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PRINTER'S NO. 588
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
628
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY TOOHIL, N. NELSON, ISAACSON, HOHENSTEIN, SCHLEGEL
CULVER, HILL-EVANS, ROZZI AND FREEMAN, FEBRUARY 24, 2021
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN AND YOUTH, FEBRUARY 24, 2021
AN ACT
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An
act relating to the public school system, including certain
provisions applicable as well to private and parochial
schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the
laws relating thereto," providing for child welfare worker
education loan assistance.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known
as the Public School Code of 1949, is amended by adding an
article to read:
ARTICLE XXII-C
CHILD WELFARE WORKER EDUCATION LOAN ASSISTANCE
(a) General Provisions.
Section 2201-C. Scope.
This article deals with child welfare worker education loan
assistance.
Section 2202-C. Purpose.
The purpose of this article is to provide an incentive to
Pennsylvania students to pursue higher education and training in
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child welfare social work in order to maintain the delivery of
quality services at county child welfare agencies in this
Commonwealth.
Section 2203-C. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this article
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Agency." The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance
Agency.
"Approved institution of higher learning." An institution of
higher learning located in this Commonwealth and approved by the
agency.
"Child welfare worker." A person who is employed by a county
agency to perform duties relating to child welfare consistent
with State law.
"County agency." A county child welfare agency in this
Commonwealth.
(b) Program.
Section 2211-C. Pennsylvania Child Welfare Worker Education
Loan Assistance Program.
The agency shall establish and administer the Pennsylvania
Child Welfare Worker Education Loan Assistance Program as
specified in section 2212-C to provide financial assistance to
individuals who acquire the required degree or diploma to be
employed as a child welfare worker.
Section 2212-C. Loan forgiveness program.
(a) Establishment of program.--The agency shall administer a
loan forgiveness program for applicants on a Statewide basis.
The agency may provide loan forgiveness as provided in
subsection (b) for recipients of loans who by contract with the
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agency agree to be employed as a child welfare worker in this
Commonwealth upon attainment of the required degree.
(b) Loan forgiveness.--Agency-administered, federally
insured student loans for higher education provided to an
applicant may be forgiven by the agency as follows:
(1) The agency may forgive 50% of the loan, not to
exceed $50,000, if a loan recipient enters into a contract
with the agency that requires the recipient upon successful
completion of the required degree to be employed as a child
welfare worker in this Commonwealth for a period of not less
than three consecutive years.
(2) Loan forgiveness awards made under paragraph (1)
shall be forgiven over a period of three years at an annual
rate of 33 1/3% of the award and shall be made from funds
appropriated for this purpose.
(3) The contract entered into with the agency pursuant
to paragraph (1) shall be considered a contract with the
Commonwealth and shall include the following terms:
(i) A recipient shall apply for employment as a
child welfare worker at the earliest practicable
opportunity upon successfully completing the required
degree.
(ii) Within six months after completion of the
degree, a recipient shall be employed as a child welfare
worker in this Commonwealth according to the terms of the
loan forgiveness award.
(iii) The recipient shall agree to be employed as a
child welfare worker on a full-time basis.
(iv) The recipient shall permit the agency to
determine compliance with the work requirement for child
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welfare workers and all other terms of the contract.
(v) Upon the recipient's death or total or permanent
disability, the agency shall nullify the service
obligation of the recipient.
(vi) If the recipient is convicted of or pleads
guilty or no contest to a felony or if the county agency
has determined that the recipient has committed an act of
gross negligence in the performance of service
obligations or has terminated the recipient for cause,
the agency shall have the authority to terminate the
recipient's service in the program and demand repayment
of the amount of the loan as of the date of the
conviction or termination.
(vii) Loan recipients who fail to begin or complete
the obligations contracted for shall pay to the agency
the amount of the loan received under the terms of the
contract pursuant to this section. Providing false
information or misrepresentation on an application or
verification of service shall be deemed a default.
Determination as to the time of default shall be made by
the agency.
(4) Notwithstanding 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 8127 (relating to
personal earnings exempt from process), the agency may seek
garnishment of wages in order to collect the amount of the
loan following default under paragraph (3)(vii).
Section 2213-C. Tax applicability.
Loan forgiveness repayments received by a student shall not
be considered taxable income for purposes of Article III of the
act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code
of 1971.
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(c) Miscellaneous Provisions.
Section 2221-C. Annual report.
(a) Development of report.--The agency shall publish a
report by September 1, 2022, and every year thereafter for the
immediately preceding fiscal year. The report shall include
information regarding the operation of the program established
under this article, including:
(1) The number and amount of loan contracts executed for
the child welfare worker loan forgiveness program.
(2) The number and amount of child welfare worker loan
forgiveness contracts executed and renewed for applicants.
(3) The number of defaulted child welfare worker loan
forgiveness contracts, reported by cause.
(4) The number of child welfare workers participating in
the child welfare worker loan forgiveness program, reported
by type of institution attended, including four-year
educational institutions, community colleges, independent
two-year colleges, private licensed schools, hospital-based
courses of study and certificate programs.
(5) The number and type of enforcement actions taken by
the agency.
(b) Submission.--The annual report shall be submitted to the
Governor, the chairperson and minority chairperson of the
Appropriations Committee of the Senate, the chairperson and
minority chairperson of the Appropriations Committee of the
House of Representatives, the chairperson and minority
chairperson of the Education Committee of the Senate, the
chairperson and minority chairperson of the Education Committee
of the House of Representatives, the chairperson and minority
chairperson of the Health and Human Services Committee of the
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Senate and the chairperson and minority chairperson of the Human
Services Committee of the House of Representatives.
Section 2222-C. Appeals.
The provisions of this article shall be subject to 22 Pa.
Code Ch. 121 (relating to student financial aid).
Section 2223-C. Regulations.
The agency shall adopt regulations and procedures necessary
to carry out the purposes of this article.
Section 2224-C. Funding.
Loan forgiveness repayments shall be made only to the extent
that funds are appropriated for that purpose and are sufficient
to cover administration of the programs. The receipt of a loan
under this article shall not constitute an entitlement derived
from the Commonwealth or a claim on any funds of the
Commonwealth.
Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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