08.17.16

Pottstown YWCA meets with Pa. Rep. Costello for first Advocacy Day

POTTSTOWN >> Wednesday marked the first-ever U.S. Advocacy Day for YWCA organizations across the country and women from the Pottstown YWCA were doing their share in bolstering the effort to aid community families.

“Today is the first day that YWCAs across the country have done a unified advocacy day,” explained Stacey Woodland, executive director of the YWCA Tri-County Area. “Every one of our associations is reaching out to their congressman and senators asking them to support these bills and talk about the YW’s own associations and the work that they’re doing in the community.”

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist., visited the Tri-County YWCA, 315 King St. Pottstown, for the event to discuss the ways in which the local association has helped the community and what kind of support was needed. Discussed during the meeting were three bills the YWCA says are fundamental in helping them accomplish their mission. The bills include The Healthy Families Act, The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act and The Security and Financial Empowerment (SAFE) Act.
 

WHAT THE BILLS DO

• The Healthy Families Act would aid the health and financial needs of working families, according to the YWCA. The act would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected sick days each year that families could use to recover from an illness; access preventative care; provide care for a sick family member; seek assistance related to a domestic violence incident and attend school meetings related to a child’s health condition. Additionally, the bill would include a simple method to accrue sick time as well as allowing employers to use existing policies and require certification following three used sick days in a row.

• The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they need leave for their own health conditions including pregnancy and childbirth recovery or the health condition of a family member. It would also allow workers to earn 66 percent of their monthly wages, up to a capped amount, covering workers in all companies, no matter the size, the YWCA said.

• The SAFE Act would allow survivors of domestic abuse to take time off without penalty in order to make court appearances, seek legal assistance and get help with safety planning. It would allow survivors to take up to 30 days off from work in a 12-month period for those purposes. Survivors would also be protected from being fired should they be harassed by their abuser in the workplace. The act would also ensure that those who are no longer employed as a result of a domestic situation are eligible for unemployment insurance.

Seeking support for the three bills aimed at benefitting families is only a small part of what the YWCA is doing for its community.

Not only does the organization offer substantial benefits to its employees, Woodland said, but they also have plenty to offer the community. The group provides an after school program during the school year and a day camp during the summer where children spend time outdoors being active. In addition to the educational center that now stands at 315 King Street, a second one is in the process of opening in Royersford, said Woodland. The group also just purchased a building across the street from the King Street building where they will be able to expand their evening adult education classes and become a GED testing site.

Additionally, the YWCA’s “Healthy Pathways Project” educates girls in grades four through 12 about healthy lifestyles and nutrition and has even been expanded to include parents.

Following the meeting, Costello toured the YWCA facility and offered to arrange meetings to further discuss details concerning the support that is needed in the community.

“I think today went really well,” said Woodland. “I was really pleased with how much time he spent and how he really went through each one of the bills and was thoughtful about addressing them and applying them to what he already knows. I really appreciate that and I think it went really well.”

To learn more about the YWCA visit www.ywca.org.