Rep. Cartwright meets with local childcare center to discuss COVID relief funding

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Financial relief is on the way for families of nearly two million Pennsylvania children.

The Children’s Service Center in Wilkes-Barre is one of the sites which will benefit from the recently-passed American Rescue Plan. Harrisburg will now decide how much of the nearly $1.2 billion allocated to Pennsylvania will be used for the center.

On Thursday, a local congressman who voted for the plan came to his district to discuss its benefits.

Touring the grounds of what started as an orphanage during the Civil War era, Congressman Matt Cartwright visited Children’s Service Center of Wyoming Valley. The mental health care system serves 10,000 children and adults in northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

“There’s an awful lot of people that depended on this place before the pandemic and afterward even more,” Cartwright (D, 8th district) said.

Children’s Service Center will receive a piece of the nearly $1.2 billion earmarked for the Keystone State through the American Rescue Plan but just how much?

“We don’t know what it’s going to look like yet so it’s hard to answer the question but I can tell you there’s resources in there for certified community behavioral health clinics and that’s something that we applied for to become,” Mike Hopkins, President/CEO of Children’s Service Center said.

Kids and families who rely on Children’s Service Center are among the most impacted by the pandemic. They’ve faced such difficulties as childcare, education and challenges of putting food on the table. Cartwright says the American Rescue Plan is designed to ease those challenges.

“Now, a lot of the money goes directly to the families and that’s as it should be because they’re the ones who know best how to use it and how to benefit the kids,” Cartwright said.

Families like the Duques who will benefit from the American Rescue Plan’s expanded Child Tax Credit. It provides an additional $1,600 credit for kids under 6 and an additional $1,000 credit per child between 6 and 18.

“The funds are needed and the word needs to get out there of how the funds are allocated, too, because I think there are so many people unaware about how they can get those funds,” Alicia Duque said.

Funds helping families and the organizations which help them.

“Getting the families and the kids in a better place makes our job that much easier,” Hopkins said.

Children’s Service Center has a staff of 475 workers. Hopkins says he appreciates Cartwright’s support of the American Rescue Plan and how it benefits his staff and their families too.

Hopkins says Children’s Service Center should find out in August if it is approved for the certified community behavioral health clinics. Only a handful of clinics like it exist in the commonwealth and none do in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Federal funding will go toward the center’s existing operations and planned expansion.

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