Grant provides respite care to Ozark Center for Autism parents

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - Grant provides respite care to Ozark Center for Autism parents

JOPLIN, Mo.—A $26,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation will allow Ozark Center for Autism to expand its respite care.

Couples who have children living with autism experience a high level of stress. For many Ozark Center for Autism families, the May 22 tornado compounded that. Because of sensory issues, even simple tasks such as a trip to the grocery store can be difficult for children living with autism. Behavior therapists at Ozark Center for Autism offer its parents short-term care for their child with autism. By offering such respite care services, Ozark Center for Autism provides its parents time to take care of those chores or simply gives them an opportunity to rest.

This donation from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, based out of Kansas City, Mo., will fund 1,000 hours of respite care for the children of Ozark Center for Autism. The organization’s mission is to help individuals attain economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success. The funding was recently given to the school during a presentation at Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States.

“As the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation works each day to bring support to individuals and families in the Kansas City region, know that the families of Ozark Center for Autism have felt the comfort of that support, as well,” said Paula Baker, Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer-elect and administrator for all autism programming. 

Since opening in 2007, more than 300 students have received treatment through Ozark Center for Autism. Developed in consultation with the Cleveland Clinic Autism Consulting Group, the school provides intensive therapy, vital to unlocking parts of the brain that control functions such as language, emotion, social skills, and interest.

In 2010, the center established a Special Education Center, expanding therapy services to kindergarten through 12th grade students. In January, Ozark Center for Autism opened the Four State’s only autism diagnostic center, which features the resources of an entire team of diagnostic professionals. This team recommends local treatment opportunities to families once a diagnosis has taken place.

About Ozark Center
An integral component of Freeman Health System based in Joplin, Missouri, Ozark Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults, and families in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the mental health needs of the community and promote awareness of mental illness in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit or call 417.347.7600.

Despite the destruction of the school during the May 22 tornado, Ozark Center for Autism resumed treatment less than one week after the storm. The school is currently operating out of its second temporary facility, located at 3230 South Wisconsin Avenue, Suite D.