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Newcomers realize benefits of Pennsylvania services.

Meet the Harshaw Family

Eighty Four, Pa.

When her family moved from Texas to Pennsylvania four years ago, Paula Harshaw began the process of finding medical care and services for her son, Tripp, who was born with Down syndrome.

“We are so lucky to live in a community with such excellent health care,” Paula says. “Tripp still had early intervention services,” which provide supports from birth to age 3. He was able to transition to the services he receives now, including occupational, physical and speech therapy, which will continue until he starts kindergarten, she explains.

Tripp, now 5 years old, is preparing to start school at Ringgold Elementary School in the fall. He has hearing aids, orthotics, glasses and, in the fall, will add a personal aide to help him in the classroom. “Hearing aids have been big for Tripp,” dad John says. “You don’t want your child to be held back because of hearing issues.”

Thanks to medical assistance funded by Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services, the Harshaw family had no out-of-pocket costs for the hearing aids. “These are $11,000 each, for two ears,” Paula says. “That’s $22,000 for hearing aids, which could break a family.”

Both John and Paula work in the energy industry. John’s job transferred him from central to western Pennsylvania in 2015. Paula works as a consultant from home, and is looking forward to resuming full-time work when Tripp starts school. “We have a little different perspective because we’ve lived other places,” Paula says. “We’re grateful to have whatever services we can access, but we know there are no guarantees.”

The Harshaws have already placed Tripp on the waiting list for a waiver, in preparation for when he ages out of supports at age 21, 16 years from now.

“It’s a blessing to be in Pennsylvania,” John adds. “We’ve seen what it’s like elsewhere. Pennsylvania is a place that cares about services for children.”

Thank your legislators for making Human Services funding a priority in the 2017-18 Pennsylvania budget.

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