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MT proposes to eliminate services for infants & toddlers with disabilities

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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.

What’s going on?

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)

Early Intervention is a critical investment; eliminating would be an irresponsible way to manage Montana’s money.

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has summarized decades of research on early intervention:

  • early childhood screeningChildren’s earliest experiences build the foundation for all future brain development, influencing their learning, behavior, and health for the rest of their lives.
  • If something isn’t developing as it should, the first three years are critical, because the young brain is most capable of change.
  • Early Intervention reduces the need for special education services, decreasing the economic cost.
  • Early Intervention helps families better handle their child’s needs in childhood and throughout their life.
  • Early Intervention reduces a person’s difficulties—and increases their success—on into adulthood.

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.

Policy makers need to know that Montanans oppose eliminating these essential services.

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.

  • Share this information with your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
  • Write and submit an editorial to your local newspaper in 200 words or less.
  • Contact the Governor’s office and your legislators.
    • Respectfully greet them, and then briefly state
    • your name,
    • where you live,
    • why this issue concerns you,
    • and that you oppose the elimination of Early Intervention (and/or other essential services for children with disabilities).