February 28, 2007

Florida Autism Center of Excellence Establishes Enrollment Hotline

TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Parents who want information on how to enroll their child in the Florida Autism Center of Excellence (FACE) can call (866) 951-FACE (3223), FACE announced today.

The charter for the Florida Autism Center of Excellence was approved by the Hillsborough County School Board on Feb. 13. FACE will serve students in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee and Polk counties. Last December, the program was awarded a $700,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education to help cover developmental and start-up expenses. The program is scheduled to open in August 2007 and will serve students ages three to 22.

According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects one in 150 children born today, up from previous estimates. Florida ranked sixth in the nation with 7,918 cases of autism in children ages six through 21 according to the most recent U.S. Department of Education figures available. Nationwide, the number of children diagnosed with autism continues to increase at a rate of more than 20 percent a year, according to the U.S. Department of Health.

FACE, a non-profit corporation dedicated to the education of children and young adults with autism, has engaged Educational Services of America (ESA), http://www.esa-education.com/, the nation's leading provider of special and alternative educational programs for children, to manage the program. ESA is based in Nashville, Tenn., and manages more than 100 schools and programs in 16 states to serve children with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities, including autism. ESA operates 38 schools and programs in Florida, including nine programs specifically for students with autism.

"As the number of autism cases continues to rise nationwide, the need for quality educational programs is more critical than ever," Mark Claypool, president and chief executive officer of ESA, said. "We provide a continuum of care from pre-kindergarten to post-secondary education.

"The qualified, compassionate educators at FACE will serve students with autism representing a wide age range, from recently diagnosed children whose parents are seeking early intervention strategies to high school graduates who want to pursue a college degree."

   FACE will offer three specific programs:    --  Spectrum is a nationally recognized program serving students ages       three to 22 with moderate to severe autism. Spectrum offers an       individualized, language-focused, outcomes-based approach in a highly       structured environment to help students transfer their newly acquired       skills to everyday life.    --  College Living Prep serves middle and senior high school students with       Asperger's Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and non-verbal       learning disabilities and offers academic, social development,       recreational therapy and independent living skills programs.    --  College Living Experience is a comprehensive program that provides       structured and highly individualized assistance with academic,       independent living and social skills to assist students with special       needs who attend college or vocational school.   

FACE will serve students from its main campus at 6400 E. Chelsea St. in Tampa, Fla., and five satellite campuses:

    Pasco County - Broach Zephyrhills, 5353 Fifth St., Zephyrhills;    Pinellas County - Broach St. Petersburg, 4500 43rd Street N., St.     Petersburg;    Polk County - Crossroads Lakeland, 2001 N. Crystal Lake Road, Lakeland;    Manatee County - Broach Bradenton, 3005 26th St. W., Bradenton; and    Sarasota County - Location will be announced later.   

People interested in learning about other programs can contact ESA at (888) 979-0004 or visit http://www.esa-education.com/

About Educational Services of America

Educational Services of America is the nation's leading provider of special, alternative and post-secondary educational programs. Based in Nashville, Tenn., ESA owns and operates more than 100 schools and programs in 16 states. ESA provides highly personalized academic and behavioral services for students through four branded areas: College Living Experience, ESA Exceptional Schools, Ombudsman Educational Services and Spectrum Center Schools. For more information, visit http://www.esa-education.com/.

Educational Services of America

CONTACT: Cate Lewandowski of Lovell Communications Inc., +1-615-297-7766, [email protected], for Educational Services of America

Web site: http://www.esa-education.com/