Early Childhood Intervention Receives Less Money and Decreased Clientele
The new plan for Texas children with disabilities involves state cuts to Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and reduced reimbursements for children’s therapies through Medicaid. ECI provides coordinated therapy to children with disabilities and developmental delay under the age of three. However, statewide enrollment declined 14% in five years and community organizations contracting with the state ECI program declined 19%. Even though the number of children needing these services is increasing, the support is not being funded.
What does this mean? According to the CEO of a non-profit children’s policy organization, Stephanie Rubin, “The Legislature’s decisions to cut funding for the youngest Texans with speech delays, Down syndrome, autism, and other developmental challenges means that many children will have an even harder struggle to reach their full potential.”
Is ECI working? In fact, the state has confirmed that 77% of children who enroll in ECI demonstrated significant gains and nationwide, 32% of children in ECI-equivalent programs did not need special education when they enrolled in school.
How Much Does It Cost? Texas legislators have reduced ECI funding from approximately $160 million in 2010 to approximately $142 million for the current fiscal year. This 11% decline aligns with the decreased outreach, enrollment, caseloads, and other funding reductions. As a result of reduced funding, 43% of ECI contractors stopped employing full-time Child Find staff over the last four years. Child Find is dedicated to outreach and enrollment for children with disabilities.
Who is Affected? Although children can be affected statewide, it was determined that counties with the highest population of young children suffered the greatest reductions in enrollment. Collin County, Denton County, and Harris County experienced a 37%, 32%, and 31% decline, respectively, from 2011-2015. In terms of demographics, the enrollment of Black children fell by 27% from 2011-2015 and in Hispanic children fell by 27% from 2011-2015. White children enrollment declined 11%, while the population of White children fell 3%.
Want more information? You can read the most recent report on the impact of ECI funding cuts here.
Sources: Clark, Peter (2016). Report Shows Thousands of Texas Babies & Toddler with Disabilities Left Out of Services During Years of State Cuts to ECI Funding. Texas Care for Children. Web http://txchildren.org/posts/2016/10/31/report-shows-thousands-of-texas-babies-toddlers-with-disabilities-left-out-of-services-during-years-of-state-cuts-to-eci-funding