Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Budget Cuts and Early Intervention

My colleague Darshak Sanghavi has a very nice article in today's Globe, highlighting on of the downsides to the current budget cuts-  an increase in the level of deficit needed to qualify for services that went into effect on January 1st.  As Darshak points out, this is penny-wise and pound foolish.  Technically, this does not affect the "Rosie D" class of child, as "serious emotional disturbance" is really a mental health rather than a developmental problem, and we are supposed to screen for mental health problems.  But, in reality, any child with an SED at a young age may have a developmental problem as well, and merits a look by EI.  Given the paucity of other places where a young child can be sent,  it is likely that we would send such a child to EI for evaluation.  In fact, it probably makes sense to help EI to develop the capacity for early childhood mental health work, in order to be true to their mission (comprehensive services) and our intent (family-focused services).  I have never met a more family-centered program than Early Intervention.  When I started practicing in Massachusetts in the early 1990s, they would take kids with problems AND kids at risk for problems with no questions and no fee.  Now, families have pay cash up front, AND be behind the eight ball before they can get services.  Screening means nothing without the services to back it up.

This is progress?

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