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Some of you may know that we adopted our two sons out of foster care. We were emergency placements for the boys; getting them out of their then-current placement was imperative. When we first met our sons, their developmental delays were hit-you-over-the-head obvious: physical, intellectual, social – global developmental delay was a diagnosis we became very familiar with.
Although we lived in a very poor county, the social service plan included working with Medicaid to get our boys services through local early intervention programs. I’m not going to lie: it took a lot of work on my part to get them registered for services. However, once in the system, my boys qualified for occupational, physical and speech therapies. Two boys, each receiving hours of therapy each week. That didn’t take into account the developmental pediatrician, psychologist, attachment therapist, regular pediatrician and eventual mile long list of specialists who were consulted.
In a year’s time, the improvements we saw in both boy’s skillset was unbelievable. Our youngest went from being unable to hold his own head up at 8 months old to being fully ambulatory. Our older son improved in areas across the board. Our once bleak future suddenly had a glimmer of hope.
While we were active in Early Intervention (or EI, as those in the “know” call it), it was drilled into our heads over and over again that “early intervention is key.” And for us, and millions of other children around the country, that is the gospel truth.
Now, thanks to politicians on both sides of the isle, EI is at risk. Head Start is at risk. Google “Head Start budget cuts” or “Early Intervention budget cuts” and you’ll see a myriad of local articles talking about the number of local children who will lose these vital services. According to the Center for American Progress, “70,000 children will be cut from Head Start and Early Head Start programs due to the eliminated funding for the program.” Those are 70,000 children from at risk homes; 70,000 children with developmental delays; 70,000 children who look not too different from your own children who need help and who will not get it. Add in children’s mental health services, preventative programs and suicide prevention programs, and “sequestration will immediately cut more than 320,000 children from receiving services.” (See Public Health Funding for additional horrifying information.)
Imagine the impotence and rage that you, as a parent, would feel knowing that your child needed specialized care or therapies…and there was nowhere that you could now turn. Maybe your insurance company won’t cover the services; maybe your local providers have indefinite wait lists for services; maybe you don’t have insurance: this was your last hope. And now it is gone. And you’ll sit and watch your child miss milestone after milestone while the government gets its act together, right?
I mean, what else could you do? Right?
Here in the Hampton Roads area, one such provider of Early Intervention services, Child Development Resources is taking matters into their own hands. CDR serves approximately 1,000 children in the Historical Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with about 250 of them being military dependents. The effects of sequestration will be devastating on the CDR.. Children will lose services, local children who will still need services. Developmental delays don’t go away just because their funding is gone. These children may go on to incur additional delays – after all, these milestones providing the scaffolding for developmental growth. If you have a child who is delayed in sitting up, he will be delayed in crawling, walking and running. If you have a child who is delayed with her pincer grasp, you have a child who will be delayed in self-care, delayed in holding a writing or feeding utensil. And that’s just the simplified explanation. It’s much deeper than that and much more life altering, long-term.
The CDR is in need of help. To help combat this, they are holding their 35th Annual Bid & Buy Auction on March 24, 2013. While they’ve held this event in the past, this year, this auction is critical. If you have the ability and inclination, please go to their auction site, and place a bid. You can also see more details about the silent and live aspects to their auction.
This is it, folks. The time to act is now. Helping those less fortunate than us, taking care of our children and helping them develop to be the best “them” they can be is our most important job as a society.
Our children deserve better than what is being dealt their way right now.
If you know of a local EI or Head Start provider (non-profits only) who are doing anything similar, please post it below.
Kelly is a Navy wife and mother to three children; 16 year old NT, 6 and 5 year old boys on the spectrum; and, since life was getting a touch boring, she’s added a bun in the oven. Kelly has been featured in a collection of essays on special needs children entitled, “Wit and Wisdom From the Parents of Special Needs Children.” She can also be found at MyTidewaterMoms.com, and as a guest blogger throughout the blog-iverse. In her spare time, Kelly is the Blog Master for, and member of, the Military Special Needs Network Executive Board. You can contact her via email at KellyHafer@MilitarySpecialNeedsNetwork.com.
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