Department of Human Services Provides Update on Latest Medicaid, SNAP Enrollment Data, Announces Recent Changes to SNAP Benefits and Eligibility (January 12, 2021)

On January 6, 2021, PA Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller reminded Pennsylvanians that safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid (MA) are available to individuals and families who are struggling to afford food or access health care. Secretary Miller also discussed recent SNAP changes that will help individuals and families amidst the continuing public health crisis and heightened unemployment.

Enrollment statewide for Medicaid has increased by 300,076 people since February 2020, for a total enrollment of 3,131,639 people in November 2020, which is a 10.6% increase.

In addition, Pennsylvanians who have lost health coverage or are currently uninsured and need coverage for themselves or their children may qualify for coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicaid and CHIP provide coverage for routine and emergency health services, tests and screenings, and prescriptions, and COVID-19 testing and treatment are covered by Medicaid and CHIP. Medicaid and CHIP enroll individuals throughout the year and do not have a limited or special enrollment time, so people needing health coverage can apply for these programs at any time. There are income limits for Medicaid, but all children qualify for comprehensive health, vision, and dental coverage through CHIP regardless of their parents’ income. Children who are not income eligible for Medicaid are automatically referred to CHIP for coverage.

Enrollment for SNAP statewide has increased by 96,549 people since February 2020, for a total enrollment of about 1,834,008 in November 2020, which is a 5.6% increase.

SNAP helps more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians purchase fresh food and groceries, helping families with limited or strained resources be able to keep food on the table while meeting other bills and needs. Inadequate food and chronic nutrient deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased health care costs. As the nation faces the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential needs like food is more important than ever to help keep vulnerable populations healthy and mitigate co-occurring health risks.  Congress has temporarily increased the SNAP maximum benefit allotment by 15% through the recently-signed federal government funding bill. This change affects every SNAP recipient in the commonwealth and is effective from January 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. More information, including the new SNAP maximum monthly allotment, can be viewed by clicking here.

Center for Safe Schools Offers Bullying Prevention Third Thursday PD Series (January 11, 2021)

The Center for Safe Schools is pleased to present the Bullying Prevention Third Thursday professional development series. This series is a way for educators, bullying prevention trainers, social workers, after-school professionals and a host of community partners to become more familiar with bullying prevention, social emotional learning, cutting edge research, trauma-informed approaches and many more topics that help support school climate improvement in-person and online. The Center for Safe Schools is pleased to present the Bullying Prevention Third Thursday professional development series. This series is a way for educators, bullying prevention trainers, social workers, after-school professionals and a host of community partners to become more familiar with bullying prevention, social emotional learning, cutting edge research, trauma-informed approaches and many more topics that help support school climate improvement in-person and online.

The series kicks off on January 21, 2021 with Best Practices in Bullying Prevention: Examining a Three-Tiered Approach presented by Jane Riese, Associate Director, Safe and Humane Schools, Mary Dolan, Bullying Prevention Consultant, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and Stacie Molnar-Main, School Climate and Social Emotional Learning Consultant, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and Research Associate, Kettering Foundation

REGISTER HERE

BSE’s Clancy Releases Memo: State Performance Plan Data Requirements – Postsecondary School Survey (Cohort 1 Exit) (January 11, 2021)

On January 8, 2021, BSE Director Carole L. Clancy released a PennLink memo titled State Performance Plan Data Requirements – Postsecondary School Survey (Cohort 1 Exit). The accountability requirement under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 mandates each state determine the extent to which students are achieving transition outcomes (State Performance Plan – Indicator 14). To meet the federal reporting requirement, each local educational agency (LEA) is mandated to administer Exit- and Post-School Surveys to students (who have graduated, dropped out or reached the maximum age) with individualized education programs (IEPs) once over a five-year period, based on the LEA’s assignment to a targeted sampling year.

For the 2020-21 school year, LEAs assigned to target sampling Year 1 are required to administer Exit Surveys. During 2021-22, these same LEAs will be required to complete the Post-School Surveys. The following information specifically addresses Exit Survey administration for 2020-21.  LEAs assigned to target sampling Year 1, as listed below, are required to address the following:

For questions about the Exit Survey or Indicator 14 process, please contact PaTTAN Educational Consultants Hillary Mangis at hmangis@pattan.net or Jacki Lyster at jlyster@pattan.net

The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Pennsylvania (January 10, 2021)

As of January 7, 2021, more than 202,000 Pennsylvanians had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. Both vaccines were granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December. This process is designed to fast-track medicines to treat or prevent life-threatening diseases in public health emergencies.

The first vaccines have been earmarked for health care workers and are being distributed at several hospitals, pharmacies and medical centers throughout the state. Long-term care residents and staff are also in the state’s top priority group. Nursing home vaccine distribution in Pennsylvania began the week of December 28, 2020.

Phase 1A: The state has developed tiered priority groups, following guidance from the CDC. Phase 1A includes health care workers and PA’s  more than 120,000 long-term care residents, along with long-term care staff.

Phase 1B: Next in line is phase 1B, which includes people at least 75 years old and people living and working in congregate care settings who weren’t covered in phase 1A. The group also includes first responders, correctional officers, food and agriculture workers, postal workers, manufacturing employees, teachers and other education workers, clergy, public transit employees and certain types of caregivers.

Phase 1C: Once more vaccines are available, the state will turn to phase 1C, which includes people 65 and up, several types of essential workers not covered in previous phases (e.g., transportation and logistics employees, water and wastewater workers, food service staff and people who work in housing construction, finance, information technology, communications, energy, legal and federal, state, county or local government roles., and people at least 16 years old who have high-risk medical conditions (e.g., diabetes or chronic kidney disease). Phase 1C also public safety and health workers and members of the media.

Once the state works through phase 1C, it will distribute vaccines to the general public. To read more from AARP, click here.