By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
The groundbreaking Pennsylvania program serving pregnant women and their families is about to achieve another major milestone.
Pennsylvania’s Pregnancy & Parenting Support program is poised to administer aid to its 50,000th woman through the critical funding provided by the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grant.
The Keystone State was the first state in the nation to use TANF funds to empower pregnant women through Catholic Charities, maternity homes, and pregnancy support centers.
Former Congressman Joe Pitts sought the funding from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for the Pennsylvania program, which has become a model for the rest of the nation. Wade Horn, then an assistant secretary at HHS, verified that the Pennsylvania program qualified for TANF.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker placed TANF funds in the Commonwealth’s budget, giving rise to the successful federal-state partnership.
The Pregnancy and Parenting Support program is administered by Real Alternatives, Inc., which uses private donations to assist states throughout the country to follow Pennsylvania’s lead.
Last year, then HHS assistant secretary Lynn Johnson congratulated Real Alternatives for its significant progress in serving pregnant women facing challenging circumstances.
“How great it is to see that TANF federal monies have been used and continue to be used to provide life-affirming support to women in unexpected pregnancies,” Johnson said.
“When TANF became law in the 1990s, the intent was to allow the states, the great laboratories of our country, to use the block grant to serve our fellow citizens in need the best way they saw fit.
“It was a simple idea that those closest to the needs of society were the ones best suited to meet those needs. The power of that idea would unleash creative solutions to difficult issues.
“After reviewing your program’s performance and success, I can’t think of a better successful example of that idea than the Pennsylvania Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program,” Johnson added.
To learn more about the life-saving, life changing work of the program, please click here (www.realalternatives.org ).