Waiting List For Community Services In Crisis
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 13, 2003
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA--Between 1977 and 2000, the number of people with mental retardation housed in Pennsylvania's state-run institutions fell from 9,189 to 1,969, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. And no new residents have been committed to those institutions in the last ten years.
Still, there is concern that families, desperate for some services for their relatives, may resort to committing them to institutions. That's because the state's waiting list for community supports is huge -- and growing.
Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare show that there are 27,014 people on the waiting list for services, 3,352 of which are in "emergency" status, meaning they need immediate services. Another 9,228 are considered "critical," meaning they will need services within one year.
Many of those live with family members that may not be able to support them for much longer.
In 2000, then-Governor Tom Ridge and the state legislature promised to spend $853 million over five years to reduce the waiting list. However, the state's budget deficit left just $1.7 million to reduce the list during the 2003-04 budget year.
"There appears to be a push now toward institutionalization, and it's because of the tightness of funding," said Sheila Stasko, statewide coordinator for the Waiting List Campaign.
Languishing on the waiting list (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)