Early Intervention has called for a “stroller-in” to Governor Patrick’s office tomorrow, 3/1/10. Kids in strollers don’t vote – but their parents sure do. Here is what I am told that the Patrick Administration is considering:
Changing the Early Intervention eligibility standard (the delay a child would need to exhibit in order to receive services) from 30% to 40%. Currently, a child needs to exhibit a 30% delay. This has been increased twice in the past five years and is already more that what is required to receive special services in most school systems. Also:
• Implementing a 50% delay standard for children with expressive language delays.
• Raising parent fees approximately 7 times or 700% the current fee and as much as 1,333% for families between 301 and 400% FPG. In the midst of the state’s worst recession when families are already struggling to pay their essential bills, this will literally price families out of Early Intervention and have the same effect as eligibility changes.
I have been posting about “You can pay now, or you can pay later.” These changes are a terrible example of failing to catch problems early thereby avoiding huge costs and damage to children later on.
HERE are the details on the Stroller-in:
STROLLER-IN on Monday, March 1st at the Governor’s Office from 10:00 am- 11:00 am for families and all interested parties. If you cannot attend the STROLLER-IN or hearings, we encourage you to submit written testimony opposing the proposed changes (see template to assist with written testimony). Written comments may be sent until April 7, 2010.
To send that written testimony, as I plan to do:
Send letters to:
1. Governor Deval Patrick
State House Room 360
Boston, MA 02133
2. Attn: Ron Benham
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington St., 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02108 – 4619
The Early Intervention Consortium also is requesting that if you send a letter, you send them a copy at: Local Program Director, Martha Levine, President Ma. Early Intervention Consortium mlevine dot ne-arc.org , and Mary Ann Mullilgan, mamulligan dot governmentalstrategies.com
Early Intervention matters. I have been appointed to represent delayed infants and toddlers in state custody. Without the Early Intervention Therapists coming to those foster homes and training foster parents as to what to do, many of these children would be at risk for never living independently.
Similarly, when returned to their parent’s care, the parents are trained in how to do physical therapy, how to teach motor planning or language skills to kids where the therapies happen daily, several times a day in these homes, a level of treatment that is beyond what could happen in a clinic. For a child with Expressive language delay this is critical to any chance of “normal” development. this is also true of a dyspraxic children who do not receive such services face peer rejection, and the inability to do things like eating without vomiting that most of us take for granted. How do I know? My first born child was severely dyspraxic.
Truly, failing to provide Early Intervention for children with these issues constitutes such extreme failure to meet the needs of this vulnerable population as be not only reckless – but to constitute direct harm.
We are our children’s keepers, collectively. I cannot participate in the “Stroller-in” – I will be in court protecting a vulnerable family. But to all you legislators and staffers who read these posts:
FIRST DO NO HARM. PROTECT THE CHILDREN.