Authors Posts by Jim Sharp

Jim Sharp


The Bureau of Autism Services is conducting a preliminary survey to help inform the design of services for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are transitioning out of high school, including those who may have had juvenile justice contact or psychiatric hospitalizations. The survey is designed to be completed by individuals with ASD and their families and caregivers. Surveys should be completed by Friday, December 4. Any questions about this survey can be sent via email to the Bureau of Autism Services.

On November 23, the leadership of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), including Deputy Secretary Dennis Marion and Medical Director Dr. Dale Adair, provided a webcast presentation on the development of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The webcast to more than 130 RCPA members reviewed the current concepts and recommendations developed by a clinical work group, assisting OMHSAS in the development of ABA medical necessity guidelines, clarifying the authorization pathway for Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services for children and adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has released an updated schedule for the classroom-based medication administration training. The announcement includes the scheduling of an additional class for medication administration and to advise which other scheduled locations still have availability. Locations where the training has been completed, or the registration closed, have been removed from the listings in ODP Announcement 092-15. The current dates and locations for the medication administration trainings are:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 Erie, Erie County
Thursday, October 22, 2015 Milesburg, Centre County
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 Gettysburg, Adams County
Tuesday, November 3, 2015 Mercer, Mercer County
Wednesday, November 4, 2015 Warren, Warren County
Thursday, November 5, 2015 Towanda, Bradford County
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 Shamokin Dam, Northumberland County
Wednesday, November 11, 2015 Greencastle, Franklin County
Thursday, November 12, 2015 Ambler, Montgomery County
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 Dubois, Clearfield County
Wednesday, November 18, 2015 Hamlin Wayne County
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 Franklin, Venango County
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 Uniontown, Fayette County
Wednesday, December 2, 2015 Blairsville, Indiana County
Thursday, December 3, 2015 Altoona, Blair County
Monday, December 7, 2015 Harrisburg, Dauphin County
Tuesday, December 8, 2015 Tunkhannock, Wyoming County
Wednesday, December 9, 2015 Trevose, Bucks County

Registration instructions can be found here. The next round of training classes are expected to be scheduled for March 2016. Dates and registration information will be released through a future ODP Announcement.

The Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) has compiled the responses from the survey conducted on the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL). Many of the questions that were posed in response to the survey are answered through the following handouts, as well as on the state’s CPSL website. Members are strongly encouraged to review the website and handouts.

The OCYF is coordinating with Bureau of Human Services Licensing to host a webinar for providers in November, in order to address questions on CPSL and provide further clarification. Additional details for this webinar will be available in the near future. After your organization has reviewed the materials provided, please send any additional, unanswered questions you may have to Nicole Good at OCYF by Friday, October 9, 2015. These questions can then be addressed during the webinar.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools has released a Request for Application for targeted grants to school entities to fund programs that address school violence; and to school entities and local municipalities to fund the training and compensation of school resource officers and school police officers.

Safe School Initiative Competitive Targeted Grant
The allocation is $2.6 million; the maximum individual grant will be $25,000. Submission period is Monday, September 14 to Thursday, October 15, 2015. The Center for Safe Schools offers consultation in comprehensive, district-wide school safety, violence prevention, emergency preparedness, and all-hazards plans, including revisions or updates to such plans and conducting emergency preparedness drills and related activities with local emergency responders. The center also provides training, consultation, and technical assistance in development and implementation of research-based violence prevention programs addressing risk factors to reduce incidents of problem behaviors among students; and training to undertake a district-wide assessment of risk factors that increase the likelihood of problem behaviors among students. Center staff are certified trainers in the following evidence- and research-based programs:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools;
  • I Can Problem Solve (an early elementary SEL program);
  • Lifelines (a suicide awareness, prevention, intervention, and postvention program);
  • Olweus Bullying Prevention Program;
  • Safe Dates (a teen dating violence prevention program); and
  • Supporting Students Exposed to Trauma.

School Resource Officer/School Police Officer Competitive Targeted Grant
The allocation is $3.9 million; maximum individual grant will be $60,000 for a school resource officer and $40,000 for a school police officer. Submission period is Monday, September 14 to Thursday, October 15, 2015. The Center for Safe Schools offers basic and advanced trainings for school security officers, school police officers, and school resource officers. For details on trainings and services eligible for this funding opportunity contact the center or 717-763-1661 ext. 164.

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Act 153 of 2014 requires the Department of Human Services, in conjunction with the Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, to conduct a study which includes the analysis and development of recommendations on employment bans for those having contact with children. The study must include recommendations on changes in permanent and temporary employment bans to align and make uniform the provisions under the Child Protective Services Law and the Public School Code. A report of the study’s findings and recommendations must be submitted to the certain committees of the General Assembly by Thursday, December 31, 2015.

In order to complete this work, staff from the Department of Human Services have been conducting research specific to the employment bans within other states as they relate to child care service and school employees along with foster and adoptive parents. RCPA, along with other child serving and child advocacy organizations, has been invited to participate in a process to relate the recommendations to the General Assembly. This group will be meeting under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Families over the next several months.

RCPA will be requesting that our members who provide services in the areas of child behavioral health, child welfare, pediatric rehabilitation, education, and juvenile justice, provide information regarding current employment bans on program operations, and service capacity and delivery in the communities served by members. Information requested can be sent to Connell O’Brien.

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School Based Services Work Group
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
2:00 – 3:30 pm (in person and via webcast)
PaTTAN Pittsburgh: 3190 William Pitt Way, Pittsburgh 

RCPA members providing school based behavioral health and rehabilitation services are encouraged to register and participate in this meeting along with their school partners in the community.

  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Open Forum: Challenges and Potential Solutions in School Based Behavioral Health
    • Family Engagement
    • Challenges for APS and Alt Ed Services
    • Implementing and Sustaining Collaborative SBBH Services
    • Funding, Grants, Contracts, Partner Agreements
    • Certification and Background Checks
  • Open Forum: Challenges and Potential Solutions in Pediatric Rehabilitation Health Care
    • Contracts, Partner Agreements for OT, PT, S&LT
    • Coordination of Autism/Neurobehavioral Services
    • Certification and Background Checks
  • Professional Staff Recruitment and Retention Challenges
    • Licensed Clinical and Rehab Staff
  • Report from the State SBBH Community of Practice

See full agenda here

RCPA thanks the leadership and staff of PaTTAN Pittsburgh for their hospitality.

Meeting will be available via webcast; webcast instructions sent 24-48 hours prior to meeting

Next meeting: January, 2016, date and location to be determined

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For some time, RCPA has been tracking concerns regarding the Medicaid requirement that behavior specialists working with children on the autism spectrum hold a Behavior Specialist or other appropriate license in order to bill for services. Our members have communicated growing concerns about workforce adequacy, staff recruitment, and access to services. Over the past month, this has resulted in two actions that are likely to impact providers of autism services to children.

In August of this year, Representatives Dan Miller (D-Alleghany) and Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks), began to circulate a co-sponsorship memo for an amendment to Act 62 that would create a time-limited temporary license, creating a pathway to full licensure, thus addressing the growing workforce problem. This action was in response to issues raised by their constituents serving children with autism and others. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has expressed concern that there may not really be a workforce problem; it may instead be a limited problem, and that opening Act 62 may have unintended negative consequences. Representatives Miller and Quinn have agreed to slow action on their bill pending an alternative proposal from DHS to address the workforce concerns.

On Friday, DHS issued this memo and directive to counties and behavioral health managed care organizations (BH-MCO), requiring them to complete a detailed survey regarding autism services, including:

  • Access and timing of services;
  • Information on individual practitioners;
  • Information on provider organizations; and
  • Information regarding challenges related to staff attrition and recruitment.

This survey is to be completed and submitted to DHS by the HealthChoices contractors on or before Friday, September 11, 2015. Because the time frame for completion of this survey is very aggressive and will be challenging for counties, BH-MCOs, and provider organizations, RCPA wanted to inform members of this action immediately.