The Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DCBDD) voted 4-3 in favor of implementing a new practice for the Early Intervention Program on Thursday evening (April 20).
The change brings the board into compliance with the State of Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD). The state mandated a change from individual providers to a core team program in 2015.
According to the DCBDD website, the Early Intervention Program identifies and serves children from birth to the age of three with developmental disabilities.
Kristine Hodge, DCBDD supervisor, said the board is required to make sure it is providing programs and services according to state statute.
“We went through accreditation and they are coming back in 60 days,” she told the board. “They are going to check and see where we are with this. If we don’t show progress they can hold us in abeyance.”
Parents of special needs children are upset with the board’s decision for what they see as giving into the state mandate. A number of parents attended the meeting at the DCBDD facility.
William Engelman said his family moved from Franklin County to Delaware County because of his special needs son. He said his son currently gets access to three different services under the current program. Under the new plan, he contends there will be a reduction in services.
“Instead of getting therapy three times a week from three different therapists, it’s one,” Engelman said. “Under the new model the team gets together to decide what his greatest need is and the greatest need is focused on.”
Hodge said that Delaware County is one of 12 county boards out of the 88 counties in Ohio that is not practicing the core team early intervention program.
“We can do extra (the current program), but we can not do this if we want to be compliant,” Hodge said. “An abeyance is a tough situation. The State of Ohio and the Department of Developmental Disabilities comes in and runs your program.”
In the last seven months, DCBDD has run a pilot core team with 50 volunteer families. Members of the pilot team recommended moving forward with the program to board members. Four teams would be organized geographically in the county, serving up to 100 families each.
Engelman is concerned that the level of service would be diminished.
“The services in Delaware County were far beyond,” Engelman said. “Now we’re dropping the ball. To make things equal we’re striving for mediocrity. They are also looking to transition this to school-age and above.”
Allison Young, occupational therapist for 12 years, said this is a disappointing day in Delaware County. Young is contracted through DCBDD.
“This change in service model is not only disappointing for families, but also for early intervention professionals,” she said. “Delaware County will no longer be leading the way.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.
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