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Leaders call for more early intervention funds after agency says it may cease in Wayne County

With a Wayne County agency pondering ending its Early Intervention Program for children ages birth to 3, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution at its meeting Tuesday asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to significantly boost reimbursement rates for service providers.

The Arc Wayne, a major early intervention provider for the county, has informed officials that it may end the program because EI service provider rates have not gone up in over 20 years, resulting in losses of about $250,000.

The Arc Wayne’s EI program provides speech, physical and occupational therapy, as well as comprehensive evaluations of children to determine what, if any, therapies are needed.

It’s a mandated service, so if The Arc Wayne does decide to end EI, Wayne County will have to find a way to fill the service-provider gaps. Diane Devlin, director of Wayne County Public Health, said it would cost at least $1.3 million for the county to replace services currently provided by Arc Wayne.

Devlin brought the issue to Wayne County supervisors in March, informing them that The Arc Wayne will lose nearly $14,000 for every child getting early intervention services in 2019 — whether program-based at Roosevelt Children’s Center in Newark or in the home.

The resolution passed Tuesday states that “research demonstrates that the growth and brain development of infants and toddlers is at its highest in years 0-2, and the developmental progress of children identified with special needs could be hampered by any delays in services.”

The resolution points out that Wayne and many other counties have lost providers, making it difficult to offer a mandated service that already has led to enrolled eligible children being placed on waiting lists.

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