Monday, February 20, 2012

PathWays PA E-Alert: February 20, 2012

Federal Policy Updates

PRESIDENT’S BUDGET PLAN EMPHASIZES INVESTMENTS IN CHILDREN 

President Barack Obama recently unveiled a 2013 federal budget that bolsters investments in children, with an emphasis on early childhood and K-12 education.

Overall, the president’s budget invests an additional $1.4 billion in programs that benefit children, a modest increase of less than 2 percent over the current year’s budget. His budget plan calls for:
  • $6 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, an $825 million increase (in discretionary and mandatory spending) that will serve an additional 70,000 kids and build on the progress of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge.
  • $8 billion for Head Start, an $85 million increase.
  • $12.4 billion – a $20 million increase – for special education funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Level funding of $14.5 billion for Title I grants to aid economically disadvantaged students.
  • $850 million for Race to the Top to continue pursuing innovations in education.
The budget proposal also calls for the establishment of a $5 billion competitive grant program to help states and school districts reinvigorate the teaching profession. The goals include building educator evaluation systems that rely on multiple measures to gauge teacher effectiveness and expanding professional development opportunities for teachers.

If you support these programs contact your members of Congress and ask them to do the same.

From our friends at PCCY.

ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION IS STILL UNDER ATTACK

Despite a compromise that would allow women, no matter who their employer is, to be provided with contraception without a co-pay, members of Congress have introduced four bills that would allow any employer to deny employees coverage of any health care service based on religious or moral objections. The four bills introduced nullify the contraceptive coverage rule issued under the authority of the Affordable Care Act’s preventive care requirement. Each of the four bills has additional elements:
  • S. 1467 and H.R. 3982 allow plans to refuse coverage for any essential health benefit, which would include maternity care, HIV/AIDS treatment, mammograms or cancer screenings;
  • S. 1467, H.R. 3982 and S. 2092 allow employers to refuse coverage on a broad definition of “moral” grounds, not just religious grounds;
  • H.R. 3982 would block the HHS regulation on preventive services from going into effect at all.
These proposals undermine the fundamental goal of the ACA -- to help more people be able to afford the services they need to stay healthy. If you disagree with these bills, let your members of Congress know that women, regardless of where we work, should have health care insurance that covers the services they need.

WAYS TO TAKE ACTION ON THE NEED FOR EQUAL PAY

Today, women are still earning 77 cents on the dollar that men earn. If you would like that to change there are a several things you can do to help support pay equity.
  • Talk to Congress about the Paycheck Fairness Act: The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in current equal pay legislation and prevent employers from retaliating against workers who voluntarily discuss their pay. You can contact Congress at http://bit.ly/yHmU62 or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
  • Do a Pay Equity Self-Audit: Take the time to make sure your company is abiding by fair pay practices through this self-audit, available at http://bit.ly/c8p6Ca.
  • Talk to Women and Girls About Nontraditional Jobs: One reason for pay inequity is that women often end up in low-paying "pink collar" jobs. Peer pressure and family pressure are two of the factors that keep women out of nontraditional workforce. Encouraging women and girls to look into Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs is a way to increase equity down the line, and the younger girls are when you talk to them, the better. For more information on green jobs for women, read this new publication by the Women's Bureau: Why Green is Your Color at http://1.usa.gov/wLkcUN.
State Policy Updates

HELP STOP HUNGER, REMOVE BARRIER TO FOOD STAMPS

Plans to implement an asset test requirement for the state’s food stamp recipients was recently announced in Pennsylvania. Beginning in May of 2012, people will need to prove that their assets (including savings' accounts and second cars) are below $5,500 ($9,000 for seniors) in order to receive food stamp benefits.
This policy will result in more than 4,000 families losing their food stamp benefits and likely create longer delays for people who desperately need food stamps.

Asset tests are rarely shown to be cost-effective, and Pennsylvania doesn't need them. The state has an extremely low rate of food stamp fraud at only one-tenth of one percent. That means for every $10 in federal SNAP benefits issued in Pennsylvania, only 1 penny is lost to fraud. As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently noted, implementing these asset tests will cost more state money than it saves, forcing Pennsylvania to spend taxpayer dollars when we simply can't afford it.

If you do not want to see asset tests for food stamps in Pennsylvania, sign this petition urging the Governor and the Department of Public Welfare to halt the planned asset tests immediately.

HELP SAVE GENERAL ASSISTANCE

In February, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett proposed to completely eliminate the General Assistance (GA) program along with its automatic eligibility for Medical Assistance.

GA is a program of last resort for over 67,000 Pennsylvanians. It pays only $205/month in most counties. But it truly is a program of life or death.

To qualify for GA, you must be:
  • A disabled or sick adult without children,
  • A domestic violence survivor (many of these survivors have just fled their abusers ),
  • An adult caring for someone who is sick or disabled, or for an unrelated child,
  • An adult participating in alcohol and other drug treatment programs, or
  • A child living with an unrelated adult.
If you would like to help save General Assistance join PA Cares for All.

Information/Events

THE PRESIDENT’S BUDGET AND BEYOND: A PIVOTAL YEAR AHEAD

The Coalition on Human Needs is holding a webinar on the President’s budget. The budget includes a balance of new revenues and spending cuts, while leaving room for investments to spur economic growth. Some in Congress will propose big spending cuts alone. The debate over these choices will have a huge impact on service providers’ ability to meet human needs, and on the state of the economy for years to come. And all these federal choices will roll into a battle over spending, taxes, and services before, during, and after the election.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 4:00 - 5:00 PM EST

Register today!

DROP-IN VOLUNTEER TRAINING

A year ago, the Community Center at Visitation (CCV) established a Drop-In Program for women actively engaged in prostitution in the Kensington Neighborhood of Philadelphia. The Drop-In Program provides an opportunity to reach out to, connect, and build relationships with women in this vulnerable situation of prostitution, poverty, and, usually, homelessness in order to invite each woman to look toward a next positive.
The Drop-In Program is staffed primarily by committed volunteers and Social Work Interns and its basic supplies (a meal, hygiene products, and coats) are donated by other volunteers and center partners. In order to keep doing this incredible work more volunteers are needed. For those interested the in volunteering the Center is holding a training.

WHEN: Thursday, March 15 at 7:00

For more information or questions email jlittrell@chs-adphila.org or call 215-426-9422 ext. 34203.

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