Shapiro Administration Highlights Governor’s Proposal for Major Investments in Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Services, Workforce

Posted on May 31st, 2024 at 3:30 PM

Erie, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh visited Barber National Institute on May 30 and talked with self-advocates, parents, and direct support professionals about the need for historic investments in Governor Josh Shapiro’s 2024-25 proposed budget, which would increase the number of Pennsylvanians who can access ID/A services, and support the professionals who care for Pennsylvanians with ID/A. The proposal has received bipartisan support, and today Secretary Arkoosh was joined by Senator Dan Laughlin (R), and Representatives Jacob Banta (R), Patrick Harkins (D), and Robert Merski (D).

 “Achieving an everyday life with dignity is a goal for so many of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones in ID/A communities, but when they must wait for services, we are falling short in helping them meet this goal. Every Pennsylvanian with intellectual disabilities and autism should receive the supports they need when they need them,” said Secretary Arkoosh. “Under Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal, Pennsylvania will affirm this by working to eliminate the waiting list for services, investing in the value and importance of ID/A service providers and direct support professionals, and, most importantly, demonstrating our commitment to Everyday Lives for all Pennsylvanians.”

Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget would invest $483 million in federal and state funding to provide more resources for home and community-based service providers so they have the ability to increase the average starting wage from approximately $15/hour to $17/hour; this increase for more competitive rates would both attract and retain the qualified staff who provide these essential services. Governor Shapiro announced late last year that DHS would re-examine rates earlier than required to better support ID/A service providers and the direct support professionals who dedicate their careers to helping Pennsylvanians with ID/A. In addition, service providers also will receive a one-time supplemental payment later this spring to assist with workforce recruitment and retention.

Earlier this year, Governor Shapiro directed DHS to immediately release additional program capacity to counties, which will allow an additional 1,650 Pennsylvanians to receive services this year. The 2024-25 proposed budget seeks to build on this by investing $78 million in federal and state funds to serve an additional 1,500 Pennsylvanians in the next fiscal year.

If passed, Governor Shapiro’s budget would increase the number of Pennsylvanians with ID/A who are able to receive home and community-based services, kicking off a multi-year growth strategy to make Pennsylvania a national leader and end its adult emergency waiting list. To support this growth, the budget would increase rates for providers, which will support higher wages for the direct support professionals who care for Pennsylvanians with ID/A.

“Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed budget demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity, improved outcomes, and a sustainable ID/A system by increasing funding and resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities and the direct support professionals who care for them,” said Barber National Institute Senior Vice President Robert Barber. “There are over 4,500 individuals on the adult emergency waiting list across the Commonwealth in need of services. Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal is crucial to organizations like Barber National Institute in serving the most vulnerable individuals in Pennsylvania at the highest possible level today and into the future. What we need now is the General Assembly to pass the Governor’s ID/A budget as proposed.”

About Barber National Institute

Barber National Institute was founded in 1952 by Dr. Gertrude A. Barber. As an administrator in the Erie School District, Dr. Barber saw firsthand that there were limited options available in a traditional classroom setting for children with disabilities to learn among their peers. Dr. Barber believed there was a better way, and working with families, borrowed a room from the local YWCA to begin the first class for students with intellectual disabilities. 

Today, Barber National Institute provides a range of education, job training, residential, and behavioral health services to more than 5,400 children, adults, and their families from its main campus in Erie, PA, and in Northwestern Pennsylvania, Central Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia, as well as training and development to professionals around the world.

Read the Governor’s full budget proposal.

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