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Parent Pathways Summit Highlights Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Support Programs Geared Towards Single-Parent Families

Apr 26, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Departments of Human Services (DHS) and Education (PDE) hosted a two-day conference this week to bring together stakeholders across multiple sectors to discuss the proposed Parent Pathways model and hear from local, state, and national organizations working to expand access to education, training, and supportive services for single-parent families experiencing economic challenges.

“Too many single-parent families in Pennsylvania and around the country feel limited by their economic situation. We are committed to giving them the tools and supports necessary to help them realize that they are not alone in this journey,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “The conversations and connections taking place at this summit is one step towards establishing broader Parent Pathways models around Pennsylvania, and I am confident that this work is setting the foundation for models that will have a transformative impact on single-parent families across Pennsylvania.”

Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed 2019-2020 budget includes $5 million to support up to seven partnerships to develop and implement programs for post-secondary education and training for single parents. The Parent Pathways model will focus on post-secondary education and training partnerships, housing supports, and two-generational programming that supports healthy child and family development.

Parent Pathways models will have the flexibility to develop a community-specific plan that considers the make-up of the community, needs of potential families to be served, and resources available to meet the needs of the specific community and families served. The goal is to support innovative models that open doors and eliminate barriers for single-parent families, be it through post-secondary education or vocational training.

“A quality education is the key to good livable-wage jobs and sustainable careers but achieving this continues to be a struggle for so many single-parent families across Pennsylvania,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “Through local partnerships and strategic investments, programs like Parent Pathways develop a framework and show examples of how we can help families overcome obstacles and invest in the future of parents and their children.”

In September 2018, DHS and PDE announced a Request for Information (RFI) to broaden the departments’ perspectives on existing models and explore potential opportunities to implement a program statewide that would help expand higher education opportunities for low-income, single-parent families.

Many of the respondents to the initial RFI participated in the summit. Participants in the summit included representatives from community-based organizations, health and human services providers, state and local government, educational entities, workforce boards, philanthropy, and students and families including:

  • The Aspen Institute’s Ascend program, which focuses on policies and programs that help children and parents reach economic security and succeed in education and training;
  • Misericordia University’s Bourger Women with Children Program;
  • The Family Scholar House, a Kentucky-based organization that supports single-parent families pursuing education and training;
  • The United Way of Lancaster;
  • Mom’s House of Lancaster;
  • Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education;
  • Department of Community and Economic Development;
  • Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency;
  • Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology;
  • Westmoreland County Community College;
  • District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund;
  • Luzerne County Head Start;
  • The Wright Center;
  • Housing Authority of Dauphin County; and
  • Self-Determination Housing Project of PA.

The two-day conference also featured graduates of Misericordia University’s Women with Children Program, Wilson College’s Single Parent Scholars Program, and Family Scholar House, who shared stories of how the support and services received through participation in these programs changed the economic and educational trajectory of their families.

For more information about DHS, visit

To learn more about Governor Wolf’s 2019-20 budget, visit

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