CTE Fact Sheet Outlines Solutions for Increasing Access for Students
This week we released Career and Technical Education is Essential for our Economy Post-COVID-19, a fact sheet we produced with PA Schools Work coalition partner the Pennsylvania Association of Career & Technical Administrators (PACTA), outlining the impacts of the pandemic on CTE programs, which are essential for our state’s workforce and economy. The fact sheet includes the results of a survey conducted earlier this year by PPC on PACTA members to understand better the challenges they face in delivering education during the public health crisis.
While federal stimulus funds received from Washington over the past year have helped address one-time costs – including additional expenses associated with equipment in delivering CTE – state investments over the past two years have stalled. We highlight how access to these programs has not improved and the timing because CTE is a pipeline for many industries that supply the frontline workforce. To ensure that all interested students have an opportunity to access career and technical education, we call on Governor Wolf and policymakers to make a $25 million investment in CTE in the upcoming 2022-23 state budget.
Federal Reconciliation Bill Remains Stalled as Short-term Debt Crisis Averted; Focus Shifts to Lowering Overall Spend
Since our last newsletter, movement has stalled on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget reconciliation bill containing key pieces of President Biden’s domestic policy agenda, also referred to as the Build Back Better Act. A government shutdown was averted on September 30th when the House and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through December 3rd. Congress has since reached a consensus to avoid a debt default crisis that would have occurred on October 18th. However, with these short-term deadlines addressed, a solution to passing both the Build Back Better Act and the politically intertwined infrastructure bill may be prolonged. The focus has shifted to trimming the package spend amount to gain the support of key centrists in the Senate.
PPC has a summary of the reconciliation bill that we will continue to update as negotiations continue in Congress, particularly how price tag limits may affect various bill portions. Significant elements in the Build Back Better Plan that are PPC priorities include:
- A $450 billion initiative for child care aimed to improve family access and affordability and improve infrastructure for programs and pay for workers.
- Implementing universal pre-k for 3- and 4-year-olds.
- Enacting a variety of enrollment and retention strategies for children and women in the Medicaid and CHIP programs to reduce the uninsured rate, including providing one year of continuous eligibility for children in Medicaid, permanently extending express lane eligibility for kids in Medicaid, extending postpartum coverage for women in Medicaid for 12 months, and permanently funding the CHIP program.
- Creating grant programs to address lead abatement for school drinking water, school and child care lead testing, and lead-based paint mitigation.
- A total of $4 billion in increased funding for Carl D. Perkins career and technical education funding.
- Keeping the expanded Child Tax Credit in place through 2025 and increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
- Providing universal paid family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks for U.S. workers.
State Legislature Focuses on Education
In its third week of the fall session last week, much of the work of the state House focused on public education topics, including the House Education Committee’s subcommittee on Special Education holding a public hearing on delivering special education services. Testifiers focused on state and federal mandates for special education and the lack of funding school districts receive to implement necessary programs. Read remarks of panelists from the hearing here.
In addition, PPC followed the House passage of two education bills, including:
- HB 1332 by Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) would require school entities to post all curriculum on its website and update the information each time the school entity uses a new or revised curriculum within 30 business days of the change. This would begin in the 2022-23 school year. HB 1332 passed the House by a vote of 110-89 and now heads to the Senate.
- HB 1642 by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) would make several changes to Educational Improvement Tax Credits (EITC) and increase the number of schools designated as “economically disadvantaged.” HB 1642 passed the House by a vote of 116-84.
The state Senate is scheduled to be in session the week of October 18th, and both chambers will convene the week of October 25th. PPC will continue to keep you apprised of House and Senate action throughout the fall session.
Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center Releases 2021 Policy Roadmap
The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs released its 2021 Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap, which compares the investments states are making to support children and families. The roadmap is published annually for policy leaders and advocates to guide how each state can implement effective state-level policies and strategies that promote equity and measure the well-being of infants and toddlers. The guide also monitors each state’s progress toward implementing effective solutions for the prenatal-to-3 population.
The roadmap looks at five state-level policies and six strategies that positively impact one of eight prenatal-to-age-3 policy goals:
- Access to needed services
- Parents’ ability to work
- Sufficient household resources
- Healthy and equitable births
- Parental health and emotional well-being
- Nurturing and responsive child-parent relationships
- Nurturing and responsive child care in safe settings
- Optimal child health and development
Pennsylvania has successfully implemented one of the five state policies that impact one policy goal: expanded income eligibility for health insurance. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has much more work to do in the other policy areas, including reduced administrative burdens for SNAP, and implementing legislation for paid family leave, an increased state minimum wage, and a state earned income tax credit.
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is working strategically with the Prenatal-to-Age-Three Collaborative to address some of the policy roadmap goals, policies, and strategies to serve our prenatal-to-age-3 population better. Under Early Learning PA, which includes Start Strong PA, Childhood Begins at Home, and Thriving PA, these statewide campaigns seek to put forward policies that positively make a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers, as well as their families. Using this roadmap and working with stakeholders, our goal is to increase access to high-quality services for infants and toddlers and their families by 50% by 2025.
In Case You Missed It...
- Thriving PA’s Perinatal Health Advocacy Campaign sent a letter to the Pennsylvania congressional delegation urging them to support the Build Back Better Act, which currently includes a requirement for all states to expand Medicaid postpartum coverage for at least twelve months after a person gives birth.
- The Department of Human Services finally released its annual Child Abuse Report late last week. Capturing the calendar year 2020 and with it ten months of the COVID-19 pandemic, data shows the total number of child abuse cases reported in 2020 was 22% lower than in 2019.
- With Pennsylvania implementing provisions under the Family First Prevention Services Act, Policy Director Rachael Miller discusses the potential impacts with Keystone State News Connection and the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.
- Last week the House Children and Youth Committee heard from foster parents, a judge, a family law attorney, and the Pennsylvania State Resource Family Association on barriers foster parents face in maintaining custody of foster children. They advocated for adequate notice of hearing dates, the right to be a party in a hearing, and addressing the difficulties faced in appealing when a child moves. While some protections are codified, consistent application across counties has been a challenge. Additionally, the primary goal with any child in placement should be reunification with biological family when possible.
- Start Strong PA encourages supporters to email Congress to urge them to include $450 billion in the Build Back Better plan for child care and pre-k to ensure families have access to affordable, high-quality child care. You can take action to email your congressional member here.
- A recent study says Pennsylvania is among the top 6 states with the highest rate of children with elevated blood lead levels.
- Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families (CCF) released a blog featuring an Urban Institute report estimating 5.9 million children will no longer be eligible for Medicaid following the end of the public health emergency when states reinstate regular eligibility processing. CCF cautions about potential gaps or coverage losses even for those who remain eligible for Medicaid and CHIP and for those who will have another path to coverage.
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
200 North Third Street 13th Floor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101