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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 10, 2014 02:46 PM
From: Representative Jerry Knowles
To: All House members
Subject: Expansion of the Human Services Development Block Grant Program
I intend to introduce legislation amending the Public Welfare Code to expand the Human Services Development Block Grant Program to all counties in the Commonwealth, with the amendment to take effect immediately.

Originally established under Act 80 of 2012, a block grant pilot program was established to provide for much needed reforms for the human services funding system. Participation was limited to 20 counties. Act 55 of 2013 provided for expansion to include 30 counties to apply for the program.

Under current law, the chosen counties continue to receive their funding for the seven included line items, based upon categorical allocations for each area. Those lines include the Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities base funds, Act 152 Drug and Alcohol funds, Human Services Development Fund, Child Welfare Special Grants and Homeless Assistance. Flexibility is authorized for block grant counties with some limitation, and in year one, pilot counties were required to utilize 80% of the funds within the categorical area for which those dollars are provided.

In January 2014, the Department of Human Services (DHS) released a report on the block grant pilot program. DHS reports that the program enabled participating counties to gain greater flexibility in funding their human service programs. This has allowed each county to meet the needs unique to their communities. In order to administer the block grant pilot program, DHS implemented streamlined, consolidated planning and reporting requirement for all 67 counties while continuing to review and approve county plans and provide technical assistance.

This, in turn, has resulted in a comprehensive mechanism to capture client service across all the categorical program offices which supports efforts to review and monitor changes in the service delivery system over time.

With the success of the block grant pilot program for the 30 participating counties, my legislation will provide for all counties in the Commonwealth to request consideration for the block grant pilot program for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

Please consider co-sponsoring this resolution.

Introduced as HB439