Thousands of Kansas families on waiting list for developmental disability aid

Thousands of Kansas residents are on a waiting list to get help for developmental disabilities -- and that number may grow as the state budget shrinks.

Josh Bridges, 23, has autism. His family can only afford to send him to a special facility twice a week. At $37 a day, Josh gets to go in on Mondays and Fridays, but his father said he knows he needs more care than that.

"I have the heart to help him, but I don't have the education to," John Bridges explained.

A job transfer moved the Bridges family from Ohio to Kansas more than a year ago. That's how long they've been on the waiting list for an Intellectual and Developmental Disability Waiver, which would provide the funds they need.

The Bridges are one of more than 3,000 families in Kansas on the list. They said they likely have five more years to wait.

Developmental disability advocates worry the waiting list may only get worse.

For years, slight but steady increases in the state's budget still couldn't keep up with demand. But now, the Kansas Department of Aging says the $327 million budgeted for services won't be going up for at least two years.

For his son's sake, Bridges hopes lawmakers wake up to the growing need for services.

"There has to be a way," he said. "If we don't make it a priority, we will never find it."

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