PDH Releases SHARRS Reporting Window Reminder (September 20, 2022)

On September 20, 2022, PDH Division of School Health Chief Colleen Schultz disseminated a PennLink message titled Reminder: 2021-22 SHARRS Reporting Window, which advises recipients that the SHARRS reporting window will close on Friday September 30th 2022. Staff responsible for completing the SHARRS report are also advised to ensure reporting information is submitted in a timely manner.  There are many schools that have not yet submitted their report, and PDH wanst to ensure all school districts receive their reimbursement for the 2021-22 School Year.

 The memo also notes the following:

  • The Superintendent/CEO is the only person with the capability to submit the report. 
  • SHARRS programming will close the reporting window at close of business Friday September 30.  Therefore, timely submission of information is essential in order to be reimbursed for the 2021-22 School Year.

SHARRS can be accessed at https://apps.health.pa.gov/SHARRS/Login.aspx  An “INSTRUCTIONS” button on each page provides additional guidance to assist in completing the report.

DHS Receives Federal Funding to Support Medicaid Beneficiaries Receiving Care Services in Their Community (September 20, 2022)

On September 20, 2022 the PA Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that Pennsylvania has received an estimated $12 million in federal reimbursement funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program to continue to support new and existing activities that meet the criteria for MFP funding. 

The MFP program allows states to leverage federal dollars to help Medicaid beneficiaries who live in institutions receive services they need in community settings instead. The MFP program provides the state with the financial flexibility to allow services to “follow the person” as older Pennsylvanians or those with a disability transition from an institutional setting back into the community. 

Since 2008, Pennsylvania’s participation in MFP has helped more than 4,500 individuals transition into the community, and MFP funding has provided Pennsylvania an estimated $180 million to cover a percentage of Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and administrative activities.   

MFP funding can be used for education/outreach, trainings, IT enhancements and data analytics, capacity building, and pilot programs. Projects funded with this year’s federal MFP administrative reimbursement include:   

Capacity Building for the Dual Diagnosis Population and Individuals Under 21  

The Capacity Building Institute (CBI) Strategy educates, informs, and trains staff to identify and work with individuals who have a dual diagnosis of an intellectual disability/autism and a co-occurring mental illness. CBI offers high-level education with a focus on best practices in supporting individuals with complex needs. Funding will also support a new education and training initiative   to build the capacity of the systems involved in serving individuals under 21 with developmental and intellectual disabilities with complex needs.  

START PA 

The START (Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment) PA Program is a community-based program that assists individuals with an intellectual disability or autism and have a co-occurring mental illness. These individuals are at a higher risk for inpatient hospitalizations when they experience crisis and require a high level of specialized skill in assessment and treatment approaches. START PA builds upon local resources, works to close current gaps in the systems of care, and provides crisis intervention and response services and supports for these individuals in the community instead of in State Hospitals or State Centers. 

Trauma Awareness and Intervention Programs  

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown caused or exacerbated trauma for individuals with complex needs, and participants and providers needed resources to prepare for and respond to these individuals. MFP funding will support a collection of “micro-learning” resources about COVID-19 response and other trauma-related issues, which are updated and disseminated by the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) Project via a hub-and-spoke knowledge-sharing network. The ECHO Project addresses population health needs in a scalable way via telementoring and collaborative care.  

More information on MFP can be found here.

Sept. 2022 State Bd. of Ed. Meeting Held (September 18, 2022)

On September 14 & 15, 2022 the Pennsylvania State Board of Education conducted its regular September meeting.

At the September 14th meeting session, the Board welcomed Dr. Jeffrey Fuller, the new Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. He last served as superintendent of school at the Freedom School District.

The Council of Higher Ed. submitted its 2022-23 Master Plan for Higher Ed., which is a roadmap for reaching PA’s higher ed. educational goals. The committee voted to recommend the plan to the committee of the whole for approval, with Rep. Sonney the lone nay vote.

Basic Ed. Chairperson Dr. Lee Williams announced that the Academic Standards/Chapter 4 Committee has published the latest revised standards. She also announced that future revisions will include standards for career ed. and work; economics; and financial literacy.

The PDE Bureau Department of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction’s Brian Campbell provided a report titled Assessment Review and Updates for SY 2021-22.

During the September 15th meeting session, Maureen Lally-Green provided a report from the Special Ed. and Gifted Ed. Committee, which  examined the 2018 four-year study and report from BSE Director Carole Clancy. A review of the status of items in the 2018 report showed that most have been successfully addressed. Thus, three hearings will be scheduled for sites across the state to collect data for the 2022 study.

The meeting concluded with a motion to approve the Higher Ed. Master Plan, which resulted in discussion that led to the motion being tabled and the plan referred back to the Council of Higher Ed. for additional work. It will be brought to the next meeting for approval.

Office of Special Education Programs Seeking Input: Prioritizing Equity (September 14, 2022)

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) is examining how it can advance equity in the programs it administers.

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) monitors states’ compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure that states provide early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and the free appropriate public education (FAPE) of children with disabilities.

To accomplish this task, OSEP has developed the Results Driven Accountability (RDA) system. Using this framework, OSEP examines both the educational results and outcomes for children with disabilities in each State as well as how a State is meeting the compliance requirements of IDEA.

Each year, OSEP reviews the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR), information obtained through monitoring visits, and any other publicly available information to determine how well each State meets the requirements of the IDEA. States are assigned one of the following categories:

  • Meets requirements and purposes of the IDEA;
  • Needs assistance in implementing the requirements of Part B or Part C of the IDEA;
  • Needs intervention in implementing the requirements of Part B or Part C of the IDEA; or
  • Needs substantial intervention in implementing the requirements of Part B or Part C of the IDEA.

As noted in this year’s determination letters, and consistent with the Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, ED is examining how the 2023 determinations process can promote equity. Specifically, we are considering whether and how to use data from the current SPP/APR that can be seen in the Part B and Part C measurement tables, data from the current IDEA 618 data collections, and other publicly available data. For example, OSEP is thinking about how to consider and weight data when making determinations in a manner that accurately represents the implementation of IDEA and results for historically marginalized populations.

USDE recognizes that the determinations process is complex, and we welcome suggestions for improvements and innovative solutions.

Anyone wishing to share feedback should email SPPAPR@ed.gov and include “Determinations Feedback” in the subject line. Feedback should be submitted by Sept. 30, 2022. USDE will not respond to individual comments but will consider any feedback submitted by Sept. 30, 2022.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Strengthen Supports and Save Lives (September 13, 2022)

On September 13, 2022, leadership from multiple state agencies joined advocates from Prevent Suicide PA to recognize September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and raise awareness around work to embed suicide prevention efforts across systems.  

Approximately 1.2 million adults attempt suicide annually in the United States, with more than 85 percent reporting having made a suicide plan prior to their attempt. In 2020, the most recent year that data is available, approximately 1,700 people died by Suicide in Pennsylvania. Throughout September, we remember and honor those lost to suicide, and support loss and suicide attempt survivors and all who experience suicidal ideation, mental health challenges, and crisis every day.  

Mental health challenges or times of crisis can affect anyone at any time. All Pennsylvanians should take extra care to be mindful of their mental health and tend to their overall health and wellness as often as possible. Do a self check-in, be honest about how you are feeling to yourself and your support network, and if you need someone to talk to or a little extra support, help is available. 

“It might be easy to think that there are few students at risk of suicide in the commonwealth, but recent data has shown that last year, 20 percent of Pennsylvania youth seriously considered suicide. That’s one in five kids in our commonwealth,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “In my role, I travel to schools across our commonwealth and interact with learners of all ages, who come from all walks of life. Each of these students has their own unique circumstances, perspectives, strengths, passions, and challenges. But one thing they all have in common is they have a bright future. They have potential and promise. This Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we are committed to keeping Pennsylvania students safe, happy, and well.” 

This summer, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline officially launched nationwide, streamlining call and text access to the national lifeline that provides no-cost crisis response support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. With the national launch of 988, Pennsylvania’s 14 lifeline call centers are continuing to provide support for individuals considering suicide or self-harm, or experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress as well as for people looking for help for a loved one. While 85 percent of calls are triaged and de-escalated without deploying in-person services, if needed, a call or text to 988 can activate a mobile mental health crisis team or other emergency response services that will arrive on site and provide therapeutic interventions, make referrals for outpatient services, or transportation for further evaluation. Callers to 988 can also connect with the Veterans Crisis Line or assistance in Spanish. 

In 2019, the Wolf Administration announced the formation of a statewide Suicide Prevention Task Force comprised of leadership from Prevent Suicide PA, members of the General Assembly, and representatives from more than 10 state agencies covering health and human services, public safety, education, and veteran’s affairs, among others. Because suicide is so far-reaching, this diverse array of subject matters and expertise is necessary to build a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary awareness and focus on embedding suicide prevention wherever possible.  

In addition to 988, many other resources also remain available to Pennsylvanians in need of support, including: 

  • Crisis Text Line: Text “PA” to 741-741 
  • Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 
  • Get Help Now Hotline (for substance use disorders): 1-800-662-4357 
  • Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Helpline: 1-888-772-7227 or https://pcar.org/help-in-pa 
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline: 1-800-799-7233 or www.PCADV.org  

Additionally, the challenges of COVID-19, uncertain economic climate, and increased inflation may still create challenges for individuals and families who are trying to make ends meet. When people struggle to access essential needs, this can create more stress and anxiety, and resources are available in your community to help you meet these needs. People in need of assistance can visit www.dhs.pa.gov/compass to learn more, apply for assistance programs and connect to local programs that can help with health care, food, housing and utility bills, plus other needs. 

To learn more about mental health and crisis supports in Pennsylvania, visit www.dhs.pa.gov/mentalhealthinpa.  

Learn more about Prevent Suicide PA’s work around Pennsylvania at www.preventsuicidepa.org.