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PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development

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Friday, April 12, 2024   

A new study highlights the importance of Pennsylvania's Early Intervention program and its services for infants and toddlers at risk of developmental delays.

Kari King, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said there are two Early Intervention programs: "Part B" for preschoolers, ages 3 to 5, and her group advocates for "Part C," which supports infants and toddlers and is administered through the Department of Human Services.

King said only 46,000 children are served by Part C.

"The way services are delivered is usually in a home setting," she said. "So, you'll have a trained professional come into the home to meet with whether it's mom or dad or another caregiver, to address whatever concerns might be present with that child."

As the state budget for the next fiscal year approaches its June 30 deadline, King said the "Thriving PA" campaign supports Gov. Josh Shapiro's proposal to increase funding for Part C early-intervention services. A $16.6 million boost in the governor's budget would allow an additional 3,000 children to receive support.

King added that addressing a child's developmental delays as soon as possible helps put them on the route to success in the future.

"There's a lot of research out there that shows if developmental delays are not addressed earlier, the longer it goes before there is some type of intervention," she said. "It leads to increased costs, for example, in special education."

King noted that the early-intervention services are open to all families with infants and toddlers, regardless of their economic status.

"Early intervention is a little different in that there's no income eligibility," she said. "So really, all infants and toddlers are eligible for early-intervention services. And there's no diagnosis needed, so families can self-refer."

King said Part C services target five areas of early childhood development: social-emotional, physical, cognitive, communication and adaptive skills. The services are structured to foster growth in both the child and their caregivers.

Disclosure: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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