United Way of Pennsylvania
UWP Update - March 31, 2017
United Way of PA Hill Day participants with Sen. Judy Schwank (Berks-D).  
UWP's Hill Day Wrap-Up 

UWP's Hill Day was a great success! We met with over 35 offices and had representation from 11 different United Ways and a 6 board members to discuss some of UWP's policy priorities, including PA 2-1-1, pre-k funding, and state budgeting.  THANK YOU to all those who attended Hill Day and our legislative reception. 

In addition to our Hill Day, Senator Judy Schwank (Berks-D) and House Majority Leader, Dave Reed (Indiana-R), introduced resolutions commemorating the work United Ways are doing across the Commonwealth.  Take a look at the SR 48 and HR 170

It is our hope to hold a Hill Day annually.  Hill Day is a great way to educate the legislature on our policy priorities and put a face with the United Way work being done in our communities. We hope all membership and board members to prioritize future Hill Days and help us advocate for the health, financial stability, and education of all Pennsylvanians.    

Consolidation of four health and human services departments subject of Senate hearing
Three standing committees in the Senate held a public hearing on Wednesday, offering the first opportunity to focus exclusively on this element of the Governor's budget proposal. The Senate Health and Human Services, Aging and Youth, and Appropriations committees asked questions of the heads of the four Departments which would be merged, as well as the Governor's policy and fiscal staff responsible for the project.

Several themes emerged, including concern about transparency and how stakeholder input is being collected throughout the process. Senators remain focused on determining whether seniors and people battling drug addictions will be negatively impacted by the consolidation. They questioned the accuracy of the cost estimates ($90 million in year 1) provided by the administration, and frequently voiced their belief that the timeline for the transition is rushed.

The Department heads defended the proposal vigorously, stating that it will result in streamlined and improved services by creating one point of access for people delivering and receiving services, aligning SNAP, WIC and TANF programs, and consolidating duplicative functions in County Assistance Offices. Eighteen states have completed a unification of all health and human services agencies.

The administration described a transition process which includes receiving stakeholder feedback to inform a transition plan which will not be available until April. They affirmed that statutory authority would be required for the merger, and that a change effective July 1 will take a period of time beyond that to be fully implemented. When asked to estimate future cost savings beyond the initial year of implementation, the administration said it has not modeled that information, but there will be more cost savings. Senator Browne pointed out that Michigan's consolidation saved $5.7 billion in state funding. 

21st CCLC funding at risk in Trump's budget
In Pennsylvania, the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative provides federal funding dedicated exclusively to before and after-school programs, as well as summer learning programs. This federal funding has been singled out for elimination in the Trump Administration's proposed budget. This funding elimination could be detrimental to communities and children.  Investments in 21st CCLC programs keep children in high-poverty, low-performing schools safe and supported by providing them with engaging academic activities.  Currently, 30,989 students participate in 21st CCLC programs in Pennsylvania and more than 600 communities are served. 

The PA Dept. of Education evaluated Pennsylvania's 21st CCLC programs and found students regularly participating in the programs made improvements in their engagement in school, academics and behavior.  There have been numerous other studies showing the positive connection between children's participation in before and after school programs and improvement in their academic and social behaviors. 

With the threat of this funding elimination, it is important to continue to show success from participation in before and after school programs, while also educating your congressional members on how this funding elimination will impact the children and families in your community. UWP will be engaging more on this issue in the upcoming future and will keep membership updated with any developments in regard to our advocacy.  

American Health Care Act update
As most of you may have heard, House GOP pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week before taking a vote.  The AHCA was pulled due to lack of support by Republican House members.  There were many reasons for the lack of support, but the hastily push for the bill without taking into consideration how many would lose coverage and protections was part of the reason.  The CBO released a well-timed report stating 14 million could lose coverage by 2018 and up to 24 million could lose coverage by 2026.  Additionally, there was only a 17% support rate for the repeal and replacement plan put forth.  These factors contributed to lack of support for the legislation. 

So where does that leave us moving forward?  The push for the repeal/replacement will slow down quite a bit, although Speaker Ryan mentioned there would still be some attempts to tackle healthcare issues in other forms or in smaller bites.  For now, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will still be the law.  In the Senate, there have been several healthcare reform bills proposed by Republicans that could gain some momentum, but it is still going to be a slow process, especially with other big ticket items up, such as tax reform.

UWP will continue to participate on in the health care cohort through UWW and will keep membership apprised of any developments.  

Local United Way leadership transitions
UWP recently learned that two of our local United Way chief professional officers are moving on from their current positions.

Rick Smith from United Way of Bedford County will be taking on a new role with the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce to serve as their Vice-President. He will be transitioning his responsibilities over the next four months in order to help through the transition to a new Executive Director for the United Way. He has served in that role since 2009.

Scott Lowery is retiring from the United Way of Lycoming County at the end of June. He has been the executive director since 2004 and has worked for United Way since 1993. He plans to pursue several interests in retirement, including continuing his involvement as a radio voice calling Little League World Series games.  

New marketing tools available to United Ways

United Way Worldwide is now offering a workplace campaign marketing toolkit which includes customizable marketing tools that meet the new brand standards. The templates available include brochures and flyers, banner ads and email templates, event invitations, public service announcements, photography and campaign posters. Read more here

All of the customizable assets will become available in Studio to Go. Studio to Go is now free to all United Ways. More information is available on United Way online.   

Any questions can be directed to the United Way help desk

2017 Community health rankings

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's 2017 Community Health Rankings were released on Wednesday, March 29. Visit this web site to find the rankings. Data is available for every county in the United States.

Several of the community indicators being tracked by RWJF overlap with issues that United Way Worldwide is tracking, including low birthweight, adult obesity, high school graduation rates and unemployment rates. They provide another source of information for local United Ways to utilize in community needs assessment as well as benchmarking and performance measurement. 

United Way financial stability Twitter chat, April 5th 

UWW will be hosting a Twitter chat, on Wednesday, April 5th at 2PM, to discuss financial stability.  This will be the first time UWW has put on this type of communication strategy.  The goal for this chat is to provide United Ways a platform to share examples of your financial stability work.  
UWW will be asking various questions, which will give you the opportunity to show how your particular United Way is engaging in financial stability work.  To find out what questions are being asked, the hashtag being used, and some sample responses take a look at the information provided by UWW here.  

LIHEAP Deadline Extended

The Wolf Administration announced last week the LIHEAP program will be extended until April 7th.  The program was originally set to end on March 31st, but the Administration decided to extend the program since this year's winter weather was unpredictable. 

Pennsylvanians can still apply for a LIHEAP grant online at www.compass.state.pa.us or in person at their local county assistance office.  You can also encourage those seeking assistance to contact 2-1-1.  

For more information about LIHEAP, you can also visit www.dhs.pa.gov.