Changes to Community Participation Support Services Could Impact People With Disabilities

A hearing was held last Thursday by the state Senate Democratic Policy Committee to discuss potential job training options for people with disabilities.

At the hearing, advocates and local participants – along with providers – offered their opinions and input on how the program provides support for those with disabilities and offers them opportunities for a fulfilling career, something they might not have without Community Participation Support (CPS).

Some expressed concern that the program changes may make it more difficult for people with disabilities to find work

The goal of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is to ensure that individuals receiving services through HCBS programs have full access to the benefits of community living. One of those services is CPS.

Community Participation Support seeks to do the following for those with disabilities:

  • increase potential for employment;
  • develop and sustain a range of valued social roles and relationships;
  • build natural supports;
  • increase independence;
  • and experience meaningful community participation and inclusion.

According to an article published by the Daily Local News, the meeting was held at Handi-Crafters Inc., an employment and disability-focused support service programs. Something that attendees said showed how important workshops and vocational programs are for people with disabilities and their families.

“The state Department of Human Resources’ Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) recently revised proposed changes to its Community Services Support services,” the article reads. “While advocates said the changes provide choice and flexibility for people with disabilities, they said they are concerned if the changes would limit sheltered workshops and limit those with disabilities from training and existing job opportunities.”

The Daily Local News explained that the definition of a sheltered workshop is one that is supervised for handicapped adults – whether they are physically or mentally disabled.

“Some of the current proposed changes would require, with certain exceptions, that 25 percent of the client’s time is spent in the community; calculate time in the community on a monthly basis; limit size of existing facility to 150 participants by 2019; and mandate certain staff qualifications,” the article reads.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Office of Developmental Programs said the changes were proposed to ensure more individuals engage in community activities and to receive federal funds to maintain services.

Some of the parents spoke up saying they want their disabled children to be among other people like them, but to also be safe in the community at work or in other environments. They are concerned, mostly, for their children’s safety and well-being.

One parent spoke out and said she feels that training should be offered to employers and managers to help them understand better the struggles those with disabilities face in the work – and their daily environment.

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