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Category Archives: Pennsylvania

2 Cows Shot Friday Morning In Gap, PA ; 1 Dies, 1 Injured

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At around 3: 30, on the morning of Friday, June 29, 2018 Pennsylvania State Police report that two dairy cows were shot in the area of the 400 block of White Horse Road. One cow died as a result of their injury. The second cow suffered an injury to its mouth as a result of being shot, according to PSP Troop J – Lancaster, PA. Anyone with information is asked to contact Trooper Kelly Osborne at 717 299 7650.

Wolf Administration Preparing Pennsylvania’s Students for Success through Agricultural Education

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Administration releases ag education report; announces formation of Commission for Ag Education Excellence​

Harrisburg, PA – In recognition of the growing need for a workforce prepared to fill nearly 75,000 job vacancies in the agriculture and food industries over the next decade, the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture (PDA) and Education (PDE) yesterday unveiled their comprehensive agricultural education report for schools across the commonwealth.

“The Wolf Administration believes in prioritizing jobs that pay and schools that teach, and this report represents the intersection of those two priorities,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Ensuring that Pennsylvania’s students have access to high-quality agricultural education programs that foster the skills necessary for success will lay the groundwork for a talented, well-prepared workforce in the years to come.”

The report announcement was accompanied by the creation of a 15-member Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence. The commission will operate under the concurrent authority of PDA and PDE, and is charged with assisting in the development of a statewide plan for agricultural education and coordinating the implementation of related programming with both departments.

“Farming isn’t the only agriculture-related career pathway,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “Other careers include engineering and design, law, finance, environmental planning, and sales – at its heart, agriculture education is STEM education. Promoting agriculture education is an investment in the next generation of leaders of Pennsylvania’s top industry.”

In his 2018-19 budget, Governor Wolf proposed PAsmart – a first-of-its-kind workforce development proposal to invest $50 million for STEM and computer science education, support hands-on technical education programs, and encourage employers and schools to work together to help students get the skills employers need. The proposal provides for an additional $10 million investment in career readiness programs, allowing high school students to earn both a diploma and post-secondary credentials and helping non-traditional students and workers earn post-secondary credits and credentials aligned to in-demand careers.

Agriculture is a $135 billion industry facing an aging workforce. Attrition, growing demand for certain products, and advancing technologies will result in a workforce deficit in a number of career paths over the next decade. Of those anticipated vacancies, the department has identified the 25 most in-demand occupations, which span sectors like production agriculture; animal health and veterinary services; landscaping; food manufacturing, forestry, lumber and wood products; and conservation and natural resources.

Planting The Seed Tour Pitches Strategic Investments in Agriculture Workforce at Lancaster Barnstormers’ Farm Show Weekend

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Lancaster, PA – Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding visited the Lancaster Barnstormers’ Farm Show Weekend Saturday on the Planting the Seed Tour, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to highlight career and educational opportunities in agriculture. Prior to throwing out the first pitch at tonight’s game, Redding addressed 150 area agriculture leaders, emphasizing the importance of investing strategically in building the skilled workforce the industry needs in the coming decade.

“Lancaster County’s agriculture industry feeds the nation and the world,” Sec. Redding said. “To maintain the county and the commonwealth’s position as a leader in the world’s agriculture economy, it’s crucial for both government and private industry make strategic investments today. By investing in a strong workforce through agriculture education and apprenticeships, we can ensure that the next generation is prepared for meaningful careers and equipped with the skills to meet the needs of agriculture employers.”

Pennsylvania agriculture is a $135 billion industry facing several challenges, including an aging workforce. Attrition and advancing technologies will result in a workforce deficit of nearly 75,000 over the next decade. The Planting the Seed Tour aims to engage and educate the next generation about the many career opportunities available in Pennsylvania agriculture.

Redding commended area agriculture leaders, noting that the state’s first initiative to address a growing demand for technicians to service high-tech agricultural equipment is the result of ongoing partnerships in Lancaster County.

He also discussed Pennsylvania’s competitive advantage, and some of the additional challenges the industry must tackle to remain competitive, reviewing an economic impact study released earlier this year, along with the department’s strategic recommendations for continued success. Those recommendations include: capitalizing on branding and marketing opportunities; expanding infrastructure, including processing and manufacturing capacity, broadband, and transportation; broadening workforce development and education opportunities; and diversifying products to strengthen markets and build resiliency.

Redding also outlined immediate and short-term strategies the department is undertaking in partnership with private sector partners to address the current challenges faced by the dairy sector.

Over the past three years, the Wolf Administration has invested more than $50 million in agriculture-related economic development projects; increased support for workforce development and agricultural education to help prepare students and workers for the thousands of anticipated job openings in the industry over the next decade; and signed historic legislation that has created new markets for farmers and lowered their tax burdens. The administration is also working to expand broadband access to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, creating jobs and improving infrastructure statewide, especially in rural communities.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s programs and services, or to read the state’s Agriculture Economic Impact Study, visit agriculture.pa.gov.

 

 

 

 

Pennsylvania Prioritizes Critical Investments in PA’s Agriculture Industry

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Budget includes $3 million for Spotted Lanternfly control, $5 million in new dedicated funding to dairy industry​

Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding today praised the 2018-19 budget Governor Tom Wolf signed last week for its investments to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the commonwealth’s agriculture industry.

“This year’s budget directly supports agriculture in the commonwealth and the communities that rely on it, providing continued investments in programs that benefit all Pennsylvanians,” said Sec. Redding. “From protecting our land and products from invasive pests and ensuring consumer safety to preparing students and workers for careers in agriculture and putting food on tables across the state, agriculture touches us all. The funding provided in the 2018-19 budget reflects a commitment to preserving, protecting, and advancing agriculture in the commonwealth.”

Under the budget plan, Pennsylvania will dedicate $3 million toward combatting the Spotted Lanternfly, an inch-long black, red and white spotted insect native to Southeast Asia. Since it was first identified in Pennsylvania in 2014, the Spotted Lanternfly has spread to 13 southeastern Pennsylvania counties. The insect threatens to destroy $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities produced in the state, such as apples, grapes and hardwoods. This funding will allow the department to increase detection and control efforts, and coordinate multi-agency response, outreach, and training.

Additionally, $5 million was approved to help dairy farms struggling amid a persistently challenging market. The new funding is specifically dedicated for research and development, organic transition, value-added processing and marketing grants to support the state’s dairy producers working to maintain the viability of their operations.

A number of existing programs also received an increase in funding. The Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus Program, or PASS, received $1.5 million—an increase of $500,000—tohelp connect charitable food systems with more farmers willing to provide food to hungry families across Pennsylvania. Over the past three years, the PASS program has sourced more than 7.2 million pounds of surplus food products that have gone to serve households experiencing hunger in every county of Pennsylvania. PASS is used to offset the picking and packing costs of this surplus product, providing another market for Pennsylvania’s growers.

Agricultural education came out a winner in this year’s budget, as well, with Penn State University and University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine each receiving a 3 percent increase. This additional funding helps restore cuts made to each institution prior to Governor Wolf taking office.

The FY 18-19 budget also allocated $30 million for PAsmart – a first-of-its-kind workforce development proposal to invest in STEM and computer science education, support hands-on technical education programs, and encourage employers and schools to work together to help students get the skills employers need.

Growing Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry is a strategic priority for Governor Tom Wolf. Over the past three years, the Wolf Administration has invested more than $50 million in agriculture-related economic development projects; increased support for workforce development and agricultural education to help prepare students and workers for 75,000 anticipated job openings in the industry over the next decade; and signed historic legislation that has created new markets for farmers and lowered their tax burdens. The administration has also begun work to expand broadband access to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, including more than half a million in rural communities.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s programs and services, or to read the state’s Agriculture Economic Impact Study, visit the Department’s website at www.agriculture.pa.gov.

Financial Education Conference for Military, Vets on August 8 in Johnstown

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Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Military Finance Alliance announces a free conference in Johnstown to educate members of the military, veterans, and their families on the unique financial and investment decisions they will face. The “Making $ense of Finance” conference will take place on August 8, 2018, at the Hiram G. Andrews Center, Commonwealth Technical Institute, 727 Goucher Street in Johnstown from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Programs offered at the conference include:

  • Scambusters: An interactive game designed by the Better Business Bureau to help you tell the difference between a legitimate deal and a scam.
  • Dream Big Plan Now: Making Your Ideal Retirement a Reality: This presentation covers five steps to retirement planning; income sources in retirement; military retirement pay; saving and investing with employer plans, Thrift Savings Plan, IRAs; military retirement benefits.
  • Investing BasicsBuilding Your Cash Snowball: This presentation covers ways to invest, misconceptions about the amount of money needed to start investing, the effect of compounding interest, and how to protect your investment.
  • Credit Reports and Credit Scores: This presentation will help people learn how to read and understand a credit report, where to obtain it, what to do about errors, and how to improve your score and creditworthiness.
  • Budgeting for All AgesBuild Wealth not Debt: This presentation is designed to help you set financial goals, build a spending plan, and gain control over your finances.

Registration is required for this “Making $ense of Finance” conference. Complimentary food and drinks and free parking will be provided. Liberty USO will be awarding raffle prizes to those attending the conference. Space is limited. Registration and conference information are available at https://www.secure.dobs.pa.gov//msof/johnstown.

“Making $ense of Finance” is made possible through the Pennsylvania Military Finance Alliance, a cooperative effort of the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the PA Department of Banking and Securities, the PA Office of Attorney General, Pennsylvania Military OneSource, Better Business Bureau, Liberty USO, Army Community Service, PA National Guard, and Advantage Credit Counseling Services.

For more information about the conference, call Tina Pelesky at 814-255-0355 or email peletskyt@atlanticbbn.net. Members of the public with questions or complaints about financial products and services can call 1-800-PA-BANKS (or 1-800-600-0007).

Volunteer Scambusters Honored for Service to Senior Citizens

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Harrisburg, PA – Today, Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann recognized 12 senior citizens for their work with the Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing (“Campaign”) and announced the renewal of a $120,000 grant from the Investor Protection Trust (“IPT”) to continue funding for the Campaign. The event marked a 10-year partnership with AARP Pennsylvania and the IPT in protecting senior citizens from fraud and scams.

“With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day approaching on June 15, Governor Wolf and I are proud to support the work of AARP Pennsylvania and its army of volunteers, and we are grateful for the support of the Investor Protection Trust,” said Wiessmann. “Through programs like the Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing, we are creating a network of support for our senior citizens and taking active steps to protect senior citizens from elder financial abuse.”

The AARP volunteers honored today at a ceremony in the capitol include:

  • Mary Bach, Chair of the AARP Consumer Issues Task Force, from Murrysville (Westmoreland County)
  • David Aitken from Beaver (Beaver County)
  • Eileen Mazza from Eighty Four (Washington County)
  • Allan Michael and Paige Michael from Orangeville (Columbia County)
  • Bruce Myers from Seven Valleys (York County)
  • Frances G. Scalise from State College (Centre County)
  • Deirdre Spelman from Scranton (Lackawanna County)
  • Richard Sterner from Mechanicsburg (Cumberland County)
  • Theresa Thomas-Trainer from Philadelphia
  • Anthony M. Wolchasty from Southampton (Bucks)
  • Mary Wozniak from Bethlehem (Northampton County)

The Campaign is a statewide community outreach program offered by the Pennsylvania AARP Consumer Issues Task Force and the Department of Banking and Securities, and funded by IPT, which provides retirees and senior citizens information on how to recognize, avoid, and report financial fraud and abuse. AARP volunteers work with community groups throughout Pennsylvania to provide their peers with information to protect and grow their money in retirement.

“Every day, older Americans become victims of elder investment fraud and financial exploitation. It is part of IPT’s mission to educate older adults to recognize and prevent fraud and to protect their hard-earned financial nest eggs,” said President and CEO of IPT, Don Blandin. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day gives us a powerful opportunity to raise awareness about elder fraud and to continue efforts to strengthen older adults, their families and the caring communities that support them. In the spirit of building coalitions, I thank all attendees for your leadership and contributions to investor education and protection during these turbulent economic times.”

AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh pointed to several achievements and landmarks during the 10-year partnership:

  • Since the Campaign began, AARP volunteers have made 1,110 presentations.
  • More than 49,000 Pennsylvania senior citizens have received information about “red flags” warning them of possible financial frauds and scams.
  • The Pennsylvania Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing has been recognized as a “best practice” by the Investor Protection Trust.

“At AARP, we’re very pleased to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing that is educating older adults statewide about ways to avoid financial fraud and scams,” Johnston-Walsh said. “We’re especially proud of the AARP volunteers who are leading the campaign’s community outreach component by conducting more than 1,100 investor education presentations for nearly 50,000 state residents over that same time period.”

Wiessmann noted that the cost of financial exploitation of senior citizens in the United States is estimated to be as much as $36 billion each year, and that Adult Protective Services in Pennsylvania reports that financial exploitation is the #1 reported abuse of senior citizens.

AARP is a nonprofit organization with a membership of nearly 38 million. Information about its work in Pennsylvania can be found online: https://states.aarp.org/region/pennsylvania. The Investor Protection Trust is a nonprofit organization devoted to investor education. Information about the work of IPT can be found online: www.investorprotection.org.

Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-600-0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products. Consumers and community groups can call 1-800-PA-BANKS or email informed@pa.gov for more information.

Pennsylvania Names New District Forester at Buchanan State Forest District

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Harrisburg, PA – Today, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the appointment of Jason Hall as district forester of the Buchanan State Forest District, based in Fulton County.

“Interwoven in Jason’s 18 years of service with the bureau is a rich blend of managerial talents that saw him shine, regardless of the post,” Dunn said. “His command of forestry topics and public relations skills all equate to solid future leadership for the Buchanan State Forest District.”

Hall will transition into his new post over the next several weeks, overseeing a district headquartered in McConnellsburg, Fulton County, that includes Franklin, Fulton, and Bedford counties. State forestland within the district totals 71,683 acres and features three Wild and Natural Areas. With its panoramic views, over 206 miles of trails, and Tuscarora and Tussey mountain adventures, Buchanan draws legions of outdoors enthusiasts through all seasons.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get back into the field to be able to more directly connect with and manage the state forest,” Hall said. “I’m also hoping to be able to use my experience working in the bureau’s Harrisburg headquarters to help foster positive and productive relationships with the Buchanan Forest District’s constituents in order to help carry our bureau’s mission forward.”

A native of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, Hall graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in Forest Science in 1999. He began his career in the Bureau of Forestry in 2000 as a service forester in the Gallitzin State Forest District, Cambria County. In 2003, Hall transferred to the Division of Operations and Recreation in Harrisburg, where he worked nine years as a Forest Program Specialist. Hall has spent the last six years as the Forest Program Manager for the Recreation Section.

Hall’s many areas of responsibility have included state forest leased camps, and Forest Land Beautification, Pennsylvania Conservation Corp, and Ranger programs. He has served as Bureau of Forestry Safety Coordinator and recreational specialist for seven different forest districts.

The new district forester will oversee forest-growth management, personnel coordination, infrastructure maintenance, recreation, and fire prevention and suppression at Buchanan. He also will manage service foresters who provide support, direction and technical assistance to private forest landowners. Hall, 43, succeeds Jim Smith, who in retired in 2017.

For more information on Buchanan and Pennsylvania’s 19 other state forest districts, visit DCNR’s Find a Forest web page

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Joins Rite Aid to Launch In-Store Medication Disposal Unit

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Lemoyne, PA – Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith today joined Rite Aid’s President and Chief Operating Officer Kermit Crawford, United States Representative Scott Perry, and State Representative Sheryl Delozier to launch the pharmacy’s first in-store medication disposal unit. Rite Aid’s unit – with a total of 100 planned at stores nationwide – joins the more than 730 prescription drug take-back boxes available in pharmacies, Pennsylvania State Police barracks, and local police and government offices around the commonwealth.

“As the Wolf Administration fights the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, we need strong partnerships between the public and private sectors to maximize response on all fronts,” said Secretary Smith.  “Increasing availability and awareness of take-back boxes makes Pennsylvanians safer, and I thank Rite Aid for their commitment to fighting this crisis.”

Medication disposal units, or take-back boxes, allow people to take an active role in making their homes and communities safer by lowering the risk of prescription drug misuse. More than 52,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been disposed of in 2018. To date, 400,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been safely disposed of at Pennsylvania’s take-back boxes since 2014.

Secretary Smith encouraged Pennsylvanians with unused and unneeded medications to utilize this and other safe disposal units around Pennsylvania.

“Prescription drug misuse is a major catalyst for the heroin and opioid epidemic that we are fighting every day, and too many people with an opioid use disorder obtain medicine from family and friends’ medicine cabinets,” she said. “Disposing of medication is a small step that can make a big difference towards protecting yourself and loved ones. I strongly encourage all Pennsylvanians to look through your medicine cabinets, find old or unneeded medications, and locate a take-back box near you.”

A map of take-back box locations searchable by county and zip code can be found on the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs’ website.

For more information on the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania, visit www.pa.gov/opioids

Wolf Administration Offers Advice on How to Spot Potential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Scams

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Harrisburg, PA – Wolf Administration officials with the mother of a Pennsylvania man who was recruited to an out-of-state treatment facility today issued a warning to Pennsylvanians to be wary of predatory practices used by some addiction treatment centers and sober living homes, many of which are located outside of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith and Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman were joined by Lizz DeWolfe, founder of Not One More in Wyoming County and mother of J.J. Baker, who died of an opioid overdose at 23 after having sought treatment at a Florida treatment facility.

“The opioid epidemic has made families desperate to get help for their loved ones and has unfortunately opened the door to unscrupulous people who prey on these families to lure unsuspecting individuals in need of treatment to facilities that may provide little or no treatment, and can lead to more problems, including financial ruin, and even death,” said Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman.  “Operators of these facilities have also found ways to bilk insurers and consumers out of hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars, through fake and inflated insurance claims.”

“While there are many reputable facilities in other states, instances of individuals being recruited to other treatment centers with offers of payment for travel or health insurance coverage can lead to insurance fraud, misleading or dangerous living conditions, and individuals with substance use disorder failing to receive the treatment they need,” Jennifer Smith, Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs said.

“Individuals affected by substance use disorder and seeking recovery are among our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. Entering treatment can be a pivotal step in one’s recovery journey, and we must be sure that they are able to do so in a safe and supportive environment. I strongly encourage Pennsylvanians seeking treatment for themselves or a loved one to utilize their Single County Authority (SCA), the local drug and alcohol treatment information centers in Pennsylvania’s counties to help locate a DDAP-licensed treatment facility, or the free PA Get Help now at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SCAs receive funding through DDAP that will help if you are not sure how you will pay for treatment.

The Washington Post reported earlier this year federal and state authorities in Florida charged the operators of one bogus operation alone with $58 million in fraudulent insurance claims. Facilities have been charged for billing insurers for services never provided, filing multiple claims for the same service, and charging exorbitant rates for drug testing.

A survey of Pennsylvania’s major health insurers, which cover approximately 70 percent of the commercial health insurance market, shows 7,157 Pennsylvanians insured by these companies received substance use disorder treatment out-of-state over the past two years. This is nearly 17 percent of all Pennsylvanians receiving substance use disorder treatment under insurance coverage from these insurers.

Despite the availability of treatment centers in Pennsylvania, recruiters will often use the lure of a sunny climate, free air travel, covering insurance payments, and a fresh start to lure people in need of treatment to facilities in other states, particularly Arizona, California, and Florida.

“Addiction is really complicated, and sometimes in our efforts to get our loved ones into recovery, we don’t see things that should make us ask questions,” DeWolfe said. “J.J. was offered free rent but we all know that nothing is free. Remember if they offer anything free, it is a sign that it may not be a reputable facility.”

After an initial, successful rehab, Baker relapsed, and returned to Florida in 2015, where he was offered a rent-free room at a recovery home while getting treatment. During this time, Baker’s parents received a bill of more than $208,000 for drug testing. In August 2015, he received a prescription from a doctor for testosterone. He showed the prescription to the house managers. The next day, he was evicted because the prescription violated the home’s rules.  Three days later Baker was found dead in his car from a heroin overdose.

“My hope is by telling my story other parents won’t go through what I did. Other parents need to know how important it is to do your research, ask questions, get referrals, see what the laws are in that state,” said DeWolfe. “If you receive a bill from the insurance company that feels out of the ordinary, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If I only would have known what I know now there is a chance my son would still be here.”

Smith and Altman said that there are several things people should look for to avoid falling victim to an out-of-state addiction treatment scam. These include:

  • Any unsolicited referral to an out-of-state treatment facility;
  • Someone offering to pay for airfare or other travel expenses to an out-of-state facility;
  • Someone offering to pay for insurance coverage — these payments could end at any time leaving you with no coverage;
  • Someone asking you to provide personal information, such as your Social Security number or insurance policy ID number.

Solicitors may also attempt to lure someone to a recovery or sober home. Be wary of homes claiming insurance will pay rent or other costs of staying at these homes because they provide no medical treatment and do not receive payment from insurance. Also ask if the sober or recovery home is registered or certified by a state agency or designee. In Florida, this is the Florida Association of Recovery Residences, which certifies sober homes meet 38 standards for recovery, housing, administration, training, finance and good-neighbor practices.

Keep a close eye on medical bills and insurance payments and question any that seem out of line. Altman said private insurance payments for tests will vary, but Medicare typically pays about $80 for screening tests to detect the presence of drugs, and between $117 and $254 for a more sensitive confirmation test to determine the amount of specific drugs present.

Governor Wolf signed a bill in December giving DDAP authority over recovery homes located in Pennsylvania that receive public funding. The department has until June 2020 to promulgate regulations for recovery homes, but many already exist and operate in Pennsylvania and may work with a county’s SCA. Smith encouraged consumers considering a recovery home for themselves or a loved one to contact their SCA before making a financial commitment.

“Getting timely help can be key to saving a loved one’s life, but families need to be sure they are dealing with a reputable facility,” Altman said.  “The bottom line is, if someone is being paid to recruit you or a loved one to an out-of-state facility, they may not have your best interests in mind.”

Pennsylvanians looking for treatment for themselves or a loved one can call the PA Get Help Now helpline toll-free, 24/7 at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Information on questions to ask if consumers are solicited for an out-of-state recovery home or addiction treatment center are at www.insurance.pa.gov, on the Health page. A list of licensed treatment facilities in Pennsylvania is also available at www.ddap.pa.gov. Suspected insurance fraud can be reported to the National Insurance Crime Bureau at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422).

Education Secretary Rivera to Serve on National Safe Schools Steering Committee

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Harrisburg, PA – Building upon the Wolf Administration’s commitment to safe schools and classrooms, Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera is joining other states’ education officials on the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) newly formed School Safety Steering Committee.

“We need to work together with a holistic approach to keep our schools safe, so children and teachers can focus on learning in the classroom,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Secretary Rivera’s service on the CCSSO steering committee will bring the Pennsylvania perspective to this national conversation on school safety”

“Not only does he bring decades of experience in classrooms and school buildings, he will share the work Pennsylvania’s Task Force has undertaken in communities across the commonwealth.”

Secretary Rivera is one of twelve members as part of a national effort to collaborate on best practices and innovative measures to work towards creating a safe and supportive learning environment for students.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ensuring school safety, but as educators and leaders we need to take a comprehensive look at the measures schools can thoughtfully implement to improve the culture in their hallways, classrooms and athletic fields where everyone feels valued, and every student has their social and emotional needs met,” said Secretary Rivera.

The School Safety Steering Committee will determine what guidance or support CCSSO will offer to numerous states around school safety. In addition, the steering committee also will inform how CCSSO will continue to support states in efforts to prevent violence from ever taking place by fostering safe, supportive schools that address the emotional well-being of all children.

CCSSO is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education. Its mission is to create a more equitable education system for all children, and provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues.

Earlier this year, Governor Wolf launched the state School Safety Task Force that brings together government officials, statewide education organizations, law enforcement, community members, school officials to talk about ways to improve school safety and security.