Representative Bill Blessing Applauds Concurrence Of HB 299
Legislation Allows an Easier Application for Autism Scholarships

State Representative Bill Blessing (R-Colerain) today applauded the Ohio House’s concurrence on Senate amendments to House Bill 299, legislation that would allow a temporary, legal, or permanent guardian of a qualified child to apply for an Autism Scholarship. Representative Jeffery Rezabek (R-Clayton) is a joint sponsor of the legislation.

“It has been an honor working with Rep. Rezabek to ensure that any child battling autism is able to apply for a scholarship. No child should have to suffer and struggle due to circumstances outside their control,” Rep Blessing said. “I am very proud that we are able to make this change not only for my constituent in the 29th House District, but for all children of the state of Ohio that battle autism.”

The impetus for the bill derived from a constituent case that Rep. Blessing’s office recently worked on. A young girl from the 29th House District had previously received an Autism Scholarship and with it had made significant progress. However, when the family she was living with became her legal guardians, she no longer qualified for the scholarship and therefore lost it.

Current language regarding the Autism Scholarship only allows a natural or adoptive parent to sign the child’s application. This differs considerably from a similar scholarship, the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship. House Bill 299 will align the language in both scholarships, which would allow the child’s custodian to apply for whichever best suits the child’s needs. The bill also made changes to graduation and testing requirements for nonpublic school students.

“It was an honor of mine to join Rep. Blessing in expanding access to scholarships for children battling autism. This change in law will close a loophole that has adversely affected people in the state of Ohio,” Rep. Rezabek said. “It is reforms like this that I am most proud of working on because you can see the impact right away in these children’s development and at the end of the day, that’s what I have always worked towards, both as a state representative and as an attorney.”

By changing the definition of a parent to include temporary, legal, or permanent custodians for the Autism Scholarship, more children who suffer from autism will be able to apply. Thus, by applying and ideally receiving the scholarship, more children with autism will have access to the funds and care they need to develop and learn successfully.

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