BATON ROUGE, LA — New Opportunities Waivers help children and adults with severe developmental disabilities get services they need, in a rare move during budget cuts the NOW program is getting more funding, creating 75 new slots for those who need them.
"It'll be a dream come true for those families," said Kay Marcel, NOW advocate.
Scotty Adams and his family are still waiting for their daughter Lauren to get a waiver, nine years after she was put on the list when she was 12 years old.
"She’s just another person, just like you and I, she wants to one day be more independent and so she would like to be able to live in a house on her own or with some other people like her. And so these funds can help with that," explained Adams.
He is hoping they'll be one of the 75 families to get money from the new slots lawmakers are setting aside money for in the budget.
"It was exhilarating, I mean we're so excited! But the thing is, there should not even be a waiting list," said Adams.
Bambi Polotzola said she knows what it's like to wait for a waiver, after 7 years on the list her son got the services he needs ; help she said is changing his life forever.
"You see that independence and you know the trajectory of his life is that he'll be able to live independently. He’ll be able to have a job because you've seen the improvement in his life just in the short amount of time that he's had services," said Polotzola
NOW advocates said that those using services in the long term are often able to start contributing tax dollars themselves to eventually support more waivers.
"The quality of life is so much better in the community. And people like my son who work, he's a tax payer. For every dollar he earns in his job it reduces his benefits from social security. So it's a win-win," explained Marcel.
There are over 9,000 people still on the NOW waiting list and the average wait time is about 10 years at this point.