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Holding out hope: Developmental disabilities aid funneled through partnership

For Carmen Fairley and her family, Partnership for Hope has been a blessing.

Fairley and her husband have two daughters, a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old. The oldest, April, has autism.

“It’s for safety, and it’s for independence,” Fairley said of Partnership for Hope. “It’s just to help her be a young lady and gives her purpose in society and in the community.”

Partnership for Hope is a county-based waiver program through Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Division of Developmental Disabilities. It provides people with developmental disabilities community-based support and services that in the past could only be obtained in crisis.

According to Keith Schafer, director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, when the partnership began in 2010, Partnership for Hope allowed people with developmental disabilities “to receive the supports they need sooner and at dramatically lower cost.”

To qualify for a Partnership for Hope waiver, one must be eligible for Missouri Medicaid, meet eligibility criteria for the Division of Developmental Disabilities, reside in a participating county and meet crisis or priority criteria. One participant is limited to $12,000 a year in program services.

As of Feb. 4, the Division of Developmental Disabilities had enrolled nearly 2,000 Missourians in Partnership for Hope since the program began. By June 30, the division projects more than 2,500 individuals to be enrolled.

In his 2014 budget, Nixon has laid out $10.2 million for Partnership for Hope, with the intent of serving an additional 1,015 Missourians with developmental disabilities.

He has also allotted $26 million to provide home and community-based services to 735 more people with developmental disabilities in addition to Partnership for Hope.

In his State of the State address on Jan. 28, Nixon introduced 23-year-old Vishal Patel, who has a rare form of cerebral palsy and moves around in a motorized wheelchair. Nixon explained how Partnership for Hope has provided Patel with a stair lift, a roll-in shower, a permanent ramp and various physical therapy needs. The program also arranged for him to volunteer at a movie theater in St. Peters, where he was offered a job. One of Patel’s dreams was to get a real job.

The Partnership serves each individual’s needs, Fairley said.

She wanted her daughter April to be more independent.

The program allows April to have an attendant with her 20 hours a week, to help her with daily tasks and to assist her when her parents are at work.

“She’s now actually able to do household chores like fold the laundry, put laundry away, do the dishes, vacuum,” Fairley said. “The attendant can take her out to the mall to hang out and they can go out to eat.”

Fairley said April has learned to start doing things on her own.

“It’s helping her realize that Mom and Dad aren’t here, but I can do these things without them,” Fairley said.

Partnership for Hope gives the Fairleys an allotted amount of money to pay for an attendant for April. Nothing is out-of-pocket.

Fairley said it’s wonderful Nixon is supporting Partnership for Hope and providing more funding for the program.

“It’s just a blessing for parents or whoever is responsible for the individual to know that someone is taking care of their loved one,” Fairley said. “It can be a burden to raise a special needs child.”

Fairley said Partnership for Hope is a godsend and has enabled her daughter to become a more productive member of the family and society.

“She (April) will not go into a group home,” Fairley said. “Our home is where she lives and our home and the community are where she needs to be independent.”

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