Please share with other NY parents and Early Intervention Service Providers:
Background: Brain research demonstrates that the stimulation and interaction a child receives during the first 5 years of life are critical to permanent brain development. Early intervention services can prevent or reverse a trajectory of poor development and help prepare children to succeed in school and life, foregoing long-term care and ultimately saving taxpayers money. New York’s Early Intervention (EI) program provides free services to 0-3-year-old children who have developmental delays or disabilities.
The EI program taps individual insurance to pay for services delivered to children with disabilities who are insured as dependents by their parents. As such, the state does not foot the entire bill for EI services for many children. However, Governor Patterson’s 2009-2010 state budget proposal would require families to pay for Early Intervention services, jeopardizing our most vulnerable children’s access to needed services. The EI parent fees are meant to garner additional funds for the state from families with children with special needs… putting low income and uninsured children at much greater risk.
Families earning as little as 161% of the federal poverty level (that is just $29,000 for a family of 3 ) would have to make monthly payments for each eligible child. If a family missed even one payment, the child would lose EI services and become ineligible for Early Intervention. Families who are unable to provide proof of income would have to pay the highest amount, impeding the eligibility of children of undocumented immigrants, children whose families are homeless, or children who are in foster care.
Among other provisions, the proposal would also establish more stringent eligibility criteria for children who need speech services only and would allow the NY Department of Health to limit the number of EI providers, making it even more difficult for parents to find qualified providers in their communities. This proposal would burden low-income families and force many families to lose services that help children develop during these critical early years.
The New York State Legislature is slated to revisit the budget as early as the week of March 23rd, including the proposal to charge parents fees for Early Intervention services. It is imperative to spread the word and take action now! Please see below for four easy action steps you can take to oppose this harmful proposal.
1. Call your state legislators and urge them to oppose Governor Patterson’s budget proposal to require parents to pay for Early Intervention, included in the Health and Mental Hygiene budget legislation (S. 58/ A. 158), because it would further burden special needs families and force at-risk children to lose critical Early Intervention services.
To find your NY State Senator, go to http://www.senate.state.ny.us./ This brings you to the Senate Home Page. Select “Senators” from the left hand column. Select either your Senator’s name if you know it or search “Who Is My Senator?” by zip code to obtain it. Then click on your Senator’s name and copy down his/her local and Albany office numbers AND make your call. Let your Senator know that you are opposed to the Governor’s proposed Early Intervention Parent Fee in the Health and Mental Hygiene budget legistlation (S. 58/A. 158).
To find your NY Assembly Member, go to http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem. This brings you to the NY State Assembly Home Page. Select either your Assembly-person’s name or do a member search by zip code on the upper right hand side of the page. Once you have your Assembly-person’s name, select Assembly Members from the left column. Once on your Assembly-person’s home page, select Contact from the left column. Copy his/her local and Albany office numbers AND make your call. Let your NY State Assembly member know that you are opposed to the Governor’s proposed Early Intervention parent Fee in the Health and Mental Hygiene budget legislation (S. 58/A. 158).
2. E-mail your state legislators via the InterAgency Council’s Website to voice your opposition to Governor Patterson’s Early Intervention Parent Fee as outlined in the Health and Mental Hygiene budget legislation (S. 58/A. 158). The site http://capwiz.com/iacny/home makes it very easy to send this email. All you do is go to the website, select either “Staff Letter on Early Intervention Issue” or “Parent Letter on Early Intervention Issue”. Enter Issue Area as “Budget” or “Children/Families”. Then choose your closing, fill in your name and contact info and hit the “Send” button and you’ve done your part.
3. Add your name to the New York Zero-to-Three Network’s online petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Save-Early-Intervention-in-NYS. If you can, add a personal note to make it more impactful. And, send an email to friends and family asking them to sign the petition as well.
4. Forward this e-mail to others who may be interested in taking action. For more information and updates on what you can do to oppose this proposal, contact Randi Levine at (212) 822-9532 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Ellen McHugh Parent to Parent NY State at http://www.parenttoparentnys.org/ Phone: 800-405-8818
I did all 4. Won’t you take action as well? Thanks, in advance, for your assistance in ensuring that New York State’s children with special needs continue to receive the critical, life-changing services offered through the Early Intervention program.