Pennsylvania’s Deputy Secretary for ODP, Kristin Ahrens, Appointed to National Board for Developmental Disabilities Services

PA Department of Human Services

PENNSYLVANIA — Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is celebrating the appointment of Kristin Ahrens, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP), as a board member-at-large at the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS).

Ahrens’ appointment, which comes after a vote by her peer state directors, takes her influence beyond Pennsylvania’s borders, allowing her to help shape national policies and practices that support home and community-based services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Kristin’s appointment to the NASDDDS board is testament to both her leadership here in Pennsylvania and her dedication to raising the standards of care for every individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said DHS Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh.

Ahrens’ expertise and commitment have been instrumental in transforming Pennsylvania’s ODP. Under her leadership, ODP currently serves more than 58,000 Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism. She has spearheaded efforts to expand DHS’ support for people with intellectual disabilities and autism, increasing the number of individuals enrolled in ODP’s home and community-based service waivers by more than 4,100.

Ahrens has also played a crucial role in modernizing program regulations and strengthening county infrastructure and staffing. These measures have significantly enhanced the Commonwealth’s ability to serve individuals in the community through the intellectual disabilities and autism home and community-based waiver programs.

The recent 2023-2024 budget, approved by Governor Shapiro, allocated $17.49 million to continue this work and help an additional 850 individuals with an intellectual disability and autism get off waitlists for home and community-based services.

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As part of ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism, DHS began updating the data used to set rates for home and community-based services in September 2023. The aim is to ensure that the rates enable providers to set wages that support and retain qualified, dedicated staff who help individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.

NASDDDS, where Ahrens will serve her tenure, represents national agencies providing services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. NASDDDS promotes leadership, systems innovation, and the development of national policies to support home and community-based services for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Ahrens’ appointment promises to bring a fresh perspective and an even stronger commitment to improving the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, both in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

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