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Family First Prevention Services Act: OCYF Submits 5-Year Plan to the Feds

It has been three years since the Family First Prevention Services Act became law. Since then, the Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) has been developing its 5-year prevention plan to take advantage of new federal Title IV-E funding to support increased use and access to evidence-based prevention services. Last week, OCYF submitted its plan to the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) for review and approval. 

The plan aims to mitigate risk for children and families by increasing access to evidence-based community programs when there are allegations of abuse and neglect. It also identifies programs eligible for Title IV-E reimbursement and includes definitions for qualifying children and families, fidelity monitoring of programs, and new data collection requirements. Next, OCYF will wait to hear from ACF on approval of the plan or negotiate needed modifications. Until that time, the plan is tentative, but counties are ready to implement it on October 1st formally. PPC will continue to provide updates on the finalized plan and implementation efforts.  

Stay tuned! Later this month, we will release a fact sheet outlining the provisions of the prevention plan with updates on other provisions of the Family First Prevention Services Act. Our fact sheet will be released later this month. 

Second Cycle of Professional Development Scholarships for Child Advocacy Leaders Opens

The application period for the second year of the Joan Benso Professional Development Fund is open! As you may remember from last year, PPC's Board of Directors created the fund to honor our former president and CEO, who retired in December 2018.

The fund's purpose is to promote professional development for emerging child advocates throughout Pennsylvania by providing one-time scholarship opportunities to qualified individuals.

Scholarships will be awarded in the form of cash of up to $10,000 per applicant to be used solely to underwrite the direct and indirect costs of pre-approved educational opportunities. These can include but are not limited to certification programs, personal coaching, and skill-specific seminars or training courses (graduate/undergraduate work not eligible).

We would also like to acknowledge the generous support received for this initiative from The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and the William Penn Foundation.

The deadline to apply is Friday, October 29th! Funds are available for use during the 2022 calendar year.

Learn more on how to apply.  

2020 Census: First Look for Kids Disappointing

Initial analyses of the 2020 Census indicate a worse undercount of children than in 2010. In August, the U.S. Census Bureau released redistricting data that separates all children and adults' statistics. Dr. William O'Hare compared the redistricting data to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2020 Demographic Analysis and found a significant net undercount for children. This undercount is estimated to be more than 1.5 million children ages 0-17. Babies and toddlers (ages 0-4) have been undercounted at the highest rate in prior censuses. The U.S. Census Bureau's release of additional data by 2023 will allow census stakeholders to examine further this age group's undercount. Dr. O'Hare's report states, "The increase in the net undercount of all children suggests there is unlikely to be any improvement in the high net undercount of young children seen over the past several decades."

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights how $1.5 trillion in federal dollars is allocated across all states and localities based on population. The funding is critical for infants and toddlers participating in Early Head Start, Head Start, subsidized child care, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), early intervention services, or Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition programs. Mark Mather from the Population Reference Bureau states, "We are finding the most disadvantaged neighborhoods are most at risk of being undercounted. What's important is those are the communities that need the help the most."

As a reminder, results of the 2020 Census decide the following over the next ten years:

  • The number of representatives that Pennsylvania can send to the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • The number of Pennsylvania's electoral votes.
  • The drawing of legislative district boundaries, including state and local voting districts.
  • The amount of federal funding to state and local governments.
  • The level of need for community services such as health care, education, housing, food and income security, and rural access to broadband.

September is Hunger Action Month - Help Raise Awareness!  

Millions of people across the United States do not have access to healthy nutrition. Many families must choose between feeding themselves or paying for other necessities like housing, medicine, and child care. Did you know, according to the USDA's just released 2020 Household Food Insecurity in the United States report, 13.8 million households were food insecure last year, including 2.9 million households with children? In fact, the percentage of households with children that were food insecure in 2020 rose to 7.6% from its 2019 level of 6.5%. Read more of the report here.

What can be done about these troubling statistics? One option is to highlight that September is World Hunger Action Month. You can take action by signing a pledge, donating, or volunteering.

In Thriving PA, we have been working to increase enrollment in the WIC program to help ensure infants and toddlers and pregnant and postpartum mothers have access to healthy nutrition.

Recently, advocates published a policy brief, A Time to Thrive: Growing Pennsylvania WIC's Impact on Children and Families, to highlight policy changes that can be made at both the state and federal level to make access to the WIC program easier for clients and ultimately increase the number of eligible participants taking advantage of the program. Additionally, the coalition released two fact sheets that highlight WIC's downward spiral and what we can learn from the COVID-19 crisis related to WIC.

Data made possible by the Pennsylvania KIDS COUNT Data Center, home to more than 130 child well-being indicators related to education, poverty, health, and youth risk factors.

Thriving PA Releases Series of Fact Sheets on Perinatal Health

The Thriving PA campaign has released the latest in a series of informational fact sheets, with this set focused on perinatal health – the area of our policy agenda led by our partners at the Maternity Care Coalition. The three fact sheets cover:

With a goal of ensuring each mother and child in Pennsylvania has the opportunity for affordable, quality health care access, Thriving PA is a non-partisan, statewide campaign that seeks to improve the quality of and increase equitable access to a coordinated system of health supports, including access to comprehensive perinatal health services, children's health insurance, nutrition supports, and lead screening and abatement. Visit the website today to see these fact sheets and other resources!

In Case You Missed It...

  • The U.S. House of Representatives has begun work on its $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan as the draft legislation went through the "mark-up" process in the House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor committees last week and early this week. This work comes before the Congressional leadership's stated goal of September 15th. PPC and our coalition partners focus on ambitious policy initiatives around child care, universal pre-k, children's health care, and more. The budget reconciliation process only requires a simple majority of votes in each chamber to pass. Meanwhile, the previously Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill sits in the House with Republican leadership urging opposition and moderate Democrats criticizing the delay. We will continue to update the status of these bills as they move along in the process. The federal budget deadline is September 30th.
  • Yesterday our partners at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families released Medicaid Expansion Narrows Maternal Health Coverage Gaps, But Racial Disparities Persist. The report shows data from 50 states that make it clear Medicaid expansion is a first step in addressing maternal health inequities, which PA has done. Still, more work exists to address this issue, including extending postpartum coverage. PPC Vice President of Public Policy, Becky Ludwick, presented on the report release webinar with CCF's Executive Director Joan Alker, report author Maggie Clark, and Laura Guerra-Cardus from Children's Defense Fund of Texas. 
  • Becky also presented with Georgetown CCF and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities last week on a webinar, Unwinding the COVID-19 Medicaid Continuous Eligibility Provision, about how advocates proactively plan ways to ensure that children and families don't lose coverage and the end of the public health emergency.
  • Catch-up on another recently-released Georgetown CCF report, Next Steps for the Children's Health Insurance Program, making policy recommendations on modernizing this vital program providing health insurance to over 6 million kids nationally.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently released its proposed regulation (#6-349) relating to charter and cyber charter schools, which is now available for review on the Independent Regulatory Review Commission's website. Public comments are open through October 18th.
  • The House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing last week on inequities within the state's education funding system. Testifiers included House Democratic Appropriations Committee staff, the superintendent of the Bethlehem School District, and education advocates. 
  • Sen. President Pro Temp Jake Corman, State Rep. Jesse Topper, parents, and others filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the state's masking mandate for schools. A hearing is set for September 16th. 
  • The Education Law Center released its Back-to-School Guide, including several resources for advocates and self-advocacy tools for parents and families. Topics include enrollment, addressing chronic absenteeism, school discipline, and others.
  • Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) recently released a report outlining ways states can maximize federal relief funds by using child care resources, referral agencies, and community development financial institutions to increase the quality of child care.
  • Enjoy this TED Talk "What if I was to tell you that a game of peek-a-boo could change the world?" presented by the world's youngest-ever TED Talk speaker, 7-year-old Molly Wright, as she discusses what playful things grown-ups can do to support brain development and help children thrive by age five.

PPC is a principal partner of several statewide advocacy campaigns within Early Learning PA!

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

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