More than 300 Southeast Texas families are at risk of losing much needed services for children with special needs.
State budget cuts that kicked in this month, may take up to $100,000 dollars away from the Early Childhood intervention program
ECI has helped Sarah Hardin develop a special set of motherly skills to care for her five-year-old daughter Annie.
“Private therapy, and those sessions can run $50-$100 per session,” Hardin said. “Most therapy services want you to come twice a week. It's huge. It's a huge cost but as a parent you're in a place where you've got to figure out a way to do it. ECI is helping me learn those things I needed to do to help her continuously throughout the week.”
ECI Director Lora Waller said the cuts go beyond the money.
“We see such a need for services and children they grow best, grow the most from birth to three and were going to keep doing what we can do to provide the best possible services for the babies,” Waller said.
ECI provides healthcare resources for families who have a child with disabilities from the day they are born until they are three-years-old.
Hardin said those are the most crucial years for a child’s growth.
“Kids with down syndrome have something called hypertonia, which means low muscle tone,” the mother of three said. “So they don't have that natural ability to hold themselves up right and it slows everything down. Crawling, walking, eating…”
Hardin fears the smaller budget could put unnecessary hurdles in front of the children, making it harder for them to succeed in the future.
“It's tough because you enter in the school system and teachers and educators know something is delayed,” Hardin said. “But you missed the crucial time, the most formative time when they're learning the fastest. You’re starting off way behind.”
Waller wants politicians to revisit the budget and exclude ECI from the cuts so all children have the opportunity for a bright future.
The director said her program isn’t feeling the pinch yet but the same cuts have already forced the Tyler program to shut down according to the Texas Tribune.
That closure left nearly 300 families without healthcare resources.