LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- On Friday Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill that uses a portion of the Arkansas Tobacco settlement to fund services for those with developmental disabilities.
The wait list for the Alternative Community Services Waiver Program has close to three thousand people on it. Some of the people have been waiting for ten years.
This bill will allow between 500 and 900 people to receive services. It includes things like home care, teaching independence skills, respite care and home modifications.
“A lot of the service is tailored to making the individual as independent as possible,” says Melissa Stone, Director of the Division of Developmental Disability Services.
Dianna Varady has a 13 year old son who was diagnosed with autism when he was just two. He is number 415 on the wait list and has been on it for the last eight years.
This bill will allow her son to finally start receiving these services.
“It’s a game changer for him,” says Varady.
Varady says he is very bright, but needs more supervision than other kids his age and will benefit from the services especially as he gets older.
The bill isn’t an solution for everyone. There are more than two thousand people still waiting.
Another bill has been filed asking the Department of Human Services to find the money wihin the current Medicaid budget to completely fund the wait list.
DHS says the funding has been allocated and is not available to fund the remaining wait list. They are looking at other options. They believe the bill is a good start.