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In Victory for Older Foster Youth, HB 1866 Signed into Law 

PPC priority legislation HB 1866 passed in the last week of the legislative session and was signed into law by Gov. Wolf on November 3rd. Sponsored by Rep. Boback (R-Luzerne), the new law will improve permanency practices for transition age youth in the foster care system. The legislation was introduced in two consecutive legislative sessions, and we are grateful for Rep. Boback's sponsorship in helping the bill reach the finish line.

Transition age youth are older youth in the foster care system (ages 14 to 21) transitioning to permanency with a caregiver or aging out of the system to adulthood. These young adults often struggle with this life transition. The new law will help foster youth find permanency by:

  • Documenting family finding efforts for youth when they are no longer in the system.
  • Expanding opportunities for permanency by increasing the age of the goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) from 16 to 18 years of age.
  • Enhancing court accountability regarding suitable transition plans and overseeing services provided to aid in the transition to adulthood.
  • Maintaining supportive adult connections to assist transition age youth with building a social safety net when paid professionals are no longer involved.
  • Improving data collection to streamline child welfare data from all 67 counties at the state level.

PPC is proud to have helped shepherd HB 1866 through the General Assembly to be signed into law by Gov. Wolf. We will continue to work to improve Pennsylvania's child welfare system so that foster youth have the opportunity to succeed in life.


A Recap of the 2021-22 Legislative Session

The 2021-22 legislative session, heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and disputes over emergency powers, resulted in fewer bills being passed focused on substantive policy change, including ones to improve the lives of children and families in Pennsylvania. Only 100 bills were signed into law in 2021, and so far, just over 100 have been signed by Gov. Wolf in 2022. This number of bills tracks well behind previous legislative sessions.

Some of the bills of interest to PPC and our campaign partners that passed during the 2021-22 legislative session include the following:

  • SB 522 – Act 150 of 2022 (Baker): Creates the Childhood Blood Lead Testing Act. PPC has been actively advocating for this bill. While we are disappointed testing requirements were weakened via last-minute amendment, this bill is a great first step in addressing the scourge of lead exposure in Pennsylvania.
  • SB 324 – Act 1 of 2022 (Langerholc): Creates a uniform statewide process for school districts to help youth who have experienced educational instability. PPC signed a letter of support for this bill in June of 2021.
  • HB 253 – Act 2 of 2022 (Owlett): Establishes a task force between the executive and legislative branches studying the impact of the opioid epidemic on children. The act also provides $200 million in remaining federal stimulus dollars to hospitals and health care workers.
  • HB 2426 – Act 131 of 2022 (Hickernell): Moves the stand-alone Resource Family Act passed in 2005 into Title 67 of the Human Services Code, prompting DHS to promulgate compliance regulations.
  • SB 1235 – Act 94 of 2022 (DiSanto): Prohibits DHS from limiting CHIP MCO plans from bidding to allow for more consumer choice.
  • HR 119 (Boback): Directs the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study and make recommendations on developing an integrated information system for child welfare programs under the purview of OCYF. The results of the study can be found here.

Advocates viewed the 2021-22 state budget as disappointing and short-sighted. Though the commonwealth was flush with federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars, legislators decided to stash $2.5 billion in excess state revenue in the rainy day fund and flat-fund or provide lackluster increases for programs adversely impacted by the pandemic. The omnibus code bills also did little to improve the lives of children, with the Fiscal Code primarily focused on driving out federal stimulus funds for new programs; these one-time funds were necessary to ease pandemic woes but did little to solve systemic problems in the early childhood education system.

Conversely, this year's state budget made historic early care and education investments. After two cycles of flat funding, we were thrilled that policymakers invested $15 million in the DHS budget for evidence-based home visiting to serve an additional 3,800 pregnant women, children, and families. In addition, $1 million was earmarked for the Nurse-Family Partnership line item to serve 200 more families. For pre-k, the budget included $60 million in new state funding for PA Pre-K Counts and $19 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. In K-12 education, we were disappointed that career and technical education received only $6.1 million in the spending plan, particularly considering the context of the historic increase of $750 million for Basic Education Funding.  

Decennial legislative redistricting shook up Harrisburg early in 2022. After Gov. Wolf vetoed a proposal passed with only Republican votes, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission was formed. Consisting of legislative leaders of both parties in the House and Senate and independent Chair Mark Nordenberg, the commission approved new maps by a vote of 4-1, with House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff voting in the negative. The new House and Senate maps have withstood multiple court challenges, and the updated districts were used in the May 2022 primary elections.

Primary election results were surprising as primary challengers defeated 11 incumbent lawmakers. Most impactful was the defeat of House Appropriations Majority Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) to Wendy Fink and Senate Appropriations Majority Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) to opponent Jarrett Coleman. With an additional 32 House members and 5 Senators announcing their retirement, the General Assembly will be full of new members in 2023.

PPC has worked hard to advocate for children and families over the 2021-22 legislative session. We look forward to educating new members and building new champions for children's issues in the General Assembly in the 2023-24 session.


Even More Savings on Health Insurance Through Pennie™

The annual open enrollment period for health insurance through Pennie™, the state's health insurance marketplace, started on November 1st and runs through January 15, 2023. Pennie™ is an excellent option for families to shop and compare health coverage plans; it is a valuable pathway for those who qualify for Medicaid or CHIP instead.

This year, people who have not been able to afford coverage for their whole family may now qualify for more savings on a health plan through Pennie™. Thanks to a recent change in federal policy that closed a loophole known as the "family glitch," the new threshold for affordable coverage applies to an entire family's cost rather than just to the individual's cost. This change will allow family access to premium assistance. Otherwise, they did not have that option.

In other good news, the enhanced federal financial assistance that began under the American Rescue Plan will continue for the next few years—through 2025—after Congress passed an extension with the Inflation Reduction Act this past summer.

Altogether, this gives Pennsylvania families more no cost or low-cost insurance options to get covered or stay covered to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy.


Data Did You Know?


In Case You Missed It...

  • Today is election day, so get out and vote if you haven't already! Polls close at 8 pm. While we know there may be a rush to predict the results, counties prioritize accuracy and security as they count ballots. The results of some races may not be known tonight, and that's okay. If you want to check results as they come in, you can access them on the Department of State website.
  •  OCDEL recently announced the availability of a second round of Workforce Support Grants, which result from $90 million in remaining one-time ARPA stimulus funds for child care in the 2022-23 state budget. The grants are for improving recruitment and retention in the child care field—applications are due by December 6th. Learn more from the PA KEY.
  • PDE and OCDEL are partnering to host various webinars and regional meetings for interested applicants to learn more about the Pre-K Counts program for the upcoming full rebid in the Spring of 2023. Webinars will occur between now and January 2023, with regional meetings occurring in February 2023.
  • November is National Adoption Month! This month's priority is to increase national awareness of adoption issues, bring attention to the need for adoptive families for teens in the foster care system, and emphasize the value of youth engagement. Follow us on social media for PA-specific adoption data.
  • Postpartum State Plan Amendment Approved: Pennsylvania has received federal approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to extend coverage to 12 months within Medicaid and CHIP after pregnancy.
  • The National Report Card shows steep declines in reading and math scores since the pandemic began, further demonstrating widening gaps between higher and lower-achieving students.

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

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