Governor Jay Nixon today to announce that his Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal earmarks additional funding for Missourians with developmental disabilities, including $5 million to expand the University of Missouri Thompson Center for Autism.  The money will allow the center to accommodate an additional 2,000 visits per year by expanding dedicated research and training space, and train 100 more providers over the next five years to alleviate the shortage of autism services in Missouri.

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

“Here in Missouri, we believe that all children – including those with autism – deserve the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential,” Nixon said. “From passing landmark autism insurance legislation to expanding access to in-home services through the Partnership for Hope, we have made Missouri a nationally-recognized leader in caring for our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Governor’s budget will also include $1 million to help launch an autism clinic at Truman State University and $500,000 to expand services at the Mercy Kids Autism Center in St. Louis and St. Charles counties.

“We’ll be able to expand our clinical services to accommodate more than 2,000 additional clinic visits each year, getting more children the diagnostic and treatment services they need,” said Thompson Center Executive Director Dr. Stephen Kanne.

The center provides more than 8,000 instances of online and in-person professional and parent trainings annually.  The center also expects to offer greater capacity for newer programs that promote autism best practices in the community and supporting families.

“As more and more children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, the demand for the life-changing services provided at the Thompson Center continues to grow,” said MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley.

The Governor’s budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which he will present next week in his State of the State address, will invest a total of $131 million in additional state and federal funding for the Department of Mental Health-Division of Developmental Disabilities. Nixon says an increase of $14 million is included, that will ensure there is no waiting list for in-home Medicaid services for Missourians with developmental disabilities.

The Governor’s budget will also include more than $73 million in state and federal funds for providers of these essential services, including a 3 percent rate increase.

In 2015, United Cerebral Palsy ranked Missouri third in the nation – and second most-improved since 2007 – for providing quality services to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.