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Posted Date: 09/15/2017
By: Dianna Varady

In January Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas General Assembly took steps to fund 500 new slots for the Alternative Community Services (ACS) Medicaid Waiver (aka the DD waiver, and soon to be known as the Community and Employment Support waiver), which will allow 500 individuals with developmental disabilities to move off of a waiting list and finally begin receiving home and community-based services.  There are approximately 3000 people currently on this waiting list, and many of these “Fortunate 500” have been waiting almost 10 years for these critically important services, including our son, Bradley, who has autism.

The services provided through waiver are based upon the individual needs of the recipient and may include specialized adaptive equipment, supportive living services, and even supported employment services.  The program is, without a doubt, one of the most valuable programs available to people with developmental disabilities in the state of Arkansas, and it’s hard to describe how much these services will mean to the 500 people moving off of the waiting list.  For parents of young children moving off of the list it may mean they’ll be able to work and continue to pay the bills during the summer months (yes, many parents of children with developmental disabilities are unable to work during the summer when school isn’t in session).  For adults with developmental disabilities it may afford them with the supports they need to finally get a job and move out into their own home (note:  it is a universal truth that all young adults…even young adults with disabilities…do not wish to live with their parents forever and, frankly, that all parents do a “happy dance” when their adult children move out of the family home).  I cannot possibly know what precisely these services will mean for the other Fortunate 499, but I do know what this means for our son and our family.

 For our son Bradley, who will be an adult in a few short years, it means his future will be FULL of opportunities:

  • The opportunity to live where, and with whom, he wishes
  • The opportunity to belong to a faith community of his choosing where he can worship and benefit from a fellowship of service to a higher purpose
  • The opportunity to contribute to society and earn a living through meaningful, integrated employment
  • The opportunity to participate in recreational and volunteer activities in the community that will improve and enrich his quality of life
  • The opportunity to make and maintain connections to people in the community…friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.
  • And, most importantly, the opportunity to SHARE HIS MANY GIFTS with the rest of the world

Yes, the future for Bradley is bright indeed, and FULL of possibilities. I can’t wait to see what he makes of it.

(Dianna Varady is the Director of the Arkansas Autism Resource & Outreach Center (AAROC) and a trainer for the Welcome the Children Project at Partners for Inclusive Communities, the Arkansas University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).  She, her husband, Steve, and their son, Bradley, live in Little Rock, Arkansas.)


Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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