HARRISBURG – As a direct result of Rep. Jerry Knowles' (R-Berks/ Schuylkill) legislative effort to expand the state's Human Services Development Block Grant pilot program to include 30 counties, both Berks and Schuylkill counties are now participating in the initiative.

"When both Berks and Schuylkill counties applied to be part of this pilot program last year and only Berks was selected, something had to be done," said Knowles. "The whole concept behind this block grant initiative is to allow counties greater flexibility in using state funds to meet their needs, which leads to better allocation of resources. I saw no reason why 10 counties that showed interest last year were not able to participate."

Under Act 80 of 2012, necessary reforms for the human services funding system were established through a block grant pilot program, which only allowed 20 counties to participate.

A total of 30 counties, including Schuylkill, originally filed applications, expressing interest in the innovative program that would allow counties to be more flexible with state human service funds.

"I would like to applaud Rep. Knowles for vigorously fighting to include Schuylkill County in this important pilot program," said Sen. Dave Argall (R-29). "Allowing the county to make local decisions with these funds makes sense for Schuylkill County residents."

Knowles was the prime sponsor of a measure this session to allow the counties that were not initially selected to be included in the pilot program. His legislation was passed as part of the state's 2013-14 Welfare Code and was signed by the governor in July.

For additional information on Knowles' legislative effort, call his office in Tamaqua at (570) 668-1240, or in Hamburg at (610) 562-3411, or visit RepKnowles.com or Facebook.com/RepKnowles.