For Immediate Release
Lisa Razza, Director of Communications
PITTSBURGH, PA (August 14, 2019) – Today, ACHIEVA applauded the Wolf Administration’s announcement that it will close two state institutions for people with intellectual disabilities. The reaction was in response to Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller’s announcement earlier today that DHS plans to close Polk State Center and White Haven State Center within three years. Polk Center is in Venango County, about 75 miles north of Pittsburgh, and White Haven Center is in Luzerne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania.
With the closing of these state centers, 306 Pennsylvanians currently residing at the two institutions will have the opportunity to return to their community, live closer to family, have neighbors in a typical neighborhood, develop friendships, pursue employment, and live a more fulfilled life.
Nancy Murray, President of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh (an affiliate of ACHIEVA), said "The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh applauds the Governor's decision to close the Polk and White Haven state institutions. The people living there deserve to live in the community like anyone else. Institutions are an outdated way to serve people with intellectual disabilities and I'm thrilled that within 3 years two of the remaining four state-run institutions will finally close."
Steve Suroviec, ACHIEVA’s President and CEO and former Deputy Secretary for Developmental Programs said, "It makes sense financially and morally to close these institutions. No one needs to be in an institution just because they have an intellectual disability. Studies show people with intellectual disabilities thrive in the community compared to large, segregated institutions.”
According to figures contained in Governor Wolf’s State Fiscal Year 2019-20 Executive Budget, the annual cost of care for a person in a state institution is $420,000, which is two to three times higher than the typical cost for community services. At the same time, research has shown that people experience a higher quality of life in community-based settings.
ACHIEVA’s mission is to advocate for, empower, and support people with disabilities and their families throughout their lives. This decision affirms ACHIEVA’s vision of a community where all people with disabilities lead lives of personal significance.
ACHIEVA is a non-profit organization located in southwestern Pennsylvania providing lifelong supports to people with disabilities and their families. ACHIEVA envisions a community where all people with disabilities lead lives of personal significance. Our services range from early intervention therapies and employment supports to special needs trusts and supports in the home and community. ACHIEVA advocates for, empowers, and supports people with disabilities and their families throughout their lives.