Easter Seals this morning released a new report Our Nation’s Children at Risk: A State-by-State Report on Early Intervention during its 2011 International Convention currently being held in Washington, D.C. In meetings with Members of Congress on The Hill today, more than 300 Easter Seals volunteers, staff and families with disabilities will share both the report’s findings and a petition with nearly 40,000 signatures urging legislators to invest in young children.
The new report details how well each state takes care of its youngest children with disabilities and delays. The unfortunate news: infants and toddlers in nearly every state continue to fall behind, many will never catch up.
“With the right investment in treatment and therapy before the age of five, we can ensure every child in America can enter school ready to learn,” says Katy Neas, senior vice president, government relations, Easter Seals and Make the First Five Count spokesperson.
The Easter Seals report highlights some bright spots. States including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Wyoming, New York and New Hampshire serve more than 4 percent of their population through the Part C program of IDEA. These six states reach far more children with disabilities and delays than other states, with more young children able to access the critical services and supports they need early in life.
“These states are on the right track, and should serve as an example to others, but we know it’s just the beginning. We have to convince state and federal policy makers about the value of investing in the Part C program,” adds Neas.
This is especially true in states that serve fewer than 2 percent of their population including Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, Missouri, Arkansas and the District of Columbia.