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Public Benefits

We aim to help people move from poverty and reliance on public assistance to self-sufficiency.  


CJP has long been involved in public benefits advocacy with a particular focus on helping families receiving welfare or in low-wage employment gain the skills and education needed to obtain employment in high demand, well-paying occupations. We help pursue reforms in the state legislature, with Department of Human Services, and in partnership with legal aid programs.

Some recent areas of advocacy include:

Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS).


Federal welfare reform laws present major challenges for TANF single parents who wish to improve their earning capacity and employability by pursuing postsecondary education. Since 2004, CJP has been deeply involved in designing, implementing, and improving Pennsylvania’s KEYS program. This Program was developed by the state to refer and support TANF recipients at community colleges and to provide these students with facilitators at the community colleges who provide counseling and support. KEYS has about one thousand participants at any point in time and its graduates earn $14.38 per hour, compared to $7.99 per hour earned by TANF recipients who are placed in jobs without the community college education that KEYS provides.

In April of 2010, the KEYS program was promoted as a model for helping families transition to self-sufficiency in a national publication for social welfare advocates and agency administrators.


English-as-a Second Language (ESL)


This advocacy began in Hazelton, a city with a burgeoning Hispanic population, when CJP became aware that, although over 200 TANF recipients in Hazleton have limited English proficiency (LEP), LEP TANF clients were being referred to the local ESL program at the rate of only 5 or 6 per year. The data showed also that LEP clients referred to job search, instead of ESL, got jobs that paid about $1.00 an hour less per hour than English-speaking TANF clients in the same job search program.

Emergency Medical Assistance

Emergency medical assistance is the only type of public benefit for which undocumented persons may qualify. Through CJP's Hispanic Outreach program, we come into contact with a significant number of undocumented persons who have serious medical conditions that require immediate care, including on-going treatment.


CJP has advocated with DHS and County Assistance Offices around the state to ensure persons with medical conditions are authorized under DHS policy for medical assistance and get them the care they need.


Child Care 


CJP has a long history of advocacy on behalf of low-income parents who need child care assistance in order to work or attend education and training programs that will lead to employment at family-sustaining wages. As a result of this work, there have been many changes in DPW child care policy over the years that have improved access to subsidized child care for these families. 


In recent years, however, the main threat to families who need child care assistance has had more to do with funding than policy. CJP works with a coalition of child care advocates, child care providers, and parents that engages in a considerable amount of legislative and administrative advocacy to ensure adequate funding for child care subsidies and programs to ensure quality care. CJP also provides legal advice and advocacy on matters having to do with child care subsidy.


Special Allowances for Supportive Services


Working in partnership with Community Legal Services, CJP has spent the last several years fighting drastic changes to DPW’s Special Allowances for Supportive Services (SPALs) program, which provides work supports, including transportation assistance and books/school supplies, to TANF and SNAP-only parents in education and training programs.

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