We now know who Pennsylvania’s next Governor will be! Josh Shapiro will be sworn in as the next Governor in 2023 and we hope to pursue the promises that his Policy staff gave to us when we met with them in October.
We asked Policy Director Akbar Hossein how a Shapiro Administration would support homeless children, how it would collect and share data to show outcomes, and how it would support the recent expansions of various programs thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
Mr. Hossein’s first comment was that a Shapiro Administration would work to triple the Housing Trust Fund revenues to help reduce family homelessness. He went to pledge that the Administration would work with CCW to identify other strategies to reduce family homelessness. Mr. Hossein pledged that every state department would be trained to connect young children to high-quality early childhood education.
To a question posed by Paige Joki of the Education Law Center, he said that Mr. Shapiro would support a universal screening tool for the state McKinney-Vento homeless education program. This tool is expected to identify students experiencing homelessness who go to school without support.
The Children Cannot Wait campaign earned what it hoped to get from the candidates – a commitment to support Pennsylvania’s 40,000 children and youth experiencing homelessness and an open door once the new Administration is established.
We look forward to engaging with the Administration to discuss how to implement our proposals. Stay tuned!
Trying to measure outcomes of programs during Covid was fraught with challenges. The BELL Project offers to readers the infographic above that shows our results, but to understand those results, readers need to be aware of the following:
Youth Service Inc. (YSI) celebrated 70 years of powerful work in helping teens, strengthening the family unit, and promoting community safety with an event on Wednesday, September 21st at Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. The atmosphere was abuzz with warm greetings between YSI former and current employees and board members as they stood in amazement at the gallery of pictures and videos on display, assembled through hours of painstaking effort by board member, Donald Kennel. Guests settled in as they enjoyed delicacies from Philabundance Community Kitchen Catering. Executive Director, Gwen Bailey kicked off the night with stirring reflections of times past, emphasizing the depth of influence YSI has had on Philadelphia youth since her decades-long tenure. She noted, “We were the first agency to provide a group home for teen mothers and babies... Young women who lived there would give feedback years later and say, ‘You gave me the chance that I needed. I didn't know it - but that's what I needed to do so I could learn to be a parent where I may not have been parented in the most optimal way.’"
As board members gave reflections and well-deserved citations from the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the theme of gratitude for service rendered shaped the messaging of the event. Bailey took a moment to celebrate the exciting evolution pending through its affiliation with People’s Emergency Center (PEC), who shared the night with many PEC attendees present for the celebration. She shared, “We are in partnership so that YSI and PEC will continue providing the quality and supports that families need to have to grow and thrive.” The presentations ended with beaming pictures taken on the Dornsife steps between all guests, signaling a fresh step forward into even greater works for Philadelphia’s children, youth, and families.
PEC is in the Third Councilmanic District, represented by Jaime Gauthier. Elected in 2019, Councilperson Gauthier brings a long history of working in community development to the district. We met October 14th to discuss the following concerns.
Kevin Brown, PEC’s manager of the Neighborhood Advisory Council, asked about zoning that would protect against proposed zoning variances that threaten the integrity of neighborhoods. He inquired how City funds could be used to improve a variety of services. In response, Ms. Gauthier pledged to work with PEC and neighbors to challenge development proposals considered not productive for the area.
Angie Maury, staff member of YSI’s Baring House crisis nursery center, asked about how we can address violence in local neighborhoods. Ms. Gauthier responded that she has been addressing violence for several years now, bringing new resources and strategies to the Third District. She expressed that violence is a systemic problem throughout the entire City.
Dante Leonard, PEC’s manager for the Commercial Corridor, asked about how to improve City services like trash removal, abandoned cars, illegal dumping, and more. Ms. Gauthier recounted that she is a prime mover behind the “Just Serve PHL” initiative within City Council to let the Administration know that improvements are needed. She asserted that the Third District is poorly served and is working to make that fact known to various City Departments. She says that she recognizes that street cleaning and trash removal is a serious problem that leads to blight, lack of safety, and the deterioration of neighborhoods.
Roslyn Edwards, PEC’s Early Childhood Education Director, shared information that was originally gathered by the Nurse-Family Partnership about how parents are feeling about the safety of the neighborhood.
We capped off the meeting pledging to work together on a variety of issues to benefit the community. Stay tuned!
Children Cannot Wait Campaign (CCW) Educates Policy Directors of Pennsylvania’s Gubernatorial Candidates
We succeeded in getting Pennsylvania’s Gubernatorial candidates to commit to children and youth experiencing homelessness. Whoever wins, we expect to have an open door to continue advocating for our children on substantive changes.
Our statewide network met recently with the Policy Directors working with Gubernatorial candidates Doug Mastriano and Josh Shapiro to discuss what the winning candidate would do to support Pennsylvania’s 40,000 children and youth experiencing homelessness.
In September, we met with Gubernatorial Candidate Doug Mastriano’s Deputy Campaign Manager and Policy Director, Josh Harmon. And in October, we met with Akbar Hossein of Josh Shapiro’s campaign.
We asked both Policy Directors how their Administrations would support homeless children, how they would collect and share data to show outcomes, and how they would support the recent expansions of various programs thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
Ellen Tiberino is the namesake of the matriarch of the Tiberino family. She was also one of the exhibitors of Ultra Silk Gallery's Art Exhibit titled "TIBERINO: The Legacy Continues", celebrating her family’s art legacy in Philadelphia. The Tiberino family has a long history particularly in West Philadelphia, known for celebrating culture, politics and activism. Rashida Watson, owner of Ultra Silk Gallery opened in March 2022 and sought to revitalize Second Fridays Events on Lancaster Avenue featuring new artists every month. Ms. Watson looked forward to featuring the Tiberino family and recalled key moments meeting the parents, Joseph and Ellen Powell Tiberino. The Tiberino’s history is well known in Philadelphia and around the world. The art is exhibited by their children, Raphael, Ellen, Gabriel and Latif. Ms. Watson and her daughter, Kenya hosted both the Opening & Closing Reception at her gallery located at 3808 Lancaster Avenue.
Daughter, Ellen Tiberino has special ties to PEC. She received the Artist’s Grant funded by the Mural Arts program at PEC and did a series of art shows for this program as part of the PEC’s Neighborhood Time Exchange Residency in 2018. She did “Change in the Community” at PEC’s Families First in 2018, working with stained glass to capture the earth’s natural beauty. The participants made hand-painted ceramic tiles based on the theme of the change they would like to see in the community and helped create the surrounding Mosaic. Her workshops centered around intergenerational art classes, bringing together seniors and school-age children. She believes that art therapy saves lives and even continued her work during the covid pandemic. Tiberino said, “During Covid, in addition to holding Mosaic workshops at Bartram's Garden and creating a permanent installation with the participant’s work, I held workshops with the housing-challenged community at Suburban Station for the Mural Arts Philadelphia program “Color me Back.“ From working with these participants in this program, their ideas from the workshop helped me form the Mural I created that was installed in Suburban Station in October 2021, titled “Opposing Forces.” The family celebrated with the Philadelphia community at the October 14th Closing Reception of their exhibit at Ultra Silk Gallery.
The PEC Behavioral Health Team Shares Mental Health Resources
We estimate that more than 1,000 adults are preparing to serve homeless students in Pennsylvania. It is a truly remarkable effort by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to train all 500 PA school districts and staff at each school on the McKinney-Vento federal requirements, operations, data collection, monitoring, reporting, and more.
The Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness (ECYEH) program held its annual conference recently, offering training to counselors, social workers and other school personnel whose job will include supporting homeless students. It is heroic work. PEC attended the conference, and following are two efforts that we think are beneficial.
Our statewide network called ‘Children Cannot Wait’ met with Gubernatorial Candidate Doug Mastriano’s Deputy Campaign Manager and Policy Director, Josh Harmon to discuss what Mr. Mastriano would do to support Pennsylvania’s 40,000 children and youth experiencing homelessness if he is elected as our next Governor.
Kathy Desmond, President of the People’s Emergency Center (PEC), led the meeting, posing questions about how a Mastriano Administration would support homeless children. Ms. Desmond mentioned that there were 40,000 children and youth experiencing homelessness in 2019, before the pandemic.
Each year, BELL engages family housing providers in Philadelphia by using the Administration for Children and Families (ACF)’s Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters, an assessment designed to help shelter staff members create residential environments that are safe and developmentally appropriate for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
As we gear up for the Fall 2022 Self-assessments, Beth McLean, Director of Residential Services for Drueding Center, gave insight on her experiences with the tool and the process. She stated, “There are learning points. There are things we learned we can post and make available [to clients] and learn from.” McLean noted that over the years, Drueding staff discussed the process as a team and shared information they learned with each other. She said last year was her first time completing the tool, and that “The process has helped [me] think more about their needs.” McLean also shared one challenge, “...is having to think about some of the categories and how they are represented here.” Drueding is a transitional housing program, and, “Answering questions on Food and Nutrition, for example, when our residents have their own units, I have to think about what that might look like here.”
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