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Enhanced Approach to Care for People with Intellectual Disabilities in Pennsylvania

  • Synopsis: Published: 2012-06-07 - Enhanced direction for the services for people with intellectual disabilities which moves toward family and community care. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
Intellectual Disability
Intellectual Disability - (also commonly referred to as a developmental disability among other terms) is, simply stated, a disability that significantly affects one's ability to learn and use information. Generally, an IQ test score of around 70 or as high as 75 indicates a limitation in intellectual functioning. Children with intellectual disabilities (sometimes called cognitive disabilities or mental retardation) may take longer to learn to speak, walk, and take care of their personal needs such as dressing or eating. They are likely to have trouble learning in school. They will learn, but it will take them longer. There may be some things they cannot learn. A person who has an intellectual disability is capable of participating effectively in all aspects of daily life, but sometimes requires more assistance than others in learning a task, adapting to changes in tasks and routines, and addressing the many barriers to participation that result from the complexity of our society.

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Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Announces Enhanced Approach to Care for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

The Department of Public Welfare today announced an enhanced direction for the department's services for people with intellectual disabilities which moves toward family and community care while strengthening administrative oversight of the programs.

"This administration takes seriously the need to provide quality services in the most appropriate setting for those in need, especially persons with intellectual disabilities, and do so in a way that is effective, efficient and compassionate," said Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary D. Alexander.

After extensive review of the administration, implementation and execution of the programs under the Office of Developmental Programs, the department has set the following goals for the future:

  • Explore alternative models of care that meet the needs of the people that we serve and provide the quality care they deserve.
  • Re-establish financial and programmatic integrity to these programs through more consistent and fair oversight and performance-based contracting.
  • Decrease administrative costs in order to address the current wait list for programs.

"We are moving the department forward with a focus on empowering families to provide quality, in-home care, and reducing the number of people waiting for services through better economic oversight," said Alexander.

A historical absence of strong fiscal controls in the Office of Developmental Programs has allowed waste and excess to creep into the department's services for people with intellectual disabilities.

Since taking office in January 2011, the Corbett Administration has made some significant administrative changes to these programs. The changes include adjusting how providers are paid for services, enacting oversight regulations and pursuing quality-based alternative models of care.

"Starting today, we will further our goals of deploying program-integrity measures that will pay for the most appropriate services, to save precious taxpayer dollars and preserve the program for those who truly need it," said Alexander. "Right now, we do not have enough money to serve everyone who needs care, but by removing these inefficient practices, we can redirect the money where it is truly needed."

The department is also looking to refocus the way it pays for care by giving families the option to be paid for the critical service they provide to their loved ones. This concept is called shared living.

Shared living will offer individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to live in their own home, where family members will be able to provide daily help with tasks such as personal care, medication management and meals. This practice allows for people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to remain at home with their families and surrounded by friends and neighbors.

In addition, the department is placing greater accountability on businesses that are paid by taxpayers to provide services to people with intellectual disabilities. The department will be ensuring the providers are qualified to provide services and doing so in a cost-effective manner.

Services for individuals with intellectual disabilities are paid with both state funds and federal matching funds, controlled by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Currently, there are more than 16,000 people in Pennsylvania who are waiting for services that will help them achieve independence and better quality of life.

For more information about the Department of Public Welfare, visit or call 1-800-692-7462.

Pennsylvanians who suspect welfare fraud should call 1-800-932-0582.

Related Information:

  1. AAIDD Definition of Intellectual Disability - SSA Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders - The AAIDD Definition of Intellectual Disability Cited in SSA Proposed Revision of Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders.
  2. Health Education for People with Intellectual Disabilities - Adults with intellectual disabilities have slightly higher rates of obesity, physical inactivity and preventable chronic diseases.
  3. Measuring Intellectual Disability - Specific and quantitative means of measuring levels of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) protein (FMRP).

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