Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today highlighted the expansion of the Community Autism Peer Specialist (CAPS) Program, a first-of-its-kind program in Philadelphia that connects an individual with autism to support from certified peer specialists. These peer specialists help foster individual connections and mentoring relationships for individuals on the autism spectrum to self-advocate and encourage greater wellness and independence in their community.
“We all know that life can be made a little easier when we can turn to a peer who has gone through what we’re going through and can speak to our experiences. But as we worked with self-advocates and caregivers, we realized that there was a gap in their system of supports that did not include peer connections. With CAPS, we are the first state in the country to work on closing that gap,” said Acting DHS Secretary Meg Snead. “I am incredibly excited that the CAPS Program provides this to people with autism and look forward to learning how we can continue to build out these supports.”
The CAPS Program was started by DHS five years ago as a collaboration between DHS’ offices of Developmental Programs (ODP) and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and Community Behavioral Health (CBH) and Mental Health Partnerships (MHP) in Philadelphia. The collaboration has since grown to include the Philadelphia Autism Project, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, the Autism Services Education Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative, and the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion.