by Jackie Napier
Rochester, N.Y. — Local parents and care providers delivered a collective call Tuesday in Albany to further help infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities.
13WHAM has learned 326 children in Monroe County have been waiting for early intervention services, with most of those children waiting longer than one month.
Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R-Greece) didn’t speak until he was 5 years old. He says wouldn’t be able to speak on behalf of the constituents he now represents if he hadn’t received speech therapy services at a young age.
“The ability for me and my family to access early intervention saved and changed my life,” he said.
Jensen’s son also needed early intervention services. Prior to receiving speech therapy, Jensen said his son had trouble expressing himself. Now, he comes home from school excited to talk about his day.
“To see the growth, not just in his speech abilities but in his confidence,” Jensen said.
Those in Albany from Monroe County met with state lawmakers about delivering critical services in a timely manner and to discuss the shortage of early intervention providers.
“They’re not paid a lot,” said Brittany Read, advocacy coordinator at The Children’s Agenda. “The state sets the reimbursement rates and then the counties pay the providers. The rates are really low right now, which is why we’re here advocating for the 11% rate increase.
One of the parents who traveled with the local contingent said she had to fight for her son to receive speech therapy services he needed.
“Hopefully we can make a change, and when we make that change I will feel better as a parent,” Chrissy Miller said. “I went out there to advocate not just for myself or anybody else, but for all the parents that couldn’t come out to advocate for themselves or their children.”
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The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.