women’s wages finally catch up to men’s wages from the previous year. The wage gap is even wider for women of color as the earnings for African American women are 67.9 percent of men's earnings and Latinas’ earnings were 58 percent of men's.
    In Pennsylvania, women on average are slightly worse off than the national numbers, earning 76 percent of what men earn. The median earnings for a woman in Pennsylvania working full-time, year-round is $35,265, whereas the median wage for a man is $46,455.

    The gap in wages has an even larger impact today, as women are now the breadwinner or co-breadwinner in two-thirds of all homes. During this recession, men have become unemployed in three of every four jobs lost, leaving many families relying solely on the income brought home by a woman. When women earn unequal wages, this discrimination affects not just women, but the entire family.

    What can be done? Pending legislation, the Paycheck Fairness Act, would help close the wage gap. This legislation would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, enhance remedies, prohibit retaliation against workers who share wage information, and provide the government with new tools to monitor and address pay inequities. The House of Representatives passed this legislation in January of 2009 and it is now up to the Senate to take action.

    Today, please contact your Senators today and urge them to take action on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

    Image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zack-attack/ / CC BY 2.0

    The Effect of ARRA on Early Childhood Education in PA

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided funding for many important programs, including $2 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.  As the National Women's Law Center reports in a recent paper, states have chosen to use this money in a variety of ways.  States have used the money to maintain current assistance, to keep up with caseload growth, and to delay, reduce, or eliminate child care subsidy waiting lists. Some states have also used the funding to provide child care to parents who are searching for a job, to reduce parent copays, and to maintain or increase child care reimbursement rates.  Technology and quality improvement ratings are also recipients of funding across the country.

    Why is child care funding so important? Quality early education gives children a better opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed in school and later in life, bringing economic benefits to their families and the community.  Access to a child care subsidy helps the economy in the short-term as well. Many low-income parents find themselves quitting a job due to child care responsibilities or being let go because of missed time. Low-income parents receiving child care subsidies are less likely to experience work disruptions than those who do not, helping parent not only reach but remain wage adequate.  At the national level, investment in child care subsidies has been shown to increase economic activity by $1.91 for each dollar spent in the subsidy program.

    Here in Pennsylvania, we have used the funding to:
    • Work towards reducing the child care subsidy waiting list (along with 13 other states).  The report notes that Pennsylvania is putting $31.8 million to bringing down the waiting list, which stood at 6,000 children in January 2010.
    • Give tiered reimbursements under the Keystone Stars program (along with at least 15 other states using the funding for quality rating and improvement systems).  The report states that Pennsylvania has budgeted $3.7 million in FY 2009-2010 and $6.1 million in FY 2010-2011 for these reimbursements. 
    • Implement the Keystone Babies Pilot Program to offer infants and toddlers high quality child care and supportive services (along with at least 6 other states using funding to improve infant/toddler care).  Keystone Babies classrooms will be in three- and four-star Keystone Stars rated child care centers in eligible cities, and must meet additional quality and monitoring requirements.
    image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelgoodin/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

      Monday, April 19, 2010

      One in Eight Americans are Receiving SNAP

      Earlier this month the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) published a report that shows the growing participation rates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.

      Participation in SNAP has grown to record levels with 39.4 million Americans receiving the benefit. This number does not account for the estimated one in three people who are eligible but not receiving SNAP. In Pennsylvania, over 12 percent of the population received SNAP in January 2010. Over the last year, the number of Pennsylvania participants increased by 254,699 people.

      Some of the increases are due to the changes made by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Under ARRA, SNAP benefits were increased by 19 percent, eligibility rules were eased for unemployed adults without children, and additional funding was provided to states for program administration. However, the increase is also due simple to the increased need of families during this recession. Benefits like SNAP can actually help the economy during the recession as each dollar spent produces nearly two dollars in economic activity in local communities.

      If you or your clients need help applying for SNAP or other benefits, PathWays PA can help. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

      April 19 is the Last Day to Register to Vote in PA's Primaries!

      Attention unregistered voters! Today is your last chance to sign up to vote in the upcoming Pennsylvania Primary (May 18th). This year’s General Primary election includes races between candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Congress, PA Senate, PA House of Representatives, State Party Committee Members, and Ward Executives!

      Stop by your local library, post office, or representative’s office to pick up a registration form. You can also download the form. Make sure you postmark your registration form no later than TODAY. You can also drop your form off at your County Elections Office.

      If you are already registered and need to submit an absentee ballot, make sure you submit your absentee application by May 11!

      Voting is your civil right! Stand up and be heard!

      Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland/ / CC BY 2.0

      TEFAP Grant Applications Due May 17

      (From our friends at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service)

      USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) plans to award up to $6 million to emergency feeding organizations, such as food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens, participating in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). At least $3 million is expected to be awarded for projects that improve the emergency feeding infrastructure in rural communities. Projects that benefit or serve Native American communities will receive priority consideration.

      Among other activities, grantees can use funds to improve the tracking, collection, storage, distribution and transport of time-sensitive and perishable foods; develop or maintain computerized systems for tracking foods; improving the provision of recovered foods to food banks; and repairing and expanding facilities, equipment or appliances to support hunger relief. Funds can also be used to identify new donors and emergency food providers or to provide outreach to persons in need of food assistance.

      TEFAP, administered by FNS, provides USDA-purchased food and administrative funds to States for further distribution to organizations such as food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens. These organizations provide food assistance to needy families across the country in the form of prepared meals or as a bag of groceries that families take home and prepare themselves.

      The solicitations can be found online at www.grants.gov or at the FNS website TEFAP Rural Infrastructure Grant or TEFAP General Infrastructure Grant.

      UPDATE APRIL 21, 2010: In response to questions, this is a clarification of the message above. At present there are two TEFAP Infrastructure Grant offerings.


      The Rural (non-SMSA) TEFAP Infrastructure Grant has an application due date of May 17, 2010. The RFA can be viewed at http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/programs/tefap/TEFAP_Rural_InfraGrant.htm.


      The TEFAP General Infrastructure Grant has an application due date of June 1, 2010. The RFA can be viewed at http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/programs/tefap/TEFAP_General_InfraGrant.htm.


      Both grants will give priority consideration to projects that benefit or serve Native American communities.

      Each RFA anticipates awarding $3 million for a total of $6 million in TEFAP Infrastructure Grants.

       


      image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstractgourmet/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

      PathWays PA E-Newsletter: April 19, 2010

      Federal

      Help Keep Young Offenders Out of the Adult Criminal System

      Every year an estimated 200,000 youth are tried, sentenced or incarcerated as adults in the United States, mostly for non-violent offenses. Young people who are tried in the adult system are more likely to reoffend than youth retained in the juvenile system, and when they are sentenced as adults, they are exposed to collateral consequences that affect their ability to further their education and employment.

      The Campaign for Youth Justice is asking groups to show support for reducing the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth in the adult criminal justice system by signing the National Resolution on Trying and Sentencing Youth as Adults.

      Prosecuting youth to the adult system is a pathway to recidivism, abuse, and long-term negative consequences to their educational and employment options. It is a dangerous and costly practice.

      Please sign onto the National Resolution today and show your support for keeping young offenders out of the adult criminal justice system. Groups wishing to sign-on to the resolution should email the Campaign for Youth Justice at jjstate@cfyj.org. The deadline is Friday, May 14.

      Support Therapeutic Foster Care

      Federal legislation has been recently introduced that would include Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) under the Medicaid Services Restoration Act of 2010, HR 4787. One of the most critical provisions contained in the proposed legislation would be the creation of a medical assistance category within Medicaid for TFC that would provide clinical and rehabilitative services to nearly every foster child. Making TFC a service category would facilitate much needed access to clinical treatment services and evidence informed treatment standards to approximately 50,000 children and youth currently in TFC.

      The Council on Accreditation (COA) has been named in this important legislation as a recognized accrediting entity with regard to Medicaid reimbursement. As such, COA accredited organizations that are licensed in their state to provide clinical or rehabilitative services with the goal of keeping children and youth in a community based environment will be able to participate in the reimbursement system. In addition, HR 4787 also protects and supports case management services and provides Medicaid reimbursement for eligible youth who are in psychiatric facilities.

      COA supports HR 4787 and is requesting that you work with them in supporting this bill. Please contact your members of Congress and advocate for the passage of this important piece of legislation.

      If you have any questions please contact James Duffy at jduffy@coanet.org or 212.797.3000, extension 226.


      Help Low-Income Families Meet their Basic Needs

      Does your organization care about helping low-income families to meet their basic needs?

      If so, please sign this letter from the Coalition on Human Needs to preserve and build upon tax credits for low-income children, working families, and students.

      Poverty and hardship are rising across the nation. Tax credits can help families buy what they need, while protecting children and boosting the economy. The Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and American Opportunity Tax Credit (for low-income college students) can and have made real differences in providing income to millions of families. But without Congressional action, these tax credits will expire.

      The voices of local, state, and national organizations are needed to show Congress that there is strong support for preserving and improving these tax credits. Please add your voice by signing this letter - and forward this request to other organizations.

      Please sign the letter by Friday, April 30.

      Information/Events

      Time to Register Voters!

      The Vote for Homes! Coalition is reminding everyone that the final day to register to vote for Pennsylvania’s Primary Election is today April 19.

      Primary Election Day is Tuesday, May 18, 2010 and polls are open from 7:00 am-8:00 pm. Individuals registered as either Democrats or Republicans will vote for their U.S. Senators, U.S. Representative, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, PA Senate (even numbered districts), PA House of Representatives, State Party Committee Members and Ward Executive Committee.

      If you or your clients need to register, forms are available at 1515 Fairmount Avenue (the Vote for Homes! Headquarters), the Philadelphia Board of Elections at 520 N. Delaware Ave., 5th Floor, and libraries throughout the City, as well as these additional locations statewide.

      A limited number of volunteers are available to conduct voter registration sessions at Philadelphia area shelters, residential facilities, and other settings. Please contact Kendra Johnson at 215-232-7272 or kendrajohnson@projecthome.org to schedule a registration event at your site.

      If you have any questions please contact Jennine Miller (jenninemiller@projecthome.org) or Kendra Johnson (kendrajohnson@projecthome.org) at 215-232-7272.

      A Celebration of Our Youth!

      It was once written that young people do not have anything to do because adults do not give them anything to do. We find ourselves in a continuous call to action to provide leadership to the youth in our community.

      To answer this call, Empowering Through Action (ETA) and The Agogo Cultural Center Presents: “Off the Streets & On the Stage” A Celebration of Our Youth! This event will be a four part talent showcase where our youth will have a positive environment to display their talents. Each show will have four categories: Vocal (Hip Hop lyrics have to be positive), Dance, Spoken Words and Instrumental.

      Auditions will be held on Saturday, May 8th and Sunday May 9th, 2010 at the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, located at 910 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA. 19123. The showcases will be held on Saturday June 18th, July 17th, August 21st and September 18th, 2010 at the Walter D. Palmer Charter School.

      Each showcase will consist of 20 children – five in each category. One child from each category and each showcase will be chosen to perform in our Grand Finale that will be held on October 23, 2010 (location to be announced) where they will have the chance to win thousands in prizes.

      Call 866-382-0191 or visit www.phillykidsots.com for entry forms and more information. Auditions are by registration only – no walk ins! Sponsorship and vendor packages are available and volunteers are welcome.

      PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

      PathWays PA New Publication: Keeping it Real – Teen Finances

      PathWays PA is excited to announce the completion of a new helpful handbook for managing money written specifically for teens, Keeping it Real: Teen Finances.

      This guide not only discusses what teens should understand about their finances, it also assists them in planning for their future.

      The guide focuses on such areas as understanding your paycheck, budgeting, banking, financial contracts, credit, and insurance. It also includes goal setting, finding a job, education, child care, and housing.

      Change a Life: Become a Mentor to Foster Youth

      The Achieving Independence Center (AIC) wants caring and supportive adults willing to build a friendship with a foster care youth. You can be that big brother or sister a youth in foster care needs by sharing your life experiences, time, and friendship. Having a shoulder to lean on when times get tough helps young people stay focused and not lose hope.

      Whether it is providing them with caring support, friendship, or helping them with their aspirations (personal and professional), the AIC Mentoring Program can match you with a young person between the ages of 16-21 who could benefit from your knowledge and experience.

      The AIC is a “one-stop” center designed to assist young people ages 16-21 achieve their future goals of self-sufficiency. The AIC is dedicated to providing support and real life tools for youth who want to make an investment in their future!

      Help a youth build their self-esteem and achieve their personal goals. You make a difference by simply getting involved.

      For additional information please call 215-574-9194.

      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!
      • 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, April 15, 2010

      Great Art, Great Cause: PathWays PA's Art Show and Auction



      Event Chair Maxine Maddox Dornemann



      Over 100 original pieces of art will be showcased at the spring show. Featured artists are Howard Watson and Dane Tilghman along with participating artists including: Richard Bollinger, Terry DeAngelo, Cheryl Decker-Sauder, Cheryl Decker-Sauder, Christa Krumbhaar, Martin May, Cathy Peluso, Marie Harris, Nicola Soricelli and over a dozen other local artists.


      Each artist will donate either an original piece of artwork or a signed limited edition print for our silent auction from which 100% of the proceeds will benefit PathWays PA. In addition, there will be over 100 pieces of art for sale, from which 30% of the profit made will go towards helping over 6,000 vulnerable women, children and families served by PathWays PA.


      Buy Tickets Now

      $25 in advance, $30 at the door

      For show and ticket information, call 610-543-5022 x234 or email: pprzbylski@pathwayspa.org.

      Tickets may also be purchased online at http://pathwayspa.ticketleap.com.

      Wednesday, April 14, 2010

      PathWays PA Special Budget E-Alert - April 14, 2010

      State Budget

      New Choices to be Made in PA After Federal Funding Denied

      Last week, Pennsylvania was denied federal approval to place tolls on I-80, which means the loss of hundreds of millions in funds anticipated for transportation. The budget proposed by the Governor and passed by the House assumed there would be an estimated $472 million from the tolls. Legislators will now have to work to try to fill this hole in the budget.

      A few weeks ago, the House approved a $29 billion state budget and sent the legislation to the Senate without revenue provision, which created a gap of between $750 million and $1 billion. That gap does not include the revenue needed for transportation improvements that were to be underwritten by I-80 tolls.

      With deteriorating roads and struggling mass-transit systems, funding for the Transportation Department is crucial for Pennsylvania. There have been a number of ideas on how to raise the revenue elsewhere:
      • New or used motor-vehicle fees
      • Oil-profit taxes
      • Leasing of the Pennsylvania Turnpike
      • Adding tolls to I-95
      • Allow counties and municipalities to raise revenue
      It is expected that without new revenue, funding for roads and bridges would be cut by about $300 million a year, delaying repairs on 100 bridges and 300 miles of road. Also, there would be $110 million less for SEPTA and tens of millions less in cutbacks for 70 other transit agencies statewide. The state could put off bridge and road repairs, but the loss of transit funding will like result in a more immediate impact for commuters, such as service cutbacks or higher prices.

      Did You Know...

      That in Pennsylvania one in six people rely on medical assistance? In 15 PA counties more than 20% of the population receives help from MA: Blair, Cameron, Clearfield, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Philadelphia, Potter and Venango.

      If you or one of your clients rely on this program or think it is important please contact your legislators today and let them know.


      Philadelphia Budget

      City Council continues to hold hearings on the budget proposed by Mayor Nutter. No agreements have been made on revenue raising proposals, like the tax on sugary beverage and the fee for trash collection.
      While the city works on their budget, SEPTA will also be holding hearings this week on the fiscal 2011 budget. This budget includes a 6 percent system wide fare increase.

      SEPTA is proposing a $1.18 billion operating budget, to cover their expenses for the upcoming fiscal year. Due to the state’s inability to toll Interstate 80, SEPTA is projecting a $300 million capital budget (to be used for long-term projects) which includes a cut of $110 million.

      SEPTA’s proposed fare increases will increase the price of a token from $1.45 to $1.55, a transfer from 75 cents to a $1, a weekly transit pass from $20.75 to $22, and a monthly transit pass from $78 to $83. Regional rail weekly and monthly passes would also increase.

      Action Alerts

      Urge Your Federal Legislators to Support Adult Literacy

      At the federal level, the President has sent his recommended budget to Congress, but neither the House nor the Senate has passed a budget. Federal budget line items have considerable impact on adult and family literacy programs.

      Below is a guide from Pennsylvania Associate of Continuing Adult Education on what they believe is important in the current federal budget:

      Please request that Senators Casey and Specter work to add $160 million to the President’s request of $612 million for state grants under the Workforce Investment Act Title II. The additional $160 million would give all states an increase and provide educational services to most of those people placed on the waiting lists during this school year.

      Sample Message: On behalf of your constituents in (insert name of your community), I urge you to support the increase of the Workforce Investment Act Title II appropriation by $160 million on top of the President’s request of $612 million. Pennsylvania has the second highest number of adults on its waiting list compared with all other states. For example, the [insert name of agency] has ____ adults on the waiting list for services. This increase would allow us to provide educational services to those on this waiting list and assist them in meeting their goals of obtaining a job, retaining a job, gaining a promotion, transitioning to post-secondary. Thank you, in advance, for your support.

      Did You Know...

      That Pennsylvania has the second highest wait list for adult literacy programs of all the states? (Thanks to the Center for Literacy for this information.)

      Over 10,000 adults who have contacted an adult literacy program to register have been told that there are no spots available. If adult literacy is important to you or your clients, please contact your legislators today and let them know.

      Contact Your State Legislators to Support Adult and Family Literacy

      The greatest predictor of a child's future academic success is the literacy level of the child's mother. Adult education and family literacy programs are especially important during this recession to ensure that families have the opportunity to gain the education they need to become self-sufficient. Any cuts in funding will only result in even longer waiting lists and less people served.

      The Pennsylvania Associate of Continuing Adult Education (PAACE) is asking individuals to visit their state legislators in their home offices to discuss the importance of these programs. You can reference PAACE Advocacy documents by visiting www.paacesite.org and clicking the Advocacy button. After your visit please email your advocacy experience to PAACE Legislative Chair JoAnn Weinberger at weinberger@centerforliteracy.org.

      PA Budget Legislative Day of Action

      Help assure Pennsylvania has a balanced budget that maintains essential services. Join the Southeastern Pennsylvania Budget Coalition for a legislative day of action. The day will begin with kick-off event that will educate, motivate, and give you opportunities to practice before your legislative visits.

      WHERE: April 16, 2010, 9:30 - 11:30 AM
      WHERE: Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, 300 Airdale Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

      At the event Sharon Ward from the PA Budget and Policy Center will be educating everyone about the budget and representatives from the Governor’s office and legislative members from both parties will be invited to speak.

      Please set-up visits now. Contact Debbie Plotnick at 267-507-3895 or dplotnick@mhasp.org to coordinate or if you have any questions.

      For more information or to join the Coalition’s efforts, visit http://pabudgetnow.wordpress.com/.


      Other Important Programs and Action Steps:

      While the state budget is very tight this year, it is crucial for legislators to hear from their constituents about programs that cannot and should not see more cuts this year. Even programs that are not undergoing large cuts need to be advocated for to ensure that changes are not made to their funding during the budget debates. Below we have highlighted just a few of those programs:

      Industry Partnerships: Workers who participate in the Industry Partnership program have seen an average 6.62% increase in their wages within the first year after training.
      HB 2230, currently in the House Committee on Labor Relations, will institutionalize Industry Partnerships to ensure that this important program remains in Pennsylvania for years to come. If you or your clients have benefited from Industry Partnerships, please let your legislators know by emailing or calling their offices.

      State Supplemental Program: Help restore cuts to the State Supplemental Payments for Pennsylvania’s elderly, disabled, and blind. As a result of the 2009-2010 budget, the state supplement has now been cut each month by $5 for a single person and $10 for a couple. If you believe the payments are important. please contact your state legislators and urge them to find ways to restore this cut.

      adultBasic: Over 350,000 people are on the waiting list for adultBasic. While those on the waiting list can pay full price for the program until they can access the program, but the cost to buy in has increased 80 percent. Meanwhile, coverage under the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget will not expand beyond 50,000 people. If you or your clients believe that when 12 percent of adults in Pennsylvania are without health care, programs that assist them are essential and need to be expanded, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

      Child Care Subsidy: At least 16,000 families are on the waiting list to receive the child care subsidy. The subsidy allows parents to afford to work by assisting them with the expense of child care. If you or your clients have been impacted by the need for child care, please contact your state legislators today and let them know.

      Tuesday, April 13, 2010

      The Effects of Unemployment Benefits

      Starting last week, workers who have been struggling to find jobs face the added burden of watching their benefits run out. Due to an impasse, Senators failed to extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which expired on April 5, though they are in negotiations for a possible extension until May 5.

      Within the next two weeks, more than 212,000 jobless Americans that rely on unemployment insurance will lose their $300 - $400 weekly checks, likely causing many to run out of the funds needed to cover basic resources such as food, rent, utilities, car payments, and education costs.

      Figures show that 6.5 million individuals, (44.1 percent of total US unemployment) have been without employment for more than six months and therefore, qualify for federal benefits. According to economists, money paid in benefits to jobless Americans provides one of the most effective means of economic stimulus. This is because individuals strapped for income will spend the money they receive at local businesses, improving local economies and spurring job growth. Without this money, individuals spend less in their local economies, causing these economies to stall and shrink.

      -Anna Walker

      Do You Need A Census Form?

      2010 Census Banner Ad

      (From our friends at the Census Bureau)

      If you haven't received your Census form in the mail, you can call today and give your answers over the phone or request a form be sent to where you live. Please make the call to ensure you can mail it back in time to avoid a census taker coming to your door. Don't be left out of the count for your community.  When you fill out and mail back your census form, you’re making a statement about what resources your community needs going forward.

      Accurate data reflecting changes in the community are crucial in apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and deciding how more than $400 billion per year is allocated for projects like new hospitals and schools. That's more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period for things like new roads and schools, and services like job training centers.

      If you haven't received your Census form, call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance (TQA) today:

      ENGLISH - 1-866-872-6868
      Chinese: 1-866-935-2010
      Korean: 1-866-955-2010
      Russian: 1-866-965-2010
      Spanish: 1-866-928-2010
      Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010
      TDD (Telephone Display Device for the hearing impaired):
      1-866-783-2010
      Puerto Rico (in English): 1-866-939-2010
      Puerto Rico (in Spanish): 1-866-929-2010

      VITA National Call-In Week

      (From our friends at NCTC)

      The proposed federal  FY 2011 budget would cut funding for the VITA Grant Program, even as the need for VITA services continues to grow.

      NCTC is working to expand the size of the VITA Grant Program for FY 2011 and also to pass separate legislation that will make the VITA Grant Program a permanent part of the federal budget. They have a goal of making 1000 calls to Congress this week, but to do so, they need your help. 

      To reach this goal, NCTC has an online action tool to call Senators and Representatives that allows them to better track our national impact.  If you think the VITA program is important, please take part in this national campaign!

      The Ask:
      1. Increase funding for the VITA Grant Program to $35 million for Fiscal Year 2011
      2. Support soon-to-be-introduced legislation in the House and Senate that will authorize this vital program and provide more stability to community-based taxpayer services. NCTC will alert you when authorizing language is introduced so you can inform your Congressional offices

      You can also help NCTC mobilize by forwarding this action alert to your state coalition members, colleagues, VITA volunteers, site managers, and others in your network.

      image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonjon_2k8/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

      Monday, April 12, 2010

      PathWays PA E-Newsletter: April 12, 2010

      Federal

      Urge Congress to Extend Unemployment Benefits

      The Senate failed to extend unemployment benefits before they left for recess. As of Friday, the vote was rescheduled for today April 12.

      According to the National Employment Law Project, there are now 14.9 million unemployed Americans. Unemployment insurance is a lifeline for millions of families most in need--and also moves forward economic recovery for us all. Without unemployment insurance, more homes will be lost to foreclosure, bringing down the value of all homes, less money will flow through communities, and families in need will have to find other public supports. This downward cycle hampers the overall economic recovery that will bring jobs and economic security to all of us.

      Please urge your members of Congress to act now to make sure that millions of our most vulnerable families have access to unemployment insurance benefits that will keep them in their homes and able to continue looking for work and caring for their children.


      National Call-In Day for VITA Funding

      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.

      With April 15th around the corner, VITA sites are crucial to ensuring low- and middle-income filers see their full returns. Please join the National Community Tax Coalition on April 15th for a National Call In Day to ensure VITA sites can continue to help communities.


      Support Funding for Homeless Child and Youth Programs 

      The Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs are the only federal programs targeted exclusively to homeless children and youth. The EHCY program removes barriers to the enrollment, attendance, and success of homeless children and youth in school. RHYA programs provide critical outreach, shelter, and transitional living resources to the nation’s unaccompanied homeless youth. Funding for both programs fall far short of the amounts necessary to meet needs, particularly in the wake of the economic recession.

      Congressional appropriations committees are currently gathering input from all Members of Congress about their spending priorities. A popular method for Members of Congress to express support for particular federal programs is to circulate “Dear Colleague” appropriations sign-on letters asking their fellow Members of Congress to join them in recommending a funding level for the program(s).

      U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) just put into circulation a Dear Colleague appropriations sign-on letter recommending $140 million for EHCY programs and $165 million for the RHYA program. The letter closes at close of business on Thursday, April 15, 2010.

      Please contact both of your U.S. Senators immediately and ask them to sign on to the Menendez Dear Colleague appropriations sign-on letter recommending increased funding in FY2011 for EHCY and RHYA programs.

      For more information please contact Barbara Duffield, Policy Director, National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, 202.364.7392, bduffield@naehcy.org.


      State

      Pennsylvania Lobby Day to End Human Trafficking

      Please join WOMEN’S WAY as they head to Harrisburg to raise awareness around the horrific crime of human trafficking, and build support for important state legislation (SB 1227 and SR 253/HR 630) that would assist victims and help end human trafficking.

      State legislators may not be aware that human trafficking is a huge crisis taking place right here in Pennsylvania, and that traffickers are exploiting women, men, and children, both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, in commercial sex or labor through the use of force, fraud, and coercion. It is an issue that drastically impacts women as 80 percent of transnational human trafficking victims are women and girls.

      This lobby day will provide an opportunity for constituents to educate legislators about this brutal crime and urge them to take steps to address it. You do not need to be an expert or have lobbying experience to take part in this day. We will provide you everything you need to advocate for this important issue.

      WHERE: Hearing Room 2, North Office Building, 401 North St., Harrisburg, PA
      WHEN: Tuesday, April 13, 2010, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

      Please RSVP Today! You can find more information here. If you have any questions, please contact Rebecca Foley.


      Information/Events


      Investing in a Prosperous Pennsylvania: A Gubernatorial Candidates Forum on the Future of Our Workforce and Economy

      WHEN: April 19, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
      WHERE: The National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street Philadelphia PA

      The event is split into two parts. For the first hour there will be an interactive Workforce Open House where you can learn about innovative program that are moving youth an adults into learning and career pathways. The remained of the evening will consist of a forum with Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial candidates regarding how the Commonwealth can best meet the needs of workers, businesses, and local economies in the 2010s and beyond. The discussion will focus on the candidates’ proposals for stimulating job creation and for ensuring that Pennsylvanians receive the education, training, and support they need to secure the jobs of the future.

      For more information and to register for the forum please visit http://www.pagovforum.org/.

      PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

      PathWays PA New Publication: Keeping it Real – Teen Finances

      PathWays PA is excited to announce the completion of a new helpful handbook for managing money written specifically for teens, Keeping it Real: Teen Finances.

      This guide not only discusses what teens should understand about their finances, it also assists them in planning for their future.

      The guide focuses on such areas as understanding your paycheck, budgeting, banking, financial contracts, credit, and insurance. It also includes goal setting, finding a job, education, child care, and housing.

      Free Tax Preparation from PathWays PA

      PathWays PA’s basic tax preparation service is designed to provide free tax filing for households whose income does not exceed $50,000. We can also assist tax filers who are disabled or who do not speak English as their first language.

      If you or someone you know would like to have taxes prepared by the Self Sufficiency team, please call the numbers below to schedule an appointment.

      Philadelphia

      PathWays PA West Philly Office
      3617 Lancaster Avenue Philadelphia, PA
      To schedule an appointment call Linda at 215-387-1470.
      Mondays 10am – 2pm (starting February 1st)
      Tuesdays and Thursdays 2pm -6pm

      PathWays PA EARN Center
      926 W. Allegheny Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19133
      To schedule an appointment call 215-226-2600.
      Wednesdays and Fridays 9:30am -12:30pm (starting January 27th)
      Saturdays January 30 and February 6 10am - 2pm


      Delaware County

      PathWays PA Administrative Office
      310 Amosland Road Holmes, PA 19043
      To schedule an appointment call Ann DelCollo at 610-543-5022.
      Mondays and Wednesdays 2pm - 6pm
      Fridays 10am-2pm (starting January 29th)

      J. Lewis Crozer Library
      620 Engle Street Chester, PA 19013
      To schedule an appointment call 610-494-3454.
      Wednesdays 4pm - 7pm (starting January 27th)
      The following Saturdays:
      Feb 13, March 6, April 10 9:30am -12:30pm

      Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union
      Wharf at Rivertown- 2501 Seaport Drive, Chester
      To schedule an appointment call 610-619-7000.
      The following Tuesdays:
      January 26, February 9, February 23, March 9, March 23
      10am - 2pm

      Please feel free to refer your eligible friends and family to our services!

      Change a Life: Become a Mentor to Foster Youth

      The Achieving Independence Center (AIC) wants caring and supportive adults willing to build a friendship with a foster care youth. You can be that big brother or sister a youth in foster care needs by sharing your life experiences, time, and friendship. Having a shoulder to lean on when times get tough helps young people stay focused and not lose hope.

      Whether it is providing them with caring support, friendship, or helping them with their aspirations (personal and professional), the AIC Mentoring Program can match you with a young person between the ages of 16-21 who could benefit from your knowledge and experience.

      The AIC is a “one-stop” center designed to assist young people ages 16-21 achieve their future goals of self-sufficiency. The AIC is dedicated to providing support and real life tools for youth who want to make an investment in their future!

      Help a youth build their self-esteem and achieve their personal goals. You make a difference by simply getting involved.

      For additional information please call 215-574-9194.

      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!
      • 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.