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ICYMI: Advocates, Editorial Boards Praise Governor Shapiro’s Proposed Investments in Intellectual Disability and Autism Services, Workforce


Harrisburg, PA - Last week, Governor Shapiro unveiled his 2024-25 proposed budget, which includes major investments in home- and community-based services for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism and the direct support professionals who support them. Advocatescaregivers, and editorial boards across the Commonwealth quickly praised the proposal, which sets a transformative course to eliminate waiting lists for services for adults and reduce barriers to care for thousands of Pennsylvanians over the next several years. 

While home- and community-based services have been offered in Pennsylvania for decades, the way that programs are currently structured limits capacity and does not allow flexibility that can help individuals access the services they need when they need them. Under the current system, individuals and their families may wait for years to be enrolled in services even if they have immediate needs. 

The Shapiro Administration believes that every Pennsylvanian with intellectual disabilities and autism deserves to receive the supports they need to achieve an everyday life with dignity and opportunity to pursue their goals and live, work, and recreate among their families and peers. Pennsylvania’s current system needs to change to better support these individuals. Moving forward, the Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) will shift away from setting capacity in programs by numbers or “slots” and instead will shift to an overall budget-based system. This shift, paired with investments in this system, begins a multi-year program growth strategy to eliminate ODP’s emergency waiting list. 

Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal will position Pennsylvania as a leader in the home- and community-based services space by changing the way program capacity is administered, adding capacity and flexibility for counties to meet the needs of individuals and their families, and investing in the workforce providing these vital services. 

To jumpstart this effort, Governor Shapiro has directed DHS to immediately release additional program capacity to counties, which will provide services to an additional 1,650 Pennsylvanians this year. 

Additional highlights from the Governor’s budget proposal include: 

  • $36.1 million investment of state funds, plus additional federal funds, for a total of $78 million, to serve an additional 1,500 Pennsylvanians. 

  • An investment of $217 million in state funds, plus federal funds, for a total of $483 million to support rate increases to providers of service. 

Pennsylvania is currently among 38 states that have a waiting list for home- and community-based services. Taken together, Governor Shapiro’s proposed investments would help thousands of Pennsylvanians and position the Commonwealth as a national leader in serving those with intellectual disabilities and autism. 

Read the Governor’s full budget proposal. 

Read full articles on advocate and caregiver reaction to Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal: 

PennLive Opinion: A call for bipartisan action to support Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism 

WGAL: Lititz family mentioned in governor speech highlights caregiver shortages 

PennLive: Legislators who oppose Gov. Shapiro’s budget need to see the people it’s designed to help 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial: Legislators must keep Shapiro's disability care funding intact

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