ISSUE 97 | February 26, 2021
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Childcare worker subsidy replaced an incentive for staff higher education
In 2020, about 9,000 Pennsylvania childcare workers qualified for the Education and Retention Award (ERA), which offered up to $3,000 for workers (and $4,000 for directors) who enrolled in higher education programs.

However, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning recently announced that ERA funding will be repurposed to provide a one-time award of $600 to 33,000 workers.

Childcare experts have expressed concern that this change may complicate the retention of educated workers. 

Luzerne County receives $9.5M in rental assistance
The federal government has distributed $9.5 million in rental assistance funding to Luzerne County, with the goal of helping low-income households that are struggling to afford rent and utilities due to the pandemic.

The Commission on Economic Opportunity will help administer the aid.

Research Spotlight: Learn more about livable wages in northeastern PA! Then click the housing prompt here and scroll down to read about the region's housing divide.
Wolf proposes plan to close the gap between growing and shrinking PA school districts
Five years ago, Pennsylvania adopted a fair funding formula to make public school education more equitable across the commonwealth.

Disparities still exist between school districts, however, as growing districts receive less funding than shrinking districts.

The Wolf administration has proposed a plan to advance equity by distributing more money through the fair funding formula while using a tax increase to ensure that no districts lose funding.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
HUD implements rule against LGBT discrimination
Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development implemented an executive order outlawing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

These types of housing discrimination had not previously been covered by the Fair Housing Act, and a recent report showed that homelessness is common among LGBTQ communities.

Four steps proposed to increase impact of an expanded Child Tax Credit
According to some estimates, the proposed expansion of the Child Tax Credit could potentially cut child poverty in half.

The research organization MDRC has suggested these four steps to ensure that the expansion is effective:

  • clarifying eligibility
  • helping families estimate the refund amount
  • making the credit a monthly benefit
  • improving outreach 

Decline in federal aid application partly due to closed offices
Applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have declined sharply during the pandemic, despite a high level of need for SSI benefits.

This is partly due to the closure of the Social Security Administration’s offices across the country, creating accessibility barriers for seniors and people with disabilities. 

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