Lindley Dupree, parent of a former Child Development Center client, wrote a powerful letter urging Montana’s elected officials to spare critical services for children with disabilities.
Why? On September 8, 2017, Governor Bullock released each state agency’s 10% Reduction Plans in response to Montana’s budget shortfalls. The Department of Public Health & Human Services budget proposal would eliminate both Part C Early Intervention for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and Family Education & Support for children ages 3 – 18 with disabilities.
Lindley agreed to share her letter in hopes that it might encourage others to contact the Governor, their legislators, and local newspapers before Montana’s Legislative Finance Committee meets in early October. Each person who has experienced disability has a different story to tell, but the common thread is that these services are too valuable to cut.
“Good morning Governor Bullock and Members of the Legislative Finance Committee,
Thank you for the hard work you are doing to manage the state’s budget. As you know better than any, this is not easy work, and there are no easy solutions. I appreciate your efforts and dedication. I respectfully ask you to reconsider the proposed cuts to the DDP program (page 52 and following of DPHHS’ 10% Reduction Plan). I write as the parent of a young man with autism who has benefited from these services, and as a taxpayer who recognizes that these early intervention services economically benefit both the clients and the community. The return on investment is very high, in reducing the need for special education services in schools, and decreasing expensive Vocational Rehabilitation and adult services significantly.
My son Alex was diagnosed with autism 21 years ago in Kalispell. He was given a grim prognosis: unlikely to learn to communicate, to read, to work or to be capable of more than limited self-care.
Through the early intervention services -provided in Kalispell through the expert staff of the Child Development Center- we have created a very different future:
Alex is a tax-paying employee at a local grocery store, making above the minimum wage, and working without any supports 20-25 hours per week;
He does not need or receive costly adult supportive services or job coaching;
He is able to manage his own spending money, cook for himself, manage his own laundry, hygiene, etc., thus eliminating the need for any personal care attendants, with the associated high costs.
I want to make it clear that we are not a “miracle,” nor an isolated case. Alex and our family are a textbook example of the power of investing in early intervention for people with developmental disabilities. It not only makes human sense in terms of improved lives, it makes economic sense. By investing on the front end, we as taxpayers save significantly in the long run.
Please consider reversing the proposed cuts to the below programs, not as a social service, but rather as an investment in our people and communities:
Early Intervention for infants and toddlers with disabilities
Family Education & Support for children ages 3 – 18 with disabilities
Evaluation & Diagnosis Clinics for people of all ages with disabilities
I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I would be very happy to discuss any of these points in more detail.
Thank you again for your service to Montana,
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