From winning a planning grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative to build a prenatal-to-age-three policy agenda in the Commonwealth, to the passage of key legislation in child welfare and K-12 education, to securing a 2019-20 state budget that invests in kids, PPC had a tremendously successful 2019 under the leadership of new President and CEO Kari King.
Our success would not be possible without continued support from our core philanthropic foundations, generous donations from individuals and corporations, the backing of our advocacy and coalition partners, or our policymaker champions. Thank you for sharing our commitment to improving the lives of every child in the Commonwealth. We wish you a happy holiday season and new year!
— The PPC Team
Prenatal-to-Age-Three Policy Work
Pennsylvania is one of 10 states currently developing a comprehensive prenatal-to-age-three policy agenda as part of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative planning grant process. The overall goal of the project is to increase the number of children and families receiving high-quality services by 25 percent by 2023.
In November PPC, who is leading the policy planning work, convened its Pritzker workgroup to finalize the agenda and wrapped-up community engagement sessions, which were held in Erie, Johnstown, Pittsburgh, Reading, Somerset, Sunbury, Philadelphia and York. The purpose of the community events was to gather input from parents and providers on the issues impacting them and how PPC’s plan can address areas of unmet need.
PPC will be submitting its final policy agenda and implementation plan by January 15. Of the 10 states currently in the planning phase, five will be selected for an implementation grant early next year.
A State Budget That Prioritizes Children
Early in the year and throughout budget season we advocated for a 2019-20 state budget that prioritizes the needs of the state’s 2.8 million children, spending hours on the hill talking with policymakers and staff and talking strategy with our coalition partners.
Our hard work paid off as the final $33.9 billion budget package the governor signed into law in late June invests in kids and increases funding across all our policy areas. Learn more about key investments for children in the 2019-20 state budget.
30th Edition of KIDS COUNT® Data Book
The 30th edition of the KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released in June by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows Pennsylvania ranks 17th for overall child well-being. That’s the same ranking our state received last year, showing that while we are making progress in some areas, it is not happening at as quick of a pace as in other states. It’s clear that a mix of state and federal investments is our best bet to improving outcomes for every child in Pennsylvania, and PPC remains committed to our ultimate goal of making the state one of the top 10 states to be a child and to raise a child.
In April we released our 10th annual State of Child Welfare report, which shows child abuse referrals are the highest recorded to date, or an increase of referrals between 2013 and 2017 of 76 percent, and that more work is needed to ensure foster youth are placed with kin.
May was Pennsylvania Foster Care Month and PPC joined policymakers and partners at the state Capitol to raise awareness about the needs of transition-age-youth (typically defined as those who are age 14 and older in the child welfare system), testifying before the House Children and Youth Committee.
Child Welfare Legislative Victories: Act 14 of 2019 re-establishes the Subsidized Permanent Legal Custodianship Program, providing subsidies to families who adopt and enter guardianships with older youth. PPC was also honored to support the Fostering Independence Through Education Act as part of the omnibus public school code bill. Act 16 of 2019 includes language that will waive tuition for foster youth attending a Pennsylvania college, university or trade school. Finally, Act 47 of 2019 amends the Child Protective Services law to require additional child abuse clearances for certain employees in accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act.
2019 Child Welfare Fact Sheets:
- Family First Prevention Services Act: An Opportunity to Redefine Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare Practices
- Fostering Successful Youth Transitions in Pennsylvania: Laying the Groundwork for Positive Change
In May the Pre-K for PA Campaign released a PPC-produced report, Ready to Succeed: Kindergarten Teachers Support Investments in High-Quality Pre-k, based on findings of a survey conducted with campaign partner Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). The results show resounding support for high-quality pre-k among those kindergarten teachers surveyed. The 2019-20 state budget also saw a $30 million increase for high-quality, publicly funded pre-k.
2019 Early Learning Fact Sheets and Mapping:
- Local Fact Sheets & Mapping: Availability of High-Quality Pre-k
- Local Fact Sheets & Mapping: Child Care in Pennsylvania
As we revealed in October in our report State of Children’s Health Care in Pennsylvania: Powering Up Healthy Kids, 124,000 Pennsylvania children do not have health insurance, and children under six are the most likely to be without coverage. No child should be without health care insurance and our report sets a clear agenda to strengthen both access and coverage benefits in health care for the Commonwealth’s children.
Medicaid Matters for PA Kids
Check out our video series – Medicaid Matters – to view short video messages from grasstops leaders across sectors such as health care, child welfare, early learning and education on why Medicaid and CHIP matter to them.
Lead Exposure and Children: A Toxic Mix
This year PPC began working with stakeholders to help create a lead free/lead safe environment for Pennsylvania children. Click here for more background and resources. We also continue to work to advance legislation to promote universal blood lead screening in the state through HB 79.
2019 Health Care Fact Sheets:
In April the Childhood Begins at Home coalition wrapped up a series of events across the state that brought together evidence-based home visiting programs, families and children who benefit, policymakers, stakeholders and coalition partners to encourage an increased investment in the state budget. Learn more about the work of the coalition here, including accessing county-specific unmet need data. The 2019-20 state budget included an increase of $5 million in the Community-Based Family Center line for evidence-based home visiting in Pennsylvania.
In January we released Skilled Workers Needed: Ensuring Investments in Career and Technical Education with fellow PA Schools Work coalition partner, the Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators (PACTA).
The report makes a strong case that career and technical education (CTE) is a critical part of delivering the quality education students deserve from their public schools. However, a lack of sustained investments in CTE funding, and more broadly, basic education funding, has caused limited access for students who wish to enter the workforce immediately following graduation.
PPC and PACTA visited with business leaders, policymakers and students at five career and technical education centers in Allegheny, Bucks, Centre, Lancaster and York counties. This work paid off, as the 2019-20 state budget included a $10 million increase in CTE funding. The budget also contained a $160 million increase for basic education funding and a $50 million increase for special education funding.
K-12 Legislative Victory: PPC supported Act 76 of 2019, which will enhance career and technical education in Pennsylvania by:
- Expanding an established database that allows students and potential students to access information regarding the transfer policies of higher educational institutions;
- Requiring school entities to allow representatives from community colleges and other technical or trade schools to attend career/college fairs;
- Increasing flexibility for innovative secondary career and technical education programs; and
- Requiring the development and distribution of materials outlining workforce needs, including future earning potential and training opportunities.