A statewide system charged with helping infants and toddlers with developmental delays often fails to provide timely access to crucial therapies—and sometimes struggles to provide them at all—according to interviews with dozens of families, attorneys and service providers.
Early Start—a federal program administered in California by 21 non-profit regional centers—serves more than 41,000 children under the age of 3 with cognitive, language, physical or other delays. Under federal law, the centers must identify these children, then provide them with occupational, speech and physical therapies, nursing support and family training, among other services. There is no income requirement to receive the services.
Early Start’s problems are of enough concern that the federal Office of Special Education Programs sent a letter last year notifying the state Department of Developmental Services that the program had been demoted to “needs intervention” status—the only state in the country with such a low designation. That status reflected problems getting children’s initial screenings and paperwork done within the 45 days required by law, as well as failures to prepare children to transition to school-based services at the age of 3.
Read the full article at The Sacramento Bee.