Overhead view of Pennhurst State Hospital

A Brief History as remembered by Dennis Felty, Keystone's Founding President

Dennis Felty Dennis Felty
Founding President, KHS

In the early part of the 20th century, the American Eugenics Movement argued that all people who were mentally ill, mentally retarded or physically disabled were polluting the gene pool of the country. Such individuals were seen as a threat to society and the probable cause of most of the criminal activity and social problems of the country. In many states, support for the Eugenics movement resulted in legislation requiring mandatory sterilization, incarceration, and in many cases, the castration of persons with disabilities. In each state, hundreds of thousands of people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities were placed in institutions, the largest of which housed as many as 20,000 people.

Man on child's merry go round in state institution

In the 1940s, new genetic research demonstrated unequivocally that the founding precepts of the Eugenics movement were invalid. However, by that time hundreds of thousands of people with intellectual disabilities or mental illness had been admitted to state institutions.

In Pennsylvania, there were about 40 state hospitals and state mental retardation centers. It was common for physicians and other professionals to tell families of children with disabilities that it was “best that you put him away and forget about him.” It was also common for children and adolescents who might be difficult to handle or even young girls who were pregnant to be institutionalized. Within the state institutional system, there was no basis for rehabilitation or treatment. No one ever got better because the intent was to protect society, not to ensure the well being of individuals living in the institution.

In the 1960s

Children sitting on floor in insitutional day room

In the late 1960s, state institutions across the nation housed almost 156,000 people with intellectual disabilities and 550,000 people experiencing mental illness. It was common for over 100 people to share a single bedroom. Often, people were naked and lay prostrate on the floors to cool off because the rooms had inadequate ventilation. Facilities were filthy, with excrement and urine on the floors and walls, and the odor was horrific. I particularly remember the noise at Pennhurst. The moaning, screaming and crying was deafening. Within the state institutions, people might be placed in nude seclusion for days.

Women's day room

Of course, there was no due process, and a person could be admitted with no legal recourse. As in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the more a person resisted control, the more severe the intervention became. Electro-shock treatment was frequently used as punishment, and straight jackets and mechanical restraints were commonly used to restrain people. The environments were brutal, but at the time, there were almost no other alternatives for people who had a serious mental illness or intellectual disability. Only a few organizations existed, such as the Easter Seals, which operated exclusively on charitable contributions.

Stan Miller Vows To Do Something

Governor Shafer took office in 1964 and appointed Stanley Miller as his Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare. Stan had served as the Governor’s campaign treasurer and would eventually serve as a Keystone Board Member for many years.

Institutional bedroom with over one hundred beds

Soon after taking office, Stan went to visit the state institutions he was now responsible for and was appalled by what he saw. He returned to Harrisburg and went into the office of his Commissioner of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Dr. Joseph Adlestein. He said, "Joe, we have to do something. This is wrong." Dr. Adlestein opened his desk drawer and pulled out a concept paper for a community mental health and mental retardation system (MH/MR). That paper was the beginning of the Community Mental Health Mental Retardation Act of 1966 - the foundation legislation of Pennsylvania's community program today.

Little boy in cage like crib

Stan Miller's successor, Secretary of Public Welfare, Helene Wohlgemuth would pay a surprise visit to Polk State Center on a Sunday morning. Secretary Wohlgemuth found residents being caged in 4' x 4' slatted wooden boxes in a room and then was appalled at observing staff using cattle prods from the Polk cattle farm on the residents of the Center. Secretary Wohlgemuth was so outraged by what she saw that she fired the hospital superintendent on the spot and banned the use of cattle prods and cages. She brought back one of the wooden cages and placed it on display in the rotunda of the Capital prior to a Senate Committee hearing. This incident was a pivotal event in the public outcry that opened the doors for community alternatives to institutionalization.

The 1960s - A Time of Radical Change

People sitting on chairs in day room

The 1960s were a time of radical social change. The Civil Rights movement was underway and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had passed Congress. The Vietnam War protest was raging and Pennsylvania passed one of the first Right to Education Laws in the country. President Kennedy's sister Rose had intellectual disabilities, and the Kennedy family had a strong interest in the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities.

Burton Blatt did a photographic expose on the Willowbrook State Center in New York. His undercover photographs (many of which are used in this history) were published in Life magazine and created a national outrage. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest played an important role in informing the public about the realities of institutionalization. Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid were approved by Congress as part of President Lyndon Johnson's vision of building a "Great Society."

It was a time when people believed government programs had the ability to end poverty, illness, racism and oppression in our society. Prior to the availability of Federal Medicaid funding, state institutions were funded completely with state dollars at a cost of around $7.00 per day per person. When Federal Medicaid funding was made available to the states it was with the requirement that conditions would be improved within the state facilities.

Everyone was particularly appalled by the common practice of having over 100 people sharing a single bedroom, so one of the early Medicaid requirements was a 70 sq. ft. requirement per person in sleeping quarters. This 70 sq. ft. requirement, along with litigation, would drive the de-institutionalization movement across the country. The 70 sq. ft. requirement would eventually threaten a quarter billion dollar loss in Federal funding in Pennsylvania.

Community Services Were Almost Non-existent

Prior to 1968, there was little government funding for services other than state institutions. Organizations such as Easter Seals had been serving children and adults with disabilities for about 50 years and were supported almost exclusively by charitable funds. Most families were told that it would be best if they put their child away and forgot them. In Pennsylvania, there were thousands of people in private licensed facilities awaiting placement in state centers.

Four people who live in an institution wearing costumes

Families of children with mental or physical disabilities found that services were almost non-existent. Parents who kept their children at home found that their children were excluded from public education because of their disability. The Center for Human Resource Development, led by Dr. Adlestein, Stan Miller and Gary Ellis, would sponsor the New Day School, a private school for children with autism. The Center for Human Resource Development would join Keystone in 1974 after the Right to Education Act passed in Pennsylvania and the New Day School was no longer needed.

Adlestein Writes the MH/MR Act of 1966

Under Dr. Adlestein's leadership, the Community MH/MR Act of 1966 provided a vision and a legislative base for a comprehensive array of mandated community services funded by the State through county-based MH/MR programs. The intent was to have a comprehensive, seamless system of care delivered in community settings. The Pennsylvania legislation followed the 1964 Federal Community Mental Health Centers Act, which provided federal funding for the emerging community programs throughout the country.

3400 People Lived at the Harrisburg State Hospital

At this time, 3,400 people lived at the Harrisburg State Hospital. A group of employees at the Harrisburg State Hospital, including me, began meeting to explore alternatives to the horrendous conditions at the Hospital.

Administration Building of the Harrisburg State Hospital

Group outside state institution

I was a new 1968 graduate of Elizabethtown College with a degree in psychology. During college, two of my professors worked part time at the Harrisburg State Hospital and shared stories about the conditions there with their students. Both later left Elizabethtown College to work full time at the Harrisburg State Hospital, and several of their students joined them in their work, which was directed at changing the conditions at the institution.

Young boy in corner of shower

At that time, Dr. Janet Kelley was the Director of the Resident Center at the Harrisburg State Hospital. The Center was an alternative inpatient program based on the concepts of a therapeutic community and the Patient Rights Movement. Dr. Kelley was conducting courses in organizational change and the impact of institutionalization on people, and many of us who were exploring alternatives to institutionalization attended them.

We all knew that there was something profoundly wrong with how people were being treated. However, at the time there was no vision of an alternative. Harold Kiester, Director of the Intermediate Care Facility at the Hospital asked me to begin working in the community in the hope of impacting the availability of community services for people that might be able to leave the Hospital. I began working at the Harrisburg Hospital Community Mental Health Center at Brady Hall with Dr. Adlestein and Judy Vercher. This work resulted in co-founding the Market Place with Iris Harad, a community based pre-partial hospitalization program for people preparing to leave the hospital. Robert Scott and Peter House had just developed "Goal Planning" and were directly involved in the Market Place program. Robert Scott was to become a long term Keystone Board Member and Iris Harad would eventually serve as Keystone's third Board Chairman.

Two people in day room in institution

Mel Knowlton, who had worked with Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger at ENCOR (Eastern Nebraska Community Organization Retardation) was hired by the State Office of Mental Retardation to create a community-based program for people with intellectual disabilities, including community services for people living in state mental retardation centers. ENCOR, a comprehensive community service system in Omaha Nebraska, was the origin of many outstanding people who would help build the community system across the country. Dr. Wolfensberger was the originator of the concepts of Normalization and Social Role Valorization (SRV) that defined core principles for Keystone.

Mel Knowlton Funds What Will Become Keystone

In 1971, Mel Knowlton heard about our group at the Harrisburg State Hospital and one afternoon came out to meet with us. Mel said, "I have funding for a group home for people who are living in State Centers. Do you want some?" We said yes and Mel helped us write our first proposal. This "Yes" would be the first yes in a long series of yeses that would eventually impact the lives of thousands of people. Mel funded the project for $70,000.

Keystone's Early Years

Our Harrisburg State Hospital Group asked Reverend Charles Dorsey, Director of the Council of Churches (later Christian Churches United), to convene a community group that would form a new non profit agency. Edna Silberman, an outstanding community volunteer and director of the Aurora Club, joined the group and we incorporated Keystone Residence in October 1972. Keystone's incorporators were Barbara Scheffer, Evelyn Byron, Edna Silberman, Charles Dorsey, Iris Harad and me. Reverend Dorsey served as our first Board Chairman.

After much time, the Board had not been successful in hiring an executive director and Ellen Danfield, a close friend and the new mental retardation coordinator for Dauphin County, encouraged me to apply "Dennis,” she said, “This will be one of the biggest things you will ever be part of, you should do it." So at age 24, I resigned from Keystone's Board, applied for the position and was hired as Keystone's first executive director.

At the time, Dr. Adlestein had finished his term as Commissioner of Mental Health and was then serving as the Medical Director of the new Harrisburg Hospital Community Mental Health Center located at Brady Hall on Front Street in Harrisburg. When I had informed Dr. Adlestein that I had accepted the executive director's position of Keystone he offered a small ante room for use as Keystone's first office. Stephanie DeMuro and Gretchen Morgan were hired as Keystone's second and third employees. Stephanie would eventually be responsible for helping over one hundred people return home from state institutions as director of Keystone's ICF/MR programs.

Christmas at Keystone's First Home Christmas at Keystone's first home 1974

In 1972, Keystone opened its first home on Green Street (see the Green Street Society) and then a second home on North Third Street in Harrisburg. Governor and Mrs. Shapp personally co-signed the mortgage for the home. Mrs. Shapp was a co-worker and family therapist at the Harrisburg Hospital Community Mental Health Center. In 1974, Keystone Residence opened its first group home for people with mental illness on Forster Street in Harrisburg. The first home on Forster street was followed by a continuously expanding array of mental health services in Dauphin County, many of which would eventually become part of Keystone Community Mental Health Services.

These homes were followed by many other homes in Dauphin County over the ensuing years. This was a time of a sense of great social justice. We would visit state institutions and bring people home, sometimes the very same day. I remember talking with one elderly man at Selinsgrove State Center about the possibility of him leaving. His name was Don and he sat there not saying anything. With his giant hands folded, he finally said quietly, "Where were you when I was young?"

ARC brings Pennhurst litigation

Pennhurst buildings Pennhurst State Center 1997

Early in the 1970s, the Pennsylvania's Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) and PHILCOP brought litigation against the Commonwealth over the horrendous conditions at the Pennhurst State Center in Spring City, Pennsylvania. This case was finally settled in 1976 in a consent decree that committed the Commonwealth to closing Pennhurst. Pennhurst closed in 1987 and in its last year of operation, Judge Broderick placed undercover federal marshals in Pennhurst to protect the residents.

At the time Keystone started in 1972, there were about 5,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities living at Pennhurst. I remember getting a letter from a young woman who lived at Pennhurst asking for help in leaving. On her own, she came to Harrisburg on a bus to visit and was one of the first people to move into our apartment program in Pineford.

Dennis Felty looking out window of children's ward at Pennhurst Dennis Felty at Pennhurst 1997

In 1997, I had the opportunity to work with Sebastian Triscari and Lisa Ramirez in the production of Every Day Lives, a video documentary for the Office of Mental Retardation about the history of intellectual disabilities in Pennsylvania. We were given the keys to Pennhurst, now abandoned, and were permitted to film at both the Pennhurst and Polk State Centers.

In producing the Every Day Lives video, we asked people to come back to the grounds of Pennhurst and interviewed them about what their lives had been like at Pennhurst. We interviewed a couple who were married after leaving and who now live in an apartment about a mile from grounds of Pennhurst and are still very much in love. A man in his 60s took me to the swing set he played on as a child. It was completely overgrown with vines. He said, "This is where I played." Another woman quietly said, "You didn't want to go to unit 6. That's where they killed you."

Administration Building of the Pennhurst State School and Hospital

We entered some of Pennhurst's abandoned buildings. In the children's ward, there were toys and helmets still scattered on the floor. The sunlight came in through the windows, which were covered with bars and chain link. Records were strewn across the floor and there was a beautiful mural on the wall - a painting of Mickey Mouse visible under the peeling paint.

Ceramic insert Pennhurst State Center depicting slavery Pennhurst Administration Building 1997

One of the many astounding discoveries at Pennhurst, during the production of Every Day Lives, was a very fine ceramic insert next to the main door of the Administration Building. The insert depicts a plantation scene with slaves picking cotton.

Since the closing of Pennhurst in 1987, photos and videos of Pennhurst and other public hospitals have been made available on several websites:

Young boy sitting on floor in day room

In Pennhurst's last year of operation, Secretary O'Bannon paid $10,000,000 in contempt of court citation fines to Judge Broderick's Court. At the same time the Commonwealth was in jeopardy of losing over a quarter billion dollars in Federal Medicaid reimbursement for overcrowding in its state centers if O'Bannon did not reduce the State Center population by 300 persons by the close of the fiscal year.

Keystone had emerged as a major resource for these placements in Dauphin County.

Young man behind chain link at institution

However, Keystone's Board decided to not proceed with its ICF/MR development because of the chaotic reimbursement environment. When informed of Keystone's position, Secretary O'Bannon asked to meet with us and said, "Dennis, don't bring any board members along." In her office, Secretary O'Bannon said with great passion, while shaking her finger, "If you back out on me I will do what ever I can to s..... Keystone." She said "I am your only customer and if you don't give me what I want, I don't want to do business with you anymore." Stan Mrozowski, the new Dauphin County MH/MR Administrator, attended the meeting. It was Stan's first day as County Administrator.

Secretary O'Bannon made a personal commitment to fix the financial problems of the ICF/MR system and with both the promises and the threats, Keystone said yes and proceeded with its ICF/MR development. At the time, Keystone had a maximum line of credit of $40,000. Our receivables ballooned to over $400,000 before reimbursement started from the department.

The Friday Group

Woman laying on floor

Secretary O'Bannon's threat had a profound impact on Keystone. The Board and staff confronted a deep commitment to the people they had brought home from State Centers. This was probably the first time the seriousness of the covenant we had entered into hit us. Collectively, we decided that we never again wanted to be vulnerable to the decision of a single person that could undermine that covenant. Consequently, we convened a strategic planning group to define a path that would protect against such external threats. Mark Ritter chaired the planning group, which was called the Friday Group. The Friday Planning Group would define a directed strategy of service and geographic diversification. This strategy formed the foundation of Keystone's strategic direction and growth over the coming years. Mark eventually founded Key Human Services, Inc. in Connecticut, working with Brian Lensick and Charley Galloway.

Keystone Residence of Lancaster

Following the decisions that came out of the work of the Friday Group, Keystone expanded, first into Cumberland County and then Lancaster County. This first agency was known as Keystone Residence of Lancaster. These services are now part of Keystone's Intellectual Disability Services.

Gateway Employment Group joins Keystone

Working in Burger King

In 1976 Gateway Employment Group, headed by Rick Stamm, Robert Matteson and Don Kuhns, would be the second organization to join Keystone. Rick Stamm and I were both pilots for the Tactical Electronic Warfare Group of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. During our flights together, we had many conversations about creating better human services. These conversations led to Gateway's affiliation with Keystone and Rick's leadership as Gateway's executive director. Robert Matteson would serve as Keystone's fourth Board Chairman and would receive the Edna Silberman Humanitarian Award in 1994. Gateway Employment group is now part of Keystone's Mental Health Services in Pennsylvania.

Early Intervention Programs joins Keystone

Early Intervention Programs, Inc. joined Keystone in 1983 when EIP lost its funding over a conflict with the County MH/MR Office. EIP's executive director, Sylvia Herman, approached me about the possibility of EIP joining with Keystone. Once again, we said yes. The Parent Advisory Board of EIP was invited to join with Keystone and a proposal was presented to the Counties. EIP, Inc. was formed and all services and funding continued without a break.

EIP, Inc. grew dramatically over the years as the need for children's services grew. Mary Kratzer, the Chairman of the EIP Parent Advisory Board, joined Keystone's Board where she served as Board Chairman. Mary was also the 1992 recipient of the Edna Silberman Humanitarian Award. The staff and Board worked to design a program that would replicate the service approach based on the national Regional Intervention Program model. Cumberland, Perry and Dauphin counties provided the initial funding for the behavioral intervention services. Over time, services expanded to include outpatient treatment, Student Assistance and EPSDT services. Services also expanded into additional counties.

Northumberland County

In 1984, Mike Breslin, Northumberland County MH/MR Administrator, asked if we would be willing to take over the county's residential services on Friday at the end of the week. Their local provider was collapsing and they needed an experienced agency on very short notice. I met with Mike and we said yes. On the following Friday, Mark Ritter moved into the Holiday Inn in Sunbury, and he and his staff took over operations of the Northumberland County system on Saturday. This agency would become Keystone Residence of Northumberland County and has now evolved into Keystone Human Services North Central. These services are now part of Keystone's Intellectual Disability Services.

The Commonwealth and the CASSP Institute

In 1985 Mel Knowlton asked Keystone to host the Commonwealth Institute. The intent was to create a values-based training institute for the people involved in the community movement. Thomas Neuville was hired as executive director and Bill West, Helen Zipperlan, Mark Friedman, David Swartz and I served as founding Board Members. Similarly, in 1992 Keystone developed the Pennsylvania CASSP (Child and Adolescent Service Systems Program) Institute in partnership with the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health. The CASSP Institute conducted state-wide training on children's mental health issues. The CASSP Institute later left the Keystone incubator and affiliated with Penn State University.

On to Hartford

Group of children playing Parcheesi

In 1988 Brian Lensick and myself were both doing presentations at the Lassaick State School in Upper New York. Brian asked if I would do my presentation on "Clienthood - the New Slavery" for his executive staff in Hartford. I agreed with reservation and did the presentation the next month. At the end of the presentation, several of Brian's regional directors approached and asked about Keystone's interest in helping with the Mansfield Dispersal. Mansfield was a State Center much like Pennhurst and Willowbrook.

We thought long and hard about going to Connecticut and in the end said yes. I asked Mark Ritter if he and his family would be interested in moving to Hartford. Mark also said yes and assumed the leadership responsibilities of Key. Key was fully funded as a new agency, although we learned many years later that Key had been given some of the most challenging people in Connecticut. I remember one young woman who, on an almost daily basis, would break out all the windows in the house as the neighbors would gather to watch. Key rapidly grew into a respected and strong Connecticut agency bringing with it the capacity, vision and values held by Keystone.

Best Valued Communities

In 1989, Susan Kerpan co-founded the Best Valued Community seminars. Susan was joined by Thomas Neuville as co-facilitator for many years. These seminars have been attended by hundreds of Keystone employees and focus on the significance of one's work in one's life.

Head Start

In 1990, Keystone was asked to assume responsibility for Head Start Services in the tri-county area. Keystone said yes, and Capital Area Head Start has grown into an important child development resource in Central Pennsylvania, serving over 1,000 families.

Keystone Partnership

In 1990 the Keystone Foundation, later the Keystone Partnership, was founded to provide fundraising and community development services to support of Keystone's mission. Janet Nanorta served as the Partnership's first Board Chairman.

Ray Gagne

In 1990 Ray Gagne and Dennis Felty met at Dr. Wolfensberger's Moral Coherency conference in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Ray and Dennis had a discussion about Ray coming to work for Keystone as an educator, teaching and lecturing about his experiences living in an institution. In his ten years as an educator with Keystone, Ray had a profound impact on many people, helping them to better understand the life experiences and capacity of people experiencing severe disabilities. Ray passed away in March 2001. Ray will be missed by all who knew him. Ray's life story, a biography written in 1985, preserves his experiences and insights for those who will come after him.

Keystone Family Support Associates

Keystone Family Support Associates was founded to provide services for children and youth. KFSA provided services in Dauphin and Lancaster Counties and in July of 2000, assumed the lead in developing services for families on the waiting list for intellectual disability services. In 2011, KFSA was integrated with Keystone Residence to form Keystone Human Services Central PA. These services are now provided through Keystone's Intellectual Disability Services.

Tri County Easter Seal Society

Child on slide

Tri County Easter Seal Society (TCESS) joined Keystone on May 1, 1995, becoming an important part of Keystone Human Services today. TCESS brought a rich history of 78 years of community service to the work of Keystone. Don Enders, the Past Board Chairman of TCESS became the Chairman of the Keystone Partnership and other TCESS Board Members joined Keystone's Board and Membership. Elaine Bogar a long term community volunteer for Tri County Easter Seals received the Edna Silberman Humanitarian award in 1997.

Tri-County Crippled Children's Association

Incorporated on February 20, 1928, this organization has a long history of working with the community to provide quality services for people with disabilities who reside in Dauphin, Perry and Cumberland counties. At its onset, the association was an affiliate of National Easter Seals and functioned as a volunteer committee providing assessments, transportation and home visits to children with disabilities. The first employee was hired in the early 1940s. This individual, the Executive Secretary, was hired to administer services and seek help for children with special needs. Active programming began in 1947 with speech and physical therapies and a play center. Pre-school services began in the 1950s.

As these programs expanded and additional services were offered, the need for permanent space grew. The agency operated out of shared space in four different locations up until this point. A bequest from the estate of James R. Appleby and broad community support made possible the establishment of the current Derry Street facility. The building was dedicated in October 1961 and occupied by four employees (the executive director, a secretary, a speech pathologist, and a physical therapist).

With the move and ever-increasing demand for services by both children and adults, the name of the agency was changed to Tri-County Society for Crippled Children and Adults, Inc. This name was used from 1961 until 1978, when the agency changed its name to the Tri-County Easter Seal Society for the Handicapped, Inc.

The name Tri-County Society for Children and Adults, Inc. was adopted in November of 1995 to acknowledge that services are available to children as well as their caregivers, the community at-large, and adults with disabilities.

Susquehanna Service Dogs

Susquehanna Service Dogs became part of Keystone when TCESS joined Keystone in 1996. SSD was founded by Nancy Fierer. Nancy and her husband Robert received the Edna Silberman Humanitarian Award in 1999. SSD provides assistance dogs and therapy dogs with highly specialized training and skills. The dogs are permanently placed with their owner.

Keystone Behavioral Health Services

In 1997, Keystone Behavioral Health Services as formed under the leadership of Robert Gaul. KBHS was designed to assure the perspective of a community non profit in the State Health Choices Initiative where Medicaid-funded behavioral health services would be placed under managed care. It appeared that only national billion dollar companies would sufficient capital to be players. KBHS partnered with United Behavioral Health and bid the seven South West Counties. The Partnership - Pennsylvania Behavioral Health Care Partners came in second behind Value Behavioral Health in this bid.

Konrad Associates

In 1998, Konrad Associates was acquired by Keystone. Konrad, a private clinical practice, was owned by Janet Kelley, Ph.D. Janet then assumed duties as Keystone's Vice President of Clinical Services. Janet and I worked together at the Harrisburg State Hospital in the 1960s when Janet taught courses on organizational change and the nature of institutions. These courses were very influential on Keystone's development over the ensuing years. Sharing our work over so many years and again working together directly has been a great joy.

Keystone Children & Family Services Formed

Children in classroom

In 1999, Keystone Children and Family Services was formed. Under the direction of Stan Mrozowski. KC&FS brings the resources of EIP, Tri County Society of Children & Adults, Family Support Associates, Capital Area Head Start and Konrad Associates in to a regional, comprehensive system of care for children and adolescents. In July 2000, KC&FS instituted a capital campaign to acquire a 36,000 sq ft building to house the significant resources of KC&FS under one roof.

Keystone Human Services Formed

In 1999, Keystone Human Services was formed as the Parent Company of Keystone Service Systems, Key, EIP, TCSC, the Keystone Partnership and Keystone Behavioral Health Systems. Dennis Felty was appointed as President of Keystone Human Services, and Charles J. Hooker III was appointed as CEO of Keystone Service Systems and Senior Vice President of Keystone Human Services. Dr. Marshall Jones served as Board Chairman during the structure and strategic planning process resulting in the new structure.

Later that year, Madeleine DeHart was appointed Corporate Secretary of Keystone Human Services and Roger Burns was appointed as the Chief Financial Officer of Keystone Service Systems and of Keystone Human Services. In 2000, Dr. Janet Kelley was appointed KHS Vice-President for clinical services, and Jeanine Buford was appointed KHS Chief Information Officer.

Keystone Residence Serves Franklin & Fulton Counties

As the founding agency of Keystone, Keystone Residence has over thirty years of service to Dauphin County. In July 2000, Keystone Residence assumed responsibility for residential services in Franklin and Fulton Counties. Keystone Residence has since integrated with Keystone Family Support Associates to form Keystone Human Services Central PA. These services are now provided through Keystone's Intellectual Disability Services.

Autism Services Offered in Delaware & Pennsylvania

In July 2000, Keystone Autism Services was formed to provide services to children and adults with autism and their families. The agency was dedicated to autism services in both Delaware and Pennsylvania. KAS was founded in partnership with ALAW and the Autism Society of Delaware.

Keystone Autism Services Founded

Keystone Autism Services was incorporated as a subsidiary of KHS. KAS’s mission is to provide comprehensive, community-based services to young people and adults who are experiencing Autism Spectrum Disorders. KAS was also selected by the Bureau of Autism Services to develop the Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP), a model program for Pennsylvania serving adults with autism. ACAP is unique in that it is a capitated, comprehensive, highly integrated program that incorporates in-home support; therapy; counseling; vocational, social and recreational family support; medical services and transportation.

Integration of Keystone Residence and Keystone Family Support Associates

On July 1, 2011, Keystone Residence and Keystone Family Support Associates integrated to form one agency called Keystone Human Services Central PA. Both agencies provided services for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, Keystone Residence since 1972 and Keystone Family Support Associates since 1987. These services are now provided through Keystone's Intellectual Disability Services.

Keystone Joins the Clinton Global Initiative

Keystone became of member of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007. We have long been dedicated to the well being of individuals around the world, and we were exploring ways to develop more connections with corporations, foundations and individuals who were involved in global advocacy. As part of that research, it became clear that the Clinton Global Initiative was one of the foremost venues that bring together leadership within governmental organizations and the nonprofit sector to address the major issues confronting the world, and we were later invited to become a member.

Keystone’s Global Initiatives

After the fall of the Soviet Union, I had the opportunity to begin visiting psychiatric hospitals and orphanages within the former Soviet Union. Several of these visits were in concert with Cross Links, Inc, a Lancaster-based humanitarian aid organization founded by Janice and Paul Wenger. In 1999, I traveled to Romania with Janice Wenger to visit Ron and Sue Bates. The Bateses take in the babies of children who live in the underground of Bucharest because babies do not survive in the underground tunnels and subways.

I was doing a project on video interviews of young mothers and how they came to live in the underground. One young mother who came to visit her baby invited me to see where she and her husband lived. She took us to a manhole cover behind a McDonalds. Her husband removed the cover and we descended into the underground.

The young woman and her husband lived in an 8x12 foot cement cubicle lit by candles. While I was trying to make sense of this experience, I realized that I was an honored guest in their home. Soon, more candles appeared as the other children in the underground tunnels realized that I was not a threat. The young woman’s husband was in charge of the children in this particular underground section, and we spent the night visiting other children. Approximately 40,000 children lived in the underground, and most spoke English and wanted their photograph taken.

The whole experience was so disturbing that I realized that I either had to stop such visits or I had to begin doing something about it. I decided to do something about it. When I returned home, I approached Charles Hooker about Keystone’s options. From that discussion, we decided that our first step would be to create internship opportunities for young people in Eastern Europe. We invited individuals to come to the United States and work for us for a year, with salary, benefits and additional training, and at the end of the internships, we encouraged people to write a proposal about what they wanted to accomplish in their home community. We would take the best proposal and develop it into a project. The first proposal was for the Unitate Community Center in Tudora, Moldova. Unitate is a children and family center based on the Head Start model.

These initial internships led to a contract with the Open World Leadership Center to bring colleagues from Eastern Europe to the United States for a week of sharing knowledge and information about human services. In the summer of 2004, six psychologists from Moscow were spending the summer with us, and as they were preparing to return home, the Beslan School #1 was attacked. The events in Beslan were a profound tragedy, resulting in the loss of over three hundred children, teachers and parents. We extended our condolences and offered to help. Within a month, we provided training in post-traumatic stress disorder for psychiatrics and psychologists in Beslan to help them serve the people affected by the extraordinary loss and darkness of the attack, and we invited all of the psychiatrists and psychologists from Beslan to spend time with us in Pennsylvania so they could increase their knowledge and capacity to serve children and adults. One young psychiatrist developed a proposal for a comprehensive system of care in Russia, which we submitted to USAID and received funding to provide several years of intensive therapy for children and families in Beslan.

We are continuing our international work through Keystone Human Services International, Keystone Human Services International Moldova Association, and Keystone Institute India.

Keystone Human Services Board Chairmen

  • Reverend Charles Dorsey (1972-1976)
  • Barbara Scheffer (1976-1980)
  • Iris Harad (1980-1982)
  • Robert Matteson (1983-1986)
  • Mary Kratzer (1987-1990)
  • Daniel Tunnell (1991-1993)
  • Donald Witman (1994-1997)
  • Marshall Jones (1998-2005)
  • Donald Enders (2005-2007)
  • Sally Klein (2007-2012)
  • Don Enders (2013-2015)
  • Tom Flowers (2015-2016)
  • Dr. Jennifer Chambers (2017-present)
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