TALLAHASSEE - Florida's new agency for people with mental retardation, autism and cerebral palsy will be managed by the same official currently in charge of services to people with developmental disabilities.
Gov. Jeb Bush named Shelly Brantley to the post Thursday.
Brantley, 35, has administered the developmental disabilities program in the state Department of Children and Families since February 2003. Bush proposed the new Agency for Persons with Disabilities last spring and lawmakers agreed.
The independent agency, with some 4,000 employees and a budget of $1.2-billion, will begin operations Oct. 1.
Brantley will make $113,000 as director of the agency; she made $96,700 at DCF.
The agency will provide a wide range of services to people with mental retardation, autism and cerebral palsy. The services include adult day care, education, help with jobs and independent living, such as bathing and dressing.
Florida has increased funding for people with developmental disabilities nearly 130 percent in the last five years, eliminated a waiting list of more than 10,000 and tripled the number of people served to about 32,000.
But for every two people served, another person has signed up on a list to get services.
"Yes, the waiting list has grown again," Bush said. "But we wiped out a waiting list for a lot of people that had lost hope.
"To me, this is a program that has tremendous potential. It also has the highest priority."
Bush said Brantley "is a great public servant and a person that can administer this billion-dollar-plus program, I think, with the efficiency that that people who depend on it deserve."
Brantley said she thought there would be "many greater opportunities to stay focused on the services we provide."