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Donations provide stopgap funding for U of I autism program

Published June 27, 2016
child walking alone

URBANA, Ill. - The Autism Program (TAP) at the University of Illinois was about to become another casualty of the state budget crisis. The program had already made serious cuts to stay afloat this summer.  It was announced June 24 that a significant gift from a private donor to the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences will help fund The Autism Program for the coming year.

“Although this is very good news indeed, there is still a need for funding,” says Linda Tortorelli, director of The Autism Program. “Although the amount contributed allows us to stay open, it is only a stopgap, the need still exists. State funding is still critical.”

Tortorelli took a sizeable cut in her own salary so that the program could continue. She has been working for half of her salary and was planning to go to 25-percent pay July 1.

 “We greatly appreciate the collection of donors, including Carle Foundation, Christie Foundation, grateful parents, and U of I partners, that made it possible for the program to continue this year. We’ll be working diligently to create a sustainable funding plan for the future,” adds Tortorelli.

The Urbana-based program remained open since last July without a contract or state grant funding, partly by making cuts and with some donation boosts, but announced last month it was about out of money.

The Autism Program provides statewide services. In fact, in fiscal year 2014, TAP served residents of each of Illinois’s 102 counties.  The program provides hundreds of screenings and full diagnostic procedures; trains thousands of parents, educators, health care professionals, day care providers and first responders; and provides services such as social skills groups, ABA therapy, and sibling groups that help children with autism better relate to their families, their peers, and others.

The TAP network of families and partners has worked to obtain millions of dollars in additional grant funding. 

For more information about the program, visit the website.