DeSantis Awards Ground-Breaking $2.2 Billion Toward Special Needs Floridians

DeSantis Awards Ground-Breaking $2.2 Billion Toward Special Needs Floridians

DeSantis approved a $2.2 billion budget item going toward the Agency for Persons with Disabilities

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
April 29, 2024

JUPITER, FL—Governor Ron DeSantis approved over $2.2 billion in the state budget for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the highest level of funding ever allocated to direct services for people with unique abilities.

"As Governor, I will continue to ensure every Floridian has access to high-quality services to create a pathway to live up to their God-given potential and realize the American Dream,” said DeSantis at Monday morning's press conference at the Els Center of Excellence, a Jupiter-based campus with "leading-edge" resources for individuals with autism.

He announced that $2.2 billion will go to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) through the iBudget Waiver, which provides social, medical, and therapeutic services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Housed under Senate President Kathleen Passidomo's "Live Healthy" initiative, the budget item provides a nearly $200 million increase for iBudget Waiver providers and over $40 million to support community projects for autistic and developmentally disabled Floridians, including $1 million for the Els Center.

"Governor DeSantis delivers results, there is no better way to celebrate Autism Awareness Month than to highlight today’s announcement of record investments on behalf of the disability community,” APD Director Taylor Hatch said Monday, lauding the budget approval.

“This historic funding will provide services that empower a greater number of individuals and their families to thrive through the power of partnership, highlighting the importance of a strong provider workforce through first-ever across-the-board pay increases as well as focusing on the importance of community partners," she continued. "We thank the Governor for his unrelenting leadership and the Florida Legislature for prioritizing and promoting support so that all Floridians can unlock their God-given potential.”

During the 2024 Legislative Session, Republican Senator Jay Collins tried to pass a bill requiring police to be trained in identifying and handling people with autism. The bill died before reaching the floor.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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