Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Tool to Find SNAP Community Characteristics

US Congressional Districts colorFrom our friends at the USDA.
FNS has created a new online tool to help partners like you identify and analyze the characteristics of SNAP in your community. The SNAP Community Characteristics webpage allows users to search for fact sheets by Congressional District. The tool looks at demographic data of all households in the district and then does some comparison of those on SNAP versus those who are not. Demographics presented include: age groups, poverty level, race/ethnicity, median income, and work status. Also included is the total amount of SNAP funds, total recipients and SNAP participation rate for each State.

Many facts can be gleaned from this tool. For example, most SNAP households have working adults, and a majority also have children. In some districts, one may find that there are more demographic similarities than differences between SNAP households and non-SNAP households, except income level.

This resource will be useful to local communities wanting to see their data at a smaller geographic area than previously available. The fact sheets also show the general makeup of each district and have a SNAP/non-SNAP household comparison. Combined with the amount of cash flow into the State from SNAP funds, the reports tell the story of a community’s food security. Communities will be able to use this information in their advocacy work, programming, and even grant writing.

To view the tool, go to: http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/SNAPCharacteristics/default.htm.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

PA Budget: State Facing Shortfall Means Cuts for Programs

Yesterday, Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby announced that he anticipates at least a $500 million shortfall for General Fund revenues at the end of the fiscal year. The Commonwealth currently shows a shortfall of $345 million, and mandatory spending for items such as pensions and debt services will increase that amount going into the 2012-2013 budget.

With the lower-than-expected revenue, Governor Corbett is looking at options for a budgetary freeze. The freeze will actually be more like a cut to programs already facing shrinking funding, as frozen funds are generally not returned. According to the Secretary, everything is on the table to be cut, including reductions to education and public safety. This cuts only approach to the budget does not include discussion about any revenue options at this time.

As noted by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, recent tax cuts, both enacted and planned, are contributing to the short- and long-term problem. The Governor's budget guidance issued earlier this year called for $400 million more in tax cuts, which could contribute to more than half of the expected gap for next year.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Pennsylvania ended 2010-11 with a $1.1 billion surplus and expected to end the current year with $558 million. The revised outlook calls for $100 million to be cut from current year expenditures and $400 million of the surplus to be used, leaving a $168 million year-end balance. Since drastic cuts were made in this year’s budget event despite the existence of the surplus, it is unclear how the administration will move forward.

To view the Budget Secretary’s presentation click here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Philadelphia Homeless Memorial Day

Einzelne Kerze
From our friends at Project HOME
Wednesday, December 21, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Broad Street Ministry (Outside), 315 South Broad Street, Center City Philadelphia

Remember * Hope * Heal

On the shortest day of the year, hundreds of Philadelphians will gather to remember those homeless and formerly homeless Philadelphians who died in 2011 and to call for an end to homelessness.
As we gather this year, we recognize that our nation continues to struggle through a time of economic hardships: Unemployment and poverty are increasing, foreclosures continue at a record rate, and shelters and food pantries cannot meet the increased demand. But we cannot forget our most vulnerable citizens, those who pay the greatest price for our economic and political failures.

We use this occasion to call on all Philadelphians and all Americas to wake up and recommit ourselves to ending homelessness.

Warm beverages and ASL interpretation will be provided.
THE EVENT IS OUTSIDE -- DRESS WARMLY!

For more information about the event:
Contact Will O’Brien at 215-232-7272, ext. 3047 or willobrien@projecthome.org

RSVP or spread the word through Facebook!

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

PathWays PA E-Alert: December 19, 2011

We at PathWays PA wish you a happy holiday season! This will be out last E-Newsletter for 2011 but we look forward to bringing you updates in the new year! In the meantime, please check our Policy Blog for any updates.

Federal Updates

HOUSE ESTABLISHES NEW CAUCUS ON FOSTER YOUTH


Recently, the House of Representatives established the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, a 36 member caucus which aims to give a voice to children in the child welfare system.

In 2012, many members will embark on a listening tour for those directly involved in the system. The Child Welfare League of America is encouraging people to share with Representatives in the Caucus their own stories of firsthand experience and knowledge to help shape debate on the issues.

For more information please click here.

PLANS WOULD RESTRICT TAX CREDIT ELIGIBILITY


As part of ongoing negotiations to extend unemployment benefits, a recent proposal in the House of Representatives calls for cutting the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) by narrowing eligibility to United States citizens.

Immigrants – regardless of status – pay into the federal income tax and payroll taxes with each paycheck. Many are not yet eligible for a social security number, and instead use an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN.)

To alleviate some of the tax burden for services they can’t always fully access, the ACTC has been available to those filing with ITIN numbers. The ACTC frees up money in many households to pay for the care of young children, and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities stated that as many as 1.3 million children were prevented from falling into poverty by the tax credit.

Please share your thoughts on this plan by contacting your representative.

Harrisburg Update

Pennsylvania State CapitolThis week the Senate passed a Congressional Re-apportionment plan by 26-24 (SB1249) and sent to the House where it was assigned to the House State Government Committee. That committee voted to report as committed the legislation which provides the boundaries for Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts. An attempt by the committee Democrats to postpone a committee vote until Monday failed on a party-line vote. The proposed 7th congressional district and the changes in the districts in the Lehigh Valley were the main areas of contention during the lengthy meeting which was interrupted by a power outage in the Capitol Complex. The legislation will now go to the House floor for further consideration.

PathWays PA's Adopt-a-Family a Huge Success!

From The Delaware County Daily Times
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP — Volunteers gathered at the office of Pathways PA on Saturday to wrap gifts for needy families as part of the organization’s Adopt-A-Family holiday program.
“The goal of the program is to have our families — clients in our programs — adopted so they have a Christmas for themselves and their children,” said Fran Franchi, director of development at Pathways PA.
Pathways, headquartered in Holmes, Ridley Township, has offices throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and provides advocacy services on behalf of low-wage workers statewide, in addition to programs committed to the development of client self-sufficiency.
About 154 donors, including individuals and corporations, adopted 314 families this year through the program, according to Franchi.
Bull Market Toys brought a donation of 200 toys to PathWays PA on Saturday, and PECO adopted 37 families this year.

Thanks to everyone who donated even one toy, one dollar, or one gift to a family in need this holiday season! If you would still like to donate items, please consider our Amazon Wish List as one way to send new items to families who need them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It Has Been a Tough Week for Women’s Health in PA – Help Stand Up for Women!

Philadelphia Reading Railroad Bridge 01The bad news started on Monday, when the PA House of Representatives passed HB 1977 by a vote of 146-45. This bill would ban private health insurance plans sold in the yet-to-be established Pennsylvania health exchange from covering abortion services - even if the woman's health is at risk! This bill is now awaiting action by the PA Senate.

The bad news continued into Tuesday and Wednesday when the House and then Senate passed SB 732, the incredibly burdensome regulations bill that threatens to shut down safe abortion providers in Pennsylvania - leaving women without access to this important medical procedure! The bill, which isn't supported by a single medical group, is now sitting on the Governor Corbett's desk awaiting his signature.

This is where YOU come in!
You can tell the Governor what you think about the bill by calling him at 717-787-2500. Below is a sample message you are welcome to use or you can send a message in your own words:

My name is _________ from ____(city/town)____ and I'm calling to urge Governor Corbett to VETO Senate Bill 732. There is not a single medical group in support of the bill. On behalf of the women and families in Pennsylvania, PLEASE stop this attack on access to safe, legal medical care.

Thank you to our friends at WOMEN’S WAY for putting this alert together.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tis the Season for Giving


The holiday season is upon us! It is a time of great joy as families gather to create lasting memories, the warmth of the season filling their homes. But for many homeless women and children in our community, the holidays are like every other day - filled with uncertainty and fear.

David
At this special, gift-giving time of the year, we are asking for your help. Please assist us in supporting the women and children in our care, who will spend the holidays without a home or loved ones to keep them warm.

Many of our clients have been neglected, abused and have nowhere to go. PathWays PA gives them the stability and security they need to begin to rebuild their lives and care for their children. Often, young moms with babies and small children come into our program broken, scared and confused.

Our caring staff promotes education, teaches parenting and life skills, fosters self-esteem and moves the women towards attaining their life goals, family well-being and self-sufficiency. PathWays PA also promotes healthy physical, emotional and social development of children through early childhood development programs. Just like David and Amirah pictured here, many of the children in our residential programs flourish after being cared for, nurtured and supported by the dedicated staff of PathWays PA.

Baby Girl Amirah
As you prepare for the holiday season, please take a moment to think about the vulnerable families in our residential programs. Each year, we care for over 6,000 women and children throughout the Greater Philadelphia Region. Your support during this season of giving can help shape the lives of children like David and Amirah. Your generosity is greatly needed and very deeply appreciated!

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones from the staff, board of directors, volunteers and all the families we serve at PathWays PA.

Peace, health and happiness,






Carol Goertzel
President/CEO
PathWays PA

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

PathWays PA Job Postings - December 9, 2011

Controller/Finance Director (Delaware County, PA)
PathWays PA is seeking an experienced hands-on financial leader to oversee all finance and IT functions. Must have five or more years accounting/financial management experience, preferably in a mid-size non-profit. Bachelor's degree in Accounting required; MBA or CPA a plus. Fax resume with salary requirements to JLM 610-328-2807.

Learning Center Group Supervisor
Experience in preschool setting and knowledge of early childhood development required. 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. Requires a 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. BSW preferred. E-mail or Fax resumes to: LD/CFF/LC at 610-328-2807.

Part-Time Income Tax Preparers
P/T Income Tax Preparer Needed for Non-Profit Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)
Would you like to have a P/T job that can help save people in the Southeastern Pennsylvania area thousands of dollars? Working as a Tax Consultant with PathWays PA's VITA Program you can prepare taxes for low income individuals helping them receive hundreds of dollars in federal and state tax credits without incurring any fees.

This is a P/T position requiring up to 25 hours of work per week between January and April 2012. Applicants for this position should have an Associate or Bachelor's degree, relevant tax experience, knowledge of and sensitivity to issues concerning low income individuals, and the ability to pass the IRS VITA exam at the Basic, Intermediate & Advanced levels. As a tax consultant you will also serve as a resource for other preparers. Tax preparers are needed for sites in the five county regions, (Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Philadelphia) and in Southern New Jersey. Your own reliable transportation is also required. Interested parties should submit a resume by fax at (610) 328-2807, attn: LD/MD.

Part-Time Math and English Teacher (Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery Counties)
PathWays PA is in need of a Math and English teacher to teach Healthcare Contextualized Math, English and Science to adult students preparing for the TEAS test and other careers in the healthcare sector. Classes will be held late afternoons and/or evenings and weekends in the Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery County areas. The classes will run for 6-8 weeks with 1, 2 or 3 classes per week. 6-8 hours per week and 1 hour of paid prep per week. Pay is competitive. INSTRUCTOR SHOULD HAVE EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH ADULTS. A Bachelor's degree is a minimum requirement. Please fax resumes to: LD/EVE at 610-328-2807.

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.

PathWays PA is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Join the National Skills Coalition for a Federal Policy Audio Update

From our friends at the National Skills Coalition.
There’s still time to register for National Skills Coalition’s upcoming Federal Policy Audio Update on Thursday, December 15 at 1:00pm EST.

A flurry of year-end congressional activity is likely to have significant impacts on our nation's workforce development system. Congress is expected to take up this week an omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2012 that may include more than $2 billion in cuts to workforce development programs under the Department of Labor, and major restrictions on the ability of working students to receive federal Pell Grants. Congress will also take up a year-end “extenders” bill that may dramatically impact funding levels and participant eligibility—creating new education requirements—for unemployment insurance (UI), and creating new restrictions on the use of TANF funds. And if that weren’t enough, last week saw the introduction of House and Senate bills to eliminate dozens of federal job training programs, including state formula grants and national programs under the Workforce Investment Act.
We’ve got a lot to cover, so be sure to join National Skills Coalition's federal policy team this Thursday, December 15 at 1:00 pm EST for an up-to-the-minute overview of the challenges facing the workforce development field, and learn how you can stand up for continued investments in the skills of America’s workers and businesses.
Speakers:
Rachel Gragg, NSC Federal Policy Director
Kermit Kaleba, NSC Senior Policy Analyst

Register today!

Monday, December 12, 2011

PathWay PA E-Newsletter: December 12, 2011

Federal Updates


ASK CONGRESS TO MAKE JOBS A PRIORITY BY SUPPORTING PATHWAYS BACK TO WORK

The Pathways Back to Work Act (S. 1841, H.R. 3425) is meant to address the ongoing jobs crisis that has left over 13 million people out of work, millions more underemployed and a disproportionate number of individuals that experience barriers to employment without access to employment opportunities. The measures within the bill are based on successful and widely implemented state and local efforts and would create employment and training opportunities for adults and youth, benefit employers, and promote economic growth. This is a critical step forward in meeting the employment needs of Americans struggling with high unemployment and for those experiencing hardship.

Please join in telling Congress that helping Americans get back to work must be their priority. Three things you can do today:
  1. Tell your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Pathways Back to Work Act.
  2. Keep the pressure on - Tweet Congress by signing our petition on Twitter
  3. Forward this information to your networks and colleagues and urge them to take action also.
Thank you for standing up for the millions of jobless Americans that continue to feel the strains of unemployment, hardship and poverty. If you have any questions contact Melissa Young at myoung@heartlandalliance.org.

URGE CONGRESS TO HELP AMERICANS AVOID THE FLU

Americans are in the same boat right now – doing as much as we can to avoid getting the flu. However, if all efforts at prevention fail, 40 million Americans do not have the safety net of paid sick days. In this economy many are going to work sick, or sending their kids to school sick – rather than risk losing a day’s pay or even losing their job.

A new study estimates that if there had been a national paid sick days policy in place in 2009, 5 million cases of the flu could have been avoided during the H1N1 pandemic.

Please tell your Senators that paid sick days are critical for American families’ economic security. It’s
not okay for families to be one virus away from losing income or becoming unemployed. We need you to support and pass the Healthy Families Act.


URGE CONGRESS TO RENEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Many families are struggling as members are out of work, however, Federal Unemployment Insurance is scheduled to expire on December 31st if Congress does not act to extend it.


Please call your Senators and Representative using 888-245-3381 and urge them to extend this critical program.

Below are some talking points you can use:

Hello, my name is ______________ and I am ________________’s constituent from ____________. I am calling to urge _______________ to oppose any bill that would slash unemployment benefits. Instead, I urge support for immediate Congressional action to renew the full federal unemployment insurance program through 2012.

Without prompt action to reauthorize federal unemployment insurance, more than 6 million hardworking Americans will be cut-off of this critical lifeline next year – nearly 2 million in January alone.

You can also email your Senators and Representatives and ask them to fully renew the unemployment insurance for 2012.

Pennsylvania Updates

WOMEN’S HEALTH CONTINUES TO BE THREATENED – HELP FIGHT BACK

Women's reproductive health continues to come under attack in Pennsylvania! This week, the House of Representatives is likely to vote on House Bill 1977, legislation that would ban private health insurance plans sold in the Pennsylvania health exchange from covering abortion services - even if the woman's health is at risk.

It is estimated that 80% of private insurance plans currently offer such coverage. This bill would have a devastating impact on Pennsylvania women and families by greatly limiting access to fundamental reproductive health care!

Take Action TODAY!

Please take a moment to call your State Representative and urge him or her to vote NO on HB 1977. When you reach the office, please let them know you are a constituent, what town you live in, and that you are calling to urge the Representative to protect women's health by voting NO on HB 1977.

Find your State Representative and his or her contact information here.

We must make our voices heard to end these extremely dangerous attacks on a woman's right to choose! If you have questions, please contact Rebecca Foley, Director of Public Policy and Chair of RWV of SEPA.

ASK YOUR SENATOR TO OPPOSE VOTER SUPPRESSION BILL


Recently, the Pennsylvania House voted in favor of House Bill 934, a bill requiring voters to present photo ID when voting. HB 934, which is awaiting approval by the Pennsylvania Senate, would create new barriers to voting for many eligible voters, especially senior citizens, students, racial minorities, and the working poor. It is now time for us to let our Senators know our concerns and urge them to oppose HB 934.

Click here to send a message to your Senators urging them to oppose this bill.

Info / Events

HOMELESS MEMORIAL DAY

On the shortest day of the year, hundreds of Philadelphians will gather to remember those homeless and formerly homeless Philadelphians who died in 2011 and to call for an end to homelessness.

WHEN: Wednesday, December 21, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Broad Street Ministry (Outside), 315 South Broad Street, Center City Philadelphia

As they gather this year, they recognize that our nation continues to struggle through a time of economic hardships: Unemployment and poverty are increasing, foreclosures continue at a record rate, and shelters and food pantries cannot meet the increased demand. But we cannot forget our most vulnerable citizens, those who pay the greatest price for our economic and political failures.

We use this occasion to call on all Philadelphians and all Americans to wake up and recommit ourselves to ending homelessness. Warm beverages and ASL interpretation will be provided.

For more information about the event contact Will O'Brien at 215-232-7272, ext. 3047 or willobrien@projecthome.org. Do you know anyone who was homeless or formerly homeless who died this year? If so, email their name for inclusion in the memorial to Juliana Ryan at julianaryan@projecthome.org or call 215-232-7272, ext. 3043.

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

AMERICANS IN STRUGGLE FILM SERIES

Tomorrow, Tuesday the 13th, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project is showing the final installment of our Americans In Struggle film series. This week, it will be Inside Job, which outlines the crooked practices that led to the financial collapse of 2008, and how it devastated our national economy. They will also be showing a short film from Time.com that focuses on the experiences of the 99ers (people who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment compensation and are still out of work).

Refreshments will begin at 5:30pm, and the film will begin at 6pm, following an introduction by Joseph Schwartz, professor of Political Science at Temple University. We're located at 112 N Broad (Broad & Arch), and the film will be on the 2nd floor. If you have questions please call Adam Goldman at 215-557-0822 x127.

WORKSHOPS FOR JOB SEEKERS

Four job-seeker workshops are being offered in December through Chester County's Road to Employment Initiative.

These four-hour workshops are designed to help job-seekers develop a plan for obtaining new employment, acquaint them with important, often-missed steps in undertaking a job search, and to identify the abundance of mostly free resources that are available to help meet their needs during the job search process. This not only includes employment-related information but resources to aid with other important matters, from financial stability to food and health care.

For information on the remaining workshops please click here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Maternal Mortality is Up in the US, Yet Fighting Continues Over Birth Control and Abortion

Pregnant womanAmnesty International recently released a study showing that maternal healthcare in the US is in crisis. Where other countries have seen declines in the number maternal deaths the US has seen an increase and now ranks worse than most countries in Europe as well as Canada and some countries in Asia and the Middle East.
Some of the highlights, or I should say lowlights, from the study include:
  • The maternal mortality in the US has worsened, falling from 41st to 50th in the world. In other words, women in the US face a greater risk of maternal death than in 49 other countries.
  • Over 4 million women in the US give birth each year, and the hospital bills for this care reached $98 billion. The US spends twice as much as any other country surveyed on the fees charged by maternal health care providers.
  • Women living in low-income areas across the US were twice as likely to suffer a maternal death as women in high income areas.
Why is the US doing so poorly when it comes to caring for women giving birth? It has to do with the current lack of access to heathcare for women prior to becoming pregnant and during and after pregnancy. While healthcare reform is meant to address some of these issues, the provisions allowing for limited or denial of access to abortion care and birth control will have the opposite effect by not allowing women access to the care they might need.

PathWays PA E-Alert: December 5, 2011

Federal Updates

WOMEN STILL BEHIND MEN IN NEW ECONOMIC RECOVERY
The latest figures from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) have found that economic recovery has been slower coming to women:
According to the most recent Quick Figures on the topic (released in November), men have regained 30 percent of the jobs they lost since December 2007; while women have only regained 17 percent. In sheer numbers, the job gap between men and women stands at 1.5 million.

The IWPR/Rockefeller survey showed that many women and families are facing hardships in the recovery. In some cases, women and mothers are being forced to cut back on items such as insurance or visits to the doctor for themselves and their children. For more information on the IWPR/Rockefeller Survey, please visit the website




For more information, visit the IWPR website.


HELP PRESERVE SNAP AND OTHER NUTRITION PROGRAMS

Congress is currently debating the content of the next Farm Bill – which, among other things, develops guidelines for SNAP (food stamp) benefits. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and James McGovern (D-MA) are circulating a Dear Colleague letter asking the members of the House Committee on Agriculture to protect SNAP and other nutrition programs from cuts, at a time when the government is putting every budget under scrutiny.

Two Pennsylvania representatives – Tim Holden and Glenn Thompson – sit on the committee. The Food Research Action Center is trying to get the word out on DeLauro and McGovern’s effort, and to urge your representative to support preserving SNAP and other benefits.

To find your representative, click here. Urge your House Member to support SNAP and nutrition programs by signing the letter by Friday, December 9, COB.  Click here to view the DeLauro / McGovern letter. Click here to view a recent letter signed by 127 House Members urging the Super Committee to protect SNAP and other low-income safety net programs from budget cuts.

Please share this email widely.  For more information, call Ellen Teller, eteller@frac.org or Etienne Melcher, emelcher@frac.org.