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 2018, PA 211 helped over 200,000 Pennsylvanians connect to 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.
Child care is expensive, but it is an especially large burden for ALICE. It is about 25-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 $1,200 per month for two children in licensed home-based care or $1,400 per month in a high-quality child care center. With 32-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.
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.
Reliable transportation is vital to ALICE to have the ability to get to work and take care of other obligations necessary for supporting their households, such as taking their children to child care or getting groceries.
Transportation is a real issue facing many ALICE households in Pennsylvania, whether it be the lack of transportation options or the access to and compatibility of mass-transit schedules that account for varying shifts common in the workforce. United Ways have seen first-hand the hardships families face when they do not have access to reliable transportation, which can result in a loss of employment, lack of medical care, or even the ability to make it to the grocery store. While this is a complex issue with the varying geography of the state, transportation is an essential component to ensuring Pennsylvanians are financially stable.
- Policies that support improvements to PA’s mass-transit problems, including more flexible and convenient routes and route schedules.
- Effective solutions to address the lack of transportation in PA’s rural counties, such as increasing the availability of ride sharing.
- Fair and equal transportation opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
- Public-private partnerships to create innovative, locally-driven solutions to address transportation barriers to employment.
Housing is a basic necessity for Pennsylvanians, yet it can be an expensive component of a household budget and often difficult to obtain. Through our work with PA 211 and the Eastern Continuum of Care, United Ways are aware of the gaps many Pennsylvanians are facing when it comes to housing. While PA 211 has helped over 1,100 families find housing, there are many more we are unable to assist due to a lack of resources and housing units available. This is a problem that is faced throughout the Commonwealth, in every county.
ALICE families in Pennsylvania spend approximately, 17-percent, of their income on housing, which in many cases is not adequate for the household size. Nationally, the Commonwealth ranked as the 20th most expensive state in the country for housing in 2017. Housing burden is a measure that represents housing costs that exceed 30-percent of household income. On average in 2017, 45-percent of Pennsylvania renters paid more than 30-percent of their income on rent, and 19-percent of homeowners’ mortgage payments exceed 30-percent of the household’s income. Pennsylvania’s working families are vulnerable to evictions and foreclosures, should their incomes be interrupted. Affordable housing strategies are one factor which will allow many ALICE families to advance toward financial stability.
- Improving Pennsylvania’s affordable housing options in rural and urban areas for ALICE individuals and families.
- Expanding housing tax credits that benefit the ALICE population.
- Policies that support home ownership, including first time homeowners, and assist housing-burdened renters with housing costs.
- Policies that work to address homelessness in our communities