Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Videos from PathWays PA's EITC Kick Off

Last week PathWays PA Kicked Off our FREE tax services for this year.  Below are videos taken from the event.

Lyn Kugel from PathWays PA discusses the FREE tax services and how you can contact us to set up an appointment.


Philadelphia Councilman Bill Greenlee came out to support PathWays PA and inform the public about our services.

Monday, January 30, 2012

PathWays PA E-Alert: January 30, 2012

FREE TAX PREP FROM PATHWAYS PA

PathWays PA’s Self Sufficiency team wants to be sure that you are aware of our free tax preparation service.

Our basic tax preparation service is designed to provide FREE tax filing for households whose income does not exceed $50,000. We are able to serve tax filers who are disabled or who do not speak English as their first language.

Our goal is help tax filers access their Earned Income and other tax credits.  In addition, this year, PathWays PA is offering Tax Counseling for the Elderly, featuring free tax preparation for Senior Citizens without the income constraint.

We are offering free tax preparation service at a number of locations. Our locations and hours can
be found here
. If you or someone you know would like to have taxes prepared by the Self Sufficiency team, please call 610-543-5022 to schedule an appointment.


And please remember to refer your friends and family to our free services! 

Federal Policy Updates



REACH OUT TO CONGRESS REGARDING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

In December, unemployment insurance was set to expire for families still struggling to find work but Congress extended the critical benefit before the year ended. That extension lasts until February 29th.

It is expected that at least one million UI recipients would be cut off of federal benefits in March alone if the program is allowed to expire. Millions more would lose these benefits during the remainder of the year. One study found that every $1 spent on employment insurance stimulated $2 in growth inthe U.S. economy.

Send a message to Congressional Conference Committee members, and to your members of Congress regarding next steps on unemployment insurance.


State Policy Updates

DO YOU WANT HEMAP INCLUDED IN THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET?

The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) closed last July due to lack
of funds. This year, the Governor may not include funding for HEMAP in the upcoming state budget.



If you support HEMAP, please sign on the attached letter to Governor Corbett asking him to restore it in the coming state budget. Click here to if you can sign on to the letter.



For more information visit: http://www.pasaveourhomes.org/.




Information/Events

A CARING ACROSS GENERATION WEBINAR: PROVIDING MINIMUM WAGE AND OVERTIME PAY TO HOME CARE WORKERS

Today, many home care workers who provide support to our aging seniors andpeople with disabilities are not entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. On December 15th, President Obama announced that the Department of Labor was proposing new rules that would provide more workers with these important legal
protections. (click here to watch the President’s announcement)

WHEN: February 9 - 3-4pm EST/12-1pm PST (register)
              February 14 – 11am-noon EST/8-9am PST (register)

Dial-in number: (530) 881-1300 access code 544303#
https://www.freeconferencing.com/meetings/928-217-142

Please join Caring Across Generations on a webinar to learn more about the changes that are being proposed and how to comment to the Department of Labor on the importance of providing minimum wage and overtime pay to home care workers.

TEEN DATING VIOLENCE TRAINING

Learn how to recognize unhealthy or abusive behaviors, how to initiate conversations and how to support teens as they navigate tricky relationship dynamics.


WHEN: Friday, February 10th, 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

WHERE: United Way, 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway



This training will cost $30.

Organized by the four domestic violence programs - WIT, Women Against Abuse, Lutheran Settlement House and Congreso - this intensive half-day training is critical for anyone who works with (or lives with!)
teens. Click Here to register today!


READY TO RUN™ PHILADELPHIA

Ready to Run™ Pennsylvania provides bi-partisan political training to encourage women to run for  government leadership positions. The day-long program provides training and mentoring by campaign professionals, political women, and officeholders for women considering or recently deciding to run for political office.



Ready to Run™ Philadelphia will feature political communications specialist, Chris Jahnke and “Fundraising For Success” with renowned political speaker and educator, Nancy Bocskor.

WHEN: Saturday, February 4, 2012, 8:00am – 6:00pm

WHERE: MacAlister Hall, the University Club at Drexel University, 33rd &Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This conference features two tracks to meet your needs:
Track 1: I'm Ready to Run, Now What?

Track 2: I'm Not Ready to Run Yet, But.......

Registration for this event is $100. Ready to Run™ Registration Fees are fully refundable up to 48 hours before the program.

To register for this event or for more information, please click HERE!



BE HEARD! INFORM THE SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH PROCESS

The School District of Philadelphiarecently announced its superintendent search process.

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, wants your input on leadership characteristics the School Reform Commission (SRC) has identified to guide the selection of the next leader of the school district.

You are invited to join the discussion at the following locations:


  • February 1, 6:30 PM at Mastery Gratz H.S. 1798 W. Hunting Park Ave.
  • February 4, 9:00 AM at Roxborough H.S. 6498 Ridge Ave.
  • February 4, 1:00 PM at Lincoln H.S. 3201 Ryan Ave.
  • February 6, 6:30 PM at West Philadelphia H.S. 4901 Chestnut St.
  • February 8, 6:30 PM at Strawberry Mansion H.S. 3133 Ridge Ave
  • February 9, 6:30 PM at Edison H.S.151 W. Luzerne St.
  • February 13, 6:30 PM at Northeast H.S. 1601 Cottman Ave.
  • February 16, 6:30 PM at Bartram H.S. 2401 S. 67th St.
  • February 18, 9:00 AM at South Philadelphia H.S. 2101 S. Broad St.
  • February 21, 6:30 AM at Leeds Middle School 1100 E. Mt. Pleasant Ave.

Please join. No RSVPs required.

CHANGES IN THE GEOGRAPHICAL BREAKDOWN OF THE CAO IN DELAWARE COUNTY



The list below is the geographic breakdown for the County Assistance Offices in Delaware County. The towns that are all in capitals are the ones assigned to the Chester office. The others are assigned to the Darby office. You can find a listing of the contact information for these and other offices at Department
of Public Welfare’s website
.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Free Tax Preparation from PathWays PA

PathWays PA’s Self Sufficiency team wants to be sure that you are aware of our free tax preparation service.

Our basic tax preparation service is designed to provide FREE tax filing for households whose income does not exceed $50,000. We also want to reach tax filers who are disabled or who do not speak English as their first language. Our goal is help tax filers access their Earned Income and other tax credits. In addition, this year, PathWays PA is offering Tax Counseling for the Elderly, featuring free tax preparation for Senior Citizens without the income constraint.

PathWays PA is offering free tax preparation service at a number of locations. Our locations and hours are detailed below. If you or someone you know would like to have taxes prepared by the Self Sufficiency team, please call to schedule an appointment

PathWays PA has stationary sites in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties

Philadelphia

Women in Transition
21 South 12th Street, 6th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-564-5301
The Following Thursdays in February
2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd
4:00- 8:00 pm

Calvary United Methodist Church
801 S 48th Street (corner of 48th & Baltimore)
Philadelphia, PA 19143
215-724-1702
Mondays and Tuesdays, 2-8pm
Thursdays, 10:00am- 1:00pm

Delaware County

PathWays PA Administrative Office
310 Amosland Road Holmes, PA 19043
Call Ann DelCollo at 610-543-5022
Mondays and Wednesdays 2-8pm
Thursdays 12 pm-6pm
The Following Saturdays:
February 4, 11, 18, and 25
March 3 and 10
April 7 and 14
10:00am-2:30pm

J. Lewis Crozer Library
620 Engle Street Chester, PA 19013
610-494-3454
Wednesdays 4-7pm
The following Saturdays:
March 3, March 31 and April 7
9:30am-12:30pm

Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union
Wharf at Rivertown- 2501 Seaport Drive, Chester
610-619-7000
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am-3pm

Please refer your friends and family to our free services!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Harrisburg Update

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania photomontageLast week the state Supreme Court overturned the Legislature`s new maps for 2012 House and Senate races, leaving current districts in place until a five-member commission that designed the plan fixes the court`s concerns. The 4-3 decision gave a glimmer of hope to lawmakers opposed to the changes in the Legislative Reapportionment Commission`s plan.

Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, one of those who appealed the commission`s maps, said the court decision would present an opportunity to argue for keeping the Brewster seat. Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R -Allegheny, said Turzai believes the plan that was submitted “met the standards, and conditions set forth in the Constitution” and in legal precedent. “Until we get an opinion, we can`t know what needs to be fixed but will respond accordingly,” Miskin said. Click here to read a Pittsburgh Tribune Review article for further details.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Tax Time - Get Your Taxes Done for Free In Philadelphia!

Did you know that there are a number of locations in our community where low- and moderate income people can get help filing their taxes at no cost?

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which is funded in part by the IRS, offers free tax help to people making less than approximately $50,000 a year.

In addition to receiving much-needed tax help, families will also learn about important tax credits that they may be missing out on. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit especially for low-income working families. It helps workers keep more of the money they earned, which helps families pay their rent and buy groceries or new shoes for their kids.

The amount of your EITC refund depends on things like income and family size, but many families receive rebates of a couple thousand dollars – make sure you don’t miss out on your refund! If you didn’t claim the EITC in the past, you may also be able to file amended claims and receive more of the money you’ve earned.

If you live in Philadelphia, you can get your taxes done at one of the sites below - just call for an appointment. To find sites in Delaware County, please see our earlier blog post. And you can always find a tax site near you by calling 1-800-829-1040.


It's Tax Time - Get Your Taxes Done for Free In Delaware County!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Learn More About the Earned Income Tax Credit

From our friends at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families

Last year, over 26 million people nationwide received nearly $59 billion in EITC. The EIC has a big impact on families with children as last year 6.6 million people, 3.3 million of them children, were lifted out of poverty last year due to EITC. While these are impressive numbers, the IRS estimates between 20% and 25% of those eligible for the credit do NOT claim it.

Are you eligible to claim EITC for 2011 taxes?
  • Must have earned income in 2011
  • Must have a valid Social Security number
  • Investment income limited to $3,150
  • Generally, must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year
  • Cannot use “married filing separate” filing status
  • Cannot be a qualifying child of another person
  • Cannot file Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (related to foreign earned income)

If you meet these rules, your earned income must also be less than . . .
  • $13,660 ($18,740 if married filing jointly) with no qualifying children
  • $36,052 ($41,132 if married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
  • $40,964 ($46,044 if married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
  • $43,998 ($49,078 if married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children

You could be Eligible to Receive an EITC up to:
  • $464 with no qualifying children
  • $3,094 one qualifying child
  • $5,112 two qualifying children
  • $5,751 three qualifying children

Do you want help figuring out the EITC?
  • Use the interactive EITC Assistant at www.irs.gov/eitc to show you if you qualify
  • Call the IRS toll free at 1-800-TAX-1040
  • Visit a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site for FREE help and tax preparation, or see your tax preparer. To find the nearest site call: 1-800-906-9887
  • If you are in Delaware County or Philadelphia, call PathWays PA at 1-800-209-2914 to register at one of our VITA sites.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Join a Forum to Discuss What You Want in A Philadelphia School Superintendent

COMMUNITY FORUM NOTICE - OPEN TO ALL
The School District of Philadelphia recently announced its superintendent search process.

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, wants your input on leadership characteristics the School Reform Commission (SRC) has identified to guide the selection of the next leader of the school district.

Please Join Us. No RSVPs required.

PathWays PA Job Postings

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 of non-profit accounting/financial management experience. 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. 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/LK.

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 Financial Educator
Part-time (30 hours per week) financial educator to work in the community of Chester. BA required. Ability to work with diverse populations; knowledge of TANF, basic personal finances, computer skills, and strong interpersonal skills desired. Fax resumes to LD/LK 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

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 24 Webinar: What Will Healthcare Reform Mean to Your PA Business?

Woman-typing-on-laptopYour Bottom Line: What Health Care Reform Means for Pennsylvania

From our friends at PHAN
PHAN is partnering with Small Business Majority to offer an important webinar to help small business owners understand how the Affordable Care Act will affect them. RSVP today!
We'll cover state and federal provisions aimed at lowering costs, how to apply for the new small business tax credits, and key choices for state lawmakers as they establish a new competitive health insurance marketplace in Pennsylvania. A Q and A session with a small business liaison from the IRS will follow.

WHAT: Your Bottom Line--What Health Care Reform Means for Pennsylvania Small Businesses
WHEN: Tuesday, Jan.24th from 11AM - 12PM
Click here to RSVP!

DelcoAD to Kickoff Free Tax Prep with Mayor of Upper Darby


Delaware County, PA - On Friday, January 27, DelcoAD will host a press conference and outreach event to promote Earned Income Tax Credit awareness and kickoff the 2012 tax filing season. The event will be held in the main lobby of Upper Darby's 69th Street Terminal from 1:00pm - 2:00pm and will include remarks from Mayor Micozzie, Pennsylvania State Representative Davidson, IRS Pennsylvania Territory Manager Jim Daugherty and PathWays PA President and CEO Carol Goertzel. It will also mark the opening of DelcoAD's ten Volunteer Income Tax Preparation sites, where Delaware County residents earning less than $50,000 annually can receive free tax preparation.

National EITC Awareness Day, on January 27 of this year, is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of and access to the Earned Income Tax Credit, one of the largest and most effective anti-poverty tools in the United States. Millions of workers each year overlook the federal tax credit simply because their earnings do not require them to file or they are unaware of the credit. Last year, the Earned Income Tax Credit boosted refunds for eligible workers by an average of $2,100.

According to the IRS, many people will qualify for the EITC for first time this year due to changes in income or filing status. The agency estimates that only four out of five eligible workers currently claim their EITC, meaning one in five misses out on as much as $5,751 extra in their federal income tax refund.

WHAT:
Annual Tax Season Kickoff & EITC Awareness Day
Press conference and outreach to promote Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness and kick off the 2012 personal income tax filing season

WHEN:
Friday, January 27th 1:00-2:00pm

WHERE:
SEPTA's 69th Street Terminal
69th and Market Streets, Upper Darby

WHO:
Mayor Thomas Micozzie, Upper Darby
PA State Representative Margo Davidson, 164th Legislative District
Jim Daugherty, IRS Territory Manager, Pennsylvania
Carol Goertzel, PathWays PA President and CEO
DelcoAD Partners
Community members

For more information about DelcoAD's free tax preparation program or EITC Awareness Day celebration, call Georgia Julius at 610-543-5022 or visit www.delcoad.org.

About DelcoAD:
DelcoAD, sponsored by Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND) and the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, is a coalition of agencies, educational and financial institutions dedicated to building the financial health and stability of individuals and families in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Partners provide free income tax preparation as a component of a year-round campaign, linking individuals and families to asset-building resources.
Since 2002, DelcoAD has increased the scope of our VITA program, bringing in new partners and locations to expand VITA reach and help EITC-eligible filers access their full tax refunds. This past filing season, our partners prepared 1,500 tax returns, returning 3.5 million in federal refunds to the individuals and families most in need. Additional information can be found at www.delcoad.org.


About PathWays PA:
PathWays PA, founded in 1978, has a consistently strong record of outreach and service to low income, underserved populations. Throughout its history, PathWays PA has provided low income populations of Southeastern PA with access to benefits, counseling, job training, and asset building strategies. All of PathWays PA's diverse programs and initiatives are designed to aid low income, underserved, and at-risk populations. We are committed to promoting client self-sufficiency which leads to the fulfillment of our mission: to help women, teens, children and families achieve economic independence and family well-being. Additional information can be found at www.pathwayspa.org.


About PHENND:
The Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND) is a consortium of 36 colleges and universities in the greater Philadelphia area. PHENND works to build the capacity of its member institutions to develop mutually beneficial, sustained, and democratic community-based service-learning partnerships. The consortium actively seeks to revitalize local communities and schools and foster civic responsibility among the region's colleges and universities. Additional information can be found at www.phennd.org


About UWSEPA:
The mission of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania is to improve people's lives by mobilizing the caring power of donors, volunteers and communities. We are committed to treating entire communities, providing the tools, services, and expertise that can enable those communities to become stronger and more independent. Additional information can be found at www.uwsepa.org.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Roe v. Wade Twitter Rally

Friday, January 20th the We’ve Had Enough Campaign will be commemorating the 39th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made it legal for a woman to choose an abortion. Yet, despite the fact that abortion is a legal and safe medical procedure, and has been for the better part of four decades, there still exists those people who seek to undermine that legal right.


This is why we need to stand up and say “We’ve Had Enough.” If you cannot come out to one of the events going on through out Pennsylvania join them on Twitter from noon to 1:00 for an Online Rally. People will be live tweeting from the events and we want to hear from you why you have had enough and what the decision in Roe means to you.


All you need to do is follow @wevehadenoughpa and #roevwade and then tweet from your own account what your thoughts are on the Anniversary of Roe and the attacks against women’s health. Please use #roevwade in your tweets so we can be sure to see what you are saying as well!

Below are some sample tweets you are welcome to use.
  • To me the #roevwade decisions means…..
  • Stop the attacks on women in PA! I am watching! #roevwade #wevehadenough
  • Thanks to #roevwade abortion is legal but without access to a safe procedure a women’s decision is taken away.
  • On the Anniversary of #roevwade join the @wevehadenoughpa as we tell legislators to stop limiting access to safe #abortion care.
  • Women's reproductive health has been under constant attack! On the Anniversary of #rovevwade join as we say #wevehadenough
  • It's our body, it should to be our choice right? Not according to many legislators. Tell them #wevehadenough #roevwade 
If you would like to write more than 140 characters you are welcome to write a blog post for the We've Had Enough Blog.   You can email them to wevehadenoughcamp@gmail.com. If you have any questions feel free to contact 215-351-5510.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

PathWay PA E-Newsletter: January 17, 2012

Special PathWays PA Updates

TAX SEASON IS AROUND THE CORNER – SCHEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT NOW

If you made less than $50,000 in 2011, you are likely eligible for PathWays PA’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA helps return thousands of dollars into the community every year and provides free income tax preparation services to those that need it most.

To schedule your appointment, call PathWays PA at 610-543-5022!

PATHWAYS PA IS LOOKING FOR GENTLY USED PROFESSIONAL CLOTHING!

PathWays PA has recently launched our Dress For Your Dreams – MLK Day 2012 campaign! We’re looking for gently used professional and semi-professional clothing. With this, we’ll enable our clients to have the right clothing for job interviews and starting work at new places of employment. If you’d like to donate, contact Chelsea Kohler at ckohler@pathwayspa.org.  For more information, visit the Dress for Your Dreams site.


Federal Policy Updates

HELP RAISE THE TIPPED MINIMUM WAGE

The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers in the United States is $2.13 and hour. This rate has remained unchanged for the last 20 years. Tips are very inconsistent, varying widely by day, week, and season, which leaves restaurant workers vulnerable to the $2.13 per hour base pay meaning many struggle to make ends meet

Help change this by urging Congress to pass the Working for Adequate Gains for Employment in Services (WAGES) Act which is the first bill ever introduced into Congress focused on tipped workers. This bill would significantly close the wage gap that currently exists between tipped employees and all other workers.

The WAGES Act would do this in 3 steps:
  • It would raise the minimum wage of tipped employees from the current level of $2.13 per hour to $3.75 per hour 90 days after enactment.
  • It would then raise the minimum wage of tipped employees to $5.00 per hour one year after enactment.
  • Finally, two years after enactment, the tipped minimum wage would be increased to 70% of minimum wage, but no less than $5.50 per hour.
Contact your legislators today and urge them to support this bill. Also, MomsRising is looking for stories of people who count on tips while struggling to make ends meet. If you have a story to share please click here.

State Policy Updates

PENNSYLVANIA PLANS TO REINSTATE ASSET LIMITS ON SNAP (FOOD STAMPS)

Last week, Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare (DPW) announced that it was sending a request to the USDA to re-implement asset tests to ascertain eligibility for the SNAP (food stamp) program. If the request goes through, asset limits will go into effect on May 1, 2012.

Implementing an "asset test" means that in addition to income eligibility guidelines, applicants may not have above a certain amount in additional resources. Under the proposed measure, Pennsylvanians with more than $2,000 in savings or assets ($3,250 for adults 60 and over) would not be able to obtain food stamps, even if they meet income guidelines. While housing and retirement benefits do not count against the asset test, savings for emergencies or medical needs would be counted. Pennsylvanians applying for food stamps would be able to have one car under the measure, but could not have an additional car if it is valued above $4,650, which could create a serious burden on two-adult families, especially those in rural areas.

As of 2010, all but 14 states had eliminated asset tests for food stamps or raised the asset limits to at least $7,000. Pennsylvania is believed to be the first state asking to reinstate asset testing, which it eliminated in 2008.

For more information about this change please check out articles listed on our Policy Blog. If you have questions or concerns about the change please contact DPW.


JOIN THE INSURING MOTHERHOOD COALITION

Health insurance is absolutely critical to ensuring healthy births, which is why Senator Farnese has introduced SB 1063, important legislation that would expand pregnant women’s access to insurance in Pennsylvania.

The bill would ensure that individual and small group plans provide essential maternity care insurance coverage to women. The bill would also guarantee that pregnancy could no longer be considered a pre-existing condition by insurance companies in determining eligibility for coverage.

Sign a petition to encourage the Senate to pass SB 1063. You can also follow the Insuring Motherhood Coalition on Facebook and Twitter. Also be sure to check out their new video by clicking here.

Information and Events


JOIN THE MARCH FOR ABORTION RIGHTS IN PENNSYLVANIA

In their ongoing efforts to secure reproductive choice, the We’ve Had Enough Campaign will be holding an action on Friday, January 20th to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that said a woman’s reproductive choice is between her and her doctor.

But currently in Pennsylvania, such rights are under attack – two separate bills make it harder for women to obtain the abortion services they need by setting hard-to-attain clinic physical space and staffing guidelines and preventing any plan participating in the state health insurance exchange from offering abortion coverage.

If you’d like to participate, the action meet at Walnut and Broad streets in Philadelphia at noon on the 20th. For more info, go to wevehadenoughpa.org. You can also find out more details by following them on Twitter @WeveHadEnoughPA.

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE BUDGET SUMMIT

From our friends at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:

Governor Tom Corbett will unveil a state budget plan next month that is likely to mark the fifth straight year of cuts to state services.

Join us at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's 2012 Budget Summit for an in-depth look at the state and federal budget plans and what they mean for communities and families across Pennsylvania

WHEN: Thursday, February 23, 2012, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE: Hilton Harrisburg

The Summit will also feature workshops on how to talk about government and public services and lessons from successful budget campaigns in other states.

Registration is free and lunch is included. Register today!

THE POLITICS OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY: WILL GROWING POVERTY AFFECT ELECTION 2012?

If you are unable to attend CLASP’s Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity’s upcoming forum in person, you can now join the forum by live audio conference. The event will examine how the struggles facing growing numbers of low-income families will affect the 2012 elections. The forum will also include the release of new polling data from Spotlight that looks at how voter concerns about growing poverty are influencing perceptions about candidates.

CLICK HERE to register for the live audio conference.

The forum also will be recorded and posted on the Spotlight website
following the event. For more information, please contact Tamanna Mansury at tamanna@thehatchergroup.com.

NONPROFIT VOTES UPDATES FACT SHEETS AND WEBINAR SCHEDULE

Nonprofit VOTE partners with America's nonprofits to help the people they serve participate and vote. This year they have new materials and webinars to help 501(c)(3) organization work with candidates and help ensure their clients are voting.

Fact Sheets – To view the information below visit their factsheet library.
  • Election Day Registration, explaining what it is, which states have it, and how it helps voters keep their registration current.
  • Expanding Voter Registration Opportunities, discussing advances in online voter registration and pre-registration that streamline the registration process and make it more accessible.
  • The National Voter Registration Act, describing the role of public assistance agencies that are required to offer voter registration to clients.
 Webinars
Nonprofit VOTES will be hosting a webinar every month until November. They will cover a variety of voter engagement topics to ensure you know how to conduct registration drives, educate voters, and get out the vote. Their webinars are free for 501(c)(3) organizations and will be available on their YouTube channel.

See the full webinar lineup for 2012.

Registration is open for our January 26th webinar, Plan Ahead: Build a Voter Engagement Timeline for 2012.

FRAC CALL ON SUMMER MEALS

Sponsors are crucial to the success of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and can feed children at numerous sites throughout the community. The sponsor is administratively and fiscally responsible for operating SFSP. Therefore, it is important to focus on sponsor recruitment in your community, so there are enough sponsors to serve the need. Presenters will share strategies to recruit sponsors and talk about the work they do to foster a good relationship with Summer Food Program sponsors.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 7, at 1:00 pm

Click here to register for the next Summer Meals Matter call.

Friday, January 13, 2012

This Week in Harrisburg: Transportation

Hb pa railroad stationThe legislature remained in recess last week, but it was revealed that Governor Tom Corbett will unveil his much-awaited plan for dealing with the state’s transportation funding shortfall during his Feb. 5 budget message or sooner. According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, a top appointee from the Administration the proposal is likely to fall short of the recommendations of the governor’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission, which presented a plan in August to raise up to $2.5 billion in new annual revenue for roads, bridges and public transit. Testifying at a hearing of the House Democratic Policy Committee at Point Park University, state Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said Mr. Corbett “recognizes the need to make investment in transportation” but also said “the economy’s very fragile now.” Click here to read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pennsylvania Plans to Reinstate Asset Limits on SNAP (Food Stamps)

Empty refrigerator
2/06/2012 UPDATE: Last week, the Department of Public Welfare announced that asset tests would be set at $5,500 for households (age 59 and under) and $9,000 for households with older Pennsylvanians (age 60 and above) or disabled individuals. For more information, please visit http://policypathwayspa.blogspot.com/2012/02/update-on-snap-asset-testing.html

Yesterday, Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare announced that it was sending a request to the USDA to re-implement asset tests to ascertain eligibility for the SNAP (food stamp) program.  If the request goes through, asset limits will go into effect on May 1, 2012.

Implementing an "asset test" means that in addition to income eligibility guidelines, applicants may not have above a certain amount in additional resources.  Under the proposed measure, Pennsylvanians with more than $2,000 in savings or assets ($3,250 for adults 60 and over) would not be able to obtain food stamps, even if they meet income guidelines.  While housing and retirement benefits do not count against the asset test, savings for emergencies or medical needs (such as seniors saving to cover their Medicare "doughnut hole") would be counted. Families would also be unable to save for security deposits for renting a new apartment.  Pennsylvanians applying for food stamps would be able to have one car under the measure, but could not have an additional car if it is valued above $4,650, which could create a serious burden on two-adult families, especially those in rural areas.

As of 2010, all but 14 states had eliminated asset tests for food stamps or raised the asset limits to at least $7,000.  Pennsylvania is believed to be the first state asking to reinstate asset testing, which it eliminated in 2008.  The $2,000 asset limit appears to be based on an asset cutoff set in 1980, which with inflation would be worth $5,491 today according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Department of Public Welfare states that the asset test will ensure "people with resources are not taking advantage of the food-stamp program" according to spokesperson Anne Bale.  However, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger reports that Pennsylvania has one of the lowest fraud rates in the country when it comes to SNAP cases.

Below is a sampling of reactions to this decision.  Please let us know your reaction in the comments.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

From our friends at WOMEN’S WAY

Did you know?

Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. Victims of trafficking are tricked, lured, coerced, or otherwise removed from their home or country, and then exploited for commercial sex or labor purposes.

Did you know?

Human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry in the world and it is the fastest growing.

Did you know?

This horrific crime drastically impacts women as 80% of human trafficking victims are women and girls. Studies indicate that the average age of a U.S. female to be forced to enter into sex trafficking is just 12 years old.

Did you know?

Human trafficking occurs all over this country, including Pennsylvania and in the City of Philadelphia. But the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition (PATC), is working to help victims and put an end to this brutal crime.

Want to do something?


Attend a Film Screening and Discussion

On Wednesday, January 11, 2012, the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition (PATC) will host a special screening of the documentary Very Young Girls, which will be followed by a panel discussion. The film highlights the plight of teenage girls sold into street prostitution in New York City, and the hardships they face. The event will take place from 6:00 to 8:00pm at University of Pennsylvania, Stiteler Hall, 208 S. 37th Street, Philadelphia. Admission is free and light refreshments will be provided.


Advocate for Life-Saving Legislation

Help push for the passage of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Act (SB 338). This state legislation would help victims of human trafficking escape their situation by requiring certain establishments in PA to post the 24-hour hotline number.

This important bill, sponsored by Senator Leach, was unanimously voted out of the Senate Labor & Industry Committee this past fall. Now, we are pushing for a full Senate vote and our lawmakers need to hear from you!

Please take a moment to contact your State Senator and urge him or her to support the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Act - SB 338.

PathWays PA E-Alert: January 9, 2012


YOU ARE INVITED TO A PAID SICK DAYS HAPPY HOUR!

WHEN: Tuesday, January 10, 5PM-7PM
WHERE: El Fuego, 723 Walnut StreetPhiladelphia


The Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces is hosting a Happy Hour at El Fuego, a restaurant which provides paid sick days to its employees, to celebrate the progress made on paid sick days and to provide the opportunity to learn more about this important issue. Light food will be provided.

Over 40% of Philadelphia workers have no access to a single paid sick day, and many of those workers handle food or work with vulnerable populations.

To RSVP please email kscully@pathwayspa.org or click here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thrifty Shoppers Hurt By Rising Food Prices

Senegal egg 10s06
In tough economic times, many careful shoppers turn to affordable staples to help feed their families nutritious, filling meals: things like ground beef, potatoes, chicken, and eggs. However, as a recent NPR article describes, basic food items like these have experienced a disproportionately large rise in price in the last year. The 10% spike in the cost of these foods is triple the overall rate of inflation last year (3.4%). The prices of food eaten at home (groceries) rose substantially faster than the prices of foods eaten away from home (fast food, restaurants).

While eating at home is still much cheaper than eating out, these rising food costs can place a large burden for a family with a tight food budget. Although global food prices have begun to drop since their peak in February 2011, food prices in the grocery stores, particularly for beef and wheat products like bread and cereal, should continue to rise throughout 2012.

It's Freezing in Pennsylvania - the Budget, That Is

While many of us in Pennsylvania are shivering through the first real cold spell of the winter, Governor Corbett's budget announcement yesterday sent new shivers through many programs and services already struggling in a tough economy.  The projected $486 million revenue shortfall led to the Governor's proposal to "freeze" $160 million in spending. (For further analysis of the revenue shortfall, please visit this link from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.) While this funding could be made available again in the fiscal year if revenue picks up, in most cases, budget freezes equal budget cuts.

Below is a partial list of the cuts made to programs - for a full list, visit http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/document/1214310/12_01_04_2011_12_freeze_tr_web_pdf.



Not all line items were frozen. Below are some important items that remain at the same funding levels:

  • Farmer's Market Food Coupons: $2,079,000
  • State Food Purchase: $17,338,000
  • Basic Education Funding: $5,354,629,000
  • Special Education: $1,026,815,000
  • Community Colleges: $212,167,000
  • Child Care Services: $154,265,000
  • Child Care Assistance: $171,989,000
  • Services to Persons with Disabilities: $135,672,000
As we approach the new budget cycle, it may also be time to start thinking of new ways to approach the budget shortfalls beyond continuous program cuts, such as closing tax loopholes.  To learn more about alternatives to budget cuts, please visit the website for the Better Choices for Pennsylvania Coalition.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Start the New Year off with Human Rights: Apply Now for the 2012 Human Rights Institute

From our friends at The Human Rights Project.
The Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center is pleased to announce that we are accepting applications for the 2012 Human Rights Institute.

The Human Rights Institute (HRI) is an annual three-day fellowship program hosted by the Human Rights Project in partnership with the US Human Rights Network. Each year, the HRI brings together a select group of advocates and activists from across the United States to strategize with leaders in the field around the use of human rights mechanisms and standards in local advocacy efforts. The HRI provides tools for applying the human rights framework to local struggles for economic and social justice, such as the human rights to housing, health, education, decent work, and freedom from racial discrimination. The HRI also offers tailored workshops on organizing, messaging, and more. Interested applicants can find out more about the Institute here.

The 2012 Institute will take place March 28-30th in New York City. The institute is highly selective, and interested applicants are encouraged to apply early. The application form can be found on our website, or downloaded directly here . The priority deadline for applications with scholarship requests is January 9, 2012 . The scholarship request form can be downloaded here, and must be submitted with the general application form. The deadline for general applications (without a scholarship request) is January 16, 2012. Please note that the application process is free of charge. The registration fee of $100.00 (not covered by scholarship) applies to all accepted applicants. Women of color groups will be given priority.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions about the institute or the application process at 646-602-5641 or hri@urbanjustice.org.