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In Erie, the Shapiro administration highlights the governor's proposal to make major investments in services for people with intellectual disabilities and autism, as well as in the workforce

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Erie, PennsylvaniaDepartment of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkooshtoday visited Barber National Institute, a provider that serves Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism (ID/A), and spoke with self-advocates, parents and direct support professionals about the need for historic investments in Governor Josh Shapiro's budget proposal for 2024-25which would increase the number of Pennsylvania residents with access to ID/A services and support the professionals who care for Pennsylvania residents 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).

“Living a life of dignity is a goal for many of our neighbors, friends and loved ones in ID/A communities, but if they have to wait for services, we cannot help them achieve that goal. Every Pennsylvanian with intellectual disabilities and autism should receive the support they need, when they need it,” saidSecretary Arkoosh “Under Governor Shapiro's budget proposal, Pennsylvania will reinforce this by working to eliminate waitlists for services, investing in the value and importance of ID/A providers and direct support professionals, and, most importantly, demonstrating our commitment to the everyday lives of all Pennsylvanians.”

Governor Shapiro's proposed budget calls for an investment of $483 million in federal and state funds to provide more resources to home and community-based service providers so they can increase the average starting wage from about $15 to $17 per hour. This increase for more competitive rates would attract and retain qualified personnel providing these critical services. Governor Shapiro announced late last year that DHS would review rates sooner than necessary to better support ID/A service providers and the direct support professionals who dedicate their careers to supporting people with ID/A in Pennsylvania. In addition, service providers will receive a one-time supplemental payment later this spring to help with workforce recruitment and retention.

Earlier this year, Governor Shapiro directed DHS to immediately provide additional program capacity to counties, which will enable an additional 1,650 Pennsylvania residents to receive services this year. The 2024-25 budget proposal will build on this and78 million US dollarsin federal and state funds to serve an additional 1,500 Pennsylvania residents in the next fiscal year.

If passed,Governor ShapirosThe budget would increase the number of people with intellectual disabilities in Pennsylvania who can receive home- and community-based services, kicking off a multi-year growth strategy to make Pennsylvania a national leader and end the adult emergency waiting list. To support this growth, the budget would increase provider rates, allowing for higher wages for the direct care professionals who care for people with intellectual disabilities in Pennsylvania.

“Governor Josh Shapiro's budget proposal demonstrates his commitment to inclusion, improved outcomes, and a sustainable ID/A system by increasing funding and resources for people with intellectual disabilities and the professional caregivers who care for them,” said Robert Barber, senior vice president of the Barber National Institute. “There are over 4,500 people on the adult emergency care waiting list across the state who need help. Governor Shapiro's budget proposal is critical for organizations like the Barber National Institute to provide the highest level of care for Pennsylvania's most vulnerable people today and in the future. What we need now is for the General Assembly to pass the Governor's ID/A budget as proposed.”

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 opportunities for children with disabilities to learn among their peers in a traditional classroom. Dr. Barber believed there was a better way and, working with families, borrowed space from the local YWCA to open the first classes for students with intellectual disabilities.

Today, Barber National Institute provides a range of educational, vocational training, residential and mental health services to more than 5,400 children, adults and their families at its main campus in Erie, PA, and in northwestern and central Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and also provides training and continuing education to professionals around the world.

Read the Governor's full budget proposal.

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

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Anna Harden

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