PPC Home | Blogging4Children | Operation Restart Blog | Porch Light Project Blog
Focusing on a variety of education, health and youth development issues of importance to children and families in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Watson Receives ‘Be Someone for Kids’ Award

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children today honored Rep. Katharine Watson (R-Bucks) with our annual “Be Someone for Kids” award in recognition of her work to improve public policies that benefit the commonwealth’s children.

As chair of the House Children and Youth Committee, Watson played a critical role in recent years in helping to enact numerous laws to better protect kids from abuse and neglect.

PPC worked closely with Rep. Watson over the past several legislative sessions on comprehensive changes to the state’s Child Protective Services Law. Her efforts helped lead to the enactment of two dozen pieces of legislation aimed at better protecting children, including measures that broaden the threshold of what defines child abuse and make comprehensive changes to the list of individuals mandated to report child abuse and obtain clearances for employment or volunteer duties.

Rep. Watson also sponsored legislation (Act 94 of 2015) that limits the use of one of the least desirable options for finding a permanent home for a foster youth. The option, known as Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA), is often used by the courts when better options - such as family reunification, adoption, kinship care or legal guardianship - have been ruled out. APPLA, however, is a permanency goal that often results in long-term foster care instead of a permanent home.

PPC launched the “Be Someone for Kids” award in 2015 as a way to honor those who have made extraordinary efforts to help Pennsylvania’s nearly 2.8 million children. This year’s award was given to Rep. Watson by Benso during a ceremony at the state Capitol attended by several of her legislative colleagues, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and children’s advocates.

###   

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

 

Tags:

The Case for Pre-k in PA

Across Pennsylvania, there are more than 175,000 3- and 4-year-olds who are at risk of educational failure, yet 70 percent of these at-risk young learners – more than 120,000 children statewide – had no access to publicly funded pre-k last year.

This lack of access is especially troubling given high-quality pre-k can have the greatest benefits for at-risk children in terms of preparing them for academic success.

The good news is we know how to fix this problem. As part of our work with the statewide Pre-K for PA campaign, we just released a new report – “The Case for Pre-k in PA” – that outlines a multi-year investment strategy Pennsylvania can implement to provide high-quality pre-k to most at-risk children, as well as some middle-income children.

Our report finds that if Pennsylvania were to increase state funding for high-quality pre-k gradually over this fiscal year and the following three years, we could make high-quality pre-k available to more than 40 percent of the commonwealth’s 3- and 4-year-olds, compared to fewer than 20 percent who benefited in 2013.

We released the report in a statewide tour – including stops in Erie, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre and York - with the help of United Way officials, philanthropic leaders and other pre-k advocates from around the commonwealth, who joined us in calling on Pennsylvania to increase its commitment to making high-quality pre-k more accessible.

How accessible is high-quality pre-k in your county? In addition to our new report, we’ve put together this local data to help you find out.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media: 

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

A Big Win for Kids’ Health

Cross this one off Harrisburg’s to-do list: Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has been renewed for two more years.

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed legislation that reauthorizes CHIP through Dec. 31, 2017. The program, which provides health care coverage to more than 150,000 children, was set to expire at the end of 2015. But in a show of strong bipartisan support that has been a hallmark of CHIP since it began in the 1990s, the state House and Senate unanimously voted to keep CHIP going.

This good news get even better. The CHIP reauthorization measure the governor signed also requires the commonwealth to use “express lane eligibility” to streamline enrollment in CHIP and Medicaid.

In simple terms, express lane eligibility means using existing databases - such as children enrolled in state-subsidized child care or in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - to determine a family’s eligibility for CHIP or Medicaid and letting that family know their child can be insured. This can be an important tool for reaching the more than 139,000 Pennsylvania children who still lack health insurance. PPC has advocated for such streamlined enrollment and we’re pleased to see it become a reality.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media: 

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

It’s #GivingTuesday. Be Someone for Kids!

Today is #GivingTuesday, a great day to be someone who makes a difference for kids by supporting Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children!

At PPC, we’re committed to developing long-lasting policy solutions in early learning, k-12 education, children’s health care and child welfare. Here are just some of the ways our work is making a difference:

  • Learning opportunities: We worked to make pre-k and other early learning investments a key topic in last year’s race for governor and this year’s budget negotiations. In Washington, reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant means continuation of Pennsylvania’s largest single source of support for early learning. And PPC helps lead the statewide, nonpartisan Campaign for Fair Education Funding so we can erase Pennsylvania’s shameful mark as one of the worst state’s for school funding fairness and promote a funding formula unanimously recommended by a bipartisan state commission.

  • Children’s health: PPC keeps working to maintain strong bipartisan support for children’s health care coverage, even in tight fiscal times, so we can reach the 139,000 Pennsylvania children who still need and deserve coverage.

  • Child welfare: PPC helped achieve enactment of more than 20 new Pennsylvania child protection laws in the last legislative session, including laws to improve reporting of suspected abuse and hold abusers to the same legal standards no matter where abuse occurs.

These are important achievements for kids, but make no mistake: There is much more to be done. Sadly, Pennsylvania slipped from 16th in the nation for child well-being to 17th in the 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book. Our goal is getting Pennsylvania into the top 10 states to be a child and raise a child. It takes work, and frankly, it takes money.

PPC doesn’t seek or receive any government funding. Instead, our efforts are funded through the generous support of people like you who agree that someone needs to speak up for children and families.

This #GivingTuesday, will you please join us and  who makes a difference by making an online donation to Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children?

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media: 

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Two Things That Work

We know from years of research that high-quality pre-k works. It helps prepare kids for kindergarten, reduces the need for costly special education and remedial learning programs, and puts kids on a solid track to years of academic success.

You know what else works? Your voice in growing Pennsylvania’s pre-k investments.

Over the past several weeks, supporters of the nonpartisan Pre-K for PA campaign (to which we proudly belong) have been calling and emailing the governor and legislative leaders to help ensure the overdue state budget, once it’s finalized, will have significant new investments in high-quality pre-k.

Unfortunately, a final budget deal is not likely to come together until December, and pre-k providers have gone without state support since summer. The result is many providers are struggling to keep their doors open and, sadly, some have been forced to close because of the budget impasse.

The coming days will be crucial to the Pre-K for PA campaign’s efforts. Help us amplify the call for pre-k by joining the campaign. Or if you’ve already joined, recruit a few friends and family over the holiday weekend.

We’re thankful for your support!

###   

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following us via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Got Data? We Do

Do you know how your county compares to other Pennsylvania counties when it comes to child poverty, health insurance coverage, educational opportunities and other important measures of children's well-being?

You can find those answers quickly and easily with Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children's latest "State of the Child" profiles. For each of the commonwealth's 67 counties, you can find:

  • Child population and poverty statistics;
  • Information on how many children are uninsured, and how many benefit from coverage through Medicaid or Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program;
  • Data on how many children benefit from subsidized child care and publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs;
  • The number of children in foster care or receiving other child welfare services; and
  • Academic performance data for school districts, charter schools and cyber charter schools.

Whether you're a parent, policymaker, journalist, activist, children's advocate or just someone who likes to stay in the know, our "State of the Child" profiles can help you get timely, reliable information on how Pennsylvania's nearly 2.8 million kids are doing.

###   

PPC thanks PNC Financial Services Group, Hershey Foods Corp., Highmark Blue Shield and other generous donors who make our work possible.

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following us via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Pennsylvania is Falling Short in Reaching Uninsured Children

Pennsylvania continues to fall short in its effort to reach tens of thousands of uninsured children, according to a new report we issued this week in conjunction with Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.

Despite offering universal health care coverage for all documented children, 139,117 children in Pennsylvania still went without coverage last year. To put it in perspective, the number of uninsured kids in the commonwealth exceeds the enrollment of school districts in Allentown, Altoona, Chambersburg, Erie, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, State College, Wilkes-Barre and York combined.

Pennsylvania also is lagging behind many other states in efforts to reach those uninsured children. Nearly all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states saw more significant progress in reaching uninsured kids last year, including West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. Not coincidentally, these neighboring states all expanded Medicaid last year. With Pennsylvania’s recent expansion of Medicaid, we’re optimistic our commonwealth can catch up to other states in efforts to reach the families of uninsured children.

Why does it matter to you if a child has insurance? Because research shows kids who have insurance are more likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy and have stronger school attendance that benefits their academic success. That also means their working parents are less likely to miss work due to a child’s illness, making for a more productive workforce that benefits us all. 

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

New Tests for New Standards

There’s been a lot of media coverage lately about the latest scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), the state’s standardized tests to gauge student proficiency. At first glance, it appears students’ academic performance has worsened, but it’s important to take a closer look at what’s really going on.

The PSSAs students took last spring weren’t new tests based on old standards, nor were they old tests used to gauge new standards. They are new tests aligned to new standards. In other words, Pennsylvania changed the way we measure student achievement and raised the bar on what we expect students to achieve.

In that context, any decline in scores should not be interpreted as a sign our kids are somehow becoming less prepared for the challenges they will face after high school. It doesn’t mean our students suddenly “know less,” nor does it mean that our schools have regressed in the quality of education they offer. Instead, it means our expectations about the preparedness of our students have grown – and they needed to grow.

Why? Because for too long, we were graduating students who falsely believed a high school diploma ensured they could compete and succeed in the workplace, the military or post-secondary education. Too often, those kids ended up not being as successful as they had expected because they weren’t adequately prepared. And they weren’t adequately prepared because the measures we were using to determine their post-high school readiness were lagging.

The shift in test scores that coincides with the introduction of more rigorous academic standards and higher expectations isn’t surprising - and it’s hardly unique to Pennsylvania. Many other states - Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Tennessee among them - saw similar and sometimes more drastic changes in test scores as students began taking new assessments aligned to stronger academic standards.

Pennsylvania, like those other states, recalibrated its expectations and raised the bar for student achievement. That’s a good thing! Pennsylvania parents, taxpayers and employers should be supportive of having newer, strong standards, even if it initially means test scores seem lower than in previous years.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

We Can’t Afford to Wait on Pre-k

This week, Pennsylvania will mark the end of its third month without a state budget. Three months might not seem like a long time in politics, but it’s a significant period in the life of a young child.

A child’s brain is 90 percent developed by age 5. This means one of the most crucial periods for a child’s mental, social and emotional growth is before they enter kindergarten. Yet publicly funded, high-quality pre-k is available to only about 1 in 6 of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds.

The governor proposed increasing funding for high-quality pre-k by $120 million to increase access to an additional 14,000 Pennsylvania 3- and 4-year-olds. The budget approved by the General Assembly (and vetoed by the governor) increased funding by $30 million to serve another 3,500 children. Considering we have more than 200,000 3- and 4-year-olds who still lack access to high-quality pre-k, either proposal is an obvious improvement in access.

But no additional children will benefit from high-quality pre-k without a budget.

Please click here and take a moment to tell your elected lawmakers in Harrisburg that Pennsylvania urgently needs a budget that makes significant investments in high-quality pre-k.

Our kids simply cannot afford to wait any longer.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

One Thing Both Sides Agree On

Consensus is hard to come by in Harrisburg these days, but there’s one thing that has long enjoyed bipartisan support: Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Since its creation more than 20 years ago, CHIP has had strong support from the General Assembly and governors on both sides of the aisle. It has helped provide affordable health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of documented children in Pennsylvania over the years, including nearly 150,000 today.

But CHIP is set to expire at the end of this year unless legislation is passed to extend it beyond 2015. That legislation passed the House unanimously in April and has been approved by a Senate committee, but still requires approval by the full Senate before it can go to the governor for his signature.

This week, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children took the lead in writing a letter to Senate leaders that was signed by more than 30 organizations asking that the CHIP reauthorization bill be quickly approved so families who rely on CHIP don’t have to worry about the future of their children’s health care.

We know CHIP works to help keep kids healthy, and we look forward to seeing it continue for years to come.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

More Entries

Comments from readers of Blogging4Children do not necessarily represent the views of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.