State lawmakers still want to see $10 million in cuts by shutting down four regional offices of a state health program that aids developmentally delayed babies and toddlers.
The N.C. Infant-Toddler Program, an early intervention program managed under the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, faced $18 million in cuts in the two-year budget passed last year — $8 million in the first year and $10 million for the fiscal year beginning in July 2014.
A DHHS attempt this spring to meet mandated cuts by shutting down three Eastern North Carolina children’s developmental services agencies fell apart in April. East Carolina University’s medicine school turned down a proposal to absorb the work in an existing contract it had to manage another CDSA office. (Click here for background.)
Now, both the Senate and the House budget have tightened the language around the cuts and want to require DHHS to shut down four of the state’s 16 child-developmental services agencies by January.
DHHS “shall close four State-operated CDSA’s, effective January 1, 2015,” both the House and Senate budget say.
The program screens as many as 20,000 children under the age of three each year to see if babies and toddlers have disabilities or are at risk of development delays. Therapists then travel to help families in their homes work with children’s disabilities, and provide occupational, speech or other therapies to help lessen developmental delays.
The state operates CDSA offices in Asheville, Boone, Concord, Durham, Greensboro, Morganton, New Bern, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Pinehurst, Shelby, and Winston-Salem.
DHHS also contracts with nonprofits and local governments to run CDSA’s in Greenville, Elizabeth City, Charlotte and Winston Salem, all of which are not targeted for closure by legislators.
The budget language ensures that the Morganton office would remain office, and says offices with high numbers of children in rural or medically-underserved offices must also stay open.