Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Senate Aging & Youth Committee Hearing on Challenges Facing CYS
  • Court Ruling Helps to Safeguard Elections
  • Survey: How Did PennDOT Do This Winter?
  • Department of Health Announces Grant Opportunities for Communities
  • Destroy Spotted Lanternfly Eggs, Support PA Agriculture
  • PA Broadband Development Authority Unveils Improved Website
  • Mobile Van Connects Veterans with Important Services, Programs
  • Honoring Sacrifice on Gold Star Spouses Day
  • Out and About in the 30th

Senate Aging & Youth Committee Hearing on Challenges Facing CYS

As Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, I held a hearing to receive testimony regarding the challenges and opportunities facing Pennsylvania’s network of children and youth services agencies.

County children and youth agencies provide a vital tool and service, helping to protect children across Pennsylvania. Today’s hearing provided valuable information on how to best strengthen our children and youth services network. Our children are one of our greatest assets, and we need to do all we can to ensure that the agencies tasked to protect them have the tools and support they need to succeed.

Pennsylvania’s child welfare system is state supervised and county administered, with a children and youth services agency that organizes and manages the services in that county. Children and youth services agencies provide child welfare services designed to protect children from abuse and neglect, and enable children to remain safely in their homes. They also provide services to help families overcome problems that result in dependency, neglect, and delinquency, and to enhance the family’s capacity to provide for their children’s educational, physical, and behavioral health needs. Should a situation be deemed unsafe for a child, the children and youth services agency provides adequate substitute care in foster family homes and child caring institutions for any child in need of care due to abuse or neglect, with the ultimate goal of healthy and safe reunification. This care continues up to 18, or 21 if the youth chooses to stay involved. 

Testifiers included the Department of Human Services, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators Association, as well as Kelvin Abrashoff, Director of Children and Youth Services of Huntingdon County. Video of the hearing can be found on the Senate Aging and Youth Committee website.

Court Ruling Helps to Safeguard Elections

The safeguarding of elections in Pennsylvania was boosted by the Third Circuit Court’s recent ruling upholding current Pennsylvania law, requiring voters to date a mail-in ballot for it to be accepted.

Many voters, election officials and good government advocates feel preserving election integrity must be a priority. The first step toward that goal is upholding laws that are already in place. While this may seem obvious, in recent elections some counties accepted and counted undated ballots – despite the state law prohibiting that action.

Applying the election law uniformly across all 67 counties is a significant step forward in the effort to protect the integrity of our electoral process. Senate Republicans will continue to work to protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to free and fair elections.

Survey: How Did PennDOT Do This Winter?

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is offering a short survey so motorists can offer their feedback on the winter services PennDOT provided.

By filling out the short survey, you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts about where you get information about road conditions, how soon you can expect roads to be safe to travel following a winter storm event and what features you would find useful from

There is also an opportunity to share additional comments. The survey can be completed anonymously.

Department of Health Announces Grant Opportunities for Communities

The Department of Health announced that applications are now being accepted for funding to help communities create opportunities for residents that increase physical activity by walking, riding bikes, and using public transit.

Boroughs, cities, towns, townships, and counties can apply for up to $3,000 through the Justin R. Lehman Community Capacity-Building Pre-Planning Assistance Program to begin the process of developing active transportation plans in their municipality. This grant is part of the WalkWorks program, which helps communities increase physical activity by connecting local destinations with improved pedestrian, bicycle, and transit networks.

Eligible municipalities interested in applying for funding to develop an active transportation plan, but that lack the knowledge, professional support, and resources to assemble an application can now apply to receive funds and structured pre-planning technical assistance support to complete the steps necessary to prepare to apply for WalkWorks, or similar grants in the future. The process will help the municipality to determine the appropriate scope and extent of their eventual planning proposals.

Applications must be received by 5:00 PM on May 31, 2024.

An optional one-hour webinar will review the goals of this funding opportunity, the application process, expectations of grantees, and questions from interested parties on Thursday, April 18, at 12:00 PM. Applicants can register for the informational session online in advance. Application questions may also be submitted by email to by 5:00 PM on May 17. 

More information about the application process is available on the Department of Health’s website.

Destroy Spotted Lanternfly Eggs, Support PA Agriculture

Spotted lanternflies are an invasive pest that could damage the state’s grape and wine industries, as well as other types of agriculture.

This time of year, Pennsylvanians can take an important step to control the spotted lanternfly population. While most adult spotted lanternflies have frozen to death, their eggs can survive over the winter. A single egg mass holds 30 to 50 eggs.

The egg masses – which can commonly be found on trees, rocks and equipment stored outdoors – should be scraped into a bag of hand sanitizer. Learn what the egg masses look like during various stages and find more information about how to destroy them here.

PA Broadband Development Authority Unveils New Website

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) launched a new website aimed at offering visitors a more intuitive experience.

New features include a navigation panel for locating information; quick links to hot topic resources; real-time data on unserved/underserved locations, projects awarded and funding allocated; and resources that are specifically tailored for various audiences.

Created by the General Assembly, the mission of the PBDA is to expand access to high-speed internet. The authority is accepting applications until April 20 from community anchor institutions and units of local government to fund community projects that enable public work, education and health monitoring.

Mobile Van Connects Veterans with Important Services, Programs

Pennsylvania is home to more than 700,000 veterans and their family members. With such a significant veteran population, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) works hard to connect veterans and their families with the services and programs available to them.

One way the agency can meet and assist veterans in the communities they live is through one of its two mobile veterans outreach vans. They travel throughout the state to assist veterans in obtaining information and initiating benefit claim paperwork with the assistance of DMVA accredited veteran service officers.

Request a van for a community event such as a sporting event, county fair, parade or festival. The form should be submitted six months but not less than 45 days prior to the event. Requests with less than a 30-day turnaround will be handled on a space available basis only.

Honoring Sacrifice on Gold Star Spouses Day

Friday, April 5, is Gold Star Spouses Day – a day when we pause to reflect on the incredible loss felt by men and women who have lost their partners in the line of duty.

It was first recognized in 2010 as Gold Star Wives Day. Later, it was updated to include any surviving spouse of any person of the United States military who died while a member of the armed forces of our country or who died after such service as a result of an injury or disability incurred during such service.

Out and About in the 30th

Conemaugh Nason Medical Center in Roaring Spring held their annual CORE (Center for Organ Recovery and Education) organ donation event this week for Donate Life Month. Barb Ritchey, Nursing Administrative Assistant, facilitates this event each year and does such a wonderful job at sharing the message of the importance of organ donation. I am grateful for the community partnership of the center and the leadership from CEO, Tim Harclerode.

It is always nice to get together with the Huntingdon County Farm Bureau folks at their spring banquet. The attendees heard remarks from Huntingdon Co. Dairy Princess, Abby Corbin, PA Farm Bureau Representative, Megan Keller, PA Farm Bureau Regional Manager, Joe Diamond, and Rodney Davis.

I heard lots of great information throughout the sessions at the PA Leadership Conference.  Pictured from left to right is Amy Scheuring, Women’s Choice Network; Jill Hartman, A Women’s Concern; and Judge Cheryl Allen, PA Family Institute, speaking about the importance of Pregnancy Care Centers.

Pictured is Senator Joe Pittman, Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania Senate.


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