Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tax Credit of the week

Governor Matt Blunt touts the Missouri ETV program.

The Missouri Education and Training Voucher Program offers funds to foster youth and former foster youth to enable them to attend colleges, universities and vocational training institutions. Students may receive up to $5000 a year as they pursue higher education. The funds may be used for tuition, books or qualified living expenses. These funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis to students out of the Missouri foster care system.

With other programs across the state like this, it is a wonder that more Missourians don’t understand why we need assistance for special needs families offered by HB 1886. We recognize that there are children who need more than they can afford. Missouri is turning a blind eye to the fact that families with special needs children need help and need choices as well if they are going to reach their true potential (something no amount of pragmatic norms should deny them).

I ran across KOMU’s “Combating Autism from Within” blog by Ashley Reynolds. Many of the parents commenting had more than one autistic child.

The American Institute of Research estimates the annual cost to educate an autistic child in public school is between $15,900 and $21,700. That is in line with a National Education Association estimate of $16,900 for special education. That amount doesn’t even touch healthcare costs, diagnosis or intensive treatment and therapy that often involves some of the most expensive and state of the art equipment and/or one-on-one therapies and exercises.

The monetary cost, in turn, doesn’t begin to touch the cost to the physical and emotional resources of parents, and the daily struggle they face meeting their child’s needs: from getting them to eat, to keeping them safe to finding the appropriate education and therapy and getting the right diagnosis, IEP, teacher, tutor, playgroup, medication. The need is there. Ideas about ways to help exist and have been tested, both in other states and for other high-need groups in Missouri. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~Anne Frank

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