Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PathWays PA E-Alert: June 13, 2011


SPECIAL EVENTS


Make Calls Now in Support of Paid Sick Days!


PathWays PA, a founding member of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, is working with the Coalition to pass a bill in Philadelphia that would ensure all workers have the right to earn sick days. This bill could come up for a vote as soon as this week, but to get there, it needs your support!

Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces would create a minimum standard of sick days for the 210,000 workers in Philadelphia who must “choose” during an illness between the jobs they need and the families they love. Workers could earn 1 hour of sick time for every 40 hours they work, up to 56 hours per year in a business of 11 or more employees and up to 32 hours per year in a business of 10 or less employees.

If you live in Philadelphia, please call your City Councilperson today to show your support for the bill. Here’s a script that you can use:

“I am calling today to let Councilperson _____ know that I strongly support Bill 080474, Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces, and I hope the Councilperson will support it as well. This bill will ensure that families like mine can earn sick days when they work so they don’t have to choose between the jobs they need and the families they love. Do you know if the Councilperson plans to vote for the bill?”

Please let us know the response you get by emailing us at policy@Pathwayspa.org.

Need to find the name of your councilperson? Visit the City Council website. Need to learn more about the bill? Download our FAQ.

You can also help us greet City Council members as they enter Session and then pack the Hearing Room to show the importance of this bill. Bring any signs or posters to represent why you support earned sick days. You can enter City Hall at the north-east corner and remember to bring a picture ID.

WHEN: June 16, 2011 9:00 AM
WHERE: 4th Floor, Philadelphia City Hall
To register to attend visit: http://earnedsickdayscouncilsession.eventbrite.com/

And remember, even if you don’t live in Philadelphia, you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and read the Earned Sick Days blog.


State Policy Updates

STATE LEGISLATORS CONSIDER CUTTING EMERGENCY HOUSING FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES AND CHILDREN

Even though the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and many counties have plans to end homelessness, state legislators and the Governor propose to continue the state’s trend of cutting funding from two key programs that serve homeless children, families, and individuals. If successful, hundreds of families and individuals would continue to be turned away from emergency and transitional housing as they have been this past year.

Pennsylvania’s Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) and the Human Services Development Fund (HSDF) are two small but successful programs targeting homeless populations. But state legislators have reduced their funding the past few years. They funded HAP in 2008 at $26.6 million and have gradually reduced it over time. This year, the House voted to cut it to $20.5 million for fiscal year 2011-2012. State legislators funded HSDF, which supports a variety of human services and not just homelessness, at $33.9 million in 2008, but has whittled HSDF down over the years. Governor Corbett proposes to completely eliminate HSDF, while the House proposes a $2 million reduction.

The reductions in state funding caused local administrators to cut emergency and transitional housing units. Since 2008, the number of transitional housing units (which are temporary housing plus services for at-risk families and individuals) has declined by 216 units, although Philadelphia and Allegheny counties make up the lion’s share of this reduction. In addition, Philadelphia was unable to meet 10 percent[i] of the overall demand for emergency shelter in 2010, turning away an unknown number of families and individuals. Women Against Abuse, a local domestic violence agency, reports that 6,000 victims were turned away during the same time.

These cuts were instrumental in reducing the number of homeless people served in Pennsylvania from 16,220 in 2007 to 14,415 (cite) in 2010. These total numbers include the number of homeless family members, which declined from 7,991 in 2007 to 7,325 in 2010, or 8.3%.[ii] With fewer beds, fewer homeless families were served.


ACTION ALERT: State legislators are voting soon so please act now. Contact your state senator and representative HERE and urge them to:
Fund Homeless Assistance Program at $22.6 million for FY 2011-2012
Fund Human Services Development Fund at $23.2 million for FY 2011-2012. From our friends at People’s Emergency Center.


PROTECT LAID-OFF WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Thanks to all of you who called your legislators, HB 916, which contained large scale, permanent cuts in Unemployment Compensation, was defeated today by a vote of 122-79. This vote is encouraging and shows that if we work we can preserve our unemployment benefits.

The Philadelphia Unemployment Project has created an online petition to show opposition to cuts in Unemployment Compensation and to continue the Extended Benefits program beyond June 11.

Please click on the link and sign onto the petition to your legislators and Governor Corbett:

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6560/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6914

Let's keep up the fight to protect laid off workers and their families in Pennsylvania!

From John Dodds, of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project.


PA HOUSE APPROVES DEEP CUTS TO SCHOOLS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES FOR VULNERABLE PEOPLE

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 109-92 to approve a state budget that sets spending at $27.3 billion for the 2011-12 fiscal year — the same amount proposed in Governor Tom Corbett's March budget plan. It cuts $1 billion from public schools and reduces Governor Corbett's budget by $471 million for health and human services for women, children and people with disabilities. It fails to enact a drilling tax on natural gas and leaves untouched a $500 million state revenue surplus.

The budget bill now heads to the Senate where it will likely be debated in early June.


Additional Resources

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has a detailed analysis of the House budget (House Bill 1485).
Better Choices for Pennsylvania has talking points on the House budget.

Take Action

Through Better Choices for Pennsylvania, you can take action in support of a more responsible budget. Call and email your lawmakers to urge them to use the revenue surplus and enact a drilling tax on natural gas before making deep cuts to education and health care.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is a non-partisan policy research project that provides independent, credible analysis on state tax, budget and related policy matters, with attention to the impact of current or proposed policies on working families.


Information/Events

ADVOCATE FOR THE HOMELESS TASK FORCE BILL

On March 7, 2011 the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 157, which establishes a task force on homelessness in the Commonwealth. All Philadelphia-area members of the committee supported the bill -- Anthony Williams (Phila), Daylin Leach (Montco), Robert Tomlinson (Bucks), and Andrew Dinniman (Chester). The Senate leadership then referred the bill to the Appropriations committee for a fiscal review. Advocates around the state are working to get the bill voted on and approved by the entire Senate.

BACKGROUND: The bill stems from concerns over the accuracy of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) estimate of 20,000 homeless children and young people in the Commonwealth last year. Several advocates and service providers suggest that the actual number is higher and that service delivery could improve.

To address these concerns the proposed task force would conduct a demographic study of Pennsylvania’s homeless families and measure duration of homelessness, number of episodes, and highest educational level attained. The study would also assess homeless students’ living situations, age and grade levels, school attendance rates, gaps in enrollment, average number of school changes, access to remedial services, access to and use of Title I funds, drop-out rates, and causes and signs of homelessness.

Many senators support SB 157. Senator Wayne Fontana (Allegheny) introduced the bill on January 18, 2011, and 23 of his colleagues co-sponsored the proposal. Local co-sponsors include Philadelphia senators Lawrence Farnese, Vincent Hughes, Shirley Kitchen, Christine Tartaglione, Michael Stack, Leanna Washington, and Anthony Williams, and suburban senators Stewart Greenleaf (Montgomery), Ted Erickson (Delaware), and Andrew Dinniman (Chester).

NEXT STEPS: Contact Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (Delaware) via email at dpileggi@pasen.gov and ask him to schedule SB 157 for a vote by the entire Senate.

This information provided by the People’s Emergency Center.


JOIN PHAN’S CALL SERIES ON TUESDAY NIGHTS FROM 6:00-7:00 PM

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network is constantly tracking what's happening in Harrisburg and DC and can give you the latest information.

Is there a topic you'd like to see featured on a call? Or do you have someone from your organization you'd like to suggest as a guest speaker? Click here to learn more about PHAN’s policy call series or to access resources from previous calls. Contact Athena with questions at aford@pahealthaccess.org.


SIGN THE PHILADELPHIA EARNED SICK DAYS PETITION

Over 40 percent of Philadelphia's workers don't have the ability to earn paid sick days. So whether it is the need to care for an ailing elder, or a sick child, or for oneself, there are thousands of people facing the choice of caring for themselves or their family and losing their job. Going to work or caring for an ailing family member is a choice no one should have to make. Visit the PathWays PA blog to read one Philadelphia woman’s story about her family’s need for paid sick time.

Click here to sign the petition to Philadelphia City Council if you support Earned Sick Days.


ACTION NEEDED TO PROTECT SNAP BENEFITS


Please sign and share the National, State and Community-based Organizational Letter Opposing Structural Changes and Budget Cuts to SNAP.

RAC and others in NAHO (National Anti-Hunger Organizations) have written a sign-on letter strongly opposing structural changes (e.g., a block grant) and budget cuts to SNAP. With your help, we hope to get thousands of national, state and local groups to sign on to this letter.

Please sign your organization onto this letter and send it to other organizations on your e-mail list.

Congressional leaders need to hear a strong message from groups around the country that Congress should protect SNAP from budget cuts and structural changes that would weaken its proven ability to help the poorest and hungriest people in the country.

Click here to read and sign the letter.

From our friends at the Food Research and Action Center. This information provided by PHENND.


CARIE LAUNCHES NEW PROJECT FOR CAREGIVERS OF THE ELDERLY
The Coalition of Advocates for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly has launched CaregiverGPS – The Elder’s Advocate, a web-based resource to help caregivers make decisions about elder care.
The website offers several interactive tools to help provide a customized experience for individuals facing a critical transition point in the care of a loved one. The purpose of site is to offer unbiased guidance based on a caregiver’s unique situation. It does so by gathering information through an on-site review of the individual’s situation. Users respond to statements about such things as the level of safety in the loved one’s home, opportunities for social contacts, health and personal care needs, financial resources and existing support system.
The website then offers an analysis that considers users’ responses to help them think about options that may be a good fit for their loved one. Caregivers in need of further assistance can also utilize CARIE OnLINE, or contact a CARIE LINE counselor at 215-545-5728 or 1-800-356-3506.
For more information, go here. From our Friends at UWSEPA.


SEPTA, PHILABUNDANCE JOIN FOR ANNUAL FOOD DRIVE
SEPTA and Philabundance have joined together for their annual food drive at SEPTA stations and other locations from June 6th through June 20th.
Last year, the drive collected the equivalent of 19.6 tons of food. Now in its third year, the food drive is particularly focused on donations of canned or shelf stabilized tuna, canned pasta, canned beef ravioli, creamy peanut butter (plastic containers only), and jelly (plastic containers only).
Online donations to Philabundance are also being solicited by going here. Any monetary contribution will count toward the total collected through the SEPTA 2011 campaign
For more details, go here. This information from UWSEPA.

CHESTER COUNTY OFFERS NEW WORKSHOP SERIES FOR UNEMPLOYED
A new series of free 12 Steps Toward Employment workshops for the unemployed and underemployed, part of the Chester County Workforce Investment Board's Road to Employment initiative announced last fall, have been scheduled for June 2011 in Exton, Phoenixville, Coatesville and Kennett Square.
Further information on the workshops, together with required registration and other employment assistance information for individuals and agencies, is available here.


ADDICTION RECOVERY GROUP ANNOUNCES LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY TRAINING
PRO-ACT, a grassroots group advocating for better understanding of addiction recovery, has announced a new regional training on How to Talk to Your Legislators and Get Them to Hear You.
The two-hour workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, June 29th, beginning at 6om at the PRO-ACT Recovery Training Center, 444 N. Third St., Suite 307, in Philadelphia.
The program will be offered again on Saturday, August 13th at 10am at the same location.
The workshop will address the legislative process and how to navigate the offices of elected officials, how to build relationships, and how to develop talking points and “leave-behinds” for meetings with legislators.
The workshop is free. To register, call William Webb at 215-923-1661. From our friends at UWSEPA.


STATE SENATOR PUBLISHES COMPREHENSIVE TEEN RESOURCE GUIDE
Pennsylvania Sen. Anthony Williams has created a Youth and Teen Resource Guide as a one-stop shop for young men and women.
The 16-page booklet provides a comprehensive list of youth organizations, after school programs and mentoring programs in Philadelphia and Delaware County that provide both summer and year round opportunities to engage our children.
Download the guide here. This information provided by UWSEPA.

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