Erie, August 13, 2013 – Following a request from State Senator Sean D. Wiley (D-Erie) and State Representative Pat Harkins (D-Erie), the Pennsylvania Department of Health in coordination with the State Treasurer’s office, has agreed to release funds that will allow Erie County WIC (Women, Infants, Children) offices to reopen.

The holdup of more than $250,000 in invoice payments to Erie County WIC, forced the local offices to shut down temporarily due to lack of funds to pay employees. Those invoices are held up in the Department of Health due to compliance issues, stemming from new invoice filing regulations that went into effect in June.

Wiley and Harkins spoke with senior officials from both the Treasurer’s office and the Department of Health today to rectify this situation in order to ensure continuation of services as well as employment for 25 Erie County WIC workers.

Last Friday, Senator Wiley first learned that the WIC offices were on the brink of closure. He spoke with the Treasurer, followed by a conversation on Monday with the Director of Erie County WIC and the Secretary of Health.

“We have been in contact with all interested parties in Harrisburg and locally to address this issue. It seems there is a resolution in sight,” said Wiley. “We made it clear that the priority is getting these 25 WIC employees back to work all while maintaining services to those who need them, and I am confident that there will be minimal, if any, disruption in these services.

Harkins added, “This issue came to my attention Friday morning after my legislative assistant, Chris Rush, in my office received information. She immediately got on the phone with officials in Harrisburg, and we have been working to resolve this issue ever since. We did not anticipate the situation escalating to this level or being this involved. However, with the collaboration and earnest effort of our legislative delegation, we were able to produce a positive result, and hopefully this will not be an issue again in the future.”

As Erie County WIC officials work over the next few days to regroup and reopen their offices, the Department of Health will send staff to an Erie County community center yet to be determined in order to maintain WIC services locally.

For more information, do not hesitate to contact Senator Wiley’s district office at 453-2515.

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