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Thursday, January 25, 2007
State Auditor Susan Montee issued a report on Jan. 23 that found the First Steps program, which serves toddlers with autism and other developmental problems, is failing to serve many children in need. Upon taking office in 2005, Blunt attempted to eliminate the program but backed off in aftermath of widespread criticism. The governor instead pushed legislation requiring many families or insurance providers to pay for a portion of the program’s cost. The audit said the program went from serving 3,004 children in FY 2004, the year before Blunt took office, to serving 2,563 children in FY 2006. The audit also found Missouri’s criteria for treating children is stricter than in all but two other states.