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Criminal Justice

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that more than 327,000 Pennsylvanians will gain access to high-speed Internet service through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.

Thirteen providers in Pennsylvania successfully bid in the auction and will provide high-speed Internet access in locations across the state that are underserved or do not have access to broadband that meets the current federal standard. The FCC will allocate $368.7 million to these providers over the next 10 years. Virtually every Pennsylvania county will benefit from the broadband build out supported by this funding.

“In the twenty-first century, reliable high-speed Internet service is a critical utility for homes and businesses alike. The lack of this technology in our communities inhibits our students and educators, businesses, the health care system, and more from truly connecting locally and globally. If we want to support our economy, give our students the tools to learn, and improve the quality of life, we must expand broadband access,” Governor Wolf said. “The current pandemic has vividly demonstrated the pressing need to expand high-speed Internet access to enable telehealth and allow students to connect with their classmates and teachers. As a result of this auction, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians will gain this access, which is a significant step toward bridging the digital divide.”

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is an effort by the FCC to ensure high-speed Internet access in underserved communities. In total, the FCC will allocate $9.2 billion to 180 bidders, who will deploy high-speed broadband to more than 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses across the country.

Nearly a million Pennsylvanians lack access to reliable high-speed Internet access according to the FCC. Ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have access to high-speed Internet access is a top priority of the Wolf Administration. The governor’s Restore Pennsylvania plan, a $4.5 billion bipartisan proposal funded through a common sense severance tax, would provide funding to completely bridge the digital divide in every community in Pennsylvania. Funding would be available to support the installation of infrastructure needed to bring high-speed Internet to every corner of the commonwealth. 

View more about the plan here.

Pennsylvania 211 has replaced the previous county resource and referral hotlines. Operated by the United Way of Pennsylvania, they want to get the word out. For providers, please register so that PA 211 can refer people to your services as needed. They are also asking that you inform your staff and consumers/family members of the availability of PA 211.

If you need to connect with resources in your community but don’t know where to look, PA 211 is a great place to start. If you need help with a utilities bill or information on housing assistance, after-school programs for kids, and other programs, dial 211 or text your zip code to 898-211 to talk with a resource specialist for free. The trained specialists will listen to your needs and give you information on programs in your community that might be able to help.

Visit the 211 search page to explore programs available in your community by categories such as financial assistance, housing, and food.

A Colourful 3d Rendered Concept Illustration showing Training written on a Blackboard

A Series of Courses on the Mental Health Aspects of IDD

Registration is open for the next live virtual training course on intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) for mental health mobile crisis responders. This is one of three courses in the Mental Health Aspects of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (MHIDD) Professional Development Series offered by the Center for START Services. It is highly recommended for the following providers:

  • Mobile Crisis Responders, Clinicians, and Supervisors
  • Mental Health and/or IDD Case Managers and Service Coordinators
  • Emergency Services Clinicians

The course consists of six webinar-style sessions (75 minutes each) that teach best practices in crisis assessment, response, and disposition recommendations. Registration is $149 per person, and participants can receive University of New Hampshire continuing education units and a certificate of completion for MHIDD Mobile Crisis Response Training.

This flyer contains registration information.

Click on each link for a description and to register.

Prepared Renter Education Program Series:

For further information, contact Kara Yost.

Today, the Department of Human Services (DHS) is launching an online portal (called the DHS CARES Act Funding Tracking Tool) for Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) providers to submit final costs in compliance with Act 24 of 2020 (CARES Act funding). DHS is requesting that providers complete the COVID-19 Act 24 cost reporting form and upload it through the online portal. Providers must keep all documentation related to the costs reported in the final cost report for a minimum of five years. The due date for the submission of the required final report has been extended to December 31, 2020.

To assist providers, DHS has provided the following guidance and tips:

  • Username and Password Credentials
    • If you are a new user, you will receive two emails from PW, Unified Security inbox The first email will contain your username. The second email will contain your temporary password for first-time sign in.
    • If you have an existing Commonwealth Business Partner account (“b-” ID), you will receive a username reminder email tomorrow. Please use this username to login to the tool.
  • Updating Provider Contact
    • If you will not be completing the final report for your organization and would like to change the user associated, please complete the DHS COVID Tracking – User Change Request form to start the process to set up their credentials. Note that this process may take a few business days.
  • Attestation
    • When completing the report for your entity, an attestation is required. The attestation language is as follows: I, [ENTER NAME OF PERSON WITH THE AUTHORITY TO SIGN ON BEHALF OF THE LEGAL ENTITY BELOW], certify, subject to the terms and penalties of 18 Pa. C.S. §4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities), that the information contained in the forgoing Act 24 Cost Reporting Form is true and correct to the best of my knowledge following reasonable investigation, that the entity that I represent was in operation as of March 31, 2020, as required by Act 24 of 2020; and that the Act 24 of 2020 funds were used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic and reimburse health-care-related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the coronavirus pandemic; and that the Act 24 of 2020 funds were not used for expenses or losses that have been or will be reimbursed from other sources.
  • Final Report Template
    • Providers are required to upload the completed Excel template when completing the final report in the online portal.
  • Online Portal Training and Support
    • Providers will receive a detailed DHS CARES Act Funding Tracking Tool Final Report User Guide with frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the launch date to help you navigate the new tool, answer any questions you may have, and provide troubleshooting information on browsers and passwords.
  • Act 24 of 2020 Information
    • Governor Wolf signed Act 24 of 2020, which allocates funding from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – also known as the CARES Act – to assist providers with COVID-19 related costs. Funding from Act 24 must be used to cover necessary COVID-19 related costs incurred between March 1, 2020 and November 30, 2020 that have not been otherwise reimbursed by federal, state, or other sources of funding. To qualify for the one-time payment, a person or entity must have been in operation as of March 31, 2020. Under Act 24, $457 millionof COVID-19 relief funds were allocated to providers in OLTL programs.
    • Any person or entity accepting a COVID-19 payment must provide documentation to DHS, upon request, for purposes of determining compliance with Act 24 requirements. Providers were previously advised to keep documentation to demonstrate how the funds were used for a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in case of an audit.
    • Providers are advised to review guidance such as the following for eligible COVID-19 costs on the US Department of Treasury website:  Coronavirus-Relief-Fund-Guidance and Coronavirus-Relief-Fund-Frequently-Asked-Questions. DHS guidance is also available in DHS Frequently Asked Questions.

Please Note: if you received a payment under Act 24 of 2020 from more than one Pennsylvania DHS program office, you may receive this notification more than once. However, you will only receive one login to the online portal and will be able to submit for all program offices and facilities at the same time.