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PathWays PA E-Newsletter: December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays! This will be PathWays PA’s last E-Newsletter for 2010. Thank you all for your support this past year and we look forward to your continued support in 2011. Be sure to check this Policy Blog for information until our next E-Newsletter on January 10, 2011.

Federal Policy Update
CHILD NUTRITION REAUTHORIZATION IS NOW LAW

Last week the new Child Nutrition Reauthorization, known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, was signed into law. This law broadens the Afterschool Meal Program to cover all 50 states (currently it covers just 13), supports the expansion of direct certification for school meals, improves area eligibility rules so more family child care homes can use the CACFP program, makes important reforms in the nutritional quality of food served in schools and child care, and makes “competitive” foods sold or offered in schools more nutritious.

To learn more about the act and its implementation join the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) for a Webinar series – CNR: Putting the Act into Action – to explore key improvements made by the bill and outline steps necessary for implementation.

Please be sure and contact your members of Congress to thank them for passing the bill.

DENYING CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE IS HARMFUL TO WOMEN

Does your employer-sponsored health insurance cover your birth control? Most of us couldn’t have said "yes" ten years ago.

This week marks an important anniversary of a major legal advance for women: ten years ago, in response to a petition filed by the National Women's Law Center, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that it is illegal sex discrimination for some employer-sponsored health insurance plans to cover prescriptions and preventive care but not to cover contraceptives for women.

This was a major legal advance for women, but our work is not done. We still need to make sure that the EEOC is doing all it can do to enforce its landmark ruling, and that women receive the full protection of the law.

In the coming weeks, the National Women’s Law Center will be working to make sure the new health care law also fulfills its promise of guaranteeing insurance coverage of contraceptives for all women regardless of employer coverage. Today, let's honor this important anniversary by asking the EEOC to ensure that women receive the contraceptive coverage from their employers to which they are legally entitled.

State Policy Update

BUDGET UPDATE

It is expected that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will have a deficit of between $4 billion and $5 billion for the new fiscal year beginning next July. The deficit is worsened by the expected loss of about $2 billion in federal stimulus funds, most of which have filled gaps in funding for public education, Medicaid and social service programs funded through the Department of Public Welfare.

The state will also face mandated increased in costs related to Medicaid, pensions and prisons. Without new revenue to close the budget gap there will likely be huge reductions in funding for important programs that many Pennsylvanians rely on.

Please begin talking to your legislators about the programs that are most important to you. You can contact your legislators by email or phone, or visit our Action Center to send personalized emails about important programs such as adult literacy and adultBasic.


Information/Events

HOLIDAYS AND THE UNEMPLOYED: JOBS AND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS NEEDED

Many are in need this holiday season as the unemployment rate in the country rose to 9.8 percent in November and in Philadelphia unemployment has been over 11 percent for 13 consecutive months. Despite the need, each week this month 4,000 -5,000 Philadelphians are exhausting their unemployment benefits.

Join Unemployed Workers, Faith and Labor Leaders and Local Lawmakers as we demand jobs and unemployment benefits for laid off workers.

WHEN: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 – 12:00 – 2:00
WHERE: Arch Street Methodist Church, the Corner of Broad and Arch Sts. Philadelphia

For more information, contact the Philadelphia Unemployment Project: 112 N. Broad Street, 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102. You can also reach PUP by calling 215-557-0822 or visiting www.philaup.org.


SOCIAL SECURITY POSTS ESTIMATOR TOOL IN SPANISH

The Social Security Administration has announced that the agency’s most popular online service – the Retirement Estimator – is now available in Spanish.

The Retirement Estimator uses a person’s own Social Security earnings record to provide immediate and personalized benefit estimates.

The Retirement Estimator is interactive and allows the user to compare different retirement options by changing retirement dates or expected future earnings. It protects the user’s personal information by providing only retirement benefit estimates -- it does not show the earnings information used to calculate the benefit estimate, nor does it reveal other identifying information.

The Retirement Estimator is the first of Social Security’s online services to be made available in Spanish. The agency plans to make its online retirement application and Medicare Extra Help application available in Spanish next year.

HOMELESS MEMORIAL DAY

Each year Project H.O.M.E and supporting agencies hold an annual candle light vigil known as Homeless Memorial Day, in which persons who are homeless or formerly homeless and passed away during the year are commemorated. This vigil will remember homeless and formerly homeless Philadelphians who died during 2010 and CALL for an awakened commitment to end homelessness.

WHEN: Tuesday, December 21 4:30-5:30 PM
WHERE: LOVE Park, 15th & Arch Streets, Philadelphia

For more information about the event: Contact Sonja Dobbins-Gillis at 215-232-7272 or sonjadobbins-gillis@projecthome.org.

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

Special PathWays PA Information/Events

PATHWAYS PA’S VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE (VITA) PROGRAM

You can bring cash back to families in need! Volunteer time during this tax season to bring BIG cash returns back to low-income working families & communities!

PathWays PA’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax preparation so low-income filers can access valuable tax refunds and credits. By volunteering only 3 to 4 hours a week, you can personally return over $30,000 to local working families! No tax experience is required, and free tax training provided. You can volunteer during the daytime, afternoons, evenings or weekends.

As a PathWays PA volunteer you will:
  • File tax returns, bringing thousands of dollars back to low-income working families
  • Become an IRS-certified tax preparer to complete simple tax returns
  • Volunteer at sites throughout Philadelphia & the Delaware County region
  • Have your own tax return filed for free!

Investing your time in our VITA program is an investment in your local families and communities! To get involved, please contact Sean Monahan at smonahan@pathwayspa.org or (610) 543-5022 ext. 258!

PATHWAYS PA OFFERS LANGUAGE/CIVICS COURSES

PathWays PA is offering a course meant for those interested in learning and improving their English while also covering:
  • United States History
  • Work Skills
  • Citizenship Process
  • Employment
  • Math
  • Reading

WHEN: Mondays & Wednesdays - 9:30 - 12:00 OR Tuesdays & Thursdays 5:00 - 7:30
WHERE: Darby Borough Hall, 821 Summit Street, Darby PA

For more information about the class, please contact Kelly Binder at 610-543-5022 X 227 or kbinder@pathwayspa.org.


Images courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PAState_Capitol_Back_a_Bit.JPG

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