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Cardinal Innovations and Autism Charlotte Partner to Expand Successful Academic Program for K-12 Students with Autism

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — June 23, 2021
Charlotte, NC / June 23, 2021 Cardinal Innovations Healthcare has awarded a $52,042 grant to help Autism Charlotte hire additional staff for its academic program which has proven highly effective in helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) improve academic, social and communication skills while providing their families with emotional and other support. ASD is a developmental disability characterized by significant social, communication, physical, behavioral and learning challenges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 54 children age 8+ have the disorder, including more than 6,000 who live in Mecklenburg County. Many of these children and their families face tremendous ongoing hardships due to lack of resources, financial demands, stigma, exclusion and social isolation, resulting in feelings of hopelessness.

To support children with ASD and their families, grant funds will go toward hiring a full-time Teacher and Family Support Coordinator for the agency’s successful Extended Learning and Development (ELD) program. Launched in 2006, the program provides a wide range of services for students in grades K- 12 with ASD such as specialized assessments, service planning, academic intervention, communications, social skills, behavior management and self-help/independence. ELD also provides parents and family with coaching, training, information and referral, and support groups. The program operates when schools are not in session, such as afterschool, summer, teacher workdays and winter and spring breaks.

“There are not enough resources offering the specialized expertise and support that children with ASD so desperately need to achieve their full potential,” said Valerie Iseah, Autism Charlottes’ CEO. “Every year, hundreds of local children with ASD enter our school system ill-equipped, unprepared and lagging behind their typically developing peers. At a tremendous disadvantage from the onset, they struggle throughout their school careers, resulting in repeated adverse occurrences and heart-breaking outcomes. Our goal is to correct that pattern and give these children the help they need to thrive.”

Autism Charlotte’s approach has resulted in 85 percent of children in the ELD program boosting academic performance, 95 percent report progress with behavior and personal development, and 98 percent improve communication skills.

“We believe all children should have the opportunity to thrive in their community,” Trey Sutten, Cardinal Innovations’ CEO. “Our community reinvestment program is designed to help meet the unique needs of our communities, and we are proud to support Autism Charlotte as they work to improve outcomes for children with ASD.”


About Cardinal Innovations Healthcare: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare is a specialized health plan and care coordinator for Medicaid recipients and the under- and uninsured in North Carolina with complex behavioral and special needs. Cardinal Innovations connects people with treatment and support for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders through a network of providers in their communities. The organization serves this important role in 20 counties. In 2020, Cardinal Innovations administered nearly $850 million for the care of 825,000 people in the region and invested more than $50 million to improve support systems and to respond to the pandemic. Cardinal Innovations also works with local governments to address public health concerns such as homelessness, suicide prevention, child welfare and domestic violence through education, engagement and outreach.

About Autism Charlotte: Autism Charlotte was founded in 2006 by five parents, all directly impacted and inspired by their own special children affected by autism. Facing the many day-to-day challenges common in caring for a child with autism, these parents experienced firsthand the significant lack of programs, services, and support in our community. They committed themselves to helping other families facing similar challenges but likewise finding few answers and often feeling alone.  With the support of many friends, family, and community partners, Autism Foundation of the Carolinas was established as a 501C3  and was  later renamed Autism Charlotte. The organization became well known for programs such as iCan Bike and  Inclusion-based Afterschool. Over the years, Autism Charlotte's programs, services, presence, and impact has continued to grow and elvove based on the incredible foundation established by our founders. 

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