YouthPlaces Opens 'Unconventional' After School Hangout

Sep 17, 2019

On today's program: A North Side nonprofit will host an after school program at the convention center; state lawmakers could consider changing Pennsylvania's life without parole sentencing structure; a check in with the Pittsburgh diocese a year after a salacious grand jury report; and the state House reconvenes today with an agenda that could include new work requirements for Medicaid recipients. 

New Downtown space offers kids a safe space to learn
(00:00 — 11:07) 

The North Side nonprofit YouthPlaces has managed after school programs for regional youth since 1997 when it was born out of the Youth Crime Prevention Council, and in late October, organizers will offer homework support, mentoring and STEM programing at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown. 

Cynthia James, president and CEO of YouthPlaces, says the motivation came from the students themselves after more than 230 responded to a survey asking what would benefit students most. YouthPlaces will lease the space through the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority for five months and reassess from there. James says it's a starting point—an exciting one.

New bill could release 1,000 people sentenced to life in PA prisons 
(12:21 — 17:35) 

For more than 40 years, life sentences in Pennsylvania have come one way: without parole. That could change if a new bill passes in Harrisburg offer a way out to people previously convicted of first-degree murder — intentionally killing another person — eligible for parole after serving 35 years

State Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) recently proposed the controversial bill that would impact more than 1,000 state inmates serving life sentences for murder. Keystone Crossroads contributor Aaron Moselle reports the bill faces a tough road. Previous efforts have failed to get out of committee, and the state’s Office of Victim Advocate is strongly against it. Gov. Tom Wolf has not yet taken a stance. 

How has the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese addressed child sexual abuse?
(17:37 — 31:34) 

It's been 13 months since a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report implicated 300 "predator priests" statewide of sexually abusing children. At the same time, Pittsburgh's Catholic Diocese is consolidating parishes and resources by closing or merging some churches. So where does the diocese stand in its efforts to streamline parishes and protect kids moving forward?

Joining The Confluence to discuss are: 

  • Jane Sarra, leader of the Secretariat for the protection of children, youth and vulnerable adults; and
  • Linda Ritzer, leader of the Parish Services Secretariat which is working with the parishes on the Diocese's merging efforts. 

Could the state add new work requirements to qualify for Medicaid? 
(31:37 — 38:39) 

Two Republican state senators are bringing back a proposal to require many able-bodied Medicaid recipients to prove they’re working, volunteering or looking for jobs to qualify for health care coverage.

Sens. Scott Martin and David G. Argall say their version of the bill includes some tweaks to appease Democrats. Gov. Wolf has already vetoed two similar bills. 90.5 WESA's Katie Meyer reports the requirement in this bill is a bit more flexible. People could qualify for Medicaid by volunteering or going to college, along with working or looking for jobs. They’d be able to mix and match to reach the necessary hours. 

Martin tells Meyer that he expects it will be considered by the GOP-controlled chambers soon after session resumes later this month. In order to create Medicaid work requirements, states have to apply to the federal government—a process enabled by the Trump administration last year. 

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.