JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Gov. Rick Scott came to Jacksonville on Wednesday to celebrate $36 million in funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list.

Scott made the announcement at Pine Castle, a school that serves adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities and provides support to their families.

"I want every Floridian, including those with disabilities, to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of finding a job and live their version of the American dream," Scott said. "With our $36 million investment, we will be making a big impact on many families throughout the state. For the first time in eight years, we are helping more than 750 people move off the APD waiting list where they will receive the services they need to participate in their community and develop skills to find employment."

Scott's budget includes $1.1 billion for APD, including $36 million that will allow individuals on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver and start receiving services in their local communities. Those with the most critical needs will benefit from this new funding.

The budget also includes a one-time appropriation of $40 million -- $17 million in state funding and $23 million federal match -- to pay off the waiver deficit from prior fiscal years. With this funding, APD is projecting to be within its appropriation for the first time in many years. Leaders of organizations that serve people with disabilities unanimously praised the approved budget.

"I am so happy that the Florida Legislature supported Gov. Scott's recommendation to provide additional funding for the waiver waiting list for the first time since 2005," said APD Director Barbara Palmer. "Families, waiver support coordinators, providers, and our employees have worked very hard to bring our waiver spending under control, and we are ready to begin helping those with the most critical needs in the coming year."

The new budget also includes about $500,000 to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. The funding will pay for supported employment services to help 200 people with developmental disabilities obtain and maintain jobs and internships.

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Jean Sherman said, "Families are greatly encouraged that the Legislature responded with funding to begin serving those individuals from the waiting list in the most urgent need. Likewise, designating new monies to help transitioning youth from the waiting list find employment is a positive step forward. Both of these actions signal that the voices of our families and loved ones are being heard in Tallahassee and for that we are most grateful."

The budget also funds $1.5 million for a new APD data system that will provide service-specific information from providers regarding service delivery dates and progress, as well as better verification that services were delivered at the times and locations that were authorized by the agency. The system will include an electronic client central record that will provide the agency with information that can be used to more efficiently and effectively serve individuals with developmental disabilities by providing electronic information that will track provider services and progress for the client.

For more information go to http://apd.myflorida.com/.