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SOS also provides peer matches for individuals with disabilities, extended family members or professionals.

Direct Services: Early Childhood (ages 3 to 5)

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What is a developmental disability?

Missouri defines a developmental disability as a disability attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, head injury, autism, learning disability related to a brain dysfunction, or any other mental or physical impairment that occurs before age 22. It must be determined that this disability is like to continue indefinitely and that it results in a substantial functional limitation in two or more of the following six areas of major life activities: self care; receptive and expressive language development and use; learning; self direction; capacity for independent living or economic self sufficiency; and mobility.

What should I do if I suspect my child has a developmental delay or disability?

If your physician has indicated that your child may be experiencing significant developmental delays, you should contact the Regional Center nearest to your home and ask for assistance with determining eligibility for services. The staff there can assist you with applying for assistance from the Department of Mental Health – Division of MRDD, as well as from other sources.

What kinds of help are available for my child and my family?

There are many types of services and supports available for your child based on their needs. Some examples of supports include early childhood intervention services, specific therapies (i.e., Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Behavior Therapy, Music Therapy, and counseling services), respite care, personal care attendant services, and adaptive equipment.

Is eligibility for services based on income?

Financial eligibility varies from agency to agency, but often there are income guidelines that must be met. It is best to ask each individual service agency if eligibility for their services is based on income. Eligibility for Regional Center services is not based on income. However, you will be asked to submit income information and a “Standard Means Test” determines your ability to pay for services. Most services are exempt from charges to the consumer. Your service coordinator at the regional center can provide you with specific information related to your situation.

Are there other parents/families that are experiencing the same things with their child?

The good news is that you are not alone! There is a network of supportive parents and families who have had experiences similar to yours. They would be willing to talk with you and help you through the difficult times. Contact Sharing Our Strengths (SOS) to find out more.


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Department of Mental Health - Division of MRDD
The division improves the lives of persons with developmental disabilities through programs and services to enable those persons to live independently, productively and safely, and in the most integrated living arrangements possible. The eleven Regional Centers serve as the entry point into the developmental disability service system. Those determined eligible are given a case manager who works with the person and or families/guardian to make appropriate community connections for supports needed.

Regional Centers are designed to assist individuals in meeting needs related to their disability through a variety of ways, while maintaining people in their homes and communities, if possible. In general, the Regional Centers have access to early childhood intervention services, vocational services, residential services, specific therapies (i.e., Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and counseling services), in-home supports, adaptive equipment, respite care, personal care attendant services, and crisis intervention services. There are so many services available that it would be difficult to list them all, but your Regional Center service coordinator will be knowledgeable about specific services in your area.

Department of Health and Senior Services -- Special Healthcare Needs
The Hope Program provides assistance for children birth to age 21 who meet financial and medical eligibility guidelines. The Healthy Children and Youth (HCY) Administrative Case Management Program assists families in meeting their child's needs to function at an optimal level.

Medicaid – Missouri Department of Social Services
Medicaid is a program that pays for medical assistance for certain individuals and families with low incomes and resources. This program became law in 1965 and is jointly funded by the Federal and State governments (including the District of Columbia and the Territories) to assist States in providing medical long-term care assistance to people who meet certain eligibility criteria.

SSI – Supplemental Security Income
SSI makes monthly payments to people with low income and limited resources who are 65 or older, or blind or disabled. Your child under age 18 can qualify if he or she meets Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources fall within the eligibility limits.

Senate Bill 40 Boards
Senate Bill 40 Boards fund services for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental retardation in 74 counties in Missouri. These counties have enacted legislation establishing the boards. The organizational structure of each Senate Bill 40 Board is different. Some Boards provide direct services, some provide funds to community agencies to provide services, and some Boards provide both direct services and funds to community agencies.

Sharing Our Strengths
SOS is a statewide support network of parents, family members, people with developmental disabilities and professionals who are matched with peer mentors to share experiences, offer emotional support and to network with others.

Parent Training Modules
The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning has developed parent training modules that help families promote children’s social and emotional skills, understand children’s problem behaviors, and use positive approaches to help them learn appropriate behaviors.

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