Last week, advocates said Early Intervention programs in Monroe County were facing a crisis. Thursday, pediatricians, service providers, and families that are impacted met to speak out about the issue.
Monroe County recently announced that there is no wait list for families seeking early intervention services. Last week, the county planned to put hundreds of families on the list as local agencies dropped service for the programs. The Children’s Agenda held a press conference after the county’s announcement. They are thrilled there is no wait list, but say the county and the state need to be held accountable. https://www.rochesterfirst.com/news/local-news/families-and-agencies-speak-up-at-legislature-committee-meeting-about-early-intervention/1623319990
According to spokesperson Jesse Sleezer with Monroe County, this is only a temporary fix. Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo is in Albany right now, asking for early intervention to be added to the agenda and for the state to provide immediate emergency funding to increase rates. Internally, effective Thursday, the county is reallocating six existing employees within their Department of Public Health to ensure that there is no wait list necessary and children will continue to receive help.
Sleezer says, “This issue is going to get worse before it gets better unless the state takes action immediately to reset those rates. The county is committed to doing this for as long as necessary but it’s not meant to be a permanent fix to this program. The county can’t fix early intervention on its own. The problem is too big, too complex and created by the state and only state reform will fix the problems.
Earlier in February, the state did provide immediate emergency funding to the health department to fight the flu in New York State. So the county says if the state can issue funding to fight the flu, they can certainly provide funding to help children.
Sleezer adds that reallocating staff members and having no wait list still falls into compliance with the 45-day statutory deadline, which is mandated by the state.