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House and Senate Advance Legislation Ahead of Budget Talks 

The House and Senate met last week for some of their final session days before the budget season heats up in early June. To make up for lost time from earlier this year when the chamber's majority was in flux, the House passed several major bills, and both chambers held committee voting meetings and hearings on notable legislation. 

The House Children & Youth Committee voted last week to advance HB 664 by Chairwoman Bullock; PPC supports this bill as it would establish the WIC State Advisory Board to enhance the program by maximizing federal funding and increasing participation and enrollment. On the other side of the dome, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted to advance SB 262 by Sen. Schwank, a bill PPC supports because it would require DOH to publish maternal morbidity data and require the MMRC to categorize maternal deaths and severe maternal morbidity complications as reportable events. The committee also passed SB 205, requiring child care facilities to install carbon monoxide detectors in every building.  

The Senate is in session this week, and the House meets again the week of May 22nd; session will heat up again the second week of June when legislative leaders will work toward meeting the budget deadline of June 30th. 


During National Foster Care Month, Fostering Youth Transitions Report Released 

May is National Foster Care Month, where we should take an opportunity to honor those in out-of-home placement and the individuals who support them. In 2021, 20,490 children and youth were placed in the foster care system—many who were unable to safely remain in the homes of their parents or caregivers and others who could've stayed in their home communities with community-based services.  

We recognize and thank the kinship caregivers and foster parents who have stepped up to care for them. We acknowledge biological parents and caregivers working tirelessly to mitigate the risk and safety concerns that lead to placement. We also thank the caseworkers, providers and advocates on the front lines daily, ensuring that foster children grow, thrive and achieve permanency.  

To further highlight the child welfare system in May, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released Fostering Youth Transitions 2023: State and National Data to Drive Foster Care Advocacy. Transition age youth are foster children ages 14 and older who are in or exiting the system to adulthood. This population has poorer outcomes compared to their peers in the general population. The report notes that although the number of teenagers and young adults in foster care has decreased by 45% nationally over the past 15 years, systems are falling short of delivering services to those who are in care. 

Read PPC's press release on the report noting Pennsylvania-specific data and policy recommendations. 

Axios PA interviewed PPC Policy Director Rachael Miller about the report. 


Fact Sheet Advocating for Part C Early Intervention Now Available for Advocates

In partnership with advocates around the first statewide Part C Early Intervention advocacy table in Pennsylvania, PPC recently released the fact sheet Supporting Infant and Toddler Early Intervention in Pennsylvania. The fact sheet, aimed at educating policymakers on the program, covers the basics of Part C EI, including how services are delivered, program eligibility, and the differences between Part C EI (focused on infants and toddlers) vs. Part B EI (focused on preschoolers).  

As part of the Thriving PA campaign and the Part C EI workgroup, PPC is advocating for an additional $20.2 million for the program as part of the 2023-24 state budget. 

PPC Updates Child Care Online Mapping Tool 

Every child deserves an equal opportunity for quality early care and education to prepare them to learn, grow and succeed. Use our recently released interactive child care maps created for the Start Strong PA campaign to access data by congressional district, state house or senate district, school district or county. These maps show the percentage of children under five participating in the Child Care Works subsidized child care program who are NOT receiving care in a high-quality program. Specifically, statewide data shows of the 180,480 children under age 5 living in families eligible for the CCW subsidy program, only 25% are receiving assistance to pay for child care. Only 45% are in high-quality child care. 


Thriving PA Releases State and County WIC Fact Sheets 

Children need access to quality nutrition to build a healthy foundation for lifelong well-being. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides access to healthy nutrition for infants, toddlers, and pregnant and postpartum women.  

Unfortunately, only 56% of eligible Pennsylvania children and families participate in the program. Thriving PA's newly-released state and county fact sheets show WIC coverage rates in the program. With children up to age five accounting for 78% of participation, ensuring every eligible family can access the program and receive the nutritional support needed for their household is essential.  

Through modernization efforts—like moving to an online Smart Card used to access benefits and permanently implementing telehealth policies—Pennsylvania can make the program more accessible to families. Other benefits of the WIC program include reducing household food insecurity and incidences of preterm births and low birth weights, improving diet quality, and improving access to health care and social services. 

Thriving PA continues to advocate for increased participation and program improvements that are decades overdue. Learn more at www.thrivingpa.org.  

Chive to Thrive: Thriving PA Delivers Chives to Legislators to Bring Awareness to Maternal and Child Health Needs  

Thriving PA, a non-partisan, statewide advocacy campaign seeking to improve the quality of and increase access to a coordinated system of health supports, took to the Capitol last week to bring more awareness to and encourage support of policies to strengthen perinatal and children's health across the commonwealth.  

The delivery of chive plants to legislators aligned with a critical advocacy week, Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, and teased an upcoming report Thriving PA will release this summer that surveyed birthing people in Pennsylvania. Early analysis of survey results shows that 76% of respondents felt they needed care for their mental health. 

The campaign also convened focus groups about the lack of access to maternal mental health supports. Maternal mental health disorders are the number one complication of childbearing and a leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths. Currently, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries. Thriving PA advocates for access to the health resources and supports needed to give birth to and raise children safely.  


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

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