Domestic Violence Crisis and Prevention

Everyone knows a victim of domestic violence. They are our neighbors, our co-workers and members of our family. Most victims of domestic violence are women, although men can be battered too. Domestic violence occurs within a family or an intimate relationship as a way for one person to control another.

Domestic violence includes physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, choking, shoving, not allowing someone to leave home or using objects like knives and guns to cause injury. It also includes harming someone emotionally by threats, name-calling and put-downs. Victims may be raped or forced into unwanted sex acts. A spouse or partner may steal money and other items, destroy personal belongings, hurt pets, threaten children or not allow someone to work or see their friends and family.

If any of these things are happening to you, or you are afraid of your partner, you may be in an abusive relationship. Domestic violence is a crime and there are legal protections available to you. You can get help. Leaving a violent relationship isn’t easy. Victims stay because of money, family pressure, concern for kids or fear of their partner.

Where to get help:

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) 
1-800-787-3224 (TTY for the Deaf)

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Among the services provided to domestic violence victims are: crisis intervention; counseling; accompaniment to police, medical, and court facilities; and temporary emergency shelter for victims and their dependent children. Prevention and educational programs are provided to lessen the risk of domestic violence in the community at large. 
1-800-932-4632 (in Pennsylvania) 
1-800-537-2238 (national)

Pennsylvania State Police Victims Services Program

More information available through the Department of Public Welfare Child Support Program.

Cash Assistance

If you do not earn enough money to support yourself or your family, or if you cannot work because of a disability, you may be eligible to receive cash assistance.

How to Apply: You can apply for or renew your cash assistance benefits online by using COMPASS. COMPASS is the name of the website where you can apply for cash and many other services that can help you make ends meet.

Learn more about the five main cash assistance programs below.

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Diversion Program
  • General Assistance Program
  • State Blind Pension Program
  • Refugee Cash Assistance Program

If you have questions about cash assistance, you can call your local county assistance office or make a free phone call to the HelpLine at 1-800-692-7462 If you have trouble finding the information you need, please use: Contact DPW 

1-800-451-5886, TDD number for individuals with hearing impairments

  • Frequently Asked Questions about Cash Assistance Programs

Employment Training and Opportunities

  • CWDS: Commonwealth Workforce Development System
  • Non-Civil Service Jobs – General Information
  • Exploring Employment Opportunities through the PA Civil Service

General Information

  • Cash Assistance Policy Handbook
  • Supplemental Policy Handbook
  • OIM Statistical Reports

Other Resources

Caseload Reduction Reports (ACF-202) for Fiscal Year 2008 (PDF download)

Burial and Cremation Services Payment

The Department of Public Welfare will provide payment for burial and cremation services on behalf of eligible individuals.

Who is eligible for this service?
  • Individuals who received Supplemental Security Income or SSI.
  • Individuals receiving cash benefits from the Department of Public Welfare prior to death.
  • Individuals who were found eligible for cash assistance prior to death.
  • Residents of nursing homes who received SSI or nursing home care payments prior to Jan. 1, 1973, continuously to the present.

Eligibility for assistance with burial costs is determined by the local County Assistance Offices (CAOs).

To receive payment, a funeral director must be registered as a provider with DPW. A funeral director may register by contacting:

Department of Public Welfare
Office of Medical Assistance
DPW Enrollment
Bureau of Fee for Service Programs
P.O. Box 8045
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675Toll Free: 1-800-537-8862, option 1Contact PROMISe

Additional information on eligibility rules and payment, may be found at: Office of Income Maintenance (OIM) Manuals.

Autism Services

Welcome to the Bureau of Autism Services our goal is to provide ongoing communication about the Department of Public Welfare’s work in helping people with an autism spectrum disorder, while working with families and individuals to help them reach their personal goals and live an everyday life.  Please scroll through the page to learn what Pennsylvania is doing to help families and adults with autism. We are committed to hearing your questions, concerns and suggestions about the department’s initiatives.

You can contact us or call the Bureau of Autism Services at 1-866-539-7689.

Mailing address:
Department of Public Welfare
Bureau of Autism Services
P.O. Box 2675; 605 Health and Welfare Building
Harrisburg, PA 17105Bureau of Autism Services Mission and ValuesBureau of Autism Services – Newsletters and Webcasts
Bureau of Autism Services Upcoming Events

 PA Autism Training Conference  – Thank you for joining us at the 2011 conference! Please mark your calendars for next year:

  • Pa Autism Training Conference 2012 – June 12, 13, and 14, 2012

Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP)

The Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP) is one of two programs in Pennsylvania specifically designed to help adults with an autism spectrum disorder participate in their communities in the way that they want. ACAP is the first program of its kind in the nation! ACAP will serve 200 people, currently in only four counties – Dauphin, Cumberland, Chester, and Lancaster. If you have questions or would like to request an application, please call our toll-free number 1-866-539-7689

Adult Autism Waiver

The Adult Autism Waiver is one of two programs in Pennsylvania specifically designed to help adults with an autism spectrum disorder participate in their communities in the way they want. This statewide waiver program is designed to serve 200 individuals 21 years of age and older with an autism spectrum disorder. If you have questions or would like to request an application, please call our toll-free number 1-866-539-7689

  • Adult Autism Waiver Services & Supports Directory (SSD)  The SSD lists all Adult Autism Waiver providers and is searchable by service and/or county.

2011 Bureau of Autism Services Family and Individual Mini Grants

The deadline for application submission for the 2011 Family and Individual Mini Grant has passed and we are currently processing applications.  Award letters will be sent beginning May 16, 2011, and on an on-going basis through the end of the fiscal year. Every effort will be made to send out denial letters once all of the funds for the grant have been exhausted. We cannot return calls inquiring about the status of your grant application.

Applications were due (postmarked by):April 15, 2011
Notification of awards sent by mail on a rolling basis beginning on or about:May 16, 2011 (on or about and continuing through the end of the fiscal year.)
Activities must occur between these dates:March 1, 2011 and Aug. 31, 2011

If you have been awarded a grant and need a reimbursement form please click here for a Respite Reimbursement Form or click here for a Reimbursement Form for Activities.

For Additional Information: Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions, FAQ, for detailed information on how the funding is dispersed and what to do if you need to make a change to your grant funding once you have been awarded. 

 PA Autism Needs Assessment: A Survey of Individuals and Families Living with Autism

To understand the changing needs of the expanding and aging autism population, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Autism Services (BAS) commissioned a survey to assess how or if the needs of individuals with autism and their families are met. The information collected from the survey is intended for policymakers, service providers, community organizations, and advocacy groups to better understand and address the needs of individuals affected by autism in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment was conducted by the Bureau of Autism Services as part of its effort to improve care and quality of life for Pennsylvanians with autism and their families. The survey, which received more than 3,500 responses, is the largest of its type to date in the nation. We hope that the information will be helpful to policymakers, service providers, families and advocates in improving the quality of services and supports and allocating precious resources.

This effort has been a key task of the ASERT (Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training) Collaborative and has been led by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research and the Center for Autism Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The findings are presented in a series of reports, which include specific recommendations for policy development, effective service design and delivery, and providing support to Pennsylvanians affected by autism. To review the reports, webcasts, or announcements about community opportunities for interactive dialogue around the findings, please visit or the Bureau of Autism Services Virtual Training and Resource Center 
Request for Applications (RFA) Issued – Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training – ASERT

The Bureau of Autism Services, Office of Developmental Programs, issued a Request for Applications (RFA) on April 1, 2011 for grants for Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaboratives. The purpose of the RFA is to identify three Regional ASERT Collaboratives in support of ODP/BAS’ mission and initiatives. The RFA is posted on the Department of General Services website at Enter Solicitation #02-11 (enter numbers and dashes only).

Pennsylvania Autism Census Project Final Report

The Bureau of Autism Services is pleased to share with you the Pennsylvania Autism Census Project Final Report. For more information on this study and the report, please go to the Pennsylvania Autism Census Project Final Report. The full report can be viewed at the BAS Virtual Training and Resource Center.

Housing Options for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

In September 2008, the Bureau of Autism Services appointed a Housing Options Committee and charged them with assessing and identifying housing options for individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. In their “Housing Options For Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder” report, the committee details a first-ever, comprehensive look at the housing challenges and makes recommendations designed to increase housing options for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. To review this very important report, go to: the Bureau of Autism Services Virtual Training and Resource Center (VTC).

PA Autism Insurance Act (Act 62)Autism Resources

Assistive Technology

Below are website links to products and equipment that may aid in the assistance of children and adults with disabilities and functional limitations.

To maintain current understanding on assistive technology developments, this section is linked to the Temple University Institute on Disabilities.

Assistive Devices

  • Assistive Technology, Inc.:
  • Cornucopia of Disability Information:
  • Crestwood Communication Aids:
  • Deafworks:
  • HITEC: Assistive Communication Products:

Information, Services, Educational Resources

  • Abledata:
  • A Guide to Disability Rights Laws:
  • BLIST: The Comprehensive Index of Blindness-Related Emailing Lists:
  • Hiram G. Andrews Center:
  • Infinite Potential Through Assistive Technology:
  • Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation/Disability Services:
  • The Alliance for Technology Access:

Funding Resources

  • Medicare Coverage Policy:
  • Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. (National Assistive Technology Funding Link):
  • Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF):

Alternative to Abortion and Pennsylvania Alternative to Abortion Services:

Many women of all ages are faced with the surprising news that they are pregnant at a time when they did not plan to be. This news can at first seem overwhelming. If this happens to you or someone you know, there is no need to panic. Free, caring, confidential, and life-affirming alternatives to abortion services are available to support you through your pregnancy and beyond. Whatever the reason, help is available.

Who Is Eligible? The free and confidential services are available to women or men who are involved in an unplanned pregnancy or who think they might be, and to parents of infants up to 12 months of age.

Where to Go for Help:
Real Alternatives
1-888-LIFE AID (1-888-543-3243)


  • Free pregnancy test kit.
  • Counseling
  • If you are in school, ways to continue your education
  • References to other supportive agencies for medical care, including food, financial help, and any other support you need to care for your baby.
  • Help with maternity and baby clothing, food and furniture – whatever you need to keep you and your baby healthy.
  • If you don’t have a place to live, help finding temporary shelter for you – a safe place where you can live before and even after your baby is born.
  • Pregnancy, childbirth and parenting classes.
  • Other related services necessary for the well being of the mother and child.

General Information About Real Alternatives: Call 1-888-LIFE AID for free, life-affirming pregnancy and parenting support services. You’ll speak to someone who will be on your side every step of the way. Connect with a pregnancy support counselor nearest to you. You can talk with someone who has been in your situation or has helped others through it, and can get the support that you deserve. The counselors are familiar with what you are going through – more than 100,000 women have received support, encouragement, guidance and practical assistance so they did not need to choose abortion.

About the Program:
All 125 centers throughout Pennsylvania are non-discriminatory, non-profit organizations that are monitored annually to ensure compliance with the Department of Public Welfare standards, and staffed with caring professionals and trained counselors.

The Alternative to Abortion Services Program began in Fiscal Year 1992-1993 and provides assistance to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy at the time when a decision regarding the outcome of the pregnancy is being made. This assistance includes information and referral for needed services. The Alternative to Abortion Services Program promotes childbirth rather than abortion.

Services are provided through a grant with a private, nonprofit agency, Real Alternatives, which, in turn, has subgrants to provide the services throughout the state.

This program provides such social and educational services as training/counseling regarding childbirth, parenting, and chastity. Food and clothing pantries and housing assistance are additional services that are provided. These services are available to all women.

For Adults

The Department of Public Welfare offers a wide variety of supports and services to maintain or improve the quality of life for older Pennsylvanians and other adults in need of assistance. Whether assistance is needed due to financial hardship, mental or physical health needs, or other issues such as substance abuse or domestic violence, DPW works to provide the tools to help Pennsylvanians overcome obstacles and lead productive, fulfilling lives. To explore the range of services for adults, please use the links below.

Apply for Benefits

For your convenience, there are now three different ways to apply for or renew your benefits.  You may choose to do so online, with a paper application, or in person. 

  • Online – using the COMPASS website
  • In Person – Visit your local County Assistance Office and apply in person
  • Paper Application – Download the paper application (English Version or Version Espanola) and mail it to your local County Assistance Office

 You can also check your eligibility before submitting your application using the online COMPASS website.