PA 211 is a one-stop connection for any Pennsylvanian to receive information and referral information for a multitude of health and human services needs. PA 211 is the place many turn to for help when they have never had to ask before and don’t know where to turn. Each day, PA 211 is providing ALICE with resources to help alleviate barriers they are facing, such as food insecurity and high utility bills. In 2022, PA 211 received over 928,000 requests for services. Further, PA 211 possesses the most comprehensive database statewide, containing over 33,000 available services. 211 is also the most efficient way for ALICE to find help with any needs among the day-to-day balancing of job, family and financial obligations. It is also available 24/7/365 through phone, plus text and web chat options, allowing ALICE to better connect with the services they need when it is convenient for their schedule.
- Investment of state funds to continue a public-private partnership, strengthen PA 211 and assure a consistent experience for every user in the state.
- Explore ways to increase the efficiency of state and local governments by contracting to provide services currently offered through government-operated information phone hotlines.
- Leveraging PA 211’s community data to help our state address social determinants of health and build resource coordination platforms.
- Providing data for health and human service planning at the state and local level.
- Working closely with state agencies including the Departments of Aging, Health, Human Services, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to define shared goals to save taxpayer dollars by connecting Pennsylvanians in need to the right services at the right time.
The United Way network is committed to working within our communities to increase family-sustaining employment, assure access to income supports and emergency services for those who need it, and to help families grow savings and assets. Our communities and Commonwealth will be stronger when every individual and family, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, is financially stable and has opportunities for economic mobility. Our workforce development strategies do not adequately account for the challenges faced by a significant portion of our workers who face challenges with reliable transportation and affordable child care.
United Ways across the Commonwealth are committed to working across sectors to define and implement workforce development strategies that offer all workers a path to employment with family-sustaining wages, including partnerships to address the barriers many households are facing.
- State and federal Earned Income Tax Credits that support working families and help lift ALICE toward financial stability.
- Job training and career development policies which align to address impending work force shortages.
- Workforce development initiatives that help more of PA’s ALICE population achieve jobs that provide family-sustaining wages and lift them to a level of financial sustainability.
- Partnerships with the private, nonprofit, and public sector to find solutions to the barriers facing employees, such as child care and transportation.
- Innovative approaches to connect PA’s youth to career readiness opportunities.
Child care is expensive, but it is an especially large burden for ALICE. It is about 23-percent of the ALICE survival budget for families with children, and it significantly impacts their ability to be financially stable. Child care represents a Pennsylvania family’s greatest expense, averaging $1,480 per month for two children in licensed home-based care or $1,880 per month in a high-quality child care center. With 35-percent of families with children in Pennsylvania earning an income below the ALICE survival threshold, in many cases all available adults from ALICE households are in the workforce and child care is an essential component of their budget. Since more than 68-percent of all Pennsylvania families have all available parents in the workforce, the need for accessible and affordable child care is important to ALICE and non-ALICE households.
United Ways have long supported early learning, and do extensive work in ensuring Pennsylvania’s children are school-ready by kindergarten. Educational attainment is a predictor of household income, and as research shows us, early learning begins at birth, with some of the most critical years of a child’s brain development falling between birth and three years of age. This is why it is imperative every child in Pennsylvania has access to affordable, high-quality child care. It supports child development for households where both parents must work, assures that those parents can be reliable, productive employees, and provides a strategy to help move multiple generations of ALICE families on a path to financial stability.
- Assuring all children have access to reliable, high quality and affordable child care, Pre-k and Head Start. United Way of Pennsylvania supports increased funding for Child Care Services to serve children on the child care subsidy waitlist, as well as increased investment so all at-risk kids have access to high quality Pre-k and Head Start.
- Investments from the Commonwealth to improve infant/toddler child care subsidy tiered reimbursement rates for STAR 3 and 4 providers to compensate programs which have met high-quality standards closer to the full cost of high-quality child care to provide more families opportunities to find high-quality care.
- Ensuring workforce development initiatives include opportunities for child care workers, both in Pre-k and high-quality child care settings, to further their training and career.
- Increased state and federal funding for the child care development block grant to support the healthy development and school readiness needs of children, including a focus on increasing quality.
Today’s babies are tomorrow’s future and United Way’s network goals include increasing the success of child development through prenatal and child health care, nutrition, and community assistance. United Way of Pennsylvania commits to advocating for policies and funding that encourage and assist the wellbeing of families and children. Parents are often a child’s first teachers and ensuring access to evidence-based tools and information for our families is our priority.
Children’s development is ongoing and requires an array of services to meet their physical and behavioral health care need. Health insurance helps provide access to preventative and primary health care services and can offer peace of mind and financial security for families.
- Assuring all children have access to health care by building on the success of Medicaid and CHIP. United Way supports increased funding for Medicaid and CHIP and targeted investments for at risk families.
- Promoting efforts to identify, improve, and maximize good health for children and families through nutritional opportunities, the decreasing of lead exposure in children, and the maternal health access for expecting and new parents.
- Supporting the expansion of evidence-based home visiting financing and strategies. Home visiting programs are shown to promote child development and school readiness; improve maternal and child health; reduce child abuse and neglect; and support family economic self-sufficiency.
United Way of Pennsylvania advocates for funding levels that support our work to fight for the health, financial stability and education of every person in each community in our state. With pandemic supports and services set to expire and households facing economic uncertainty due to unpredictable inflation, now, more than ever, the investment in health and human service programs, which demonstrate positive outcomes and provide basic safety net services for Pennsylvanians, is needed. United Way of Pennsylvania is looking forward while ensuring our communities do not get left behind. It is essential that health and human services receive the necessary investments so that we may stand united with our communities and keep Pennsylvania moving forward.
- Improving Pennsylvania’s affordable housing options in rural and urban areas for median and low-income individuals and families, along with veterans, seniors and the disabled.
- Reducing the housing and utility burden of families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Improving Pennsylvania’s affordable housing options in rural and urban areas for ALICE individuals and families.
- Expanding access to vital and affordable health care programs including Medicaid and CHIP which provide all essential health benefits including behavioral health services.
UWP’s Policy Work
PA 211: Connecting Pennsylvanians to the Right Service at the Right Time:
PA 211 is a one-stop connection for any Pennsylvanian to receive a referral or information related to health and human services needs. Each year, PA 211 is providing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians with resources to help alleviate barriers they are facing, such as food insecurity and high utility bills. Through United Way and state investments, 211 now serves 100% of Pennsylvanians 24/7/365.
Early Childhood Education: Supporting the Development of Future Generations:
United Ways understand and have seen the value of early childhood education in providing Pennsylvania’s children, ages birth-5, with the opportunity to grow, learn, and succeed. We know these years are critical to a child’s development, as there is no other time in a human’s life the brain develops that quickly. The neural connections infant and toddler brains are making every second form the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depend. United Ways support increased access and affordability to high-quality child care and pre-kindergarten to give all Pennsylvania children the opportunity to thrive.
Income Stability and Family Self-Sufficiency: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty with a State Earned Income Tax Credit: The federal Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the United States – accounting for approximately $70 billion in tax credits to about 26 million families annually. The average family in Pennsylvania received $1,874 through the federal EITC in 2021. The Earned Income Tax Credit has been called many things including a work incentive as the credits are refundable, and grow with each additional dollar of earnings until they reach their maximum value. United Ways across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania support the enactment of this commonsense policy solution that will put hard-earned dollars back into the pockets of working households.
Want to explore PA’s ALICE data further? Check out the United For ALICE® website to see county-specific visual data on demographics, the labor force, resource gaps, and more.
ALICE In Your District
Find out how many people in your House or Senate district are working, but struggling to survive and afford child care. ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) lives in every community in PA.