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Shapiro Administration Gets Stuff Done: Securing Major Budget Wins to Increase Pennsylvanians’ Access to Critical Mental Health, Disability, and Child Care Supports

12/20/2023

Recent investments have increased capacity for affordable child care programs, mental health services, and supports for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism. 

Harrisburg, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh today highlighted the Shapiro Administration’s significant investments in creating healthier communities for Pennsylvanians and helping people access the care and services they need. The 2023-24 budget provided critical investments in public health, early education, and essential services for individuals and families, from helping our youngest Pennsylvanians attend early learning programs and increasing access to mental services for people in their communities to reducing wait times for individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or autism seeking supports. 

“Together, we have accomplished significant improvements for Pennsylvanians in a short time span through effective investments in essential services,” said Secretary Arkoosh. “From this year’s budget, we directed critical dollars toward access to mental health resources, affordable early education, and increasing the number of people with intellectual disabilities and autism receiving home and community-based services reducing waitlists for people qualifying for these supports. Investments like these put us on a path to healthier, more vibrant communities, where every Pennsylvanian has access to the high-quality services they need and deserve.” 

During the Shapiro Administration’s first year, the Department of Human Services made key investments that support access to critical public health and early education resources for individuals and families across Pennsylvania, including:  

Increasing Mental Health Supports for Pennsylvanians 

  • The Shapiro Administration acknowledges that significant investments in mental health are much-needed and overdue in order to address the ongoing mental health crisis in Pennsylvania. The $20 million increase supports county-directed behavioral health programs that help Pennsylvanians access life-saving mental health and substance use disorder treatment. The increased funding can also address workforce challenges within counties and behavioral health providers by investing in this critical field and work of dedicated behavioral health professionals.  

  • The 2023-24 budget also addresses the growing youth mental health crisis by providing $100 million for school-based mental health counselors and resources for students. This new funding stream with the Department of Education helps schools hire more staff and improve mental health programming for students through grant opportunities and direct investments in workforce development. 

Investing in Early Education for Working Families 

  • Quality, affordable child care is essential to give children a strong foundation for learning and social development and to help parents be able to work and invest in their families. This year’s budget includes a $66.7 million increase for base reimbursement rates paid to providers through the Child Care Works (CCW) subsidized child care program. This additional funding sustains an investment made in February 2023 and allows up to 75,000 lower income families to continue to be enrolled in subsidized child care through the Child Care Works (CCW) program. This funding invested in staff development and compensation, enhanced program services, and promoted the overall quality of the early education program. 

Investing in Direct Support Professionals and Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and/or Autism 

  • This year’s budget allocated $17.49 million in state funding for community-based disability waivers. This budget increase will help an additional 850 individuals with an intellectual disability and/or autism access home and community-based services and move from the waiting list. 

  • In addition, this September, Governor Shapiro directed DHS Office of Developmental Programs to begin an immediate evaluation and assessment of the rates paid to intellectual disability and autism programs that employ direct support professionals. This process is critical to ensure that providers are paid appropriate reimbursement rates so they can set wages that support and retain qualified, dedicated staff who help Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism live safe, vibrant lives in their community among their family and peers. 

For more information on DHS and resources for Pennsylvanians, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.  

MEDIA CONTACT: Brandon Cwalina - ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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