Children's Services

As previously reported, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) is conducting work groups to develop recommendations for the development of youth-young adult peer support services and for youth-young adult psychiatric rehabilitation services. RCPA is participating in both work groups through the involvement of the Directors of the Children’s Division and the Mental Health Division. In January, RCPA will be scheduling a focused conference call with members providing Medicaid-funded peer support service, psychiatric rehabilitation services, and adolescent-young adult mental health services. The purpose of the conference call will be to review the status of the OMHSAS work groups and to gather input from the field with regard to service design, the development of service, supervision and program description standards/regulatory changes, and to better understand the operational and clinical care, cost, and compliance implications for these services.

The Bureau of Autism Services (BAS) is conducting a preliminary survey to help inform the design of services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are transitioning out of high school, including those who may have had justice intersections or psychiatric hospitalizations. This survey is designed to be completed by professionals with or without experience supporting individuals with ASD ages 18-25. BAS is asking for feedback on both surveys by Friday, January 1.

BAS has developed two versions of this survey; one for individuals and families, and another to be completed by professionals. The professionals survey can be completed here. Any questions about these surveys can be directed to the Bureau of Autism Services via email.

Time is running out; the deadline for revalidating is Thursday, March 24, 2016. Numerous RCPA members have already gone through this process, but it appears that large numbers of providers have not yet done so. A special provider revalidation webinar will be held by RCPA on Wednesday, January 6 at 10:00 am. Jamie Buchenauer, from the Department of Human Services, will be presenting the webcast.

Dr. Dale Adair held a pre-meeting with the steering committee on December 15, primarily focused on the letter of interest seeking information from eligible entities interested in applying to be a CCBHC, as well as the timeline of activities. Key activities include the request for letters of intent, due on Tuesday, January 5, 2016. On February 1, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) will release the request for application, which will be due back by February 22. CCBHC selections will likely occur by the middle of March.

Dr. Adair recommitted to selecting a minimum of two CCBHCs (one urban, the other rural) as required by the act, but up to as many as twenty. Eligible providers include community mental health clinics and federally qualified health clinics. As DHS looks to make improvements to the quality of care that is offered to the individuals we serve, they would like a letter of interest containing the following:

  • Interest in becoming a CCBHC;
  • Indication of rural, urban, or suburban setting;
  • Willingness to complete the National Council Certified Clinic Readiness Tool;
  • Commitment to submit an application to become a CCBHC; and
  • Willingness to commit to participate in a CCBHC learning community.

Letters of interest must be submitted by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, January 5, 2016. Please submit responses electronically to Dr. Dale Adair, project director.

RCPA continues to support the use of the MTM and National Council readiness review tool. A full kickoff meeting of the CCBHC Steering Committee will be held at the end of January.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) are inviting providers and others to review and provide comments on its draft State Plan for the Child Care Development Block Grant.

To submit comments, download and complete the response form by Friday, January 8, 2016, and email or mail to:

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning
Attn: State Plan
333 Market Street
Sixth Floor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17126

The Child Care Development Block Grant is one of the primary federal funding sources for monitoring regulated child care programs, child care subsidy through Child Care Works, and child care quality improvement through Keystone STARS. Pennsylvania’s plan, once finalized, will address how the state will implement new requirements imposed by the reauthorization over the next three federal fiscal years. Key features of the plan include:

  • Supporting child development by providing greater opportunities for stable, quality child care.
  • Exploring payment rates to providers serving children receiving Child Care Works, to ensure equal access, and compensation for providers that is closer to the market rate.
  • Improving health and safety requirements for child care providers through child care regulations and inspections.
  • Reaffirming professional development requirements for providers participating in Keystone STARS.

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning has also posted and begun accepting public comment on a policy announcement, Reduction of Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania. OCDEL will hold a webinar to review the public comments received to date and give the stakeholder community a final opportunity to provide feedback. OCDEL will also accept additional comments via email until Monday, January 18, 2016, at which time the public comment period will be closed.

Pursuant to Executive Order 1996-1, the State Board of Physical Therapy (PT) has requested member comments and suggestions on two draft rulemakings.

The first draft rulemaking, 16A-6518-Foreign Trained Evaluation, would amend the board’s regulations so that a foreign-trained applicant would be required to submit an evaluation showing that the applicant’s training was equivalent to what is required in a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) — the accrediting body for United States programs — rather than program contents specified in the regulations.

The second draft rulemaking, 16A-6519-Student in Master’s Program Statement of Policy, is for a statement of policy that would make clear that, for purposes of the exception to the licensure requirement for physical therapy students, the term “Board-approved School” includes all physical therapy programs at a school that has a program accredited by CAPTE, as CAPTE accredits only pre-licensure programs.

The State Board of PT welcomes comments on these draft rulemakings. Comments are due by Friday, January 15, 2016, and should be submitted via email. Please specify rulemaking 16A-6518 (foreign-trained applicant evaluation) or 16A-6519 (student in master’s program) as appropriate on your comments.

On December 10, 2015, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LB&FC) released and presented their report, Implementation of the PA Safety in Youth Sports Act, pursuant to HR 2014-1064. This bill called on the House of Representatives to direct the LB&FC to assess compliance with the Safety in Youth Sports Act, determine the best practices for managing concussions and traumatic brain injuries, and make recommendations on provisions of the act that should be strengthened to be more effective.

While changes were not recommended to the current act, there was concern expressed that concussions are still not taken as seriously as they should be. As a result, it was recommended that the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) develop additional guidelines and recommended practices for schools to follow with regard to identifying, assessing, and managing student athletes suspected of having sustained a concussion. The recommendation was made to PDE to consider the guidelines developed by the New York Department of Education (Guidelines for Concussion Management in the School Setting) as a possible model. The report was accepted and approved to be released.

This article from Capitolwire is a good and extensive overview of what is going on with the budget here in Harrisburg. Health and Human service budget line items are still fluid until the House and Senate negotiate a final budget deal. RCPA will provide updates on any budget deal, and RCPA encourages members to continue to contact the governor and state legislators to inform them why it’s necessary for them to pass a state budget sooner rather than later. Questions, contact Jack Phillips.