PPC Honors House Majority Whip Rep. Oberlander with Be Someone for Kids Award

We recently presented House Majority Whip Rep. Donna Oberlander with our annual Be Someone for Kids award to recognize her work to enact public policies that benefit the commonwealth's children.

Representative Oberlander has advocated for additional support for child care during the pandemic – which is key to our economic recovery – and supports broader early care and education issues, including pre-k and evidence-based home visiting programs.

In addition, her support for women's health care and nutrition aligns with PPC's work to ensure equitable access to affordable, quality health care for every pregnant woman and child in Pennsylvania.

During a virtual event with our Board of Directors, Rep. Oberlander spoke about how children's issues tug at her heartstrings. Her mother worked for Pennsylvania's WIC program. In her role as a Clarion County Commissioner and later as a member of the House Children & Youth Committee, she said child well-being is of the utmost importance.

Oberlander was appointed in 2014 to the Basic Education Funding Commission, responsible for creating what is now the state's enacted fair funding formula. She noted that while the role was challenging to arrive at a final product, she is proud of the work accomplished. The experience was a memorable one where she heard from a variety of diverse perspectives.

We look forward to continuing to work with Representative Oberlander to help build better futures for children and families so that communities across the state can fully recover from the effects of the pandemic.

We want to thank the following for their generous support of the award: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, Customers Bank, Highmark Blue Shield, Independence Blue Cross, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, Penn State Health, and Shelly Lyons Public Affairs & Communications.

Historic Build Back Better Act Passes U.S. House of Representatives, Still Faces Uncertainty in Senate

After weeks of tumultuous negotiation, on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act (BBBA). The bill passed by a vote of 220-113, with only one Democratic member voting against the bill's passage. This omnibus legislation, which is being passed through the reconciliation process that requires only a majority of votes for passage, contains much of President Biden's domestic policy agenda.

As a reminder, the current iteration of the BBBA contains the following provisions PPC supports and is prioritizing in the final passage of the bill:

  • Child Care - Provides over $100 billion to support high-quality child care during the first three years and such sums in the following three years via a new child care and early learning entitlement program to provide high-quality, affordable child care for children ages birth to five, increase wages for the early childhood workforce, and invest in child care quality and supply (including facilities). Caps families' child care copayments to ensure that no eligible family pays more than 7% of their income on child care by creating a sliding scale fee system.
  • Pre-K - Provides over $18 billion during the first three years and such sums as may be necessary in the following three years for the Health and Human Services Secretary in collaboration with the Education Secretary to carry out a universal, high-quality, free, inclusive, and mixed delivery preschool program. Eligible providers include licensed child care programs; Head Start grantees; Local Education Agencies; or a consortium of those entities. Requires states to develop and implement state preschool standards if not already in place and ensure all eligible providers meet such standards.
  • Health Care
  • Authorizes permanent funding for CHIP.
  • Requires 12 months of continuous Medicaid and CHIP eligibility to postpartum women.
  • Requires 12 months of continuous eligibility to children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Allows states to smoothly transition out of the coverage requirements put in place during the public health emergency.
  • Provides over $1 billion in grant funding to various programs addressing social determinants of health in maternal and postpartum health, reducing racial/ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes, growing, and diversifying the public health workforce – including doulas – for maternal health, serving maternal mental health needs, and improving maternal morbidity/mortality outcomes.
  • Provides $5 billion to address lead paint and other health hazards in the housing stock of the United States as well as $970 million to make grants under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act for the purpose of replacing service lines that contain lead.
  • Career and Technical Education - Provides $700 million over six years to carry out activities related to Career and Technical Education, of which $600 million is provided for state grants authorized under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 and $100 million is provided for innovation and modernization grants authorized under that Act.

Read our full summary of the BBBA's impact on kids and families.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed optimism that the Senate will take up the legislation for a vote before Christmas. However, the looming budget and debt ceiling deadline of December 3rd will increase pressure on both chambers to act quickly.

With a price tag coming in at $1.9 trillion – above the $1.7 trillion Democratic centrists had earlier indicated was their ceiling for support – immediate final passage is not guaranteed. The House also included paid family leave in the legislation, which Sen. Manchin of West Virginia has expressed opposition.

PPC will continue to keep you informed as federal action continues.


In the PA House, the Storm Before the Calm

All is quiet now as the state House wrapped up its work during a contentious session last week. But not before several bills about expanding the rights of firearm owners and election code reforms sparked fierce debate. With bills being introduced and considered immediately by committees and session days lasting deep into the evening, November in Harrisburg feels more like June. Last week we monitored these bills that passed the House Education Committee:

  • House Bill 2045: Would make the Science of Reading curriculum a voluntary part of professional education for pre-K and K-12 educators to increase student literacy.
  • Senate Bill 324: Would ensure educational stability for students experiencing homelessness. PPC signed on to a letter in support of this bill.
  • House Bill 465: Would provide for lead testing and remediation on public school grounds, was scheduled to be voted on by the committee but was not considered, as work on that bill continues.

Elsewhere in the chamber, House Bill 2072 passed the House Insurance Committee unanimously and would use federal stimulus funding to make delinquent payments to insurers within the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that have not been paid during the pandemic. On the other hand, House Bill 2077, providing an exemption from COVID-19 vaccinations, passed the House Health Committee on a party-line vote.

Following up on some bills we mentioned in the last edition:

  • House Bill 159: Would require information sharing with County Human Services if there is a child abuse report against a military member. The bill passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate.
  • House Bill 1737: Would give children and youth personnel the authority to compel drug screening if there is suspected drug use when someone is reported to child welfare. The bill passed the House after debate by a vote of 166-34 and now goes to the Senate.
  • House Resolution 119: Would require the Joint State Government Commission to produce a report on the status of the Office of Children, Youth and Families development of a comprehensive child welfare reporting system in Pennsylvania to be published in six months. The resolution passed unanimously. Since resolutions do not need to be passed by both chambers, the commission will now be tasked with the report.

The state House and Senate are on recess through the Thanksgiving holiday, returning to session on Monday, December 13th. PPC will continue to provide updates as they occur.

Support PPC's Work to Build Better Futures

The past year pushed all of us to become more vocal champions of children and families, especially those who felt the very present pressures of the ongoing pandemic. While we continue to face these challenges, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children uses facts, data, and our strength as an independent nonprofit to advocate for an equitable future to ensure every child living in Pennsylvania can thrive and reach their full potential. We are building better futures.

Because of your support, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a strong, effective, and trusted voice to improve the health, education, and well-being of children and youth in the commonwealth. Please help us continue to be a voice for children by making a gift today.

Together, we have raised our voices to inform policy, budget, and legislative decision-making at every level of government in ways that improve child outcomes:

  • Our advocacy work helped secure historic victories at the federal level in the American Rescue Plan enacted this spring, and the current Build Back Better Act being negotiated in Washington that collectively secures billions in dollars to support the child care sector so families can work and build back Pennsylvania's economy. It also enacts a universal pre-k program, so our 3-and 4-year-olds enter kindergarten ready to learn and implements historic wins for children's and perinatal health care coverage, including permanently funding the CHIP program.
  • Working with state policymakers, we secured needed wins in the Pennsylvania state budget for the current fiscal year, including $30 million in increased investments for the state's pre-k program and $300 million in additional funding for basic education.
  • We examined legislative and administrative action in Harrisburg and weighed in with policymakers when it mattered most on topics ranging from amending child welfare practices through the Child Protective Services Law to ensuring transparency and accountability in the charter school law.

As a wholly independent, non-partisan child advocacy organization, we count on you to sustain us, and we hope you will support PPC with a year-end gift today. Together, we can build better futures for children and families in Pennsylvania.

Lucy Durr wedding photo. Taken from: Marian Wright Edelman Founder and President Emerita. (2019, January 15). Lucy Durr Hackney. Children’s Defense Fund. https://www.childrensdefense.org/child-watch-columns/health/2019/lucy-durr-hackney/.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children was founded in the early 1990s by Lucy Durr Hackney, a children's justice and civil rights advocate who led a loving life of service.

  • Lucy was born in 1937 in Montgomery, Alabama to a family committed to social justice and civil rights. Her parents were Virginia and Clifford Durr, who actively worked to reduce segregation in the South.
  • Lucy's uncle, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, was one of the nine Supreme Court justices who ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education).
  • When family friend Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for what sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, an impactful demonstration of nonviolent protests that shaped the civil rights movement, the Durrs bailed her out of jail and got her home safely.
  • When Lucy married Sheldon Hackney in 1957, Rosa Parks, a talented seamstress, made the alterations on her wedding dress.
  • One of Lucy's daughters had special needs, which drove her passion for helping children get the education and supports needed to transition to adulthood successfully.
  • Lucy's vision and enthusiasm for advocating for children and giving them a voice in the halls of government led to the founding of our organization.

In Case You Missed It...

  • Pennsylvania's long-awaited education funding lawsuit began on November 12th.  The case challenges the unconstitutionality of the state's funding system for public education with low state investments, high local share, and inequities in funding, creating a "have and have nots" system. Opening statements were heard, with several witnesses being called for testimony the following week. 
  • A two-part series by Next City highlights barriers to kinship care for foster children and solutions for improving practice. Part one notes challenges with kin caregivers' inability to be heard in the court process and how high-quality, interdisciplinary attorney representation can improve outcomes.  Part two digs deeper into the bias in decision-making, noting promising practices such as those in Allegheny County.
  • Don't miss the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families' latest blog about Build Back Better (BBB) provisions to advance child health. They call it a game-changer for children's health and the most significant advance in the world of public coverage in more than a decade should these provisions become law.
  • Remind families to sign up for low-cost health insurance through Pennie™ during the open enrollment period, which began November 1, 2021. Nearly everyone qualifies for savings making this year even more affordable than ever! Check out recent news coverage and get more details on the official website.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
200 North Third Street 13th Floor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101
(717) 236-5680

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