Focus On PA

Pa. does not take a one-size-fits-all approach to disability services 

By Kristin Ahrens

A Sept. 2 Capital-Star  op-Ed suggests that the Department of Human Services’  Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) is limiting choice for Pennsylvanians with autism and intellectual disabilities. In fact, our goal is to expand choice for individuals, and we appreciate the opportunity to provide clarification.

The op-Ed purports that any setting serving people with intellectual disabilities or autism (the author specifically mentions newly opened residential spaces, vocational, and recreational services) is limited to three participants. This is not accurate. FULL STORY

How Pa. strips people living with autism and intellectual disabilities of personal choice

 By Gloria Martino Satriale

Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced plans to invest a portion of the state’s COVID-19 relief funds under the federal CARES Act to supply emergency funding to providers of services to people with disabilities who sustained catastrophic losses and increased expenses because of the pandemic.

Although many publicly applauded the investment, a large number of families and caregivers consider the act as nothing more than smoke and mirrors designed to deflect attention from the destructive policies that the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and state Department of Human Services (DHS) have put in place during the governor’s tenure. FULL STORY


Regulations in PA are discriminatory, prejudicial and likely illegal and unconstitutional.  Officials in PA regularly cite compliance with the federal law to justify practices that deny choice and intensive support services for individuals with Severe Autism:

As you know, the following restrictions imposed by PA ODP go above and beyond the requirements of the settings rule.  

–       Prohibition of HCBS funding for farmsteads, intentional communities and campus settings;

–       Prohibition of a residential service location being adjacent to one another;

–       Prohibition of a day service location and residential service location being adjacent to one another; 

–       Imposing a density cap on housing for people with disabilities by not allowing more than 25 % of the units in an apartment, condominium or townhouse to receive HCBS funded services;

–       Limiting the number of community program participants to 3;   

–       Limiting of residential settings to a capacity of 4 people;

–       Limiting the number of individuals to 25 in the service location at any given time.   PA can hide NO MORE.  Thanks to an inquiry made by PA Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (see Representative Fitzpatrick’s letter to CMS – the federal agency responsible for funding supports for individuals with disabilities) asking the federal government for clarification regarding if they mandate PA’s policies, CMS states that federal rules DO NOT PROHIBIT all of the services that PA refuses to provide