2021-22 Budget: Gov. Wolf Proposes Historic Increase in Basic Ed. Funding (February 3, 2021)

Governor Tom Wolf is proposing a historic $1.35 billion, or 21.6%, increase in basic education funding in a budget proposal that has been met with great enthusiasm by school district advocates and is seen as as a long overdue change that will address funding inequities that have adversely affected poorer and predominantly black school districts for decades, while at the same time ensuring that no school district receives less than they received in 2020-21.

Click here for the full article from PennLive.

PDE Seeks Sponsors For Summer Meals Nutrition Programs (February 2, 2021)

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is asking organizations across the state to consider providing nutritious meals to youth during the summer months (June – September) through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program.

The Summer Food Service Program, which began in 1976, is a federally funded child nutrition program designed to serve youths ages 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. Individuals over age 18 who are mentally or physically disabled and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled are also eligible to receive free meals at the Summer Food Service Program sites. The program’s regulations allow participating organizations to be reimbursed for meals served to youth who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program.

Due to the pandemic, the Summer Food Service Program was approved to operate beginning March of 2019 and continues to operate in off-summer times to ensure children across Pennsylvania have access to meals during COVID-19.

Approximately 250 organizations normally participate in the Summer Food Service Program, providing nutritious meals to children at over 2,200 locations across Pennsylvania during the summer season. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater need for more sites throughout the state. 

Participating organizations must be year-round, not-for-profit entities – this may include schools; local, municipal, or county governments; libraries; places of worship; fire and police stations; summer camps; and national youth sports programs. Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program are responsible for managing the sites that provide meals to children.

Most participating organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day: lunch or dinner, and breakfast or a snack. Those serving primarily migrant children may be reimbursed for up to three meals a day. Camps may serve up to three meals a day, but they are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

The deadline to apply to become a participating organization is June 15, 2021. For more information, visit PDE’s website: www.education.pa.gov/sfspOpens In A New Window or call 800-331-0129.

Wolf Administration Highlights Opioid Response Efforts As Opioid Crisis Continues To Affect Pennsylvania (February 1, 2020)

On January 26, 2021,  the Wolf Administration highlighted the latest accomplishments of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and provided an update on prescribing and overdose trends up to October 2020.

Since the PDMP launched in 2016, there has been a 29.7% increase in the prescribing of buprenorphine. In addition, there has been a 58.6% reduction in the number of individuals receiving a high dosage of opioid medication, a 52.4% reduction in the number of individuals receiving a dangerous drug combination of opioids and benzodiazepines, and a 36.6% reduction in opioid prescribing overall.

In 2020, opioid overdose-related emergency department visits showed a slight increase (less than one percent) compared to 2019, despite a decrease in all cause emergency department visits during the COVID-19 pandemic response. There was an approximately 19 percent decrease in all cause emergency department visits in 2020 compared to 2019. Also, 20 counties showed statistically significant increases in any opioid overdose-related emergency department visits in 2020 compared to 2019.

Accidental and undetermined deaths related to any drug overdose were higher each month from January 2020 through July 2020 compared to the corresponding month in 2019. Since finalized death records for overdose deaths are often delayed by three to six months, 2020 counts are expected to increase further.

Winter months are typically a challenging time for many who struggle with the disease of addiction. With the need for people to isolate or quarantine, social distance and avoid gathering due to COVID-19, Pennsylvanians who have struggled with the disease of addiction may be at increased risk of relapsing this year. For more information on Pennsylvania’s response to the opioid crisis visit www.pa.gov/opioids.

Wolf Administration Announces Increase To Base Payment Rates For Child Care Providers Participating In Subsidized Child Care (February 1, 2021)

On February 1, 2021, Governor Tom Wolf announced an increase to base rates paid to child care providers participating in Child Care Works (CCW), Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program.  CCW helps make child care affordable for lower-income, working families and allows parents to go to work knowing their children are being cared for and learning in safe, loving environments.  Increasing base rates helps all providers who participate in the program invest in services offered for children in care, staff development and compensation, and overall quality of their child care facility.

Pennsylvania is also issuing $600 COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Awards to child care workers across Pennsylvania through federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) quality dollars and remaining CARES funding. Child care providers that are currently licensed and certified through OCDEL can apply for these funds through their local ELRC until February 12, 2021. More information about ELRCs can be found at http://www.raiseyourstar.org/Opens In A New Window.  

On December 27, 2020, an additional $10 billion dollars was allocated by the federal government to support child care. Pennsylvania should receive its share of the additional funds in the coming weeks.  

For more information on child care providers operating during the COVID-19 public health crisis, visit http://www.findchildcare.pa.gov/Opens In A New Window.   

For more information, click here.