Funding for Early Intervention: Help children with disabilities and special needs

Funding for Early Intervention: Help children with disabilities and special needs

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Monica Caldwell started this petition to U.S. House of Representatives and

Please join me in supporting H.R. 4107 – Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act. It is desperately needed to ensure our infants, toddlers, and preschool aged children with disabilities and special needs have the proper funding to receive adequate and high-quality early intervention services. With the proper funding, the children, families, and communities would benefit tremendously. Especially important is section 619 and part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provides the grants to the states for high-quality early intervention services.

Supporters of this bill believe that high-quality early intervention and preschool special education services can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families, and communities. The number of children being serviced through early intervention has been on the rise for the last ten years, thus showing how important services can be for children birth to school-age. However, over the last two decades funding to each state has eroded significantly!

Here are the numbers! Funding for infants and toddlers with disabilities has dropped from a high of $1768 per child in 1999 to $645 per child in 2017. Funding for preschool age children (3-5 yrs. old) have dropped from a high of $1484 per child in 1992 to $529 in 2017. All amounts have been adjusted for inflation. This bill will increase these amounts through fiscal year 2024.

I am particularly concerned about the children with disabilities who are denied services and are ‘at risk’ of increased developmental delays because early intervention services were not provided. Since each state is responsible for defining developmental delays and the criteria for eligibility, some children will not be serviced by early intervention. If they do not meet the requirements and are considered mildly delayed, they will not receive assistance. Research has shown that these same children suffer when they enter school and their intervention needs will be more costly. This is mostly likely associated to the significant decrease in grant funding.

H.R. 4107 is important to me as I have worked in the early childhood education field for the last fifteen years. I have been able to witness developmental delays in many children. As the owner/operator of a child care center, I made several referrals for early intervention. In the beginning, it seemed most referrals were accepted. However, in the last few years I have noticed that those children who are mildly delayed are being rejected services. It is important to work with them early to prevent increasing future academic concerns and increased educational costs for school districts.

Please join me in sending a message to Congress that H.R. 4107 Funding Early Childhood is the Right IDEA Act should be supported. Our children are depending on us to provide them with an opportunity to receive early intervention services, high-quality programming, and improved academic performance in the years to come.

 

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