Easter Seals new report -- Our Nation’s Children at Risk: A State-by-State Report on Early Intervention -- gives a sense for how well each state takes care of its youngest children with disabilities and delays. The fact is: infants and toddlers in nearly every state continue to fall behind, many will never catch up. Yet, with the right investment in treatment and therapy before the age of five, we can change the state of early intervention for millions of families across the country.
While there are many choices for families seeking early identification and early intervention services, the federally funded Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C program offers all families services designed to help them facilitate their infant or toddler’s development. It’s a program created to help young children with disabilities or developmental delays catch up with their peers without disabilities, or enhance their development so they can better learn and grow.
These individual state profiles provide a comprehensive overview of the current status of federal and state funding for early intervention services through the Part C program of IDEA in each of the 50 states and the District of Colombia. Easter Seals looked at funding levels compared not only to the number of children (ages 0-3) served under Part C every year, but also how many children fail to receive the proper screenings to identify their special need and how many children are at risk for developmental delays, autism or disabilities in each state.
It’s also important to note, funding cuts or limitations have forced states to make difficult choices to limit the number of children who are eligible for Part C services to those children with only the most significant disabilities. The report identifies the number of children who may have mild to moderate disabilities, developmental delays or who are at risk for developmental delays who could benefit from such services -- beyond those children who are currently eligible.