Monday, May 3, 2010

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: May 3, 2010

Federal

Support the VITA Grant Program

VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is a program sponsored by the IRS to help low- and middle-income people file their income tax returns. Through the program, community partners engage and train volunteers and set up sites where clients can come to have their basic returns completed.

To gather support for this program, a Dear Colleague letter is being circulated in the House of Representatives. If you support this program, please contact your Representative and ask him or her to show their support for the work of VITA in your district by signing-on.

If the Representative is interested in signing the Dear Colleague letter, tell the staffer to contact Collin Masters in Representative Kilroy's office. The last day to collect signatures for the Dear Colleague Letter is Friday, May 7.

After connecting with your Representative's office, please send an update to Lucy Mullany, NCTC's Field organizer.

Help Preserve and Build Upon Tax Credits for Low-Income Children, Working Families and Students

Tax credits can help families buy what they need—while protecting children and boosting the economy. They can make a real difference in providing income to millions of families.

Congress will soon be taking up legislation to renew and improve some tax credits including the refundable Child Tax Credit (CTC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) (college assistance for low-income students).

The CTC ($1,000 per child) is partially refundable (15 percent of earnings above a threshold). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) reduced that threshold from $12,850 to $3,000 for 2009 and 2010.

However if Congress does not act, these tax credits will expire. If you support these programs, please urge your members of Congress to include provisions that:
  • would allow the 15 percent credit be counted from the first dollar of earnings;
  • preserve the EITC so it can help families with three or more children; and
  • reduce the EITC's marriage penalty.


State

Urge the Senate to Support the Industry Partnership Program 

On March 24th, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that would institutionalize the Industry Partnership program in Pennsylvania (HB 2230).

Industry Partnerships, or IPs, are a consortia of businesses with similar products, markets and human resources needs that come together to identify and address common workforce education and training issues. Currently, more than 6,300 employers across Pennsylvania participate in 74 Industry Partnerships, and more than 73,000 Pennsylvanians have benefited from IP training. Individuals trained through Industry Partnerships see an average wage increase of over 6 percent as a result of their training.

This bill now needs to be considered by the Senate Labor & Industry Committee in order to move forward. Once it is reported from committee, then the Senate can vote on the bill.

Please contact the members of the Senate's Labor Committee and ask them to considered HB 2230 this month.

Members of the Senate Labor & Industry Committee:
  • Honorable Senator John R. Gordner, Chairman jgordner@pasen.gov
  • Honorable Senator Lloyd K. Smucker, Vice Chair lsmucker@pasen.gov
  • Honorable Senator Christine M. Tartaglione, Minority Chair tartaglione@pasenate.com
  • Honorable Senator Joseph B. Scarnati, III, Ex-officio jscarnati@pasen.gov
  • Honorable Senator David G. Argall, Majority dargall@pasen.gov
  • Honorable Senator Mike Brubaker, Majority mbrubaker@pasen.gov
  • Honorable Senator Mike Folmer, Majority mfolmer@pasen.gov
  • Honorable Senator Charles T. Mcllhinney, Jr., Majority cmcilhinney@pasen.gov
  • Honorable Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr., Minority 787-5662
  • Honorable Senator Richard A. Kusunic, Minority 787-7175
  • Honorable Michael J. Stack, Minority stack@pasenate.com
Additional information about the committee members can be viewed at www.legis.state.pa.us.

For more information about the legislation, including talking points and a sample letter please visit www.workforcepa.com.

Urge Your Legislators to Support the adultBasic Program

adultBasic is an affordable health care option for adults who have recently lost coverage and meet certain income guidelines. Participants pay $36 a month and co-payments ranging from $10 to $50 for doctor and hospital visits. In Pennsylvania more than 40,000 are receiving the full benefits of the program, while the waitlist stands at over 380,000.

Unfortunately, this program will end on December 31, 2010 when a law requiring financial support from insurance providers will expire. Legislation has been introduced that will provide for continued payments until at least 2014, when the federal programs to provide coverage go into effect.

The House Insurance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on this bill on Tuesday May 4 at 9:00 am. If you would like to attend the hearing and visit legislators about the program, contact Athena with the Philadelphia Unemployment Project at aford@philaup.org or 267-257-6968. If you support this program but you cannot make it to Harrisburg on Tuesday, you can still call, write, or email your legislators.


Information/Events

Text4Baby Philadelphia Launch- May 5, 2010 from 2:00-2:30 PM

Maternity Care Coalition, the Pennsylvania affiliate of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) with a number of national, state and local partners is hosting a press conference to launch the Philadelphia text4baby campaign. Pregnant women and new mothers who participate in the program will talk about the benefits of text4baby.

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 from 2:00-2:30 pm
Press Conference to Launch Philadelphia Text4baby Campaign
Please Touch Museum - Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park
4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131, (215) 581-3181
featuring
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Donald F. Schwarz;
National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition's Arlene Remick;
Text4baby Outreach Partners, Moms and Babies;
and Loraine Ballard Morrill from Clear Channel Communications

Text4baby is a free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health. An educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), text4baby provides pregnant women and new moms with information to help them care for their health and give their babies the best possible start in life. Women who sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE in Spanish) will receive free SMS text messages each week, timed to their due date or baby's date of birth.

Representatives from 18 organizations, who have already signed on as outreach partners, will be on hand throughout the day to help women register for text4baby. It will also be an opportunity for new groups to sign on to the public/private partnership that will promote text4baby in the Philadelphia media market during an initial yearlong campaign, which kicks off just in time for Mother's Day.

To learn more about text4baby, you can also read about it on the PathWays PA Policy Blog.

National Crump Law Camp for High School Students

The National Bar Association is seeking student applicants entering grades 9 through 11 (between the ages of 14-17) for the Crump Law Camp. This program will introduce students to the judicial system. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage young people at an early age to become lawyers and seek legal careers in the future. Campers will be housed at the Howard University campus.

Open enrollment is available to students across the country, but emphasis will be on working with students from low income families so they can attend. Tuition for the camp will vary by income. The tuition covers transportation to/from Washington D.C., housing, meals, educational materials and expenses for field trips.

Camp begins July 11, 2010. Applications are available at
www.Nationalbar.org/lawcamp/ and are to be mailed to:

National Bar Association Crump Law Camp
P.O. Box 1048
Washington D.C. 20008
(301) 249-8355

Two-Day Train the Trainer Workshop

The United for a Fair Economy the Economic Justice Coalition are holding a train the trainer event on economic inequality, economic trends, and economic justice.

At this training, you will have the opportunity to:
  • Practice and receive constructive feedback on how to lead discussions and workshops on economic inequality;
  • Transform dry statistics into memorable learning experiences,
  • Learn about recent national economic trends, the rules and policies that contribute to growing economic inequality and the racial wealth divide.
  • Network and build solidarity with others working for economic justice.

WHEN: May 20 & 21st, 9-5 each day
WHERE: United Way Building, 17th and Ben Franklin Parkway

The cost of this event is $60-100 per person, based on a sliding scale per person. You can register online. If you have any questions please email Epwebb@gpuac.org or call 215-851-1759.


PathWays PA Information and Initiatives

PathWays PA New Publication: Keeping it Real – Teen Finances

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

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

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

Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.
  • Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.
  • If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is? Simply type your address here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm.

Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Kelly Binder at kbinder@pathwayspa.org.


Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.

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