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5 Things to Start 2022 Off Right

January 14, 2022 12:00 PM

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​The new year is rapidly approaching.

For many, the start of a new year is a time for making resolutions — ones that we hopefully can stick to and not abandon before the calendar flips to February. But for now, we are going to start smaller.

It is important that we understand that we should set out to achieve something in our limited time. Just handling day-to-day tasks can be a monster achievement. Sometimes it can be even harder to keep tabs on those to-dos that only need annual attention.

We’ve got you covered.

Here is a list of five things that you can do to start your year off right:

1. Keep the heat (and water) on

Assistance with utility bills is available in Pennsylvania to low-income families or individuals experiencing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic through DHS programs. Assistance with current and past due rent is also available.

    • Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) 
      • Pennsylvania ERAP County Application FinderERAP remains a lifeline for renters of residential properties who are at risk of eviction or utility shutoffs due to hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Landlords can apply for assistance on behalf of tenants and receive rental assistance directly if the tenant is eligible. Pennsylvanians experiencing housing instability or at risk of eviction are strongly urged to begin their ERAP application as soon as possible. 

    • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
      • Apply for benefits: www.compass.state.pa.us
        LIHEAP helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. Households in immediate danger of being without heat can also qualify for crisis grants. The cash grant is a one-time payment sent directly to the utility company/fuel provider to be credited on your bill. These grants range from $500 to $1,500 based on household size, income, and fuel type. Remember: This is a grant and does not have to be repaid. 

    • Low-Income Home Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)
      • Apply for benefits: www.compass.state.pa.us
        Assistance is available for families who have past due water bills, had their service terminated, or received a notice indicating that their service will be terminated in the next 60 days. Households can receive LIHWAP grants for both drinking water service and wastewater service. Grants are issued directly to water service providers, and families must meet income requirements.

2. Put Food on the Table

In Pennsylvania, more than 1.4 million people struggle with hunger. Many of us may not realize the grave disparities that exist in our own communities. They could be our neighbors, kids in our children’s classes. DHS offers services to eligible individuals and families to help keep their kitchens stocked with fresh, nutritious foods. SNAP can be used in-person at many grocery stores and markets around Pennsylvania, and through a federal pilot program where retailers such as Giant, Aldi, Amazon and Walmart let customers use SNAP to purchase groceries online for delivery — making healthy food more accessible through the winter months.

3. Check In On Your Loved Ones

This is the perfect occasion to remind ourselves that depression can be a silent mental health condition, so it is crucial that we are reaching out to the ones we love to share our support. It may be difficult to tell if someone close to you is struggling. We urge you to check in and let your loved ones know you're there for them. Help is always available:

    • PA Support & Referral Hotline 
      • Call: 1-855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600)
        DHS' mental health support and referral helpline is available 24/7 and is a free resource staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers available to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions.  

    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
      • Call: 800-273-8255 (Español: 888-628-9454)
      • A chat function is also available
        If you or someone you care about is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the Lifeline. 

    • Crisis Text Line 
      • Text "PA" to 741741 to start the conversation 24/7. 

    • PA Crisis Hotlines 

4. Make Healthy Choices

Pennsylvania's Medicaid program is a lifeline for vulnerable populations including children, people with disabilities, older adults, and people who are battling substance use disorder. When Gov. Tom Wolf expanded Medicaid in 2015, even more Pennsylvanians were able to get covered and get connected to critical health care services.

    • Medical Assistance
      • Apply for benefits: www.compass.state.pa.us
      • Choose HealthChoices Plans
        Medical Assistance (MA), also known as Medicaid, pays for health care services for eligible Pennsylvanians. Pennsylvania's mandatory managed care programs for Medical Assistance recipients include Physical HealthChoices, Behavioral HealthChoices, and Community Health Choices. Through managed care organizations (MCOs), recipients receive quality medical care and timely access to all appropriate health services, whether the services are delivered on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
         
    • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) 
      • Apply for benefits: www.compass.state.pa.us
        CHIP is Pennsylvania's program to provide health coverage to uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance. Regardless of the reasons your children might not have health insurance, CHIP may be able to help you.

5. Get/Update Your Clearances

The Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) requires certain individuals to obtain clearances in order to be employed, be a resource parent (foster or adoptive), or be a volunteer with children. Clearances are required for an employee or unpaid volunteer at a minimum of every 60 months from the date of the oldest clearance.


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