As the budget discussion continues, I am writing today regarding several programs of critical importance to Pennsylvania.
First, the Industry Partnership (IP) program, which allows employers to improve and expand their workforce by bringing together companies committed to the development of their workforce. This program provides workers with access to skills training, allowing them to maintain their jobs and/or obtain employment with sufficient wages to adequately support their families. More than 6,300 businesses are involved with more than 70 IPs across the state, providing a powerful, cost-effective way to recruit and retain a 21st century workforce in Pennsylvania.
The next program of critical concern is Child Care Works Subsidy. These subsidies are of particular importance because child care is often the most expensive item in a family’s budget, and yet a cost that must be paid by most working families. These subsidies make child care, and therefore work, a possibility for many parents. Currently in Pennsylvania, over 15,000 people are eligible for the child care subsidies but are on the waitlist, where some families remain for months. While waiting for affordable child care, they must pay more than they can afford for child care, provide child care through an unreliable patchwork of friends, family, and substandard facilities, or risk losing their jobs at a time when employment is so hard to find.
Adult Education and Family Literacy is another essential program. In Pennsylvania, 37.9 percent of adults are struggling with basic literacy skills. Increased basic literacy opens doors to better jobs, higher wages, more secure employment, and additional education. More education also has a positive impact on all members of a family, including the increased likelihood that children will complete high school and go onto higher education.
Finally, I would like to focus on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. This Commission serves as a strong advocate for women’s rights. It works to identify and advance the diverse needs and interests of Pennsylvania’s women and girls and to provide opportunities to empower them to reach their highest potential. The Commission is a vehicle through which women can find resources in such areas as education, economic stability, and health care. In addition, the Commission is responsible for monitoring women’s education and employment needs and opportunities, promoting the upward mobility of women.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments on this information, and I look forward to working with you as the legislature debates these key issues.