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$1.2 million federal grant to help Pennsylvania families

A $1.2 million federal grant is helping Pennsylvania families. The funding will go to the Child Development and Early Learning office.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Pennsylvania recently got $1.2 million in federal grant money.

State officials said it will go toward programs to help moms and new babies and families across the state by boosting programs that promote positive parenting, early development, and more.

"The exciting thing about this early childhood education grant is the fact that it is very intentional about bringing everyone together and the opportunities we have available," said Tracey Campanini, deputy secretary of the Department of Human Services' Office of Child Development and Early Learning.

And state leaders said there is something else, too—something health officials are calling historic.

They announced plans to extend Medicaid coverage to moms and babies statewide. They said they are expanding it to moms who are eligible because of their pregnancies statewide.

Instead of coverage for 60 days after a baby's birth, eligible mothers and children get care for a year after an infant is born, starting in the spring of next year.

"We know that 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in our Medicaid program in a five-year period happened outside that 60-day coverage period," said Meg Snead, DHS Acting Secretary.

Those health officials said the pandemic has made them more aware of those most in need, people who are a top priority.

 "We're seeing some really troubling trends related to pregnancy-related deaths and maternal mortality, and I think resources like this are really important," added Snead.

For more from the Department of Human Services, click here.