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Department of Human Services Releases Report Highlighting Improvements in Residential Services for Pennsylvanians with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced a report highlighting the department’s commitment to maintaining high-quality services to assure the health and well-being of nearly 12,000 individuals with developmental disabilities who reside in community-based homes across the commonwealth. The report includes planned and on-going initiatives to improve the quality of care people receive in their communities.

“Thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities reside in community homes. While residential services are broad, encompassing all aspects of life, the department is dedicated to making continued improvements to these programs and services,” said Secretary Miller. “It is important for us to continue to evaluate our programs and services so that we can provide the best level of care to the individuals we serve. This report outlines approaches that will lead to improved accountability, risk management and stronger collaboration with service providers so they can help individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism live full, rewarding lives.”

Residential services began in 1974 through an appropriation from the General Assembly. DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) defines residential services with three principles: 

• Providing care in safe, comfortable homes; 
• Engaging individuals in life-long learning and skills development to live more independently and participate in their community; 
• Providing person-centered services. 

The report is the result of an on-going strategic thinking group comprised of stakeholders, advocates, providers, an individual living in a residential home, and family members of individuals in residential services.

The group identified six main areas for improvement: licensing, policy, provider onboarding, technical assistance and training, tools for direct support professionals, and establishing a learning collaborative. Recommendations in each domain include opportunities for improvement by both ODP and providers.

Providers of residential services are expected to assist individuals with various tasks, including positive interactions and relationships, management of medical care, mental health and emotional wellness, decision-making, financial stability, communication, activities of a community life, and more. 

Governor Tom Wolf continues to expand access to community-based services for Pennsylvanians with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. In partnership with the General Assembly, more than $381 million has been invested since 2015, allowing 7,500 more people to access services among their families and peers in their community. 

The 2019-2020 budget proposal continues this progress by investing $15 million to serve an additional 765 people in the Community Living Waiver and 100 people in the Consolidated Waiver who may experience unanticipated emergencies.

Currently in Pennsylvania, there are more than 300 residential services providers in Pennsylvania who provide services in more than 6,200 locations across the commonwealth.

“We are committed to ensuring all individuals have access to opportunities to support their goals and dreams, however there is still more work to be done,” said Secretary Miller. “The recommendations outlined in this report are the beginning of an on-going effort by the state, residential services providers, and stakeholders to help the people we serve live the everyday life we all want.”

To view the Improving the Quality of Residential Services report, see below. 

In addition to this press release, please see below for audio, video, and photos.                   
  • Ali Fogarty 717-425-7606
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