Governor Shapiro Visits Achieva to Highlight Budget Proposal for ID/A Services

Governor Josh Shapiro speaks at Achieva

On Thursday, President and CEO of Achieva, Steve Suroviec, welcomed Governor Josh Shapiro to Achieva’s headquarters in the South Side. There, he addressed members of the media to promote his unprecedented spending plan for the Intellectual Disability and Autism (ID/A) service system. The governor’s remarks highlighted the importance of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who provide care to people with disabilities and the state government’s responsibility to ensure that funding levels are sufficient to compensate DSPs at a level they deserve.

Joining the governor were State Senator Jay Costa, State Representative Aerion Abney, and State Representative Jessica Benham, who spoke about the need for the General Assembly to fulfill its obligation to adequately fund ID/A services and pass the governor’s budget proposal intact. They stressed the significance of investing in the ID/A community, increasing the compensation of DSPs, and ensuring people with disabilities have access to the highest-quality care to live their best lives. The governor’s budget also includes new funding to serve 1500 people currently on the emergency waiting list for services. Statewide, there are 6000 people waiting with a need the state categorizes as “emergency.”

Erin Grimes, Disability and Family Support Advocate and DSP for Achieva, also addressed the gathering, as did two women who receive services from Erin, sisters Sierra and Christy Wechtenhiser. Erin stated, “As a Disability and Family Supports Advocate, I have had countless deeply personal conversations from families and people needing guidance and support as they face waitlists and the lack of DSPs across the Commonwealth.”

While expressing gratitude for Erin’s support, Christy and Sierra highlighted the challenges they’ve faced without services and mentioned friends who still lack necessary assistance. Sierra said it best when she concluded, “We’re speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves!”

Following the press conference, Governor Shapiro spent time mingling with Achieva employees and a number of people with disabilities who receive services from Achieva.

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