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early intervention

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The budget proposal approved Wednesday by the New York state Assembly includes a pay increase for therapists who work with the state’s youngest residents.

Reimbursement rates for early intervention providers, who work with children from birth to 3 years old, would increase 5 percent under the plan.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo proposed an increase in pay Tuesday for special education providers who haven’t seen one in almost a decade.

Dinolfo, a Republican, said the 15 percent increase is the right amount to stave off an impending shortage of speech therapists, child psychologists, counselors for parents, and other people who work in preschool special education.

“The reason we’re being so proactive is we want to make sure that we don’t put ourselves, the county, our children, in a crisis situation,” Dinolfo said.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

When Monroe County scrapped a planned waitlist for families looking to get their children evaluated for developmental delays late last year, advocacy groups said it had narrowly avoided running afoul of state and federal laws.

We continue our Dialogue on Disability Week with an update on the state of early intervention (EI) services in Monroe County. In early December, county officials announced a temporary solution to what some local providers called a brewing crisis in EI services. A shortage in providers and funding would have led to about 1,200 children being waitlisted for programs, but the county has since allocated six Department of Health employees to coordinate intake services. Parents and providers say more support is needed.

This hour, we look at the current state of early intervention programs and discuss how they benefit children in need. In studio:

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

 

Monroe County has averted running afoul of state and federal law -- at least temporarily -- by reshuffling employees in the public health department and staving off the creation of a waiting list for early childhood intervention services.

Pia Stampe is unsure how long she’ll be able to stay in business.

“If we don’t get referrals, then we can’t operate,” Stampe said. “We were better paid in 1995 than we are today.”

Stampe is the owner of Step By Step Pediatric Therapy Center in Rochester. Many of her referrals come through a state program requiring that children who show signs of developmental delays are evaluated and connected with appropriate therapists. The county has 45 days to make those connections.