Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More Children Living With A Grandparent

Clara's CardA recent U.S. Census Bureau report, Living Arrangements of Children:2009, explores the changes in living arrangements for children in the United States over the last several decades, and the ways in which these living arrangements affect the well-being and development of these children. The most notable change detailed in the report was the large increase in the percentage of children living with at least one grandparent. Since 1991, there has been a drastic 64% increase in the number of children living in the same household as a grandparent, rising from 4.7 million in 1991 to 7.8 million in 2009. According to the report, grandparents often play an important role in taking care of the children in the household, although households containing a grandparent did have a slightly smaller chance of being in poverty (22% versus 20%) than those that contained no grandparents.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Save PELL Day is Happening Now!

(From our friends at edtrust.org)

Nearly 10 million college students who depend on Pell need your help … RIGHT NOW

Today is Save Pell Day — a day devoted to online activism to save the Pell Grant program. Pell is on the chopping block in the debt ceiling/deficit reduction negotiations.

Students need you to stand up for them…TODAY

We all must tell Washington that the Pell is a vital part of our nation’s education ecosystem. Cutting Pell would damage the lives of hard-working college students and our nation’s economic future.

It only takes 2 minutes. Find out how.

PathWays PA E-Alert: July 25, 2011

FEDERAL POLICY UPDATES

HELP PRESERVE FUNDING FOR ANTI-HOMELESSNESS PROGRAMS

Next Tuesday, July 26, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-H) Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to vote on its draft FY 2012 funding bill.

This is the first proposal from Congress on funding levels for key programs targeted toward people experiencing homelessness and we need YOUR help to make sure it's as good as possible. Specifically, we need to make sure that this bill includes $135 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act Programs and $75 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program.

What You Can Do:

NOTE: Congressional office phone numbers can be found by dialing the congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. Click here for more information on contacting your Member of Congress.

Find out if your representative is on the Labor-H appropriations subcommittee. Click here to see a list of committee members.

If so, call your representative's DC office and ask to speak to the person who handles youth issues. Request that his/her boss provide $135 million for HHS' RHYA programs in FY 2012.

If not, call your representative's DC office and ask to speak to the person who handles youth issues. Request that his/her boss ask Labor-H appropriations committee leaders to provide $135 million for Labor-H programs in FY 2012.

The Alliance can provide sample language for the Member if it is requested by the office.

Let us know which office(s) you contacted by emailing Kate Seif at cseif@naeh.org.

Update on FY 2012 Appropriations Process and Timing

There is little doubt that Congress is going to cut spending even more than they did in the final FY 2011 bill. It's up to us to make sure that those cuts don't happen on the backs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness! Right now, congressional and White House leaders are negotiating about the larger debt/deficit situation. Whatever deal they reach (which is expected in the coming weeks), it will likely set the overall amount of funding available to the appropriations committees for FY 2012. Then, the appropriations committees will divide that up among the various subcommittees (including the Labor-H subcommittee).

For the most part, the Senate is expected to wait for these larger issues to be resolved before it moves forward with its own appropriations bills. The House, however, is moving forward anyway, as the scheduled markups suggest. As a result, the bill being released next week will almost certainly be very different from the final FY 2012 funding bill. It gives the House a chance to demonstrate its goals for cutting spending. This means that the bill may not be quite as good as we would like - but we need to make sure that the funding levels for these critical programs are as robust as possible and that Members of Congress understand how absolutely CRITICAL it is to provide $135 million for RHYA and $75 million for EHCY programs in the final FY 2012 budget. This will be a starting point for other bills, and we need a STRONG opening proposal.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or need any help with reaching out to your Representatives.

From the National Alliance to End Homelessness


HELP ENSURE SOCIAL SECURITY STAYS INTACT

You know that the budget talks in Washington are heating up. But you may not have heard that Social Security cuts are on the table.

That's because they're not talking openly about cutting Social Security. Instead, they're saying that they are making a technical change in the way the cost-of-living adjustment is calculated for federal programs like Social Security.

But this is a stealth benefit cut that would mean insecurity for all Social Security recipients, especially women. And, because the cut would grow deeper the longer you receive benefits, it would especially hurt women, who live longer than men, rely more on income from Social Security, and are already more likely to be poor.

Tell your Members of Congress and the Administration: Don't cut Social Security!
Women can't afford cuts to Social Security benefits because:

The average Social Security benefit for women 65 and older is just $12,000 per year.
Without Social Security, half of women 65 and older would be poor.
This cut would especially hurt the oldest and poorest beneficiaries, who are overwhelmingly women.

Take Action Today! Women and their families shouldn't bear the brunt of deficit reduction-and time is running out. Tell your Members of Congress and the Administration that Social Security and programs vital to low-income families must be protected - and millionaires and corporations must contribute to any deficit reduction plan. Demand Fair Change, Not Spare Change™ in the budget debate.

From the National Women's Law Center.
NEW DEPT. OF LABOR RESOURCES FOR FEMALE VETERANS

Women are enlisting in the military more than ever today. But too many women return from their deployments victims of trauma. On Wednesday, Secretary Solis released a new online guide for service providers to better help female veterans after they return from duty. At a special ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Theater on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, Solis announced "Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers."


From the Department of Labor


JAM SEEKS TO END FAILURE RATES OF UNDER-PREPARED ADULTS IN HIGHER ED

Join the Discussion: Ending the Failure of Severely Under-Prepared Adults in Higher Education in a Time of Fiscal Restraint
How do we close the higher education gap for severely under-prepared adults? We need new ideas. The issue can't only be funding.

Alignment is part of the answer but not all of it. What do you think? Join practitioners and policy influencers in an online Jam on Wednesday August 4. We start at 11 AM and end at 6 PM (Eastern) - come and go as your schedule allows.

Who: Practitioners, researchers, policymakers, government officials and consultants interested in discussing the "best processes" for increasing college attainment rates for those most in need of the developmental education.

Register: Fill out a short survey to register. You will receive the URL of the Jam site and your username and password after you have registered.

What is a Jam? A Jam is an online, text-based discussion that is time-limited, and is moderated by experts in the field. Since it is asynchronous, you can join the discussion when you are able, and come and go as your time allows. Results from the Jam, which will be published, can lay the groundwork for policy and practice.

Learn More: Visit the Getting Past Go Web site for blog posts and updated information about the Jam.

Questions: If you have any questions about the Jam, please contact Lisa Levinson at Knowledge in the Public Interest: llevinson@kpublic.org

From Knowledge in the Public Interest
USDA SEEKS TO INCREASE ENROLLMENT OF LATINOS IN SNAP PROGRAM

Outreach Coalition Webinar Series:
Increasing Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Among Latinos: Highlights in Best Practices from Around the Country
Wednesday, 8/17/2011, 2:00pm - 3:00pm Eastern Time

Registration Link: http://vovici.com/wsb.dll/s/17fb9g49532

In the U.S., one out of four Hispanic households is food insecure, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture research. In 2006, just 56 percent of the eligible Hispanic population participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), compared with a 67 percent national average SNAP participation rate.

In an effort to increase participation among Latinos in nutrition assistance programs, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is hosting a webinar that will highlight organizations from around that country that are successfully reaching Latinos and discuss their promising practices. FNS will also provide an overview of outreach materials, toolkits, and other resources that are available in Spanish to help organizations in their Latino outreach.

***Has your organization found an effective way to dispel myths about program eligibility for immigrants? How are you successfully dealing with cultural or language barriers in the outreach or application assistance process? FNS is looking for organizations to highlight in the webinar. If you have an innovative and successful practice related to increasing Latino participation in nutrition assistance programs that you would like to share with the group, please submit the promising practices form found here by August 1. Several practices will be chosen to feature in the webinar.***

This session will be available via Microsoft Office LiveMeeting (Webinar) and is free for all participants. You will need access to a phone line and a computer with internet access for this webinar. Check your system before the meeting to make sure it is ready to use Microsoft Office Live Meeting. We highly recommend you check your system prior to the session to make sure you can access the webinar.

To participate, please complete the online registration. Further information will be forthcoming to registered participants. You must register to receive additional information.

Registration Link: http://vovici.com/wsb.dll/s/17fb9g49532

Questions?

If you have any questions about the content of this webinar, please contact: Gretchen Ruethling
Gretchen.ruethling@fns.usda.gov

If you have any questions about registering for or connecting to this webinar, please contact: Emily Buckham Buday Emily.buckham@fns.usda.gov

From the United States Department of Agriculture.

PENNSYLVANIA UPDATES

IT'S TIME TO SAY WE'VE HAD ENOUGH!

In the last session of the General Assembly a number of bills were put forward that would limit a women's access to an abortion. These bills put women's health at risk by limiting access and her choice.

For instance, one of the proposed laws would not allow a women purchasing insurance through the state exchanges that will be available in 2012 to have that insurance include coverage for an abortion. This limits coverage for even medically necessary abortions.

Another bill would add to the already strict restrictions and regulations that medical centers providing abortions face. The new regulations would require facilities to either make costly changes, therefore increasing the cost of their services, or to close their doors.

Many people throughout the state are upset about these bills and have come together to let their legislators know their feelings.

in telling the Legislature to stop the attacks on women's health in Pennsylvania!
Help fight these dangerous bills and join in declaring that...

WE'VE HAD ENOUGH!

From the We've Had Enough campaign.


INFORMATION/EVENTS

COMCAST OFFERS AFFORDABLE INTERNET FOR NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM ENROLLEES

For families enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, Comcast has begun to offer a low-cost Internet solution.

In today's world, Internet access is increasingly becoming vital to finding jobs, receiving many services and providing educational access to working families. As such, we're passing along the word on this.

The price is $9.95 a month for the Internet Essentials program. In addition, they have low cost computers at just $149.99 plus tax.

For more information, please visit their site.

NORRISTOWN FORUM ON WOMEN'S HEALTH ISSUES

Women's Health Forum
Norristown Library (1001 Powell St.)
Tuesday, July 26 6:00-7:00 PM


What's in it for you?

LOTS of information about what's in the new health care law, changes to state programs and what it means for you and your family. PLUS resources to help you get the care you need.

At a time when...
Medicaid is being cut at the federal level
Health insurance in PA doesn't cover pregnancy
Our Governor is axing important health care programs
Pregnant women on Medicaid have to wait 14 weeks for an initial pre-natal visit in Norristown
We all need to step up and fight back!

For more information, contact Antoinette Kraus at akraus@philaup.org or 267-691-1680.

For pdf version of flyer click here.

From the Pennsylvania Health Access Network

DAILY NEWS LOOKING FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS FOR "PEOPLE'S EDITORIAL BOARD"

The Philadelphia Daily News is looking for community members to participate in their People's Editorial Board:

To us, the more people talking, the better. That's why, starting today, we're creating a way for more people to be at the table, weighing in on how to make this city better. Today, the People's Paper is launching the People's Editorial Board.

The board will be a group of eight to 10 citizens who meet to discuss and deliberate over Philadelphia's hot topics, like "Should police use 'stop-and-frisk' tactics?" or "What should we do about those damn bicyclists who don't follow traffic rules?" The board will meet once a month at the Daily News, get a chance to question experts and elected officials, and then tell the city what they think, both in the Daily News and online.

Members will also serve as people's pundits on Philly.com, where they'll get to sound off on video.

Want to be a member of the People's Editorial Board? Send us a short video of yourself (two minutes or less). Tell us who you are, where you live, why your voice should be heard, and an issue in the city that bugs you . . . and what you think needs to be done about it. Email the video by Aug. 3 to DNeditboard@gmail.com.

If you're not sure how to make a video, write your answers and send to the email address above.


For more information, click here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It’s Time To Say We’ve Had Enough!

In the last session of the General Assembly a number of bills were put forward that would limit a women’s access to an abortion. These bills put women’s health at risk by limiting access and her choice.

For instance, one of the proposed laws would not allow a women purchasing insurance through the state exchanges that will be available in 2012 to have that insurance include coverage for an abortion. This limits coverage for even medically necessary abortions.

Another bill would add to the already strict restrictions and regulations that medical centers providing abortions face. The new regulations would require facilities to either make costly changes, therefore increasing the cost of their services, or to close their doors.

Many people throughout the state are upset about these bills and have come together to let their legislators know their feelings.

Join people across PA in telling the Legislature to stop the attacks on women’s health in Pennsylvania!

Help fight these dangerous bills and join in declaring that…
WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!

Please Join The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania To Discuss the Effect of the Federal Budget on Delaware County

Map of Delaware County, Pennsylvania(From our friends at the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania)

More than 700 individuals and 500 families are known to be homeless in Delaware County, according to the recent point in time survey. 8,500 people applied for HEMAP in 2010 meaning they were seeking help with a foreclosure. There are 1/4 as many apartments that are both affordable and available for every 100 renters with incomes of about $20,000 a year or less (±$11/hour, FT) Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Cashiers, Child Care Workers and Preschool Teachers, Waiters and Waitresses, Home Health Aides and Pharmacy Techs.

At the same time, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Public Housing/Housing Choice vouchers, CDBG, HOME and many other housing programs can and are making a difference to the most vulnerable people in the community. And these programs create jobs and help the local economy.

Please join The Housing Alliance on Monday, July 26th at 1:00 p.m. to discuss on-going advocacy activities and strategy in Delaware County regarding the federal budget for 2012.

The call in number is 866-740-1260 code 2811137. Please feel free to forward to other interested parties.

Generocity.org - Connecting Philadelphia's Non-Profit Community


A new site – Generocity.org – aims to empower local non-profits with news, networking and easy fundraising tools. The site, which is still in its beta stages, bills itself as “Inspiration’s hometown.”

For it’s news section, it focuses on the beneficial work non-profits are doing in the community, sorting by focus area. So for those who want to find out what’s happening within the worlds of advocacy & civil rights, animal welfare, arts & culture, education, the environment, health & recreation or social services, they’ll be able to have a clearinghouse for much of the work being done in the Delaware Valley.

The site goes about funding in much the same way as Kickstarter – a goal is posed, and funds are raised through pledges of microdonations, and it’s all done on a project-basis. Popular current projects include a spay and neuter program, a soccer scholarship for under-priveleged children, a diabetes walk and the Mural Arts Program.

In addition to these capacity building programs on the site, Generocity will enable local non-profits to network with each other through the community. Individual profiles can be followed, and communication can be fostered about partnerships and project progress. In addition, a directory of non-profits helps guide community members toward those organizations best suiting their areas of interest, and helps with the recruitment of volunteers, placement of clients and capacity building of partnerships.

The site is already growing into an excellent resource for our community, and will help out countless Philadelphians down the road.

Child Risk Calculator

Smiling babyFor young children living in low-income families, there are a number of risk factors that increase the likelihood that the child will experience poor outcomes in their health, education and development throughout their lifetime.

The National Center for Children in Poverty has developed a new tool to calculate how common each of these risk factors are within each state.The Young Child Risk Calculator allows you to enter your desired state, age range, and income level, and then choose from seven different risk factors(including having a large family, being the child of a single parent or a teen mom, and living in a household with no English speakers) to calculate the percentage of the population that falls into that category. You can choose one or more factors to compare the different risks within a state. This tool could aid legislators in identifying the largest communities of at-risk low-income youth in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Legislative Update, 7/20/2011

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania State Capital BuildingWhile the legislature has recessed for the summer, legislative business continues. According to an article in the Morning Call, if the state Legislature adopts recommendations of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, drivers likely would pay a few cents more for a gallon of gasoline, and higher registration, license and other vehicle-related fees. They would register their cars every two years instead of annually, and those tiny license plate stickers would be eliminated to save money and allow for online renewals. Driver’s license renewals would be every eight years rather than every four, and private companies would be authorized to administer tests to new drivers. Click here to read the Morning Call article.

Contraception IS Prevention: The Institute of Medicine makes it official!



Yesterday, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report which determined that contraception and several other services should be considered preventive care as they improve the health of women. The report recommends that all of these services be covered without co-pays or deductibles. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is expected to use these recommendations to issue the government’s final decision on this issue by August 1st.

In addition to contraceptive services for women, the panel recommended that the government require health plans to cover screening to detect domestic violence, screening for H.I.V, and counseling and equipment to promote breastfeeding, including the free rental of breast pumps. The report also found that all insurers should be required to cover screening for gestational diabetes in pregnant women, DNA testing for the human papillomavirus as part of cervical cancer screening, and annual preventive-care visits. Such visits could include prenatal care and preconception care, to make sure women are healthy when they become pregnant.
Under rules issued last year, many health plans are already required to cover numerous preventive services like blood pressure and cholesterol tests, colonoscopies and other cancer screenings, and routine vaccinations.

To stay on top of the latest information on contraception as prevention and other issues impacting women’s health visit the Raising Women’s Voices new Women’s Preventive Health Coverage – Information Central.

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

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: July 18, 2011

FEDERAL POLICY UPDATES

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD ABOUT DANGEROUS FEDERAL BUDGET CUTS

Your call is still needed - please fight dangerous cuts by calling today to support low-income families!

Call your senators toll-free at 888-907-1485, and tell them that middle-class and struggling families must not bear the brunt of the budget cuts. Ask for a budget plan that reduces the deficit responsibly and works for all Americans - not just millionaires and big business. Urge your senators to oppose harmful cuts or caps to programs serving our nation's most vulnerable communities.

Here is a script you can use: "Hello, my name is ____________ and I am a constituent of Senator ______________. I am calling today to ask the Senator to prevent harmful cuts or caps to low/moderate-income programs in the negotiations to reduce the deficit. Please insist on fair increases in revenues and reductions in wasteful military spending to prevent reckless cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, and other essential services."

Though reducing the long-term deficit is an important step toward stabilizing and growing our nation's economy, it is critical that it is done responsibly. Americans deserve a plan that gradually reduces the deficit without reckless cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs serving millions of families, children, seniors, and struggling communities.

Join the effort by calling today to make sure your voice is heard. Call your senators toll-free at 888-907-1485.

From the Coalition on Human Needs

UPDATES ON SOCIAL SECURITY CUTS

Last week, the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO) delivered a letter to the leaders of Congress demanding a budget deal that does not include cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) joined several prominent leaders from NCWO on a press call to announce the launch of a nationwide campaign and public petition to express concern about cuts proposed to programs that women and families rely on.

The "Respect, Protect, Reject" campaign aims to highlight the vital importance of reaching a budget deal that will respect women's contributions to the economy and their need for economic security.

The budget cuts currently being proposed would be most harmful to those most vulnerable, including women and their families, low earners, and seniors. The average monthly Social Security check for women is about $1,000, and many retired women do not have any other source of income and exhaust their savings in later years.

If you would like to sign the "Respect, Protect, Reject" petition, you can do so here . Want to take the campaign a step further? You can also tweet and retweet the campaigns tweet of the day, listed here.


"SAVE PELL" SOCIAL MEDIA ACTION DAY

Funding for Pell is under attack and Ed Trust - with a broad coalition of partners - is working to defend the students who depend on it as a critical support while earning their way into the middle class. This coalition has designated July 25 as Save Pell Day - a national day of online action to protect Pell.

On July 25, we're asking everyone who cares about the future of working class and low-income students to use their homepages, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and all other online crowd-building tools to oppose any cuts to Pell - very, very loudly.

Congress begins marking-up the budget the next day, so we need to be TOO LOUD TO BE IGNORED!

To make this event a success, we need your help getting the word out. Here's what you can do:

  • Tweet using the #SavePell hashtag. Every week we'll send you a list of sample tweets that you can send to your followers. (You can also retweet what @EdTrust and others in the coalition are saying.) We've checked the data; all you have to do is copy, paste, and tweet. 
  • Ask your Facebook fans to "like" the official Save Pell campaign page, and RSVP for Save Pell Day. Post it on your Facebook wall to help boost the event's exposure.
  • Check out our Tumblr and contribute content. We're creating a Save Pell Tumblr blog where you can follow the latest news, read stories from Pell recipients, and learn helpful facts that you can include in your own communications effort. 
  • Stay tuned for the link, but if you have personal stories, interesting articles or anything else you think this audience would find interesting, pass it along to savepell@edtrust.org.
And most importantly,E-mail your friends and other contacts on Save Pell Day! That's when we'll unveil our online action center where users will find: sample tweets, a downloadable Facebook profile image, and sample e-mail messages to send to Congressional members. On the days leading up to Save Pell Day, we'll also provide pre-event messages that you can send to your contacts.

Nearly 10 million students count on Pell to afford higher education. Cuts to this program would be devastating to them, but they'd also be devastating to our economy - which needs more college-educated workers, not less. We're counting on you to join us as we stand up for students and fight to save Pell.

From The Education Trust

STATE POLICY UPDATES

NEW PROPOSED FRACKING LAWS BEFORE THE STATE

Debate over the proposed shale drilling for natural gas (also known as fracking) has continued in Harrisburg. Recently, Governor Tom Corbett's Marcellus Shale Commission adopted 96 recommendations after four months of work. However, aside from backing some fees added to the extraction of natural gas (of which Pennsylvania is the only state not to levy a tax), no details of the recommendation have been released to the public - and won't be until they're presented to the governor.

However, the idea of the fee is one that is leaving an expectation in the legislature of a policy clash -the so called "impact fee" will face scrutiny over how to appropriate the funds, and whether to keep them local to impacted communities or distributed statewide.


TRANSPORTATION PANEL TO VOTE ON CLOSING REVENUE GAP

Facing a $2.5 billion shortfall in transportation funding, the Transportation Funding Advisory Committee is laying out many options to present to Gov. Corbett.

According to the Times-Tribune: the commission will recommend lifting the cap on the state Oil Company Franchise Tax, placing a levy on the wholesale price of gasoline, and increasing license and registration fees. Other possibilities include dedicating the sales tax revenue from motor vehicle purchases to transportation uses, including a portion for mass transit. The panel may also recommend to consolidate drivers license centers, privatize the drivers' skill test, and lengthen the time period for registration and license renewal. The paper reports that "The commission has already taken some options - any new effort to toll Interstate 80, basing a motorist tax on vehicle miles traveled rather than the price of gasoline at the pump and converting the state gasoline tax to a sales tax - off the table."

Voting on the act will take place today. From there, the recommendations will be sent to the Governor, who will base his recommendations to the legislature on the report. The legislature will take up whatever recommendations happen when the new session begins in September.


INFORMATION/EVENTS

SIGN THE DECLARATION OF SUPPORT FOR PAID SICK DAYS AND INDEPENDENCE FROM THE MAYOR'S VETO

While the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces was thrilled with City Council's passage of the earned sick days bill we were disappointed with the Mayor's veto of our bill. On July 6th members of the Coalition came together to declare support for the earned sick days bill and independence from the Mayors veto. Members signed their own Declaration on Independence Mall and you can add your name to the growing list of supporters. We will be presenting the list of supports to the Mayor and City Council as we work to override the veto.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

State Budget Analysis from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

On June 30, the Pennsylvania General Assembly completed work on a 2011-12 state budget. The final budget spends $27.249 billion, the lowest amount since the 2008-09 enacted budget, with cuts totaling more than $960 million.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) has just released a detailed analysis of the budget. Some of the highlights include:
  • The budget uses only $200 million of a $786 million 2010-11 year-end surplus. The year-end surplus was 10 times the $78 million surplus projected in the Governor’s March budget proposal.
  • The budget suspends a legally required transfer of 25% of the year-end surplus to the Rainy Day Fund. Lawmakers say this was done as a condition of receiving funds through the American Recovery Act (ARRA). With 2010-11 lapses, perhaps as much as $1 billion is carried forward and unappropriated in 2011-12.
  • The budget presumes revenue growth of 1.2% in 2011-12, far less than the 4.7% assumed in the Governor’s budget proposal in March.
  • Public schools and universities bear the brunt of the cuts in the 2011-12 budget. Grants to school districts, including the basic education subsidy, reimbursements to school districts for the loss of students to charter schools and other program cuts total more than $860 million. Higher education institutions, including Penn State and the other three state-related universities, community colleges, and the 14 State System of Higher Education universities, are reduced by $245 million.
  • Several programs administrated by the Department of Public Welfare are also cut, including welfare-to-work and human services. Some of the largest percentage cuts in the DPW budget come in the funding streams for welfare-to-work programs. The final budget adds to Governor Corbett’s proposed cuts to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash grant line and New Directions, which funds employment and training programs. New Directions was cut by $16 million, or 48%, while job training programs funded out of the cash grants line are reduced by $44 million. TANF enrollment, which averaged 211,636 in 2010-11, is expected to increase slightly in 2011-12.
  • The Welfare Code bill enacted in concert with the budget gives DPW broad authority for one year to make program changes to cut costs. This includes the ability to sidestep formal rulemaking processes and to change program eligibility, modify benefits and provider payments, and to eliminate presumptive eligibility. This authority is granted with the goal of keeping DPW expenditures, including expenditures on entitlement programs, within budgeted amounts.
  • Child care assistance, which supports child care for women in welfare-to-work programs, is cut by $17.6 million, or 9%. Child care services — including direct subsidies to working families, quality improvement initiatives such as the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship program, and resource and referral services for parents seeking licensed child care facilities — were cut by $17.8 million. The cuts will be implemented through increased co-payments for parents and reduced funding for professional development activities.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

PathWay PA E-Newsletter: July 11, 2011

FEDERAL POLICY UPDATES

DEALING WITH THE DEBT CEILING: YOU CAN DO A LOT

This is a critical time for America's children, youth and families. Please take a moment to follow the three simple steps outlined below, and let Washington lawmakers know that the choices they make today will have very real impacts on children, youth and families for years to come.


1. SIGN ON TO THE CHILDREN'S LEADERSHIP COUNCIL'S (CLC) DEBT CEILING LETTER AND THEN FORWARD IT TO YOUR NETWORKS
To read the letter, click here. To sign your organization on, click here. Debt ceiling negotiations are heating up quickly. Please sign your organization on to the CLC debt ceiling letter and then forward it to your networks. It is especially critical that we have representation from state and local organizations. (Note: this letter is for organizational sign on only.)


2. HAVE EVERY INDIVIDUAL IN YOUR OFFICE SIGN ON TO THE CLC DEBT CEILING PETITION, THEN POST IT ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER, AND SEND IT OUT TO YOUR COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS AND FAMILIES.
To ensure that the message gets through loud and clear, the CLC is coupling the organizational sign on letter with an online petition. The petition is designed to be circulated through social media, as well as more traditional means, and will allow access to a wider audience than would be reached through a sign on letter alone.


3. TWEET ABOUT IT:

Tell Washington that in America, children, not millionaires, are our first priority. #kidsnotcorporatejets http://tinyurl.com/clcpetition
The choice is easy - #kidsnotcorporatejets. http://tinyurl.com/clcpetition
Invest in #kidsnotcorporatejets! http://tinyurl.com/clcpetition
Tell our leaders we need deficit reduction that puts children, youth and families first! #kidsnotcorporatejets http://tinyurl.com/clcpetition


4. TAKE FIVE MINUTES TO CALL THE WHITE HOUSE (1-888-245-0215): A sample message is below.

Any deficit reduction plan must protect programs for low-income families and individuals - particularly Medicaid, child nutrition, and public education -- and must also include new revenues. The plan should reduce poverty and help disadvantaged people, even as it attempts to shrink the deficit. Low-income assistance programs must be exempt from any caps and automatic across-the-board cuts which could be triggered when budget targets or fiscal restraint targets are missed.

From our friends at the Children's Leadership Council.


ADVOCATE FOR MCKINNEY VENTO


ACTION STEPS: Contact your U.S. Representative today and urge her/him to end homelessness by supporting funding for McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Program! Find the email and phone numbers for your Pennsylvania Congressional member to the U.S. Congress here.

Starting in July, Congress will consider the Administration's request for $2.4 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program for FY 2012.


As the bill moves through Congress, key Pennsylvania legislators will play an important role in our state's ability to end homelessness.


What the Increase Will Do: An increase to $2.4 billion in FY 2012 will mean housing instead of homelessness for approximately 132,000 Americans, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The increase would allow communities to continue current emergency and transitional housing programs and the new prevention and rapid re-housing programs started a few years ago with stimulus funding. For FY 2012, $2.135 billion is necessary just to prevent existing programs from shutting down. $2.4 billion would continue the expansion of permanent supportive housing, prevention, and other new strategies.


What would budget cuts or "flat funding" do: If Congress cuts homeless funding or provides "flat funding," i.e., the same as last year, $1.8 billion, it would lead to program closures for 23,000 people. Flat funding would also probably stop HUD from implementing the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, the new set of strategies for ending homelessness.


Talking points for your email or phone call to your Congressional representative could include:

Homelessness Doesn't Have to Be Permanent: Thousands of Pennsylvanians leave homelessness every year.

Need: However, with the recession, we have seen more people at risk of homelessness.
These Programs Work: McKinney-Vento programs have such strong support because it has repeatedly been proven effective at preventing and ending homelessness for families, veterans, individuals, youth, and children.

SIGN ON LETTER OPPOSING THE CONSTITUTIONAL BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT (BBA)

The House and Senate are likely to vote on proposals to add a balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution in July. The House now expects to act during the week of July 18th and the Senate vote during that week as well.

Both proposals would force extreme cuts in federal spending as the means of balancing the budget. We are very concerned that Members of Congress will vote for them because it sounds "responsible" to balance the budget.

But the truth is these proposals would CUT essential programs like Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP/food stamps in half within 10 years. Medicare would have to be turned into a voucher, and spending for key programs like housing, education, child care, Head Start, public health, veterans' health care, environmental protection, health research, food and water safety, and many others would be slashed by 70 percent. A constitutional balanced budget amendment would also cause significant harm to the economy, making recessions both deeper and longer.

STATE AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS: Please sign this letter so your Members of Congress know you want these reckless changes to the U.S. Constitution defeated.

STATE POLICY UPDATES

PA STATE BUDGET SLASHES FUNDING FOR THOSE MOST IN NEED


At a time when 1 in 10 people in Pennsylvania rely on food assistance programs, Harrisburg passed a state budget last week that slashes vital services for the state's neediest residents, making it harder for them to feed their families.

You can still make your voice heard. Depending on how your elected officials voted, you can send them a letter of thanks (or disapproval) for their actions on the state budget.


The 2011-2012 State Budget:

  • Cuts funding for food pantries, job training programs, Medical Assistance, child care services, and other vital programs for kids, seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Gives the Administration virtually unchecked authority to cut Medicaid, welfare-to-work programs and child care services. The measure frees the administration from having to seek public comment or legislative approval on such changes, effectively circumventing the system of checks and balances.


What's more, Harrisburg put the interests of corporations and other special-interest groups before the needs of families still reeling from the recession. The Administration and state legislators refused to tap the state's $700-plus million budget surplus or require corporations to pay their fair share of taxes-both common-sense measures that would have spared many crucial services.


It's not right. And you can still say something about it.


Tell the Administration and state legislators what you think about the state budget.


As constituents, make your voice heard on behalf of the millions of Pennsylvanians who are struggling to feed their families in these tough economic times.

INFORMATION/EVENTS

SIGN THE DECLARATION OF SUPPORT FOR PAID SICK DAYS AND INDEPENDENCE FROM THE MAYOR'S VETO

While the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces was thrilled with City Council's passage of the earned sick days bill we were disappointed with the Mayor's veto of our bill. On July 6th members of the Coalition came together to declare support for the earned sick days bill and independence from the Mayors veto. Members signed their own Declaration on Independence Mall and you can add your name to the growing list of supporters. We will be presenting the list of supports to the Mayor and City Council as we work to override the veto.


HELP SAVE THE HEMAP PROGRAM

The HEMAP program has shut down as of July 1, 2011 due to lack of funds. This program has saved over 45,000 homes since 1983 and more money has been repaid to the state than has been appropriated.

WHEN: July 14th at 1:30

WHERE: Philadelphia Unemployment Project, 112 N. Broad Street 11th Floor Philadelphia

If you are unable to attend but would like to participate in person you can call 712-451-6000, and enter the code 275892#.

PUP will be building a campaign to restore funding for HEMAP to continue this much praised, national model program. With the aftermath of the recession continuing to stress families across Pennsylvania, this is not the time to end this critically important program.

PHAN'S CALL SERIES ON TUESDAY NIGHTS FROM 6:00-7:00 PM


The Pennsylvania Health Access Network is constantly tracking what's happening in Harrisburg and DC and can give you the latest information. Join them for a call to discuss what the new budget means for Pennsylvania and health care programs.

WHEN: July 12, 6:00 PM


RSVP Here.

Is there a topic you'd like to see featured on a call? Or do you have someone from your organization you'd like to suggest as a guest speaker? Click here to learn more about PHAN's policy call series or to access resources from previous calls. Contact Athena with questions at aford@pahealthaccess.org.

Establishing Health Exchanges as Part of Federal Healthcare Reform

Seattle physician with patient 1999According to an article in the Morning Call, as the federal government this week rolled out the framework for states to establish their own health insurance exchanges, a key element of the federal health care reform law, officials in Harrisburg were still trying to determine if they will set up an exchange at all. Gov. Tom Corbett has been an opponent of the law — as attorney general, he joined a multistate suit to fight the law in federal court — and a spokeswoman from the state Insurance Department says officials haven’t decided whether they’ll recommend developing an exchange for Pennsylvania. Click here to read the Morning Call article.

From KYW 1060: Local Self-Sufficiency Charity Seeks Donations Of Basics For Needy Families

Pathways PA helps women and their families to become self-sufficient with a variety of services. But many of these families need even the essentials to get started.

So, Pathways is asking the public to look around to see if there are any gently used items that others could use.
To read the full story, please visit http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2011/07/13/local-self-sufficiency-charity-seeks-donations-of-basics-for-needy-families/.

Donate Your Dishes (and Linens, Diapers, and Clothes) to PathWays PA!

Collection-bicolorAs we work with women, children, and families through our many direct services and self-sufficiency and financial literacy programs, we often rely on donations of food, clothing, and household goods so that families can meet their most basic needs.

We accept new and gently used items throughout the year to give families an opportunity to set up their apartments, feed their children, and dress appropriately for work. These items can be dropped off at our Corporate Office at 310 Amosland Road, Holmes, PA 19043. For more information regarding donations, please call 610-543-5022.

Summer Wish List:
  • Baby equipment and furniture
  • New or gently used clothing (any gender, age or size)
  • Women's personal hygiene items i.e. shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, etc.
  • Baby diapers
  • Baby food and formula
  • Books
  • Kitchen items i.e. kitchen electronics, pots and pans, bakeware, utensils, food storage items, etc.
  • Linens

Dixon-Ticondergoa-Assorted-PencilsSchool Supplies Wish List:

A new school year is quickly approaching, and the children who participate in our residential programs are in desperate need of new school supplies.

Items Needed:
  • Backpacks
  • Crayons
  • Rulers
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Glue
  • Pocket Folders
  • Binders
  • Pencil case or bag
  • Erasers
  • Highlighters
  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Paper
  • Spiral Notebooks
  • Composition Books
  • Lunch bags
  • Pencil Sharpeners
  • Planners
  • Calculators

School supplies may be brought to our corporate office, located at:
310 Amosland Road
Holmes, PA 19043
Hours of Operation: M-F, 8AM-5PM

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Governor Corbett Signs Industry Partnership Bill Into Law

KitWohl WeldingFrom our friends at the PA Fund for Workforce Solutions

Pennsylvania's Industry Partnership Program became law yesterday along with 45 other bills recently passed by the General Assembly. Governor Corbett signed the Industry Partnership legislation making it officially state statute and completing what has been two years of legislative activity involving all four caucuses, two Governors, multiple state government agencies, and countless business and individual advocates and supporters.

With passage of SB 552 and the line item funding of Industry Partnerships in the 2011-2012 General Fund Budget, Pennsylvania's nationally recognized workforce development program will continue for another year. For his part in this progress, Governor Corbett deserves congratulations for delivering quickly on his commitment to maintain the Industry Partnership program.

Thank you to all who actively supported Industry Partnerships — this victory belongs to you! It is also a triumph for pragmatic creativity and problem-solving among businesses, workers, and government.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Department of Public Welfare Reverses Decision to Eliminate PA WORKWEAR Program

Shawl lapelFrom our friends at The Career Wardrobe

Prior to the creation of PA WORKWEAR, over $15 million was spent throughout Pennsylvania ($5 million in Philadelphia) on cash assistance for women on welfare to purchase employment and training clothing... The PA WORKWEAR program saves taxpayers over $12 million annually and $36 million over the past 3 years.

Earlier this spring, the Department of Public Welfare slated the successful PA WORKWEAR program for elimination. The Career Wardrobe applauds the administration for ultimately understanding the merits of the program and choosing to keep this critical support program for women transitioning to employment.

PathWays PA Jobs Postings - July 7, 2011

Director, Individual Donor and Corporate Relations and Special Events
Individual and corporate fundraiser sought to manage special events, individual, community group and corporate fundraising. Ideal for a mature professional who is seeking a position with a well-regarded non-profit. Public speaking experience and excellent writing skills are mandatory, as well as marketing and individual fundraising experience. This is an office-based position based in Delaware County, with visits to potential corporations and donors throughout the region. There are occasional speaking engagements/events on weekends and evenings. Please respond in confidence with resume and cover letter. Also please provide salary requirements that reflect the reality of working in a non-profit environment during a protracted economic downturn. Please fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, Attn: LD/Dev or e-mail through our website.

Learning Center Group Supervisor
EDUCATION /QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED: Minimum Associates Degree from an Accredited College or University, including 30 credit hours in early childhood education, child development, special education, elementary education, or the Human Services field and three years of experience with children.

EXPERIENCE REQUIRED: Experience in Preschool setting and knowledge of early childhood development. Willing to adapt to the goals and philosophies of our program and provide an environment that is non-punitive and strength based.
Write curriculum for each age level as well as plan and implement daily lessons/activities. Coordinate the activities of the staff and aids in the Learning Center. Supervise all classrooms. Ensure health and safety standards are met within the learning center.
Help out in the Learning Center as required to:
Supervise and provide physical care for children in the daycare. Encourage children to actively participate in educational and structured activities. Complete developmental screenings on children. Develop and implement individualized educational goals for children. Fax resumes to: LD/CFF/LC at 610-328-2807.

On-Site Monitor
PathWays PA is in need of a Site Monitor to provide supervision and monitoring of our clients at our Transitional Living Program. Evening hours, typically 8pm – 2am, but can be random. The Site Monitor MUST be able to monitor and have the ability to de-escalate situations and interact appropriately with our clients. The candidate shall be a team player and have some knowledge of teen parenting issues. Must be of sound character and have the flexibility, perseverance, and integrity necessary to engage and provide role modeling for young mothers. Prefer High School Diploma or GED. Please fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: LD/TLP.

Part-Time Mentoring Coordinator
The Mentoring Coordinator will have experience with issues related to older adolescents and will have some knowledge and understanding of volunteer recruitment and retention. They shall possess the ability to identify with and adapt to the goals and philosophies of the program. They shall be a mature individual with knowledge of parenting issues, community resources, and the skills necessary to live independently. They shall demonstrate insight, empathy, flexibility, perseverance, and team orientation. A BSW or bachelor’s degree in related field of study is required. Please e-mail or fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: LD/KM.

Live In Advisor
Full-time and Part-Time positions available. To provide guidance, direction and supervision to older adolescent teen mothers and teen girls residing in our Supervised Independent Living Program including conducting some life and parenting skill groups. Live in a house with 3 to 4 girls and their children. Must be available during critical hours-8:00 PM to 2:00 AM- can work part-time during off hours. Must be mature and have an understanding of teen parent and teen girl issues and must have knowledge of basic life skills. Rent and utilities paid by agency plus small stipend and scheduled time off. Location: Philadelphia; E-mail or fax resumes to LD/SIL at 610-328-2807.

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


PathWays PA is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Plans for Overhaul of Pennsylvania Public Benefits Underway

Paperwork - by Tom Ventura
According to The Times-Tribune, Pennsylvania is planning to scale back benefits commonly termed "welfare" and to place new requirements on people receiving those benefits.

Random drug tests of recipients convicted of felony drug crimes are one of the new changes expected.  Recipients tested will be limited to those with a felony drug conviction within the past five years and those currently on probation for felony drug convictions.  The system to be put into place will test approximately 20% of these recipients, according to the article.

Under a new law passed in the waning days of the fiscal year, the Department of Public Welfare now has the authority to limit oral and prescription drug coverage for adult medical assistance recipients and overhaul the special allowance program currently used to pay for tools, training, and work clothing so that TANF recipients can move from welfare to work.

According to a report released by CLASP earlier this year, the administrative costs of drug tests are "significant", including but not limited to the cost of tests, which can run anywhere from $35 to $76 and must often be repeated to confirm results and avoid false positives.  In comparing this to the amount of money received by TANF recipients ($403 per month for a family of three in most counties), it is important that the state look at the financial and practical costs and benefits in implementing such a program.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Last Week In Harrisburg: Corbett Delivers First Budget on Time; Welfare Code Bill Key

Seal of PennsylvaniaGov. Tom Corbett achieved the primary goals that he and the Republican-controlled General Assembly set when he delivered his March budget address – an on-time, no-tax increase budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, that begins on July 1. The budget and accompanying enabling legislation was basically a product of agreements between the Governor and the House and Senate Republicans, with Democrats generally locked out of the discussions, weighing in with fierce criticism of each piece in floor and committee debates and largely voting against the bills. The overwhelming Republican majorities in both chambers were mostly able to ignore the input from the loyal opposition, pushing their agenda through and overcoming procedural motions that only required a simple majority. Democrats were able to flex their muscles when the rules required 2/3 votes, such as in consideration of “non-preferred” appropriations for higher education institutions such as Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln, on suspensions of rules to get bills passed on time, and on issues where Republican members had felt pressure from labor and other allies.

The major areas where “savings” are achieved in the new $27.149 billion spending plan (HB 1485) are in the Human Services (DPW) and basic and higher education programs. As the minutes ticked by toward the deadline for Gov. Corbett to sign the state budget, Republican leaders delivered another one of the governor’s budget-related priorities: a reform of the state’s Department of Public Welfare programs, to find a purported $400 Million in “waste, fraud and abuse,” by giving Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander nearly unfettered authority to make changes in benefits, without having to endure the regulatory review process, for one year. Administration spokespersons say that this authority is necessary to realize the savings in this fiscal year, and that the authority does not extend to programs covered by state or federal law, but fears among providers have been raised, as to what the Department will consider “waste, fraud and abuse”. The changes were outlined in a last minute amendment to HB 960 .

The legislature returns in September, to deal with a host of other issues, including a Marcellus Shale tax/fee/whatever and school vouchers. More on this as it develops.

Governor Signs Repeal of Joint and Several Liability

Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law the first of several bills this month that have been top priorities for legislative Republicans the last few years, and on which Corbett ran in the 2010 election. Departing from the tradition of bill signings in the Governor’s Reception room, and surrounded by nearly 100 legislators and representatives of supporting business, health care and insurance groups in the Capitol Rotunda, Corbett signed Senate Bill 1131, which changes Pennsylvania’s current policy of joint and several liability. SB 1131 levels the playing field by disallowing joint liability in cases where a defendant is less than 60 percent legally responsible. Under the new law, defendants could still be held fully responsible, regardless of the percentage of their legally-assessed responsibility if they intended to misrepresent or break the law; or they released a hazardous substance; or they violated the state liquor code. “The “Fair Share Act” is a key component in addressing one of the most important issues to Pennsylvania, jobs,” Corbett said, before signing the bill.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

With Minutes to Spare the Governor Signed the State Budget

Pennsylvania State Capitol Front PanoramaWith minutes left in the state fiscal year, Governor Corbett signed H.B. 1485, the spending plan for fiscal year 2011-12. The bill was approved by a vote of 30-20 in the Senate and 109-92 in the House.

While a deal on the budget had been reached earlier the Governor did not sign the bill until late Thursday because he was waiting for finalization of accompanying legislation, which included legislation rescinding exceptions to requiring school districts to obtain voter approval for raising property tax above a state-set inflation rate.

The budget spends a total of $27.15B, a 3.4% decrease from the current fiscal year spending level. This is the first-time since 1970 that the spending level is lower than the previous fiscal year.

The result is deep cuts in education, health, and human services. In addition, cuts were made in environmental programs, tourism and other crucial state services.

Key spending cuts include:
  • Education by a total of $863M - basic education by slightly over 7% and higher education by 18%.
  • Child care by 10%
  • Child welfare by 4%.
  • Behavioral health by 10%.
  • Housing Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) by over 80%.

For a complete list and analysis of the budget cuts click here.

At the same time that severe cuts are being made, there is no tax increase to generate additional revenue and a majority of the state's $650M revenue surplus is left on the table.

On a more personal note, these budget cuts hit home here at PathWays PA as some of the programs we provide are seeing a hit or are being cut all together. Our clients will not be able to receive the same level of services and in some cases entire programs, for example our adult literacy programs, have been cut. While we appreciate the need to have a balanced budget we are disappointed that it comes at the cost of forcing some of our clients that are working so hard to reach self-sufficiency to go without supports that allow them to work and/or to get an education. The “balanced budget” will have a very unbalanced result when it is enacted. PathWays PA will continue to serve all of our clients to the best of our abilities and work hard to reach those we can even with limited funding.