Social Services Advocates Decry Corbett’s Block Grants

Mar 9, 2012

A proposed block grant would actually cut funding by 20 percent for programs like mental health services, substance use disorder programs, and homeless assistance while giving counties more flexibility in how they pay for the services. Advocates argue that new leeway could mean their programs are underfunded by the counties.

Charlie Folks, Director of Counseling and Community Integration Services at a substance abuse hospital in Montgomery County, said the block grant proposal is wrong, and must be stopped.

"These vulnerable individuals should not be sacrificed during this time of more limited resources but should be among the first that are protected," said Folks. "The cuts must be restored."

Folks said drug and alcohol programs could be squeezed for more money if the state doesn't hold the counties to supporting those services. He said if counties place drug and alcohol further down on their priorities list, cuts could be greater than 20 percent.

Doug Hill, head of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, said counties will be able to cut costs in a number of ways if state funding comes in the form of a block grant.

"Conceptually, counties still do support, strongly support block granting. There are some practical issues though."

He said counties still want to walk the Corbett Administration back from the 20 percent cut proposed, and lobby for a later start date for the new funding rules.