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For Immediate Release: April 30, 2024

ICYMI: Governor DeSantis Announces Record Investments in Services for Developmental Disabilities and Funding for The Els Center Of Excellence

JUPITER, Fla. Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the highest level of funding for direct services for people with unique abilities in Florida’s history with more than $2.2 billion going to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities for services through the iBudget waiver. The waiver provides social, medical, behavioral, and therapeutic services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Additionally, he highlighted state investments in community projects like the Els Center of Excellence.

“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 Governor Ron DeSantis. “To that end, Florida is proud to support and have the partnership of the Els Center Of Excellence.”

The Governor’s Focus on Florida’s Future Budget, and associated funding included as part of Live Healthy legislation, includes:

  • Nearly $200 million to support an across-the-board increase for iBudget waiver providers.
  • $64.8 million to enroll additional individuals in crisis onto the iBudget waiver.
  • An additional $55.7 million to enroll individuals currently in pre-enrollment categories.
  • Over $40 million in support of community projects for those with autism and other developmental disabilities.
  • This includes $1 million for the Els Center of Excellence recreational complex, which provides a sensory friendly environment that meets the needs of children with autism.

“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,” said Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Taylor Hatch. “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. We thank the Governor for his unrelenting leadership and the Florida Legislature for prioritizing and promoting supports so that all Floridians can unlock their God-given potential.”

Additionally, Governor DeSantis announced that participation in the Florida Empowerment Scholarship has grown to record numbers, going from around 25,000 students in 2021 to over 98,000 students today. This scholarship is designed to offer families of students with unique abilities - as young as three years old - access to additional education options so parents may find the best environment to serve their child’s needs.