A move by the state Department of Public Welfare to require co-payments from families now receiving free services for children with autism and related disorders has touched off protests from parents who say they cannot afford hundreds of dollars a month for the specialized care.
At a rally Tuesday, several dozen parents, joined by Democratic legislators, objected to a decision to begin charging co-pays for about 48,000 children who now receive the care.
Under the plan, which takes effect Monday, families earning more than about $45,000 a year will begin paying from $1 to $3 in co-pays per service, according to the department.
The services in question mainly include home visits for behavioral therapy that many families say is crucial for children with autism and related conditions.
Advocates and parents said the fees would force some families to choose between paying for therapy and, say, making a mortgage payment.