Friday, June 29, 2012

Elimination of General Assistance Delayed Until August 1

via PA Cares for All


Coalition to Save General Assistance

Elimination of General Assistance Delayed Until August 1

The PA Cares for All Coalition to Save General Assistance today announced that the elimination of the General Assistance program has been delayed one month, until August 1. Until today, all signs had pointed to its elimination on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year. House Bill 1261, the Welfare Code bill that will be enacted over the weekend to implement the state’s 2012-13 budget, was amended today to eliminate the General Assistance program effective August 1. General Assistance is a safety net program of last resort for over 68,000 Pennsylvanians who are unable to work, providing them access to critical medical care and a small cash grant ($205 a month in most counties) with rigid restrictions.

"On behalf of the hundreds of General Assistance recipients we represent every year, we are heartbroken at the loss of this vital safety net. Nonetheless, we are relieved that individuals who rely on GA for their entire source of income will have advance notice of its elimination,” said Louise Hayes, a staff attorney at Community Legal Services.

"In the midst of our sorrow at the elimination of GA, we are relieved that the community organizations and faith-based groups to whom former GA recipients will turn for help will have some time to prepare for this tragedy," added Liz Hersh, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance.


Liz Hersh, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania 215-576-7044 or (cell) 267-446-3302

Louise Hayes, Community Legal Services, 215-227-4734, or (cell) 484-477-5616

While the budget is now complete, you can still write letters to the editor and contact your legislators about the importance of General Assistance.

What the ACA Means for You

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act we thought we would remind you of the benefits of this bill. Below is a timeline of when aspects of the bill have or will go into effect:

Already in effect:
  • Individuals who were not been able to find coverage because of a pre-existing condition are eligible for subsidized coverage through a high-risk insurance program 
  • Many insurance plans are prohibited from placing lifetime limits on medical coverage 
  • Insurance companies can no longer cancel policies of people who become ill 
  • Children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage 
  • Dependent children can remain on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26 
  • Senior citizens receive more help paying for drugs in Medicare 
  • There is more oversight of premium increases 
In 2014:
  • State insurance marketplaces called “exchanges" will be created
  • Individuals with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied insurance
  • State Medicaid programs will be expanded
  • All lifetime and annual limits on coverage would be eliminated 
  • Employers with 50 or more workers could face federal fines for not providing insurance coverage
  • Individuals who do not obtain coverage could face a tax (In the first year they would owe $95, or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. The penalty would then increase to $695, or 2 percent of income. Families who fall below the income-tax filing thresholds would not owe anything. Nor would people who cannot find a policy that costs less than 8 percent of their income.) 
We also have written A LOT about health care reform over the last few years, see more information about this important bill below:

Health Care Round Up

Below are some articles we found interesting about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act.
To read all 193 pages of the opinion click here:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Save General Assistance!

Rep. Murt (R-Montgomery Co) has filed Amendment 12224 to the budget bill
(SB 1466 PN 2261). This amendment will partially restore General
Assistance, a last-resort program that provides a critical bridge to
stability and self-sufficiency for 70,000 Pennsylvanians.
Under the amendment, the General Assistance program will be reformed,
saving Pennsylvania over $108 million per year by eliminating
eligibility for Pennsylvanians whose disabilities are projected to last
less than 12 months. It will preserve General Assistance for
* domestic violence survivors (for 9 months in one's lifetime)
* children being cared for by non-relatives
* people with more serious disabilities and illnesses who are waiting
for a decision on their SSI or SSDI application from the Social Security
* people who are actively enrolled in drug & alcohol treatment
programs (for 9 months in one's lifetime).
If this amendment fails concerning the General Assistance program, which
was created during the depths of the Great Depression to provide a
hand-up to our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, will be eliminated. And
General Assistance recipients will not simply vanish. They will flood
shelters, soup kitchens, churches and other houses of worship, and
overwhelm our human service providers. In the end, eliminating General
Assistance will cost far more than it will save.
Please contact your House member by phone or email. Use the first action item (Urge your House Member to Vote yes on Amendment 12224 to SB 1466 PN 2261 ).

Supreme Court Upholds the Affordable Care Act!

Today the Supreme Court Announced their decision on the Affordable Care Act. The main issues being looked at included the individual mandate and the expansion of the eligibility for Medicaid. For a full explanation of the arguments, click here.

Just moments ago the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to uphold the Affordable Care Act. 

On the individual mandate the Court ruled that it was constitutional under the government's power to tax. The opinion declared:
"Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it."
As for the expansion of the eligibility of Medicaid, the Court held that it is constitutional but that the government cannot withhold Medicaid funds for non-compliance with the expansion requirements. Basically, the Constitution requires that states have a choice about whether to participate in the expansion of eligibility. If a state decided not to expand eligibility they can still receive funding for their program.
"Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding."
Want more details about the Supreme Court ruling and what it means for Pennsylvania? Join PHAN. Get on the phone today! Dial-into one of these 15 minute calls:
  • 1:00 PM 
  • 4:00 PM 
  • 7:00 PM 
Dial 712-451-6000 enter passcode 275893# to hear a PHAN staff person talk you through the decision and what it means for Pennsylvania.

We would like to thank the SCOTUSBlog for their timely and thorough explanation of the decision. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

After the Supreme Court Decides, It's Our Turn

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule tomorrow on the high profile legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act. After the court speaks, it will be our turn.

This Thursday and Friday supporters of the health reform law will gather at events across Pennsylvania to say that no matter what the court decides Pennsylvanians want and deserve strong consumer protections and reforms to our health care.

In Pennsylvania, the Affordable Care Act has allowed 91,000 young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans, saved seniors an average of $662 per person on prescription drug costs, and provided free preventive care to 1.5 million seniors on Medicare and to hundreds of thousands of people with private insurance.

The law protects millions of Pennsylvanians from the worst insurance company abuses. Insurers can no longer deny you coverage for a necessary treatment, pull your coverage when you need it most, or put lifetime or annual limits on your benefits.

Have your own story to tell about the new health care law? Email Athena at the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) or sign up to be part of PHAN's Rapid Response Team. Or Tweet your stories: Use the hashtag #ACAMeans and finish the sentence with what the law means for you. Get ready for a Twitter Rally on the day of the decision, using hashtags #ACA4PA, #SCOTUS, and #ACA.

Join other Pennsylvanians at an event near you this Thursday or Friday to show your support for these and other critical reforms included in the Affordable Care Act!

Day of the Decision: Thursday, June 28, 2012 

Harrisburg at 3:00 PM
State Capitol Front Steps
3rd Street Entrance
More info: Athena at (267) 257-6968

Scranton at 3:00 PM
The John Mitchell Statue
200 Adams Avenue
More info: Roxie at

Wilkes-Barre at 3:00 PM
Public Square
Meet at the South Main Street Corner across from Rite Aid
More info: Roxie at

Day after Decision: Friday, June 29, 2012 

Allentown at 12 Noon
 Harry A Roberts Plaza
More info: Dan at (610) 736-3264

Bucks County at 12 Noon
Rep. Tina Davis' Office
3611 Green Lane, Levittown
More info: Robin at

Lancaster at 12 Noon
Binn's Park
100 Block North Queen Street
More info: Jonathan at (717) 475-8810

Philadelphia at 12 Noon
Governor Corbett's Office
Meet outside the Bellevue 224 S. Broad Street
 More info: Athena at (267) 257-6968

Pittsburgh at 12 Noon
Governor Corbett's Office
Meet outside, 301 Fifth Ave (near Fifth and Wood Street, Downtown)
More info: Erin at (412) 512-9225

Reading at 12 Noon
633 Court Street
More info: Mike at (610) 568-0937

Events are being hosted by the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, Keystone Progress, Know Your Care and several other groups working for meaningful health care reform.  This alert was sent to us by the Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Budget Numbers Hot Off The Presses

The latest state budget numbers were released earlier this afternoon.  This budget includes a spend number of $27.656 million, about $500,000 more than the Governor's budget earlier this year.  This budget may not be the final budget, but it gives some insight into where funding will go.

The biggest news is the removal of the Human Services Block Grant, which had been under heavy scrutiny since its proposal by the Governor.  In February, Governor Corbett contended that creating a block grant would diminish the red tape counties face and provide them with savings as justification for his decision to cut 20% of the funding from the programs included.

While the block grant has been removed, possibly in place of some new language around executive compensation, at least some of the budget cuts associated with the grant remain.  Several of the items covered under the grant, such as Mental Health Services and Homeless Assistance, have lower budgets than last year. Under the budget released today, Mental Health Services would lose $54 million, and Homeless Assistance would lose $2 million.

So far, this budget does not restore General Assistance funding.  General Assistance is a program of last resort for single adults who are unable to work due to disability, domestic violence, or drug/alcohol treatment.  The program provides these adults with $205/month on average while they await federal SSI or complete treatment for other issues.  To learn more about GA, please visit

The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program also fell victim to the budget as it was zeroed out based on the numbers released today.

Other budget cuts are being felt in the Department of Environmental Protection, which lost funding in every line item for a total loss of $11.889 million.  The Pennsylvania Higher Education Agency saw losses to Grants to Students (-$36 million), Matching Payments for Student Aid (-$658,000), Higher Education for the Disadvantaged (-$118,000), and Higher Education of Blind or Deaf Students (-2,000).   

However, Basic Education funding increased by $49 million, and Job Training and Education Programs increased by $2.45 million.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Last Stand for General Assistance

June 28, 2012 Update - Representative Murt has introduced an amendment that could save part of GA. If you support this amendment please call your state legislator immediately.  To learn more, visit 

Our friends at PA Cares for All are taking a last stand (or several last stands) against ending General Assistance, a program of last-resort that provides a bridge to stability and self-sufficiency for over 68,000 Pennsylvanians without children who are sick or disabled; domestic violence survivors fleeing abuse; and individuals who are in alcohol and other drug programs. If you are interested in keeping GA in Pennsylvania, please consider one of the following actions:
  • Sign On to A Letter Against Cutting General Assistance:  Michael Froehlich at Community Legal Services is collecting signatures for the letter below, which will then be sent to Governor Corbett.  If you would like to sign on, please email him. The letter is below:
Dear Governor Corbett:
We are writing you today with a critical request. We understand that your administration has proposed eliminating General Assistance, the last resort program for 70,000 Pennsylvanians with disabilities. Yesterday, the Department of Public Welfare released a draft operations memorandum to stop General Assistance effective July 1 with no advance notice or warning. Most people who receive General Assistance will learn that their General Assistance has ended when they go to withdraw their money to pay their rent in July. We urge you to reconsider this action and provide at least 30 days notice to these individuals that their sole source of income will be stopped.
The abrupt termination of General Assistance without notice will cause extreme chaos and confusion. Here in Philadelphia, for example, 35,097 people will lose their sole source of income overnight. Our shelter system and network of human services providers are simply not equipped to deal with this sudden and enormous demand for their services.
Individuals receiving General Assistance have already been found to be disabled by their doctors and temporarily unable to work. It will be very difficult for these individuals to find jobs immediately, especially with 475,000 other Pennsylvanians currently out of work.
  • Join the Vigil and Rally at Senator Pileggi’s Chester Office on June 27: Women from domestic violence programs, people with disabilities, and advocates for fairness from throughout Southeast Pennsylvania will be gathering together at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, June 27, at the Senator’s Chester City office, 415 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA 19013. This location is near the SEPTA train station and on major bus routes.
  • Call and Fax Senator Pileggi’s District Office on Wednesday: Simply say who you are, and why you are looking to Senator Pileggi to take the moral high road by reinstating General Assistance. Regardless of your voting district, as Senate Leader, he can help protect those most in need. His district office telephone is 610-447-5845; the fax is 610-447-5848.

Do You Oppose Automatic Federal Budget Cuts?

From our friends at CHN

To date, nearly 2,000 organizations have signed CHN's letter against automatic human services cuts in the federal budget. In order to accommodate more groups, the deadline has been extended until COB June 29, 2012.  If your organization has not done so already, CHN encourages you to sign - and forward to your colleagues - this letter urging Congress to avoid sequestration’s across-the-board cuts by passing a “balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to nondefense discretionary programs.”

Here is some background information:

  • The jargon: 
    • the domestic and international programs subject to these cuts are known as “non-defense discretionary (NDD)” programs. 
    • “Sequestration” (aka “the sequester”) is the federal budget term for the automatic cuts scheduled to begin in January. To learn more, click here
  • In response to these potentially destructive cuts, a unique group of organizations has come together to protect the funding for these core government functions. 
  • This group of organizations, including the Coalition on Human Needs, is urging organizations to sign this letter, asking Congress to avoid the sequester by passing a “balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs.” 
  • All national, state and local organizations are encouraged to sign by June 29, 2012
If you have additional questions, please click here to email Emily Holubowich, Executive Director of the Coalition for Health Funding and one of the coordinators of this important effort. Here are a few "Frequently Asked Questions" about this sign-on letter

For a copy of the letter, click here.

Office of Financial Empowerment

From our friends at CHN

On Monday, June 25 at 3pm, ET, you are invited to join Director Richard Cordray and senior staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for a special briefing call to officially launch CFPB’s new Office of Financial Empowerment.

The Office of Financial Empowerment will promote access to products and services that will help low-income and other economically vulnerable consumers achieve financial stability.

To register, please RSVP with your name and organization affiliation by e-mailing


• Richard Cordray, Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
• Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director for Consumer Education and Engagement; and
• Clifford Rosenthal, Assistant Director for the Office of Financial Empowerment

This call is off the record and not for press purposes.

FMLA Webinar

On June 27 at 2 PM, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division will host a free webinar to help workers and employers understand the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The webinar will give workers and employers a chance to submit questions that will be answered by an FMLA expert from the department. Workers and employers who wish to participate can register at

As part of the department's continuing effort to make the FMLA more accessible, the department has published "Need Time? The Employee's Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act." The booklet is designed to answer questions such as who can take qualifying leave and what protections the law provides, and is available at

Friday, June 22, 2012

Special Budget Alert: June 22, 2012

By now, many of you have heard that a spending number has been set in Harrisburg for the 2012-2013 budget.  What remains to be seen is how the $27.66 billion will be spent.  Here is what we've been hearing:
Please keep an eye on our Policy Blog over the weekend and next week for the latest updates.

As we wait for details, there are many calls for action.  Please make calls on the issues you care about.   


    Earned Income Tax Credit outreach initiatives throughout the state, including our work at PathWays PA, are at risk of losing their funding from DPW in the upcoming fiscal year.

    Over 2000 families filed returns just with PathWays PA this year, giving them access to free, IRS-certified tax services, financial literacy tools, and quick refunds without paying high interest fees.

    Please call your legislator to ask for their support on the Earned Income Tax Credit. You can find their contact information at You can use the following language:

    "Outreach around the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program for working families, is at risk in the Department of Public Welfare. Will Senator/Representative X call or write to Secretary Alexander asking for the continuation of the program?"

    You can write a letter in support of the program or visit here to learn more.


    The nationally recognized Industry Partnership program is funded at the same amount in the state budget as last year. However, it also had another funding source last year that is no longer available.

    Workforce PA is looking for a "power surge" of support today, June 22.
    They ask that:
    • If you haven't contacted a legislator, please do so immediately.
    • If you have already contacted a legislator, please contact them again.
    Workforce PA is asking for an additional $6 million as a life-line to IPs. That money will help them operate for another year and is critical for IPs ultimate survival.

    The Governor supports increased revenue - if you do, you can write a letter or email, or learn more here.



    (via The Fair Share Coalition)

    Last week, City Council "held" Bill 120174, which would repeal the Cohen wage tax rebate law. However, they could still choose to pass the bill on June 28. If you support the Cohen wage tax rebate, please visit their Facebook page to take action.

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Shopping for Handbags, Jewelry or Tea?

    Shopping bagAnyone planning on doing some shopping for handbags, tea, or jewelry before June 30? If so, check out the following generous vendors who are donating a portion of their profits to PathWays PA!

    You can purchase online or request a catalog from Fran at If you buy online, please be sure to reference our representative (listed below) and PathWays PA!

    Touchstone Crystal Jewelry
    Representative: Kimmie Fetters

    Gigi Hill Bags
    Representative: Ave Marie Volinsky

    Take Time for Tea
    Representative: Ave Marie Volinsky

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    Free Children's Dental Care June 20th

    Do You Use Pinterest?

    Do you pin? Because starting today, we do! Please follow us on Pinterest and let us follow you!

    PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 18, 2012

    Federal Policy Updates


    Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the 2013 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. This bill includes the funding for most child welfare and related programs.

    The Senate bill includes small but important funding increases for a number of programs critical to vulnerable children and families.
    • $70 million increase for Head Start $160 million increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) designed to both improve quality and expand access
    • $51 million increase for the Race to the Top program with an accompanying focus on early childhood care and education
    • $20 million increase for Promise Neighborhoods, a program designed to support local efforts to fight poverty and improve educational outcomes for children in high-risk neighborhoods
    • $5 million in additional IV-B training funds to prevent domestic child sex trafficking and improv e services for victims of trafficking by training and building capacity in organizations that have direct contact with youth at-risk of sex trafficking
    Next, the bill will have to be considered by the full Senate. The House will also have to take action on this bill but a timeline on this is not yet clear.

    From our friends at CWLA.

    State Policy Updates


    Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) outreach initiatives throughout the state, including our work at PathWays PA, are at risk of losing their funding from the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) in the upcoming fiscal year. Over 2000 families filed returns just with PathWays PA this year, giving them access to free, IRS-certified tax services, financial literacy tools, and quick refunds without paying high interest fees.

    Please take a moment to write to Secretary Alexander and to your legislators about the need for Earned Income Tax Outreach funding.


    The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Program (HEMAP) was credited with saving up to 47,000 homeowners from foreclosure over more than 27 years in existence. But as a result of budget cuts last year, the program ended July 1, 2011 leaving many homeowners struggling to keep a roof over their head.

    But this program might be coming back. Just last week the House passed Senate Bill 1433, the Homeowner Assistance Settlement Act. SB 1433 is now awaiting action by the Governor. If become law soon the Pennsylvania Housing Financial Authority said they could start accepting HEMAP applications by early July.

    Please call to thank your members of the House and Senate for supporting homeowners in Pennsylvania by supporting this important program.


    Did you know that in Pennsylvania it's legal to charge women more for health care? Health insurance companies say it's because women can have babies, but a woman is likely to be charged discriminatory rates throughout her entire life. The new health care law ends this and bans insurance companies from counting pregnancy as a 'pre-existing condition.' But, those protections don't go into place until 2014.

    Women can't wait! We need equal access to doctors today. Sign the petition and urge your legislators to give these protections to Pennsylvania women now.

    Whatever the Supreme Court decides, women in Pennsylvania deserve these protections!

    Information and Events


    From our friends at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project. Please feel free to share it with the women in your life.

    If you have not had a mammogram yet and do not have health insurance, you may qualify for a free one. Over 12,000 women in Pennsylvania are diagnosed each year with breast cancer. If it's found early, the five-year survival rate is 98%. A mammogram can save your life.

    To find out if you qualify, contact Leslie at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project. Leslie is a volunteer who is trained in mammogram referrals and will help you get your free mammogram.

    Call 215-557-0822 ext. 114 on Wednesdays and ask for Leslie or email her any day at

    Don't put this off any longer! If you would like to volunteer to help women get access to free mammogram, let Leslie know.


    A directory of 2012 Philadelphia summer youth programs is now available on the city's website.

    This website will serve as an interactive source for information about the available summer youth programs - organized by age and area. There are thousands of opportunities for children, tweens and teens this summer. Visit this website for programs in your neighborhood and help with program enrollment.


    The Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) has received a planning grant from the Noyce Foundation to determine the extent to which Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities are currently offered in Pennsylvania out-of-school (OST) programs and ultimately to expand STEM access, programming, quality and assessment throughout the Commonwealth.

    If you work directly with OST youth, or administer or support OST programs in some capacity, please take a few minutes to complete the OST STEM Survey by clicking on the following link:

    In addition to helping to map Pennsylvania OST STEM, those who complete the survey will have the opportunity to be entered in a drawing for one of two $50.00 Gift Cards and a NOOK Tablet! The survey deadline is Wednesday, June 27, 2012.


    The Restaurant Opportunities Center of Philadelphia (Philly-ROC) is hosting an art show featuring art created by restaurant workers to highlight the creativity that thrives amongst the workers who prepare and serve us food and drink. The art show will be on August 5 and some pieces will also be exhibited at a summit on September 4 that highlights issues in the restaurant industry.

    If you are an artist who works in the restaurant industry, you can submit 2-3 pieces for the show by: emailing or calling (267) 867-9797.

    Deadline for submitting pieces is July 6, but participating artists must confirm that they will be submitting pieces by June 27.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    PathWays PA Job Postings

    Learning Center Group Supervisor
    Experience in preschool setting and knowledge of early childhood development required. Develop and implement individualized educational goals for children. Requires a minimum Associates Degree from an Accredited College or University, including 30 credit hours in early childhood education, child development, special education, elementary education, or the Human Services field and three years of experience with children. BSW preferred. E-mail or Fax resumes to: LD/CFF/LC at 610-328-2807.

    Residential Advisor – Delaware County
    PathWays PA needs a caring and motivated individual to provide support and supervision for our Delaware County group home serving women and children; HS/GED, Associates Degree and experience preferred. 4pm to 12am and alternate weekends. Second position available on a part time basis.
    E-mail or fax resumes to: LD/CFF at 610-328-2807.

    Residential Advisor/Part-Time Weekends - Philadelphia
    PathWays PA needs a caring and motivated individual to provide support and supervision for our Philadelphia group home serving women and children; HS/GED, Associates Degree and experience preferred. Weekend hours, 4:00 PM to 12:00 AM and 12:00am to 8:am Saturday and Sunday. Please indicate which shift you would be interested in applying for. E-mail or fax resumes to: LD/SIL2 at 610-328-2807.

    Trauma-Informed Therapist
    PathWays PA is seeking quality therapists to provide trauma-informed therapeutic services to women, teen mothers and teen girls in their homes. Must be trained-in trauma-informed services and be familiar with the Sanctuary Model; must also be comfortable addressing sexual abuse, intimate partner violence and crisis intervention. Need to be flexible to work around clients' schedules. Degree in social work or psychology required; license preferred. Philadelphia and some DELCO area. Full time and Part time position available. Fax resumes to: BD/LD 610-328-2807

    AmeriCorps* VISTA Volunteers
    Veterans/Underserved Financial Education 

    The VISTA member will play an essential role in our financial literacy program, which provides financial education and public benefits outreach. He or she will be directly contributing to the overall success of the program by working to disseminate information to new and current partners, recruiting new organizational contacts, and developing new publications and resources. This work will ultimately improve the impact of our program. To apply for this position click on this link: or fax your resume to MDP/LD at 610-328-2807.

    Economic Opportunity

    PathWays PA is pursuing several new opportunities to build capacity in financial education work. A VISTA member as part of any of these ventures would be key in recruiting organizations and individuals to attend the center, to create and deliver workshops at the center, and to provide data collection, tracking, and benchmarking as this new project takes off. Other potential projects include recruitment, data collection and tracking for a new incentive-based financial education program to ensure clients stay engaged and work towards long-term financial success. This project may include a research-based component involving a control group and a study group. A VISTA presence would be crucial in developing tracking and measurement materials and increasing the knowledge of existing staff around data and research methods. To apply for this position click on this link: or fax your resume to MDP/LD at 610-328-2807


    The VISTA member will play an essential role in our work within the healthcare industry. He or she will be directly contributing to the overall success of the program by working to disseminate information to our partners, preparing workshops, and encouraging healthcare workers in their financial education. To apply for this position click on this link: or fax your resume to MDP/LD at 610-328-2807

    Requirements for all VISTA positions:
    • Bachelor's Degree preferred
    • Basic Computer Skills (Intermediate or Advanced a plus)
    • Strong Interpersonal Skills
    • Strong Work Ethic
    • Good Communication Skills – Oral & Written
    • Good Organizational Skills
    • Experience working with diverse populations
    • Interest in Non-profit and/or Financial Education

    AmeriCorps* VISTA Benefits:
    • Monthly Stipend – Approximately $470/two weeks
    • Health Benefits
    • Child Care Assistance (for those who qualify)
    • Relocation Assistance (for those who qualify)
    • End of year Stipend ($1,200) or Educational Award ($4,725)
    • Life Insurance Option
    • Transportation Reimbursement (provided by PathWays PA)

    PathWays PA is an Equal Opportunity Employer

    Too Pregnant for Health Insurance?

     From our friends at PHAN

    At the age of 22 Stephanie Perez had completed college, was onto graduate school, healthy and excited to be bringing a new baby girl into this world.

    This was 4 years ago - before the Affordable Care Act - so it was perfectly legal when her grandfather, legal guardian, received a letter saying Stephanie would be kicked off his health insurance on her 23rd birthday - the same month her baby was due.

    When Stephanie tried to purchase insurance in the private marketplace, she was either denied or companies refused to cover her pre-existing condition: pregnancy.

    If the Affordable Care Act were law and all its provisions had been implemented when Stephanie was 23 here is what would be different:
    1. Stephanie would not be denied health insurance coverage due to pregnancy, or any other pre-existing condition.
    2. Stephanie would be able to buy affordable health insurance in the state insurance marketplace, which would have guaranteed maternity and newborn care coverage in every plan.
    3. Stephanie would be able to stay on her guardian's plan until she was 26.

    The Supreme Court will announce their decision on the constitutionality of the ACA before the end of June, and we must be ready to stand united for women's health.

    Join the Rapid Response Team with PathWays PA and the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, and find out about the actions people will be taking that day to support women's health. Don't wait - Sign up today!

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Support Funding for Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach!

    EITC outreach initiatives throughout the state, including our work at PathWays PA, are at risk of losing their funding from DPW in the upcoming fiscal year. Over 2000 families filed returns just with PathWays PA this year, giving them access to free, IRS-certified tax services, financial literacy tools, and quick refunds without paying high interest fees.

    Please take a moment to write to Secretary Alexander and to your legislators about the need for Earned Income Tax Outreach funding.

    Repeal of the Cohen Wage Tax Rebate

    From our friends at the Fair Share Coalition
    On Thursday, June 14, at Noon, in Room 400, City Hall, City Council's Committee of the Whole will vote on Bill 120174, the repeal of the Cohen wage tax rebate law. 
    Since 2004, Philadelphia has had wage tax relief for low and moderate income workers, similar to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and state Tax Back/Tax Forgiveness programs. But, the start date of the law has continuously been postponed, so that it is not scheduled to begin until 2016.

    Under the law, for example, a two-parent, two-child family with a household income up to $34,250 would be eligible to receive some of their wage taxes back. So would a one-parent, three-child family with an income up to $37,250. The law, championed by the late Councilman David Cohen, is the first and still only progressive wage tax legislation ever passed in Philadelphia.
    If you support the tax credit, you can do the following:

    • call your District Councilperson and all At-Large Councilpeople today and urge them to Vote No this Thursday, June 14, on Bill 120174. You can find their phone numbers here: City Council members have so far stated they will oppose the repeal. 9 votes are needed to STOP the repeal.
    • On Thursday, June 14, at Noon, come to City Council, Room 400, City Hall, and demand that City Council NOT REPEAL wage tax relief for lower-income Philadelphians. Your presence is critical to stopping this attack on working families in Philadelphia.
    • If the repeal bill is voted out of Committee this Thursday, June 14, it will be up for final passage in City Council on Thursday, June 21, at 10 AM. Your calls to City Council members would then continue to be needed through Wednesday, June 20 and your presence in City Council on Thursday, June 21 at 10 AM would be crucial to defeating this tax increase targeted to working class Philadelphians.

    For more information, contact Sherrie Cohen, of the Fair Share Coalition, at 215-620-3396 or email

    Mini-Budget Update - Industry Partnerships

    In this proposed Commonwealth Budget for FY 2012-2013, Governor Corbett recommended state funding for the Industry Partnership program at $1.4 million. (This is approximately the same amount that is funding the program this year.) However, "Rapid Response" funding last year also provided additional money to the program.  This year, the "Rapid Response" money is not available for this pool of workers, and there is concern that this funding will not be enough to fully continue the nationally recognized Industry Partnerships program.

    With increased revenue, the Governor has expressed support for increased funding.  You can use the following customized letter or email to talk to your legislators about increasing the funding as well.

    Where Should $1.65 Billion in PA Budget Money Go: To Human Services or a Shell Oil Plant?

    From Better Choices for Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania is poised to give away an unprecedented cash grant to the second largest company on the planet. The Governor's proposed deal would give Shell Oil up to $1.65 billion over 25 years to build and operate an ethylene cracker plant in Pennsylvania. This giveaway comes as the state prepares to eliminate General Assistance completely and make deep cuts to schools, human services, adult literacy and domestic violence programs.

    If you do not approve of this choice, add your name and organization to a sign-on letter to lawmakers voicing concern about the Shell tax break and calling for legislative hearings. This debate is moving quickly--please sign on by 5 PM today.

    Sign the letter

    Legislators from both parties are raising questions about the deal. But they are under pressure to get the budget done, so it will take a steady drumbeat of questions and criticism from constituents to stop it.

    Weigh in to preserve decades of funding that should be going to our schools, human services, adult literacy, job training, and prevention programs. Add your name and organization to our sign-on letter to lawmakers.

    Payday Lending Update

    Last week, the House approved 300% interest rate debt to come flooding into the state. The House passed a bill to legalize predatory payday loans by a slim margin. (See how your representative voted here.) Now, the decision now rests in the hands of your Senator. Call today to share your feelings on payday loans.

    Payday loans are small-dollar, extremely high-interest loans, which typically carry triple-digit interest rates of 300% annually or higher. They are called payday loans because they generally must be paid back in full, with all interest and fees, on the borrower’s next payday.

    While payday lenders market these loans as “short-term” or “emergency” loans, they really are just a debt trap. Because the loans are so expensive, secured by access to the borrower’s checking account, and due in full just two short weeks later, most people who take out a payday loan are unable to pay it back and still have enough money to pay for their regular expenses. Borrowers then have to either renew the loan or take out another payday loan shortly thereafter just to make ends meet. This begins the debt trap cycle.

    According to a comprehensive report on payday lending conducted by the Department of Defense, "The debt trap is the rule not the exception: the average borrower pays back $864 for a $339 loan.” Payday loans were so harmful to the finances and military readiness of our service members that Congress established a 36% APR rate cap for military families

    Fortunately for Pennsylvania residents, payday lending at triple-digit interest rates has long been illegal under Pennsylvania law. Our state strictly regulates small-loan lenders: unlicensed lenders may charge only 6% interest annually and lenders licensed by the Banking Department may charge higher rates of about 24% annually.

    Call today to share your feelings on payday loans.

    Mini-Budget Update-Supporting the American Community Survey

    (via The Census Project)
    Next Tuesday, June 19 is an important date to mark on your calendar. The Congressional Joint Economic Committee is holding a public hearing on the economic impact of eliminating the American Community Survey (ACS) at 2:30 p.m., in Room 210 of the Canon House Office Building. Witnesses that will be speaking in opposition to the move to eliminate the ACS are Vincent Barabba, former director of the Census Bureau in two GOP administrations and Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Association of General Contractors and also representing the National Association of Business Economists. It is very important that we pack the congressional hearing room! If you cannot come, please urge your colleages to come. If you represent a non-DC organization contact your friends in Washington and urge them to attend.

    Also on Tuesday of next week some of our congressional supporters will be holding a noon press conference in the so-called House Triangle right outside the Capitol, next to the steps of the House of Representatives. It is another event we hope you can attend. Several representatives of the Census Project will speak.
    Finally, we will have a short meeting of the Census Project prior to the Joint Economic Committee hearing to give participants an update on our Congressional strategies and next steps. We urge you to attend! The meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. in Room 441 of the Canon House Office Building.

    You should also know that census historian Margo Anderson of the University of Wisconsin has written a succinct one-page fact sheet on the history of the long form/ACS questions and their relationship to the decennial census. The fact sheet is posted on the Census Project website at (

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 11, 2012

    Federal Policy Updates


    This week, the Senate is expected to begin consideration of the Farm Bill (S. 3240). The proposal includes a $4.5 billion cut to SNAP over 10 years by reducing the ability of states to take part in the “Heat and Eat” program. The cut would mean that an estimated 500,000 households a year would lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits.

    But there is hope. There is an amendment circulating in the Senate that would restore, over 10 years, the $4.5 billion cut to SNAP and invests $500 million in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a "Dear Colleague Letter" in the Senate asking for cosponsors for this amendment.

    If you support this amendment, please contact your Senators (202-224-3121 Senate Switchboard) and urge them to demonstrate their support for SNAP by co-sponsoring the Gillibrand SNAP amendment. Offices should contact Kathryn Tanner in Sen. Gillibrand's office,, to co-sponsor the amendment.

    To find other ways to take action visit the Food Action and Research Center’s website. If you have any questions please contact Etienne Melcher, or Ellen Teller,


    Last week the Senate had an opportunity to move the Paycheck Fairness Act forward but was unable to do so. The Paycheck Fairness Act would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their own wages to co-workers. Without this bill, employers can penalize and even fire employees for talking about their salaries. This egregious practice leaves workers in the dark, preventing them from ever finding out about pay discrimination in the workplace.

    Despite this set back we will continue to work toward equal pay for equal work for all women! Thank you to everyone who took action on this issue and we look forward to when we will be calling on you to do the so again!


    In August, women will have access to contraception without a co-pay thanks to the Affordable Care Act and a decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to including contraception on a list of other methods of preventative care all available without a co-pay.

    Unfortunately, some are trying to strip away this progress for women’s health. If you support HHS’ decision to provide access to affordable contraception for all women please contact Secretary Sebelius today.

    From our friends at the ACLU.

    Local Policy Updates


    Last week the State House passed HB 2191, a bill that legalizes predatory payday loans in Pennsylvania. Despite the loss due to many constitutions raising their concerns about this bill the bill pass by one 6 votes While the bill moves forward there are still ways you can take action to stop this legislation: 
    1. Contact your State Representatives to let them know how you feel about their vote. 
    2. Contact your State Senator now about HB 2191.
    You can learn more about predatory payday lending at the Keystone Research Center web site and at

    Two months ago, Philadelphia announced that the City would ban outdoor feeding programs for those who are homeless on the streets. In return a promise was made to establish alternative meal sites with onsite services, and to establish a commission to develop proposals for meeting the food needs of those who were homeless.

    The ban went into effect on June 1, but these other promises are not yet in effect. Project HOME is asking those opposed to the outdoor feeding ban to contact Mayor Nutter and urge him to lift the ban and work on real solutions to the issues of homelessness, hunger, and poverty.

    For more information, click here.

    Information & Events

    Do you need legal help with an immigration or a family matter? The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians is holding a free legal clinic where individuals can talk in private with an attorney about an immigration of family legal issue.

    WHEN: Tuesday, June 12 from 3:00 to 5:30
    WHERE: One Penn Center, Suite 555, 1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, PA

    You MUST register in advance. To reserve a place, please call Desiree at (215) 557-2626 or email


    Want to promote the 2012 election without completely redesigning your website?

    Nonprofit Vote 2012 has created a badge you can add to your website to help share information about the upcoming election. They have designs for all 50 states that direct visitors to state-specific registration deadlines and requirements, early voting options, and more.

    You can use the badge to increase visibility around the election, familiarize other nonprofits with voter engagement, and to more fully engage your community.


    Please join Community Legal Services attorneys John Whitelaw and Rebecca Vallas for a basic overview of Social Security/SSI overpayments, individuals' rights and remedies and what you can do to help.

    WHEN: Thursday, June 28th from 3-5pm
    WHERE: Philadelphia Bar Association, 1101 Market Street, 11th Floor.

    Kindly remember to bring your PA photo ID, as they are checked in the lobby by 1101 Market Street building security. Please contact Patty McGlone at 215-227-2408 or to RSVP.


    The world has changed, and a new model of public benefit administration using modern information systems is emerging to improve the enrollment and retention procedures of our public benefits programs.

    The Coalition for Access and Opportunity invites you to join Stan Dorn, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute, to learn more about the Coalition’s new paper on how sharing data and basing eligibility decisions on existing information can cut administrative costs, help more families in need of assistance access benefits and strengthen programs. State representatives will share examples and reactions to the paper.

    WHEN: Tuesday, June 12, from 2:00 – 3:00 pm
    Register now

    CLASP, Single Stop USA and First Focus co-convene the Coalition for Access and Opportunity, a collaboration of advocates, researchers, and practitioners working to improve access to and better coordination of the range of federal income and work supports.

    PathWays PA Information


    The J. Lewis Crozer Library is excited to welcome PathWays PA for a series of financial workshops for both teens and adults this summer.

    The Helping You Achieve Your Financial Goals workshops will cover money management and credit topics, including how to create a spending plan, dealing with creditors and bill collectors, and protecting your personal information.

    The workshops will meet on Tuesdays, July 10th and August 7th at 6:00p.m. Both adults and teens from age 13 and up are invited to receive this valuable financial information by attending any or all of the workshops.

    Registration is required by calling (610) 494-3454, extension 204. Crozer Library is located at 620 Engle Street in Chester.

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    House and Senate Republicans Agree to Budget, Negotiating now with Governor Corbett (via The Advocates Agenda)

    Thanks to The Advocates Agenda for letting us repost.

    PA House tweaks the Senate passed budget bill to spend more on early childhood care and education, domestic violence, rape crisis centers and public libraries

    June 5th – Tuesday brought stepped up debate and political posturing about Pennsylvania’s budget.

    The morning started with Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Jim Cawley putting forth a united front with the County Commissioners Association of PA (CCAP) touting the benefits of “a new way of doing business” that will result from block granting certain state funding.

    Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander said the “landmark block grant” would deliver real “innovation, control and flexibility” at the local level. Cawley stressed the Corbett Administration is committed to transforming “the relationship between the state and local governments.” Berks County and Republican Commissioner Christian Leinbach praised the Governor, Cawley and Alexander citing how engaged they were in finding a way to permit “local decision-making” that leads to “improved stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and above all, more effective human services programming for our local communities.”

    Left unsaid is exactly where Governor Corbett will draw the line in the sand on spending for the seven human service appropriations slated to be folded into a block grant (mental health, intellectual disabilities, county child welfare special grants, homeless assistance, Act 152 Drug and Alcohol, behavioral health services and the Human Services Development Fund). Corbett tried to make the case that given the “flexibility” he was affording the counties they could do with 20 percent or about $168 million less dollars. The Pennsylvania Senate’s bipartisan budget plan (Senate Bill 1466) approved in early May sought to blunt that cut by restoring $84 million.

    The Cawley/CCAP press conference was well timed just as the capitol was filling with anxious providers, advocates and consumers frantic about the consequences of the budget on Pennsylvanians receiving behavioral health, intellectual disability, and autism services

    When confronted with concerns about the block grant, including its impact on the 16,000 Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities on a waiting list for services, Cawley suggested the economic times require sacrifice. He did acknowledge that the state needs “to be there for them” but said that collides with the “harsh reality” that “we can no longer spend money we don’t have.”

    So CCAP and the Corbett Administration are locked arm-in-arm on the following:

    • Phase in to permit counties “to make administrative and programmatic changes to provide coordinated and integrated human services program;”
    • Making a “substantial decrease in the volume of paperwork” by streamlining reporting requirements;
    • Streamlining, as well, the planning for human services at the county level replacing the categorical specific plans with a “unified” plan;

    Dialogue (and arm twisting) continues within a CCAP/DPW workgroup on regulatory reform and the ways counties are paid, reimbursed for services delivered.

    CCAP churned out a press release along with a Myth vs. Reality one pager. In it they try to quiet concerns that providers and stakeholders “will be left out in the dark” assuring that “various public forums” will take place in the counties to prepare the “unified” human services plan. They also dispute that it will lead to a “one-size fits all” approach advocating that instead “it will end the one size fits all approach that exists today.”

    Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi addressed the block grant debate Tuesday saying that the desire of providers and recipients to have a “dedicated and guaranteed stream of funding” (something akin to a categorical) with the counties push for flexibility “can’t exist in the same space.” He didn’t say it was a done deal but also seemed persuaded by a “very thoughtful and comprehensive letter” from CCAP about how “block grants are best.”

    The remainder of Tuesday attention shifted to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives where amendments were offered to the Senate passed budget bill.

    A slew of bipartisan amendments were drafted to Senate Bill 1466 (amendments that remember had to be revenue neutral or you had to muster the votes to endure procedural gymnastic to waive the rule). In the end few were offered.

    The scarcity of amendments reflected the reality that the budget negotiating window – at least from the General Assembly’s perspective – has dramatically shrunk. Prior to hitting the House Floor Tuesday, leaders from the Senate and House agreed to a spending plan that is the subject of a pow wow with Corbett tonight.

    Essentially Senate and House Republican leaders have, outside a few “small changes,” found agreement. Now they have to negotiate that agreement with the Governor. Complicating negotiations will be Corbett’s insistence still today that legislators’ spend number may not be his spend number (remember the Senate plan and now the House’s view is that spending about $500 million more than put forth in February isn’t all bad).

    Corbett will continue to make the case that the economy hasn’t turned the corner, revenues aren’t as good as they hoped and any budget must be sustainable beyond the upcoming year. That will be as he also makes the case for a $1.65 billion tax credit (for the next 25 years) for Shell Oil as incentive for them to bring an ethane cracker plant to Pennsylvania.

    So what about revenues and the news last week that May’s revenues came in about $44 million below projections (or about 2.3 percent).

    No big deal says Pileggi. He taped an On the Issues segment with the Pennsylvania Cable Network today and when asked about the May revenue number he said it would have “virtually” no impact on budget negotiations. He painted it as “slightly below estimate and not a number” sufficient enough “to pose any concern.” He also said that he doesn’t see it as a “trend.”

    Shifting from the size of the pie slightly to what is within the pie the House approved several amendments today signaling some of the funding matters still a bit in play. Among the amendments supported in the House today:

    • $50 million restoration for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG), which was offset in part by a $24 million reduction in the basic education line BUT Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph vowed it really was not robbing Peter to pay Paul and well there’s not enough Excedrin in the office desk drawer to try and explain it all. It relates to the Senate and House splitting some of the money the Senate put in for distressed schools. Bottom line there’s real momentum to get to the FY 11-12 spending level of $100 million for the ABG. Republicans get themselves in trouble each time they talk about it being “restored” with Democrats scolding just a few years back it was $254 million or about 60 percent more than the Republican “restoration” on the horizon. The vote was 116 to 81.
    • Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Centers would see a slight bump even as they started level funded in the Corbett plan and remained that way in the Senate plan. Amendments from Representative Curtis Thomas (#10840 and #10841) will put an additional $226,000 in play for domestic violence services and $130,000 for rape crisis centers. There won’t be wild celebrations, however, as that essentially puts those lines back to 2009-2010 spending levels. Also he extracted those dollars from the Youth Development Centers in order to comply with the revenue neutral amendment rule. Thomas also took another cut from the YDCs to get some additional dollars for Trauma Centers. The DV amendment passed 190 to 7 (no votes came from Representatives Dunbar, Hutchinson, Metcalfe, Perry, Rapp, S. Smith and Haluska). The Rape Crisis Center amendment passed 196 to 1 with Democratic Haluska casting the lone no.
    • Local libraries would reap a $6.5 million increase after Representative Bud George’s amendment (#10888) won bipartisan support. This amendment was supported unanimously.
    • Representative Phyllis Mundy (D-Luzerne), who co-chairs the General Assembly’s Early Care and Education Caucus, didn’t ignore the revenue neutral rule tapping funding for the Governor’s Office, Lt. Governor’s Office and Department of General Services to the tune of $15.52 million for Child Care Services. That would translate into just over $8 million for Keystone Stars, $2 million to revive the TEACH and $2 million for child care subsidies. Her amendment cleared after Bucks County Republican Scott Petri questioned whether any of the restoration would be directed to “people who determine whether someone is income qualified” for a child care subsidy. Petri has had long been hot-under-the-collar about the administrative costs associated with the Child Care Information Services (CCIS) but today was more tame in his questions and once he was assured the amendment would help “working mothers” he asked his colleagues to support the amendment. Mundy also scored herself an amendment that passed unanimously.

    Left out of the debate was any effort to restore the Corbett cut to General Assistance, increased funding for Family Centers, further growth in the Accountability Block Grant, and outright attempts to demand that human services not flow to counties in a block grant.

    The clock is ticking toward June 30th, momentum is on the side of an early budget. However, there is this thing called reality and just because the Republicans are fully in charge doesn’t mean that they won’t bicker and get distracted or that heels get dug in somewhere in the sandbox. Stay tuned.