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House Passes Simmons’ Bill to Ensure State Assistance for Thousands of Homeless Children
6/3/2014
HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Northampton) that would give thousands of homeless children in Pennsylvania a chance for a healthy and productive life was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives today. House Bill 2204 will next be considered by the Senate.

“There are an estimated 6,000 homeless infants in our state,” said Simmons. “Collectively, we are obligated to find a better way to reduce their chances of poverty for our future generation. Today’s passage of House Bill 2204 is a positive step in that direction, as it represents the beginning of a student’s ability to exceed in school, and more so, in life.” 
 


Simmons’ bill would amend the Early Intervention Services Act of 1990 to add a sixth “homeless” category of at-risk children to trigger the automatic tracking of a youngster under the age of 3. Currently, the categories include children whose birth weight is under 1,500 grams; children being cared for in neonatal intensive care units; children born to chemically dependent mothers; children who are seriously abused or neglected; and children with confirmed dangerous levels of lead poisoning.

“By investing services and resources in these children up front instead of aiding down the line, the state has the ability to help homeless children break the cycle of poverty in which they currently live,” Simmons added. “By being prepared for school, they can excel in class, graduate on time, retain employment and earn family sustaining incomes. Creating public policy that fundamentally enhances the lives of Pennsylvania is what we were all elected to come to do. This legislation does just that.”

Simmons noted that House Bill 2204 has the strong support of an 80-member coalition of social service groups organized by the Campaign for What Works.

“Homelessness impairs normal, healthy development of infants and toddlers despite the best efforts of parents,” said Elizabeth Hersh, Pennsylvania Housing Alliance executive director and a leading partner in the coalition. “We should do everything in our power to help these children get the supports and services they need to have the opportunity for a full and healthy life. This bill is an excellent first step.”

Similar legislation is expected to be introduced soon in the Senate by Sen. Chuck McIlhenny (R-Bucks).

For more information on Simmons and his legislative priorities, visit RepSimmons.com or Facebook.com/RepSimmons.

Representative Justin Simmons
131st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Andy Briggs
717.260.6474
abriggs@pahousegop.com  
RepSimmons.com / Facebook.com/RepSimmons
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