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State seeks public input on recovery home certification

Katherine Ranzenberger
505-5439/@YDKatherine
  • Find the recommended regulations online at ddap.pa.gov.

After nearly 18 months of talk, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has released proposed standards for certifying recovery homes across the commonwealth.

In this file photo, Vickie Glatfelter holds her cellphone, which has a picture of her son Bob taken after he took a fatal dose of fentanyl. "When the cops gave me back (his) phone and I flipped it open, that picture was the first thing I saw," she said. She tells her story in a video at yorkdispatch.com. (Randy Flaum - The York Dispatch)

Now, the department is looking for public comment on the plan, giving community members 30 days to complete a survey online after reading through the 21 pages.

"Our intention isn't to limit the number of recovery houses but to put some structure around the homes," said department spokesman Jason Snyder. "We want to make sure they're providing a support for recovery."

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Certification: Recommended standards for certified recovery homes include an ethical code, a standard for policies and procedures, and physical plant standards, such as room sizes, the number of residents allowed and how to make the experience in the house work for everyone.

A task force was created to make sure the proposed standards would follow federal regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and address concerns for safety of both the community and the recovering addicts in the homes.

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Gary Tennis, secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said the task force worked hard to make sure everyone was accounted for in the process, bringing in lawmakers and advocates to voice their opinions.

“Laying the groundwork for a process that will affect tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians for years to come must be done smartly and strategically," Tennis said in a news release. "We committed to taking great care to develop a sound, well-thought-out policy that best serves all the members of our communities, and this task force has done that. We look forward to considering the public’s input before we implement the certification process.”

Community opinion: Vickie Glatfelter's son, Robert Glatfelter III, died in April 2014 after a heroin overdose. He was a resident of a recovery home at the time.

Glatfelter co-founded the York chapter of Not One More, a nonprofit organization aimed at raising awareness and preventing drug abuse in the community through education and community partnerships. She said she has looked through the proposed standards and supports them.

"I think they're excellent recommendations," Glatfelter said. "I didn't find anything that I would call derogatory or unnecessary. The (standards) they're making add more help for the people coming into the houses."

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However, the Dover woman is concerned about how the regulations will effectively be rolled out and whether it will have an impact on the currently unregulated houses in York County. Because they're unregulated, it's unknown exactly how many recovery homes there are in the county, but York City officials said they believe there are about 80 homes within its limits.

"Some houses may be able to comply right away and some may not," Glatfelter said. "I still have a lot of questions. Is this something everyone has to be a part of or is it voluntary?"

Snyder said the department is still figuring out details of how to implement the program, including determining if recovery houses have to enroll in the program. That's where community opinion comes in, though, he said.

To read the recommended standards for certification, visit ddap.pa.gov. A link to the survey can be found on the website as well.

— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at kranzenberger@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDKatherine