Families Feel Effects of Early Intervention Program Cuts
A state-funded early intervention agency is cutting back and children struggling with developmental problems may not be able to get the attention they need.
Cuts made to the Infant Toddler Connection of the Blue Ridge are forcing families to travel to therapy, and some children may not be able to get the attention they need at all.
Declan Green's family considers themselves lucky to still be able to afford his therapy. Declan is 14 months old and suffers hypotonia - a state of decreased muscle tone.
Angela Green, Declan's mother, said, "He's as much as six or seven months behind in some physical movements, motor skills, language - he's probably most behind in language."
Declan and any other toddlers with developmental problems are not being served by the Infant Toddler Connection of the Blue Ridge because it is now bankrupt.
"When I was told they were not receiving new funding until July 1st, my heart sank initially," said Matt Green, Declan's father. "We wanted to get him treatment as soon as we could."
Infant Toddler Connection of the Blue Ridge is a state-run agency that provides therapy and services to children like Declan to help them tackle disabilities. The agency is facing a shortfall of approximately $4 million throughout the state.
Molly Zarski with the Albemarle Therapy Center - a group that provides services for Infant Toddler Connection of the Blue Ridge - said, "They will only serve a limited number of children and only provide a limited number of services."
The Greens feel lucky because their insurance helps to cover costs, but other families find it more difficult to overcome effects of the funding cuts. Parents are diving into private insurance, Medicaid or paying out of pocket and have to travel for treatment.
"We live in Fluvanna which means we have to drive in a good 30 minutes to get here and have to get him up even earlier," said Angela.
These programs are growing in size and therapists at the Albemarle Therapy Center fear they will soon have to cut back on people already receiving their services too.
Infant Toddler Connection of the Blue Ridge Letter to Active Families
The Infant & Toddler Connection of the
Blue Ridge (ITCBR) has experienced tremendous growth over the past couple of
years. The number of children we have
had in service on December 1st of each of the past 3 years
constitutes a 150% increase from 2010 TO 2012. During this time the funding
from the Federal Government and the Commonwealth of Virginia has remained level.
Because funding has not kept pace with the growing need for services, newly
referred families will have to wait longer for services. This rapid increase in
growth state-wide has resulted in an estimated 4 million dollar deficit at the
state level for early intervention.
Locally, we continue to take referrals and
offer an initial visit to families to discuss concerns, the early intervention
(EI) process and to complete a developmental screening. But, we are unable to evaluate children for eligibility or to
deliver any services to new families. In order for us to be able to serve new
families and as many children as we can with our limited funds we may discuss
with you possible changes to your services.
Early intervention services such
as those provided by the Infant & Toddler Connection of the Blue Ridge are
legally mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA). Individual states are
responsible for providing these services through a combination of federal
funding, state funding, Medicaid reimbursement, insurance and family fees.
If you wish to advocate on behalf
of the early intervention services you are currently receiving or if you wish
to express your concerns, you may contact your elected officials. The VA Legislature Citizens' Guide
includes contact information and links at: http://legis.virginia.gov/1_cit_guide/cit_welcome.html.
You may also call 804-786-6592 to speak with Catherine Hancock, Infant &
Toddler Connection of Virginia Administrator.
You are entitled to file an
administrative complaint with the Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia.
Administrative complaints may be initiated by calling the Infant & Toddler
Connection of Virginia at 804-786-3710 or by writing to them at: DBHDS, Infant
& Toddler Connection of Virginia, 1220 Bank St., 9th Floor, PO
Box 1797, Richmond, VA, 23218-1797.
I want you to know that as a
provider of early intervention services, the Region Ten Community Services
Board (Local Lead Agency) is working closely with their state association, the
Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services and the Infant &
Toddler Connection of Virginia State Office.
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