Select Pa. counties try funding mechanism for human services

    Nearly two dozen counties will now have more discretion over how state funding is spent among certain human services programs.

    The Corbett administration originally wanted to dole out the money this way statewide, but lawmakers lobbied for a pilot program to begin with just 20 counties — 30 applied.

    The ones selected, represent a wide range of demographics and population sizes.

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    Carey Miller, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Welfare, says the agency is pushing for all counties to receive funding with this so-called block grant in the future.”We are committed to expanding this statewide and hoping to work with the general assembly in doing so, especially for those ten that were not chosen to participate in the program,” she said.Critics question whether such a schedule provides enough time to judge the block grant’s effectiveness.

    They say it could force fights over funding between programs, causing, for example, advocates for the intellectually disabled to square off against champions of substance abuse programs.

    The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania says it’s trying to figure out how to monitor the program across counties, with a focus on how clients are affected.

    The counties selected are: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Centre, Chester, Crawford, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Tioga, Venango, and Wayne.

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