Over 200 parents and young children “strollered in” to the State House today to lobby against the cuts that Governor Patrick has asked for regarding Early Intervention Programs. Early Intervention needs an estimated $2 million by April 1st to maintain the services that are currently provided. Otherwise, the percentage delay that a child must exhibit to get services will rise significantly.
For children with speech delays, the news is even worse. They will have to exhibit a 50% delay versus the current 30% they currently need to exhibit to get services. This means that for a two year old to receive speech services, he or she will have to be at the level of a one year old, not being able to speak even two words.
Early Intervention is the most comprehensive, family-centered program in the Commonwealth dedicated to serving children birth to three with developmental delays. The program serves more than 30,000 children and families in Massachusetts each year. Early Intervention is a range of services available to families of children up to three years old who have developmental delays or whose development is at risk because of particular birth or environmental factors.
The success of this morning’s event was due in large part to the innovative use of social media technology. In the week since it was created, the MA Early Intervention Coalition’s Facebook page has garnered more than 1,000 friends.
Early Intervention is about hope, and the families present at today’s event at the State House were hopeful the cuts would not happen, because they knew just how well Early Intervention Programs work. We hope that Governor Patrick and all the legislators hear this message, and act accordingly in regards to these programs. Many things can wait, a child cannot.