HARRISBURG – State agencies are using the 93rd Pennsylvania Farm Show to remind visitors of commonwealth programs that can help families and businesses make it through these tough economic times.
In December, Governor Edward G. Rendell launched an online resource page – www.heretohelp.pa.gov
– making it easier for citizens to find resources offered through existing government programs.
State agencies operating booths at this year’s Farm Show will have small cards for visitors reminding them of the new Web site. Additionally, signs will be posted throughout the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center featuring the Web address.
According to Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff, the goal is to raise awareness of the online resource among the show’s hundreds of thousands of visitors in the hope that they will use and share the information with others.
“We understand that the faltering national economy has left many families and businesses facing tough times,” said Wolff. “Whether it’s finding help putting food on the table, getting health insurance for a child through CHIP, locating workforce training opportunities, or applying for property tax relief, the ‘Here to Help’ Web site puts many beneficial programs under one umbrella. That makes it easier for families to obtain services and resources that can get them through these tough times.
“With 400,000 people expected to visit the Farm Show this year, we felt this was an excellent opportunity to spread the word that help is available.”
The Web site offers programs grouped by the following topics: employment, family services, housing, older Pennsylvanians, and economic development.
The Employment section is there to help the many people who are experiencing lay-offs or losing their jobs.
The page provides information on the recent expansion of unemployment services, including extended call-in hours and increased levels of staff to help claimants. Visitors can also find a link to file an unemployment compensation claim online, which is the most convenient and efficient way to do so. Additional information is available for job training and job opportunities.
Parents can find information on enrolling their children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or themselves in the Adult Basic health insurance program. There is a waiting list for adults, but once you are on the waiting list you are able purchase coverage for $330.
The Family Services section includes a wide range of resources including the resources available for food for women and children, health care for the neediest Pennsylvanians, and even tips for those who wish to quit smoking. A link is also provided to the state’s Treasury Department where residents can search to see whether they have any unclaimed property.
The Housing section is a place to go for help in lowering and paying your heating bills, tips to better manage your money, and mortgage assistance.
The Older Pennsylvanians section is a destination for older adults looking to sign-up for PACE/PACEnet prescription assistance or the Property Tax and Rent Rebate program. More than 110,000 seniors have had their property taxes eliminated in Pennsylvania, but thousands of yet to sign up for their rebate.
The Economic Development section includes information to help business owners weather this economic downturn, including information on grant and loan programs.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 270 commercial exhibitors. The show runs through Jan. 17 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $8. For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us