The annual report — “The Case for Inclusion” — shows Pennsylvania improved its services for people with disabilities. Specifically, more people are receiving community-based services, and there are fewer people waiting for these services.

How Pennsylvania Ranks Compared to the Other States

The report, presented by United Cerebral Palsy and the American Network of Community Options and Resources, evaluates all states for their performance in serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They measure states by five key areas:

  1. Promoting independence
  2. Promoting productivity
  3. Keeping families together
  4. Serving those in need
  5. Tracking health, safety and quality of life

Overall, Pennsylvania ranked 19th in the country based on these five focus areas.

What Pennsylvania Is Doing Right

In addition to increasing the community-based services people with disabilities are receiving while also decreasing the number of people waiting for services, Pennsylvania scored highly — 5th place — in tracking health, safety, and quality of life. 

According to the report, Pennsylvania is also one of only 16 states that has family-focused programs. These support services help families who are caring for children with disabilities keep their children at home and people with disabilities living in their communities.

What Pennsylvania Needs to Do Better

While Pennsylvania scored highly in some areas, there are others that need improvement. For promoting productivity, the Commonwealth came in at 39th place. For reaching those in need, Pennsylvania is in 47th place.

Promoting productivity focuses on integrated employment for people with disabilities. Integrated employment means a job where people with disabilities earn a market wage working alongside people without disabilities.

Pennsylvania has experienced a decline in the number of people with disabilities gaining and maintaining competitive employment. According to the report, only 17 percent of Pennsylvanians with disabilities have competitive employment. This decrease from last year is well below the national average.

The low score for reaching those in need is due to the fact the Commonwealth still has four state-run institutions. There are more than 900 people with disabilities living in these institutions instead of in the community.

What You Can Do With This Report

Seeing where Pennsylvania needs to improve can empower your advocacy efforts. Reaching out to your local legislators and backing up your concern with the report’s data can effect real change.

Urge your local legislators to create and pass a bill to move people with disabilities from state-run institutions and into the community. Press the Commonwealth to put more resources to supporting people with disabilities finding competitive employment.

You can also get involved with organizations that are working to improve Pennsylvania’s performance, such as your local chapter of the Arc, United Way of Pennsylvania and ACTION- Housing Inc.

ACES$ Online