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Pennsylvania App to Connect Homeless Students with Services

A mobile and desktop app, developed by the Center for Schools and Communities and connected to the state Department of Education's homeless youth program, gives students and families 24/7 access to help and support.

homeless student
(TNS) — The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) this week announced the creation of Finding Your Way in PA — a Pennsylvania-based mobile and desktop app developed by the Center for Schools and Communities to help connect students and families experiencing homelessness with local services and resources.

"It is critically important that we remove the barriers faced by students experiencing homelessness to help them learn, grow, and thrive continuously and seamlessly, and this new app brings that assistance into the 21st century," said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. "Through this innovative new resource, Pennsylvanians can access free help 24 hours a day, seven days a week on a mobile phone or a desktop computer. Users without access to these devices are encouraged to visit their local library or community center for help and support."

While using the app, users can search for and request assistance with services and resources in their current location, local communities, and throughout Pennsylvania to connect them with helpful supports.

The app is available on three platforms (Web, Google Play Store & Apple App Store), features a simple design with List and Map View to find & connect to services easily, features a Chatbot that helps users find services, and lists various national crisis hotlines that can provide users with emotional support.

The app's development was supported through the American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) Program. This program provides children and youth experiencing homelessness with wrap-around services and enables them to attend school and fully participate in school activities. Finding Your Way in PA supports educational stability and strives to foster positive education outcomes so that students and families experiencing housing instability can succeed in school, work, and life.

Pennsylvania's Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness (Pennsylvania ECYEH) Program was established to make sure youth have access to a free and appropriate public education while removing barriers facing children experiencing homelessness. Its goal is to have the educational process continue as uninterrupted as possible while the children are in homeless situations.

Some of the other main objectives of Pennsylvania's Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program are to inform local school districts of their responsibilities to these children and youth, to increase awareness about their needs, explain current laws and policies, and provide practical tips for working with these children.


Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32), chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41), chair of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, this week hosted a joint hearing to learn about the progress made to combat veteran homelessness, as well as what improvements can still be made.

Testifiers explained that a strong collaboration between federal, state and community partners is critical to most effectively help veterans — particularly when they have circumstances that present unique challenges like being responsible for a larger family or a pet.

"Housing instability affecting the older veteran population, women veterans or veterans caring for children, and veterans who have a companion animal, need to be considered when developing plans for emergency shelter beds, transitional housing, and creating more affordable, accessible housing," said Brig. Gen. Maureen Weigl, Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs, Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Other testifiers highlighted struggles including not having DD-214 papers for veterans, which delays being able to connect veterans with services and programs that are designated for them, and the income cutoff for those services being too low.

One example of a community program to help veterans is Veterans Place on Washington Boulevard in Pittsburgh, which provides a safe haven where veterans can continue their recovery from chronic mental illness.

"Today, we heard about the great work being done at Veterans Place on Washington Boulevard, as well as other ways groups are trying to help veterans, including tiny homes and faith-based counseling," Stefano said. "A lot is being done for the benefit of our veterans, and it's important to get the word out so they know about the services available to assist them in moving forward in their life."

Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) Secretary Jennifer Berrier this week announced in-person services for Unemployment Compensation (UC) claimants are now available by appointment at all PA CareerLink® centers throughout the commonwealth.

In total, 58 PA CareerLink® centers are accepting appointments to assist claimants with their cases.

"The Unemployment Compensation system plays a critical role in making certain that Pennsylvanians and their families stay financially afloat in times of need. By expanding in-person assistance and availability to all CareerLink offices, L&I continues to fulfill its mission of serving all Pennsylvanians facing economic hardship — and that begins with directly addressing the challenges faced by under-served populations and ensuring equitable access to UC services," said Berrier.

The in-person services are the direct result of funding the department received in March 2022 through a $6.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, designed specifically to promote equitable access to UC programs and remove barriers some populations face in securing services. Since the program's launch in May, L&I has used this federal funding to serve and assist more than 4,500 UC claimants across Pennsylvania.

In-person services for UC claimants are designed to assist individuals who do not have proper technology, equipment, or technical skills; individuals without access to home Internet or broadband; and individuals with limited-English proficiency.

  • PA CareerLink® Wilkes-Barre, 32 East Union St., Wilkes-Barre, 570-822-1101

  • PA CareerLink® Hazleton, 75 North Laurel St., Hazleton, PA 18201, 570-459-3854


U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, this week joined fellow members of the House Committee on Small Business recently to write a letter of concern regarding a burdensome regulation on small businesses and farmers over a proposed greenhouse gas disclosure they would be required to report.

Meuser said 12 lawmakers were joined by 91 other groups, including The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, The Small Business Alliance. The American Farm Bureau Federation and many bankers' associations in the message to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler.

The letter read in part:

"Time and time again, Democrats always find a way to inflict damage on small businesses through unnecessary regulations. This time, (President) Biden's SEC is imposing a greenhouse gas disclosure for everyone up and down the value chain. This regulation will not only impact small businesses and small farmers, but also the lenders supporting all of our local communities. Plain and simple, the SEC is ignoring the needs of the nation's smallest businesses who are struggling against the worst inflation in 40-years."

According to the letter, the proposed rule change would require publicly traded companies to disclose enhanced climate-related information, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of their Scope 1 and Scope 2 disclosures. The proposed rule adds an extra step, requiring registrants to disclose Scope 3 emissions, including "all indirect GHG emissions not otherwise listed in a registrant's Scope 2 emissions, which occur in the upstream and downstream activities of a registrant's value chain."

The Scope 3 requirement has the potential to extend beyond registrants to nearly every privately owned entity in the country, including those who do not have the resources to comply with the demand. For instance, a farm that supplies feed to a publicly traded company would be required to report GHG emissions information as required by Scope 3 as part of the "value chain" of a publicly traded company.

Financial institutions would also be affected. In a public comment letter, institutions expressed that they would be unable to collect GHG data from private companies and it would be nearly impossible to complete a comprehensive risk analysis.

"Small businesses and farmers have suffered tremendously due to inflationary pressures over the past 18 months," Meuser emphasized. "Adding burdensome regulations on top of that is unacceptable. We hope the chairman of the SEC realizes our concerns are in the best interest of those who are struggling during the prolonged poor economic climate."

©2022 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.