The Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller joined community members on April 10, 2018 at a monthly meeting of Spectrum Friends, a support group of local adults with autism, to celebrate Autism Awareness Month. Group members shared personal stories and learned about DHS’ supports and services offered to individuals with disabilities and their families.
“At the department we want all individuals with a disability to have autonomy, choice, and opportunities to lead everyday lives,” said Miller. “Today’s meeting was a celebration of these individuals breaking barriers by becoming contributing members of their communities, gainfully employed, and promoting self-advocacy. I encourage everyone to be more kind to one another as we celebrate Autism awareness and acceptance. All Pennsylvanians deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
Since 2015, the Wolf Administration has made the following policy changes in support of individuals with autism:
- All services and supports provided by DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) are now open to people with autism.
- All ODP participants have a support coordinator to plan for the future and access to community resources, even while waiting for formal services.
- Every 21-year-old graduating from school from 2017-19 will have access to support services upon graduation.
The Governor’s 2018-19 budget proposal provides a $74 million increase for services for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. Within this total is $16 million to provide supports and services to 965 individuals with an intellectual disability or autism living in communities across the commonwealth. It also assures services will be available to an additional 800 adults who will be graduating from public school in June of 2019.
This funding will support:
- 100 individuals transitioning from the emergency waiting list to the Consolidated Waiver;
- 800 students graduating in 2018 in the Person/Family Directed Support Waiver and the Community Living Waiver;
- 800 students graduating in 2019 who will enroll in the Person/Family Directed Support Waiver and the Community Living Waiver prior to graduation to assure continuity of support;
- 40 individuals transitioning from the interest list to the Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP); and
- 25 individuals transitioning from State Centers to the community.
The 2018-19 budget proposal builds upon initiatives enacted during the fiscal year 2017-18 budget, which provided $26.5 million to serve approximately 1,000 individuals with an intellectual disability (ID) or autism in the community, effective January 1, 2018, through the Community Living Waiver.
For more information on Governor Wolf’s 2018-19 proposed budget visit budget.pa.gov.