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UWP Update - August 4, 2017
United Ways in NEPA teamed up with NASCAR in a Race for the Kids to bring awareness for early childhood education. 
Northeast PA United Ways partner with NASCAR driver Derrike Cope to support early childhood education

T his past Sunday, United Way zoomed around the track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in a Race for the Kids initiative. Driven by Derrike Cope, the United Way logo was featured on Premium Motorsports' #55. This initiative, which was a partnership with car sponsor Sundance Vacations and United Ways across Northeastern PA, was one for the kids.

The purpose of the sponsorship was to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood education in conjunction with the race that took place on July 30th,  Involved United Ways include United Way of Wyoming Valley, Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, Monroe County, Greater Hazleton, Susquehanna County, Wyoming County, Berwick Area, Columbia County, Schuylkill County and Greater Susquehanna Valley. By getting a United Way logo out there on the car, United Way is showing their support for the kids. Sundance Vacations also agreed to donate to United Way as a part of the promotional partnership.

The logo will take on the track again in Dover on October 1 on car #55 in another Race for the Kids.

Learn more about coordinated point of entry for homeless services

United Way of Pennsylvania and the Eastern Region Continuum of Care partnered to offer an educational webinar regarding coordinated point of entry for homeless services. This provided 2-1-1s and United Ways the opportunity to learn more about a strategy that HUD will be requiring for funded jurisdictions as of January, 2018. The slide deck and webinar recording are available for your review upon request by emailing Anne Fogoros.
 
The Eastern COC, which is comprised of 33 counties and five Regional Homeless Advisory Boards (see map here: http://www.pennsylvaniacoc.org/easterncoc/) recently closed a Request for Proposal for coordinated point of entry, with plans to choose a provider this fall and go live in January. United Way of PA and PA 2-1-1 submitted a proposal to be the coordinated point of entry utilizing phone and text capabilities.
 
A coordinated entry system coordinates access, assessment, prioritization and referral for housing and supports for people experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness. For the last six months, the East Region 2-1-1 call center has served as the answerer for a pilot coordinated entry project in Lehigh and Northampton counties. They are the toll free access point for homeless services in that county, and must be available after normal business hours for emergency referrals..
 
Callers who characterize themselves as homeless are given a short pre-screen survey to determine their eligibility for the VI-SPDAT, which is a much more in-depth Vulnerability Index for Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool. People who are literally homeless or living in a hotel paid for by a public or charitable organization will receive the VI-SPDAT. Others who do not fall into this category may be referred to diversion services.
 
The objective of coordinated point of entry is to connect people to the right services as quickly as possible, while prioritizing the entire eligible population based on need and vulnerability, and maximize the resources that are available in a community. Many COCs across Pennsylvania are strategizing how to address coordinated point of entry requirements, and if you want to know more, you should contact your local COC. 

PA Senate passes a revenue package with bipartisan support, PA House still adjourned without taking action

On July 27, the Senate amended and approved various budget code bills and a revenue bill in an attempt to move along completion of the 2017-2018 budget. The Senate was reacting to a failed attempt in the House to bring forward a revenue package to vote on a rare Saturday session day, and a challenge from House leadership to put forward a plan which reflects what the Senate supports. 
 
In its revenue plan, the Senate used a mix between borrowing and new taxes to find the needed $2.2 billion to balance the budget.  The Tax Code bill, House Bill 542, includes tax increases, which total around $570 million, including a natural gas severance tax and increases of taxes on some utility bills.  In addition to this revenue, another $200 million is expected from some form of gaming expansion, although those details are not yet worked out. The bulk of the revenue however will come from borrowing roughly $1.3 billion from the state's Tobacco Settlement Fund payments. 
 
The other code bills which were voted include the Fiscal Code, HB 453, which includes language to allocate $750,000 from the Department of Human Services General Government Operations line for statewide 2-1-1. The Senate also advanced the Human Services Code, Public School and Administrative Code bills. The Senate voted to fund the Earned Income Tax Credit in the same amount as the previous year. 

The House does not have a schedule for returning to Harrisburg to consider these bills. Spending has generally not been interrupted since a spending bill is in place, but the threat will increase toward the end of August when the state Treasurer has been warning the state will not have enough revenue to pay its bills. State-related universities such as Pitt and Penn State will also be impacted because the "non-preferred" appropriations bills have not been enacted due to lack of revenues to fund them. 
 

ACA repeal and replace efforts fail in Senate - what's next? 
It has been an eventful couple of weeks with the healthcare debates taking place in the Senate.  With pressure from the Administration, last week the Senate held multiple votes to move some form of a healthcare vote.  First, the Senate voted on a 'stand-in' BCRA, which failed in a vote of 43-57. The second vote that took place was a bill on a full ACA repeal without a replacement. Again, this bill failed in a vote of 55-45.  Finally, the Senate brought up what they floated as a "skinny bill", which would only repeal the personal and employers mandates, and some of the ACA taxes. This vote also failed.

With these attempts, and failures, the Senate has said they will come back from August recess with a willingness to work on a bipartisan solution to stabilizing the marketplace under the ACA.  They plan to hold a series of hearings to discuss the issues with our current healthcare and solutions to those problems that have bipartisan support. 

UWP will continue to stay updated, coordinate advocacy with United Way Worldwide, and relay any pertinent information. 
Revisions made to Keystone STARS

This week the Wolf Administration and DHS announced revisions being made to Keystone STARS, which were made to reduce barriers for child care providers to participate in STARS and earn quality ratings.  The revisions being made include:
  • All licensed child care providers with a full certificate of compliance will be at least a STAR 1 facility;
  • Approximately 50 percent fewer quality indicators, meaning less paperwork for providers;
  • Performance standards that are achievable and meaningful to programs; and
  • These providers will now have access to many resources, including support to help the program earn a higher STAR rating, both through people and financial resources, scholarships for staff to earn college credits and degrees, and recognition that the program is a healthy and safe environment for children.
With these changes, more Pennsylvania children will have access to quality child care, with less administrative burdens being placed on the facilities themselves.  To learn more about the revisions and how it impacts each STAR level facility, please check out this webinar.  

Congress subcommittee advances cuts to afterschool programs

The House Appropriations committee met to discuss the proposed education funding bill for FY 2018, which included $1.91 billion in cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool funding.  The bill passed committee with a party-line vote of 28-22.  This has a large impact on the availability of funding for our afterschool programs.  With the cuts, funding levels will be at the lowest level since 2007.  It would also mean nearly 200,000 children would lose access to afterschool programs next year. 

There is still a lot that can happen before the funding cuts become law.  Several bipartisan members of the House Appropriations committee commented on their support for afterschool programs and have vowed to look at ways to restore the funding should revenue streams allow.  The bill will now move to the House floor, but most likely will be lumped in with other funding bills, instead of being voted alone. In addition, the Senate has not even begun looking at their education funding bill, so there is opportunity for 21st CCLC  funding to be restored there  UWP will continue to monitor progress and update membership as more information becomes available. 

UWW offers Born Learning webinar

United Way Worldwide is hosting a webinar on Born Learning, titled "Born Learning:  New Resources to Support Your Early Childhood/School Readiness Strategies" on Tuesday, August 15th from 1:30-3:30pm.
          
This webinar will discuss Born Learning, a suite of United Way branded tools and resources to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood development. They will feature an array of learning resources and tips to bring early childhood learning into your community and how to integrate it into our mission of early childhood education.
 
To register, click here .