Section 22-57-20Establishment of regional autism centers; constituency board; rules and regulations.
(a)(1) There is established in determined geographic regions of the state one or more autism centers whose purpose is to provide nonresidential resource and training services for persons of all ages and of all levels of intellectual functioning who have any of the following:
b. A pervasive developmental disorder that is not otherwise specified.
c. As determined by the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council, other disability populations which may receive benefit from the services and activities of the regional centers.
(2) Each center shall be operationally and fiscally independent, and provide evidence-based services within its geographical region of the state. Service delivery shall be consistent for all centers. Each center shall coordinate services within and between state and local agencies and school districts but may not duplicate services provided by those agencies or school districts. The respective locations and service areas of the centers shall be recommended by the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council and selected by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(b)(1) There is established for each center a constituency board, which shall work collaboratively with the center. Each board shall consist of no fewer than six members, each of whom is either an individual who is, or a member of a family that includes, a person who has a disability that is described in subsection (a).
(2)a. The Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House of Representatives shall select the members for the board from a list that has been developed by the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council and other relevant constituency groups that represent persons who have sensory impairments as described in subsection (a). The Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint members who reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state.
b. As representatives of the center's constituencies, these boards shall meet quarterly with the staff of each of the centers to provide advice on policies, priorities, and activities. Each board shall submit to the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council an annual report that evaluates the activities and accomplishments of its center during the year.
(c) To promote statewide planning and coordination, a conference shall be held annually for staff from each of the centers and representatives from each center's constituency board. The purpose of the conference shall be to facilitate coordination, networking, cross-training, and feedback among the staffs and constituency boards of the centers.
(d) Each center shall provide the following:
(1) A staff that has expertise in autism and related disabilities.
(2) Individual and direct family assistance in the home, community, and school. A center's assistance may not supplant other responsibilities of state and local agencies, and each school district shall be responsible for providing an appropriate education program for clients of a center who are school age, inclusive of preschool special education.
(3) Technical assistance and consultation services, including specific intervention and assistance for a client of the center, the family of the client, and the school district, and any other services that are appropriate.
(4) Professional training programs that include developing, providing, and evaluating preservice and inservice training in state-of-the-art practices for personnel who work with the populations served by the centers and their families.
(5) Public education programs to increase awareness of the public about autism and autistic-related disabilities.
(e) The number of regional centers shall be determined by the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council, and where possible, the centers shall be based on the campuses of state universities and colleges which provide a proposal for a center to the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council.
(f) The Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council and the regional autism centers shall adopt the necessary rules to implement and administer this section.
(g) The provisions of this section shall become operative only when funds are appropriated by the Legislature through a line item appropriation.
(Act 2009-592, p. 1748, §1.)