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January 23, 2015

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Florida Leaders and Families Applaud Gov. Scott’s Proposed $8 Million for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Additional $5 Million for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts

WINTER PARK, Fla. —Today, Governor Rick Scott announced a proposed investment of $8 million to enroll all individuals with critical needs from the waiting list to the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver Program. This is the second year in a row that funding is provided to remove all individuals with critical needs from the waiting list. Governor Scott’s 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget also recommends an increase of $5 million, for a total of $23.4 million, for personal learning scholarship accounts for eligible K-12 students with disabilities.

Barbara Palmer, Director of Agency for Persons with Disabilities, “This is the third year in a row that Governor Scott has recommended funding to serve Floridians with disabilities on the APD waiting list, and it is the second year that we will be able to offer waiver enrollment to everyone with critical needs. This is wonderful news for individuals who will now be able to receive services in their own community.”

Pam Stewart, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education said, “I applaud Governor Scott for proposing increased funding for personal learning scholarships. Florida parents want their children to have every opportunity for success, and these additional funds will enable eligible K-12 students with disabilities to get the best education possible.”

Doug Tuthill, President of Step Up For Students said, “Tomorrow’s leaders are in today’s classrooms, and I am thrilled that Governor Scott’s ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ Budget includes increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. Parents know their children best and have the greatest understanding of what services meet their child’s needs. It is wonderful that more parents will have the opportunity to create customized education plans to ensure their children have the greatest chance at success.”

Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future said, “Florida children with unique abilities face some of the biggest obstacles on their path to education success. Governor Scott is showing his commitment to providing these students with a high-quality education by proposing increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. This will allow more parents of eligible students with special needs to customize their children’s education in a way that best meets their learning needs.”

Betty Kay Clements, Past Chair of Family Care Council Florida said, “As a parent of a daughter with a disability and an advocate for other families in similar situations, I am happy to see Governor Scott’s recommendation for additional funding to continue to move people off the waiting list and onto the Medicaid waiver. The waiver truly helps to change lives by providing needed services to individuals with developmental disabilities, and are able to live full and happy lives in their local communities.”

Janice Phillips, Chair for the Association of Support Coordination Agencies in Florida said, “We appreciate Governor Scott’s continued understanding of the issues facing Floridians with developmental disabilities. Providing money to move individuals with critical needs off the waiting list is an important priority, and I am very thankful that it is a priority of Governor Scott and his administration as well.”

Lou Ogburn, Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson said, “We applaud Governor Scott for his ongoing efforts to reduce the size of the Medicaid waiver waiting list. It is great news that the needed funding amount is available to eliminate the waiting list for the second year in a row. These families can be assured that their loved ones will be taken care of and receive the necessary services they need in the future.”

Sherry Wheelock, President and CEO of Special Olympics Florida said, “Special Olympics Florida applauds Governor Scott’s recommendation of increased funding that would ensure the well-being of Floridians with developmental disabilities. These investments are vital for individuals with disabilities to actively participate in their communities and achieve their dreams.”

Pauline Lipps, Chair of Family Care Council Florida said, “I am pleased to see funding for the waiting list three years in a row. Families need the Medicaid waiver to help their loved ones thrive in their local communities. The waiver provides essential services so individuals with developmental disabilities are able to live and work just like everyone else. With this additional funding, everyone with critical needs on the waiting list will be offered waiver services which will be life-changing for those families.”

Georgia Dorsett LoCastro, Person with a disability and an APD employee said, “I think it is great that additional people with disabilities will be able to receive services in their own community. I thank Governor Scott for recommending more money to help individuals with developmental disabilities so they can go to work just like me.”

Michelle Favret, parent of a special needs child said, “Governor Scott’s proposed increase in funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts is great news for our family. The PLSA program has been a huge help for my daughter, and Governor Scott’s proposed funding increase will help our family, and others across the state, even further.”

Jeanine Schiavoni, parent of a special needs child said, "As a parent of a child with special needs, I am so thankful to Governor Scott for prioritizing students with disabilities in his 'KEEP FLORIDA WORKING' Budget. For many years our family has worked so hard to provide all of the necessary accommodations, resources and therapies in order for our child to be as successful as possible in school and in everyday life. We have provided speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, social thinking therapy, physical therapy, tutoring, extracurricular activities, along with a special education program which provides a more one on one learning environment. All of these accommodations have led us to where we are today. This Scholarship will enable our child to continue to be provided a smaller learning environment, including the necessary therapies and accommodations that go along with his particular needs. We are very grateful for this Personal Learning Scholarship. Governor Scott's proposed funding increase for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts will help ensure my child has access to the resources he needs to be successful in school and in life. I am glad more families like mine will be able to receive additional funding to help their children reach their full potential."

Melissa Ward, parent of a special needs child said, “I think it’s really exciting that Governor Scott is proposing increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. Thanks to the PLSA program our son, Ethan, is now able to receive therapy we used to have to put on the back burner. The PLSA program is a huge blessing for our family, and I am thrilled that Governor Scott’s proposal will help special needs children all across Florida receive the academic help they need.”