Southeastern Pa. children’s advocates seek united front in Harrisburg

    Would children’s advocates in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs be better off if they joined forces?

    The Philly-based nonprofit Public Citizens for Children and Youth will soon find out.

    PCCY executive director Donna Cooper said the group is expanding its outreach into the suburbs. She argues that the recession, as well as cutbacks in statewide education funding, have shown that Philly and the suburbs are intimately connected.

    The two areas are “united not just in our economic growth, but in the challenge we face with a rising share of children in low-income families, and the need to really think about how we help those kids get over the challenges that low-income families face,” she said. “Often, they are state policies and we are hoping that Bucks, Chester, MontCo, DelCo and Philly have a common voice in Harrisburg.”

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    PCCY is calling for more state funding for K-12 education and for various anti-poverty measures. Recently, it released a series of reports showing growing rates of poverty among children in Philadelphia’s surrounding counties, as well as underfunding in the area’s public schools.

    Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College, said that children’s advocates in Philly and the suburbs could gain power if they presented a united front at the state capitol.

    “I think that’s a move that has genuine promise,” he said, adding that the southeastern region contains a large portion of Pennsylvania’s population. “Within the ambit of the Philadelphia television market, for example, it is possible to reach 40 percent of the voters of the entire state.”

    However, Madonna said that lobbying for extra education funding next year will be an uphill battle.

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