Meg Leonard, a clinician with Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago, discusses how the 2016 state budget cuts will significantly impact Illinois’ Early Intervention (EI) program that assists infants and toddlers, birth to three, with diagnosed disabilities, developmental delays or substantial risk of significant delays.
The proposed state budget would cut $23 million from EI services statewide. Additionally, there is talk about increasing the definition of a developmental delay from 30% to 50%, which would deny thousands of children services in Illinois. Only three states, Arizona, Alaska and Missouri, have implemented such a restrictive definition of eligibility for EI.
EI Fast Facts:
Illinois provides EI services to approximately 20,000 infants and toddlers, about 3.5% of all birth to three year olds. Research indicates as many as 13% of birth to three year olds have delays that make them eligible for EI.
Restricting eligibility for EI to children who exhibit at least a 50% developmental delay will create a huge increase of children who need more intensive and costly services when they enter preschool and kindergarten.
Children with mild and moderate delays (30-40% delay) make the most significant gains in EI.
Nearly half of children leave EI functioning at age level and do not need special education at kindergarten age.
EI services are 2 ½ times less costly than special education services in preschool and elementary years.
How can you help? Here is how you can advocate for Illinois' youngest residents: