If this happens, Montana will earn the dishonorable distinction of being the only state in the country not providing Early Intervention services to our most vulnerable children.
On Friday, September 8, Governor Bullock announced the 10% Budget Reduction Plans proposed by every state department. He stated that declining revenue and current state law mandating a balanced budget required him to make this ask. More information is at balancedbudget.mt.gov.
You can see the cuts proposed for Montana’s Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP) starting on page 52 of the Public Health and Human Services’ 10% Reduction Plan. The cuts eliminate essential services for children with disabilities:
• Eliminate Early Intervention for infants and toddlers with disabilities (p. 69)
• Eliminate Family Education & Support for children ages 3 – 18 with disabilities (p. 53)
• Eliminate Evaluation & Diagnosis Clinics for people of all ages with disabilities (p.54)
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has summarized decades of research on early intervention:
In short, we’d be saving a dime a now to spend a dollar later. Moreover, people’s lives would suffer: proposed cuts are not supposed to impact quality of care.
Montana is facing tough financial decisions, but eliminating these programs is not the only option. That’s why our policy makers need to hear that the elimination of essential services like Early Intervention is not the decision we want.
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