Harrisburg — Senator Mario Scavello (R-40) today introduced legislation to boost access to community-based services for individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and substance abuse addictions.
Senate Bill 671 would establish a loan forgiveness program for qualified college graduates entering the mental health, intellectual disability and drug and alcohol treatment professions.
Scavello said that due to low wages and high turnover, there is a critical shortage of direct care staff members to provide these services. County agencies and private providers have difficulty attracting and retaining qualified employees. The results have undermined the ability of communities to provide adequate services.
“The need for high-quality and accessible community-based services for individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities and substance abuse addictions has been a pressing issue for many years,” said Scavello. “Paying for a portion of student loans for staff members in this field serves an important public purpose by encouraging new graduates to pursue careers in mental health, intellectual disabilities and drug and alcohol addiction counseling.”
Scavello sponsored similar legislation in the previous legislative session, when he was a member of the House of Representatives.
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