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State funding for special needs campers back just in time for summer session

Ethan Costello (right) with Easterseals camp counselor

State funding that helps some special children go to camp is now back on and it could be because FOX 42 got involved.

The state of Nebraska kept putting off one group that was trying to get money and that funding was up in the air until Friday afternoon.

"We're really happy that now we can keep on with our plans and get ready for Ethan to spend a week at camp."

That's what Mary Costello said after she got happy news late Friday.

The state of Nebraska is going to help pay for summer camp for her special needs child, but earlier on Friday things didn't look so good.

"It just threw us all into turmoil about what was going to happen."

Costello says she was worried that she wouldn't be able to send her son, Ethan, to Easterseals summer camp.

Costello said, "The ability to go to camp is just something that we really appreciate."

Ethan has down syndrome. Easterseals camp is a place for him and others with disabilities to learn and grow every summer.

"He's grown in his life skills, in his confidence."

However, Costello says that was all put in jeopardy last week when she got an email.

Costello said, "It showed that Easterseals was no longer going to be a respite care provider for children until they got some special licensing done."

Easterseals Camp Director Jami Biodrowski said, “Basically the rules that they want us to follow as an agency...we needed to change it as soon as possible, but that takes a process with the state and with camp around the corner it didn't give us any time to implement those changes."

It means that Easterseals wouldn't be able to accept waiver as a payment for camp.

Costello said, "To find out that now that was going to go away was really disappointing.”

FOX 42 found out about this on Friday. We called the Department of Health & Human Services to get more information. Soon after that we found out from Easterseals that it had been given a 90-day provisional license.

Biodrowski said, "Camp starts in just a couple weeks so that was a little stressful, but I'm really glad that now our campers will all get to go to camp no matter which waiver they are on."

People with Easterseals say they believe DHHS took action on Friday because FOX 42 called it about this issue.

Here's what someone from DHHS told FOX 42 earlier on Friday: "We are working very closely with Easterseals to ensure that they are enrolled and everything is in place for the children receiving camp services this summer."


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