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N.C. lawmakers looking again at closing offices for program for disabled babies, toddlers

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.

DHHSThe 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.

4 Comments

  1. Kate

    June 10, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    My daughter was part of this program when she had gross motor skill delays. The staff were conscientious, competent, and helpful in evaluating her issues and referring us to physical therapy, which was ultimately successful in catching her up to her peers. However, it was clear to me in dealing with them that they were already understaffed (appointment times were hard to come by, staff were difficult to reach, etc.), so cutting them even further will only mean kids’ developmental delays continue while they wait for appointment times and assistance. Ultimately, cutting early intervention programs like this costs the state more money when kids need to be held back in school, need extra tutoring and assistance, or simply drop out of school later in life because they are frustrated at being behind their peers. Short-sighted in the extreme.

  2. Michelle S Harper

    June 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    My son was born 3 months early and only weighed 450g. He had a teach from age 7mos till he was 17 mos old. He has Mickey button and has delays with walking and talking. CDSA has played a vital part in his developmental advancement. All of the staff have been kind and helpful in insuring that our son has received everything he needs in order for him to be able to grow and develop. CDSA IS VITAL to children who for reasons unknown are delayed or have other developmental concerns. Closing these offices will not harm the legislation or the senate, the only people that will end up paying and suffering for these closing a are the children who need it. These babies are not responsible for the budget nor are the parents. They are in need of these services! Question, does no one on the legislation or on the senate have a child with special needs? Do they personally know of anyone that does. They should go home and look at their children. WHAT IF when they were carrying their child something went wrong and THEIR child was taken early? HOW WOULD THEY FEEL if they had to spend the first year of their child’s life visiting their child in the NICU? HOW WOULD THEY FEEL if they had to spend the first year of their child’s life going from hospital to hospital until they could finally bring their child home only to POSSIBLY have to return to the hospital again? I’ve lived that nightmare and so have the hundredsof parents in the counties in NC. OUR CHILDREN NEED CDSA. They focus on the CHILDREN. They provide programs and services for the CHILDREN and provide information and resources for parents of these innocent children so that they can understand how to care for them instead of beating and blaming themselves for their child’s condition. I am a Parent Representative on the Local Intra-agency Community Council (LICC) and I know that this is NOT a good thing for our children. PLEASE do not make our children fight more than they already have to! Please do not pull the funding from the ONE PROGRAM that focuses on helping them get the services they need to develop into phenomenal adults!

  3. Crystal

    June 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    This is a shame! My daughter was born at 24 weeks and without early intervention from the CDSA I don’t think she would be where she is today. At six years old she is in kindergarten with her peers and receives some therapies. She also attends gymnastics! Shutting down these agencies would only cause more issues for these children/faculty/staff/school district as they become school age. So sad!

  4. Emily

    June 11, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    My daughter has been receiving services through the CDSA for 9 months. Her progress has been amazing! The CDSA has been essential in providing the needed support and therapy for her to improve. I really don’t know how we could have afforded the therapy without the CDSA’s help in regards to the cost. I am sure there are many families, like mine, who depend on the financial assistance so their children may continue to receive these much needed services. Countless numbers of children will be affected, as well as their families. I am truly saddened by this!