This is the super succinct version of what is going on currently: The Senate agreed to use the "Rainy Day Fund" which the House had originally said it would not use. This money would address the cuts in the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Education budgets. The Senate Finance Committee approved the budget with the DHH (and Early Steps) budget, contingent on use of these funds and a few other sources of funding to fill in the revenue gaps. The House must approve the exact same budget, and both houses must approve the exact same bill. They must wrap this whole kit-and-kaboodle up and send it to the governor for his signature before the legislative session ends Monday. Please continue writing letters and calling legislators until they have passed everything and we are 100% in the clear!
Early Steps provides free therapy to 9,000 children each year ages birth to three years old who have developmental delays and disabilities. Early Steps has therapists in urban and rural areas across the state, and the program services every single parish in Louisiana. Do you know a child with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy? Do you know a baby that was born premature or underweight? Do you know a child with a speech delay or a physical delay? These are the children in Early Steps. This program provides physical therapist, social workers, occupational therapists, teachers, and speech therapists who work with children in their home or daycare. We serve children in foster care, children born as young as 24 weeks old, children who are low-income and high risk.
In the two years I have worked as a Family Service Coordinator for Early Steps, I have seen over 200 children. I have held a mother's hand as she watched her child with cerebral palsy walk for the first time. I have seen a completely deaf child under a year old use sign language to request food. I have seen children with severe autism, children missing limbs, and children who probably will not make it to their third birthday. This program works miracles every day. We give parents the tools and knowledge to help their children learn and grow. We give hope to families who feel lost and alone. We give children a chance.
The Finance Committees of the House and Senate are working on the 2012-2013 budget right NOW. Early Steps is on the list of programs to be cut due to budget cuts. PLEASE HELP US SAVE THIS PROGRAM. The thousands of children who benefit from therapy, along with their parents and families, need your help.