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Senator is inducted into Troop PennsylvaniaHello friends! I had a wonderful opportunity this week to meet with an extraordinary group of women who are making a difference in their communities — the Girl Scouts! This is a terrific organization that teaches young ladies valuable skills that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.

Several of my colleagues and I were inducted into Troop Pennsylvania, an honorary Girl Scout troop that consists of women in the General Assembly.

It was a pleasure to spend some time with the scouts at the Capitol and I am honored to be in Troop Pennsylvania.

For all the latest news and events in the 11th Senatorial District and in Harrisburg, visit my website, my Facebook page and Twitter page.


Bill Helps Working Families With Daycare Costs

Senator Schwank talks about her jobs billMy Democratic colleagues and I are determined to help bring Pennsylvania out of an economic slump. Our comprehensive PA Works Now jobs package would create 80,000 new jobs and stimulate our economy without raising your taxes.

I joined my female Democratic colleagues this week at the Capitol to unveil my legislation as part of PA Works Now. My bill would provide tax credit incentives to encourage employer supported daycare alternatives.

As a working mother, I made the choice to send my daughter to daycare so that I could provide for my family, and I also know that daycare is expensive.

Many families have to weigh the cost of daycare verses their weekly paycheck. For others, there is no choice. They have to work, and the only way they can work is if they have child care or adult daycare.

Working families should not be constrained because they can’t find daycare services. That’s not good for their quality of life and it’s not helpful to our economy.

Under my legislation, small businesses that provide up to 90 percent of daycare costs for their employees would get a tax credit of up to 20 percent in return from the state. This is estimated to help 5,000 hard-working families.

Families already have enough on their plates, between rising food and fuel costs, stagnant wages and fewer employment options. They should have a little peace of mind, knowing that they can afford to work and provide a safe environment for their children or aging parents.

As your elected official, it is my responsibility to ensure that your best interest is represented in the community and at the state Capitol in Harrisburg. These are challenging times but I am determined to be a part of the solution, and that means finding ways to put Pennsylvanians back to work. 

Community Outreach Meeting Focuses on Reading

Just about every part of the country has been touched by the recession. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is at 7.8 percent. While it’s better than the national average of 9.1 percent, people in small towns and large cities are struggling.

Berks County is no exception. In fact, our county’s largest city, Reading, has the distinction of the largest share of residents — 43 percent — living in poverty in the nation, according to census figures.

I recently held a community outreach meeting in the city of Reading where we discussed the challenges facing the city and surrounding communities. 

The purpose of the meeting was to make residents aware of state programs that are available, including assistance for those interested in starting a business and those wishing to pursue higher education.

Too many people are struggling, whether they are unemployed or underemployed. Single mothers are working hard to pay bills and find affordable daycare. Families are scrambling for their next meal. Children are going to school hungry and without the basic supplies they need to learn and achieve.

The economy is impacting all of us. We must take action if we ever want to move beyond this crippling situation and toward a better day.

I will continue to hold community outreach meetings in the near future, and I will inform you of the next meeting. I hope you will attend.

DPW Secretary Alexander Tours Berks County

Tour of the Hamburg Center

(From left to right) Fred Sheeler (member, board of trustees, Hamburg center), Sen. Dave Argall, Sen. Schwank, DPW Secretary Gary Alexander and John Graham (facility director, Hamburg Center).

I recently welcomed the new Pennsylvania Department of Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander to our area.

We met with local agencies that are helping low-income individuals while facing budget constraints, including Opportunity House, based in Reading, and Friend Inc. Community Services, based in Kutztown. We also talked to representatives from county’s Department of Children and Youth Services and Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation.

Secretary Alexander and I had an extremely productive meeting I’m encouraged that he was willing to come to Berks County and meet with local agencies and organizations.

This is a good start toward moving our area forward but there’s much more work to be done. We must focus on ensuring that our agencies are properly funded and we must do more to promote job growth.

I plan to work with Secretary Alexander in the future to ensure that he follows up on the suggestions proposed during his visit and that he helps us provide the right programs and services to our most vulnerable citizens.