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State Program Serving Children with Severe Disabilities in Jeopardy

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 By Dan Gordon, Public News Service - TN, Contact
June 22, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The state program serving thousands of children with severe disabilities faces virtual elimination. The Family Support Program will be operated with federal stimulus money for the next 12 months but will then lose funding.

Deana Claiborne, executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee, says the program is vital to Tennessee children with disabilities.

"We're talking about people with very severe disabilities, like cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy."

Lawmakers who favor reducing the Family Support budget say an average of $10,000 annually is spent on each person served, an amount difficult to justify in the current recession.

Claiborne says the Family Support Program will suffer a 93 percent cut in budget when the $7 million in stimulus money runs out.

"After that, the budget would be reduced to $200,000. Now, you're talking about a $7 million dollar program."

Claiborne hopes the public and state legislators can be convinced that the Family Support Program should be fully funded.

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