By Jodi Dougan,
CEO of Ascend Academy of Arizona

Did you know there is state funding for disabled individuals after high school to continue a productive daily program?

To qualify for the state reimbursement, your loved one must meet the following criteria for the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD): a person or guardian must voluntarily apply; be an Arizona resident; be diagnosed with a developmental disability which arose before the age of 18 and is likely to continue indefinitely; and there must be significant limitations in daily life skills related to the disability. Qualifying diagnoses include: cerebral palsy, epilepsy, intellectual/cognitive disability, down syndrome, and autism spectrum disorder.

The state-funded programs have a list of qualified vendors and will submit your application through the state server for the contracted qualified vendors to view. This allows the vendors to contact you. Doing your own research via social media or your local chamber of commerce is also a great start. In addition, most Valley high schools have a transition counselor that can refer you to a productive daily program serving your area.
It is crucial to choose a program that provides an education to meets your loved one’s needs. Make sure the academy you choose is not just a daycare and the aid assigned speaks the native tongue of your student to ensure appropriate communication. It is important to be cautious during your search because there are many programs that place all students at the same level. This only provides a holding place without the interaction and high-level learning that can help a student reach their full potential and accomplish their adult goals.

Another aspect to look for is an intimate setting. It is beneficial when the program offers no more than a four to one ratio. This maximizes the attention to each individual’s needs and provides extra precautions with current pandemic concerns. Also, many qualified programs provide transportation services to help families that are concerned with travel restrictions. Transportation services also open up your search options to find a better fitting program without the concern of travel constraints.

For more details on these programs, visit the DDD website at

This article was written by the owner of Ascend Academy of Arizona, who is not employed by the state of Arizona but holds a current contract as a qualified vendor.