The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and The Arc issued a joint position statement about the importance of early intervention in which they state:
All young children who are at-risk for or who have been identified with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities should have access to high-quality, affordable developmental services in natural environments. These services should build on the strengths of the child and family, address their needs, be responsive to their culture and personal priorities, and be delivered through research-based practices.
The research is unequivocal as to the fact that when early childhood services are provided in natural environments, both the children and their families experience increase community inclusion during early childhood and across the life span. Early intervention services are a range of targeted services, provided by different types of specialists, to help young children who have developmental delays or specific health conditions. These services are critical for social and emotional development, physical health, cognitive development, language development and so much more. The services and supports offered through early intervention programs also help guide parents and families through learning the most optimal ways to support their child’s development in order to achieve the best possible outcomes in development.
This year much of the budget and policy discussions for the developmental services system centered on the recent rate study that sought to address the sustainability, quality, and transparency of community-based services for individuals with developmental disabilities. For our early intervention providers, as well as others, there is great concern that their services were not recognized as in need of a rate increase as many are operating on very fragile margins. Early intervention services are absolutely essential to improving the health and development outcomes for children with or at-risk for developmental delays and these services need to be included in the discussions around rate reform as the state moves forward with implementing various recommendations of the rate study. During budget hearings the DDS committed to having further discussions over the summer through the DS Taskforce, which will provide an opportunity to address concerns around early start/intervention rates as well as other services.