February 4, 2020 —
Allies for Children applauds Governor Wolf’s continued commitment to
Pennsylvania’s children through investments in critical programs that will improve educational and health outcomes for children.
With 76% of Western Pennsylvania’s homes built before the 1978 ban on lead paint and the average age of school buildings in Pennsylvania being over 70 years, exposure to paint and dust from that era can diminish children’s health outcomes, impair cognitive function, and result in behavior problems. The Governor’s proposed investment in critically needed renovations of our homes, schools, and child care facilities will prevent childhood lead poisoning.
“By seeking $1.1 billion to comprehensively address childhood lead exposure in schools, homes, public water systems and child care facilities, Governor Wolf is working towards primary prevention of lead poisoning for all Pennsylvania children. We applaud the Governor’s bold plan acknowledging both the critical urgency and large scale of this issue, as no child in the commonwealth is immune to the threat of lead exposure.” Patrick Dowd, Executive Director, Allies for Children.
Children’s Health Insurance Program
For the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Gov. Wolf proposed a $66.6 million increase for the FY 2020-21 Budget, for a total of $107.9 million. Due to federal changes, states are required to pick up additional costs associated with the CHIP program. This budget reflects Pennsylvania’s commitment to ensuring children’s CHIP coverage remains strong.
Evidence-Based Home Visiting
Allies for Children is disappointed in the Governor’s lack of significant investments for evidence-based home visiting programs. These programs are critical to improving child well-being, maternal health and family self-sufficiency. Of the 26,710 low-income children in Allegheny County, only 1,670 are currently served by publicly-funded, evidence-based home visiting models.
“In Allegheny County, only 6 percent of the children who would benefit the most from evidence-based home visiting programs currently receive services. These programs are proven to improve birth outcomes and support parents, ultimately promoting child health, well-being, learning and development. We join our colleagues in asking the General Assembly to invest significantly in expanding evidence-based home visiting programs.” Laura Stephany, Health Policy Coordinator, Allies for Children
Allies for Children is a member of the Childhood Begins at Home campaign, a state-wide coalition dedicated to increasing public investments in evidence-based home visiting. You can read the campaign’s statement here.
Allies for Children supports the Governor’s efforts to increase education funding for our public schools by $405 million, which includes a $100 million increase for Basic Education Funding, $25 million for special education funding and $280 million through charter school funding reform. These increases, when distributed fairly across school districts, would deliver funds to all school districts and help districts throughout the Commonwealth educate students to prepare them for postsecondary and workplace success. Allies for Children recognizes that charter school funding reform is likely to be debated amongst legislators, and we encourage the General Assembly to avoid partisan politics and work together to deliver the critical resources to our schools:
“While we recognize that agreeing to charter school funding reform, which would result in an additional $280 million to our traditional public schools, is a daunting task for legislators, we encourage the General Assembly to approve common sense charter school funding reforms which will bring back much needed resources to our districts, especially those that continue to struggle with increases in charter school payments and special education costs.” Jamie Baxter, Education Policy Director, Allies for Children
One area that is a disappointment is the lack of increased investments in career and technical education. In order to be career ready, students must have robust CTE offerings both in their home districts and at the regional career and technical centers. We hope the General Assembly will see the critical need for CTE funding and increase the subsidy line-item.
Allies for Children is a governing body member of the PA Schools Work campaign, a campaign
dedicated to significantly increasing investments in Basic Education Funding, Special Education and Career and Technical Education. You can read the campaign’s statement here.
Allies for Children, a nonpartisan nonprofit, serves as a bold voice for policy and practice changes that improve the wellbeing of all children and youth in Allegheny County, especially those with the greatest need. For more information, visit www.alliesforchildren.org.