January 7, 2016; Reading Eagle

NPQ hopes for an eventual report from Pennsylvania nonprofits that estimates the totality of the financial and social impacts of the delay in passing the state budget. As we have reported, when the state’s governor and legislators came to an impasse on the budget last summer, state-contracted nonprofits were forced into a position where they either needed to discontinue state-funded services or borrow against future payments—either from their own reserves, from a lender, or both. In most cases, this came with debt costs. But as the budget delay ground on past the four-, five- and six-month marks, some groups started laying off staff, and for early childhood groups, that meant sending their small students away. This, of course, would have had its own effects on the lives of the families. And, naturally, some valued staff move on in the face of such adversity.

The budget impasse was partially settled on December 29th, allowing some contracts to be paid, but even then, even for those social service groups lucky enough to have been paid for their work, some of the damage will be irreversible.

At Touching the Future in Fleetwood, children were gone for 12 weeks. Sue Elia, assistant director, said, “We were all impacted financially, which is difficult, but the education piece? You can’t replace that.”

This article in the Reading Eagle reports that staff at human services and early childhood agencies had returned or were hoping to return to work this week, and this includes seven employees at Touching the Future.

A total of $898,000 was made in low-interest loans from the Berks County Community Foundation, according to spokesman Jason Brudereck who said that this loan program was a first for the foundation. He anticipates that the worst is over and only a few more requests might still be received.

But for the Live N Learn Station in Reading where eight staffers had been laid off, two were lost for good, and for several months, fifty-six children from low-income families had to stop coming to the center. At Touching the Future, that number was seventy-five.—Ruth McCambridge