COLUMBIA — Gov. Jay Nixon visited Boone County Family Resources on Thursday to talk about Partnership for Hope, a new program that he said is "opening up opportunities" for the developmentally disabled in Missouri.
A collaboration among the state of Missouri, 37 county developmental disability boards and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Partnership for Hope program will provide access to resources and assistance for Missourians with developmental disabilities.
“Partnership for Hope helps coordinate care across the state," Nixon said. "The need for service far exceeds our capacity.”
The program helps individuals who are out of school but not in a crisis situation, such as homelessness or the death of a caregiver. Before the program was established, so many families and individuals requested assistance from the state and county boards that most were wait-listed while those in crisis were given priority, according to a news release from Nixon's office. But by the time help arrived, most of them were in crisis themselves.
The program “helps people to live more normal lives, to be productive, to participate in their community,” said Les Wagner, the executive director of Boone County Family Resources.
Boone County Family Resources provides family support, vocational training and aid for families and individuals with developmental disabilities. Through the Partnership for Hope program, Boone County Family Resources has established a “Prevention Waiver” to help families that need assistance but are not in crisis.
Considered the first of its kind in the country, Partnership for Hope will provide up to $12,000 in services per year to 470 individuals requesting assistance. The funding will assist 80 people in Boone County, according to Nixon's release.
As of Wednesday, 137 families have enrolled in the program, and this number “will probably double by New Year,” said Keith Schaefer, the director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
In Boone County, 30 people have already started receiving services.
Norma Anderson, 20, is one such Boone County resident. Norma Anderson has Asperger’s syndrome and is cared for by her grandmother, Fern Anderson.
“My goal for her is to learn how to live independently when grandma is not around anymore,” Fern Anderson said.
With assistance from Partnership for Hope, Norma Anderson is learning social and life skills to enable her to live an independent life.
Fern Anderson is grateful for the program and glad she now has support.
“I don’t feel as alone in the situation,” she said. “I know they’re getting her ready to live independently.”