Pa. proposes expanding autism services, but some are concerned

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 17, 2017 12:42 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Thousands of additional people with autism could be eligible for more intensive services from the state, as part of a proposed rule change.

But some advocates have reservations.

The state Department of Human Services is proposing to add people with autism and people under age eight with developmental disabilities to a special program that helps provide assistance.

A midstate-based advocacy group says it's in favor of adding the groups to the system, but wonders how the state will pay for it.

Ken Seeger of The ARC of Dauphin County says if new money isn't a part of the proposed change, the waiting list for services could grow.

"There's no assigned funding necessarily that's coming along with that, that is a concern. Anytime you have additional people coming into a system without additional funding, there's that concern," says Seeger.

Seeger says there's a chance people who may have been waiting for services could be bumped down the list because people with higher needs will be added.

He notes that could be demoralizing for families and those in need, who have been hoping for some help.

"Families who have a loved one who needs the support and services or are on the waiting list and are in need of the service," he adds.

DHS just wrapped up accepting public comments on the proposal, but it's not known when a final decision will be made.

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