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Taking Care of Florida's Developmentally Disabled

More than 15,000 disabled Floridians and their families are begging the state for help. Many are losing services.

Eighteen-year-old Megan Holl of Longwood is number 5,812 on the state’s waiting list for developmentally disabled services. Megan suffered a seizure when she was just six months old. It left her with the mental capacity of a child and the love of her family.

Betsy Holl, Megan's mother, says, "It’s an ordeal going everywhere, isn’t it? Actually, this is easier; we rented this van to make this trip up here."

When parents Rob and Betsy Holl moved to central Florida they assumed Megan would get the same services they had in Ohio. They were wrong. So the entire family came to the state Capitol to speak out for Megan and thousands of disabled Floridians who can’t speak out for themselves.

Rob Holl says, "My daughter needs therapy. My daughter needs to gain some skills. I don’t know that she is capable of learning much, but she has to be given as much opportunity to make as much progress as she can."

Funding for the developmentally disabled is up under Jeb Bush, and so are the number of people being served, but what advocates are saying is that when the hole is so deep, much, much more has to be done.

There are more than 15,000 people on the state’s waiting list for developmental services, but her dad says Megan is more than just a number.

Rob adds, "Megan is my definition of unconditional love. She’s a real person, not a statistic."

And after four years on the waiting list, Megan hasn’t gotten any closer to the day when the state will provide her with the help she needs. In fact, she’s been losing ground. Advocates for the disabled say the state has plenty of cash this year and there’s no excuse for the long waiting lists.


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