A community of support

Early Start Changes make the press

September 21st, 2009 Posted in Changes to CES

Anyone feeling similarly or differently?

-Karen Baas, Infant Development Association of CA


O’Brien: How one agency’s cuts point to California’s bleak future

By Chris O’Brien
Mercury News Columnist

I am feeling more bleak than ever about the future of my adopted home state.

Years of budget lunacy in Sacramento culminated in a series of catastrophic cuts made this summer. It’s unlikely that any part of state government escaped the hatchet. I’ll leave it to historians to sort out just how badly we were failed by our governor and legislators.

But it’s all too easy to forget, amid all the talks of billions cut here and billions cut there, the impact of each cut, and how those cuts may eventually make our dire budget situation even worse. This situation did more than just demonstrate the madness of the short-term thinking that drove the cuts. It provided a stark example of how, by choosing to focus on cutting rather than investing, we, the people and the politicians, could end up paying more in the long run to deal with our problems.

In this case, I’m talking about the brutal reductions made to early intervention services for at-risk and developmentally delayed children under the age of 3.

I happen to know a fair bit about this subject because my son received these state-funded services between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. Liam is now 6 years old and has been diagnosed as high-functioning autistic. Thanks to those early intervention services, he’s now in first grade at a mainstream elementary school.

Understanding the impact of these cuts is difficult because the state’s system for providing these services is complex. But let me walk you through the maze.

At the top is the California Health and Human Services Agency. Under the CHHS is the Department of Developmental Services. The DDS doles out money to 21 nonprofit regional centers that serve 244,000 adults and children with various degrees of disabilities.

Back in 2003, when Liam was found to have speech and other developmental delays, we were referred to the Regional Center of the East Bay. Through the regional center, Liam received speech and occupational therapy that put him on the path to closing the development gap with his peers.

But it’s just such services that are now being cut. And because I know how invaluable they are, my heart breaks for all the families that won’t receive them.

The folks who run DDS and an advisory task force have been heroically trying to make the best of a horrific situation. The agency projected that the number of folks it would serve this year would increase by 12,800. But rather than getting a budget increase to cover that growth, which DDS estimated would run about $384 million, the agency got a bump of only $22 million to its $4.7 billion budget, so it needs to find savings to make up the difference. The agency convened a large number of stakeholders to try to find the most humane solution.

“How can we do the least harm?” said Julia Mullen, deputy director of the community services and support division at DDS. Perhaps we need to adopt that phrase as our state motto.

The political insistence on cutting put the department in the impossible position of trying to decide how to split the baby. For which group of people with autism, epilepsy or cerebral palsy do you reduce services? The solution was painful. The department focused on three categories of kids it serves. The first are kids who are at risk, perhaps because of a problem at birth, but have not shown a delay. California was one of only six states that served these kids. But no more.

The second category are kids who come to the regional centers after age 2 and are less than 50 percent delayed in one area, such as speech.

Both groups of kids will no longer receive direct services such as speech, occupational or physical therapy.

Fortunately, the agency managed to shift some money around to create a new prevention program for these kids. The new program won’t provide services, but the kids will be assigned a case manager to watch them closely to see if they’re getting worse, and if so, pull them into the system.

“We wanted to have a safety net,” Mullen said. “To make sure they did not fall through the cracks.”

This carefully thought-out plan has been further complicated by our knife-wielding governor’s decision to make a last-minute line-item cut that sliced another $50 million off the DDS budget. The agency is still weighing how to take that into account if it withstands a legal challenge.

From a moral perspective, the choice forced on the agency is indefensible. Rather than taking aggressive preventive action, the department must now gamble with these kids’ lives and hope as few as possible develop more severe delays.

From a treatment perspective, you’d be hard pressed to find any expert who would advocate a “let’s see what happens” approach. Mullen said the agency is going to be extremely vigilant when it comes to watching these kids for any signs they’re regressing.

But beyond all that, I’m troubled by the potential economics. Researchers are clear that early and preventive treatment saves money down the road. Conversely, by waiting, fewer kids will come into the system but they will likely have more severe issues, and thus will likely cost more to treat.

“The state is essentially disinvesting in young children,” said Steven Barnett, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. “And that will result in more expenditures later on.”

So this is the economic bargain our governor and Legislature have asked us to make: Let’s hope that the higher expense of waiting to treat fewer kids doesn’t eat up all the money we’re saving by cutting early intervention services.

I can’t help but think what my family would have done had we been told that our son wouldn’t be eligible because he was only 40 percent delayed. Because our insurance didn’t cover such direct therapy, we probably would have borrowed thousands of dollars to pay for services out of pocket.

This is the grim choice the state will be forcing on to thousands of families. So let’s be clear about one thing: These cuts are not really cuts. As a society, we will still end up with costs, directly or indirectly, down the road. These kids will go to schools, where they may require more services or support. Or they’ll be less productive when they grow up and can’t get jobs. Our failure to invest now may cost us more later, making it even more daunting to solve the budget mess. And if we can’t fix that, the quality of life that’s critical to our economy will continue to decline.

And in the end, this is only one of many such cuts enacted. Repeated over the billions of dollars sliced from the state budget, I wonder if the governor or any of our legislators know how much the cuts today will end up really costing tomorrow.

In truth, none of us knows. And that’s what has made me doubtful that the Golden State will ever regain its luster.

  1. 4,296 Responses to “Early Start Changes make the press”

  2. By legal document translation on Jun 20, 2016

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything such as this prior to. So good to locate somebody with many original concepts on this topic. realy i appreciate you for starting this up. this fabulous web site is 1 region that is necessary online, someone with a bit of originality. valuable purpose of bringing a new challenge towards web!

  3. By Angelika Oleskiewicz on Jun 20, 2016

    trucchi hay day

  4. By cash for junk cars no title needed on Jun 20, 2016

    Call or just textual content a photo of your automotive,
     truck, boat or RV to: (813) 300-6100.

  5. By vehicles for children on Jun 21, 2016

    Aw, it was a genuinely very good post. In concept I should put in writing related to this in addition – spending time and actual effort to manufacture a excellent article… but exactly what do I say… I procrastinate alot and no indicates discover a way to go carried out.

  6. By degrees of comparison on Jun 21, 2016

    Muchos Gracias for your article post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  7. By film szkoleniowy on Jun 21, 2016

    nice good information. Ty for this and i need more.

  8. By kancelaria prawna warszawa on Jun 21, 2016

    Very good post. Thanks for this and i need more.

  9. By live score on Jun 21, 2016

    I discovered your blog website internet site on google and appearance some of your early posts. Preserve up the great operate. I just extra increase Feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking for toward reading far far more by you later on!…

  10. By Trademark service India on Jun 21, 2016

    *Can I just say what a relief to uncover someone who really knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You surely know how to bring an issue to light and make it crucial. More folks need to have to read this and recognize this side with the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you certainly have the gift.

  11. By hulk on Jun 21, 2016

    Hey, just looking about some blogs, seems a pretty nice platform that you are using. I’m currently employing WordPress for several of my websites but seeking to change one specific of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

  12. By superheroes on Jun 21, 2016

    Job scope at huge scale lies for forensic science professionals at crime laboratories rub by city, county or state governments. The other region exactly where a person looking for a career in forensic science can secure job are Federal agencies such as the Departments of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Postal Inspection Service and other essential departments, private labs and university laboratories is also a region of function for Forensic Science technician.

  13. By fun88 on Jun 22, 2016

    I really like and appreciate your blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.

  14. By personal_brand_development on Jun 22, 2016

    I appreciate you sharing this article post.Thanks Again.

  15. By имоти on Jun 22, 2016

    Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!…

  16. By Suk Dowding on Jun 22, 2016

    Great post I really enjoyed reading this today.

  17. By website design course on Jun 22, 2016

    Really enjoyed this article post.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  18. By finger family on Jun 22, 2016

    The leading source for trustworthy and timely health and medical news and info.

  19. By bodyweight training on Jun 23, 2016

    I am so grateful for your blog post.Much thanks again. Will read on…

  20. By Small Business Accounting Software on Jun 23, 2016

    Your post is truly informative. A lot more than that, it??s engaging, compelling and well-written. I would desire to see even a lot more of these types of wonderful writing.

  21. By car service reading on Jun 23, 2016

    You will find various agencies which deals with evidences located at a crime scene. Police use it for investigation, prosecuting attorney presents it before court of law as effectively as a forensic science technician analyzes evidences thoroughly to help other agencies in criminal procedure. A forensic science technician conducts comprehensive chemical and physical study of evidence submitted by a law enforcement agency

  22. By mot booking reading on Jun 23, 2016

    You would endure heaps of different advised organized excursions with various chauffeur driven car experts. Some sort of cope previous functions and a normally requires a to obtain travel within expense centre, and even checking out the upstate New York. ???????

  23. By tabletoweprzedszkole.weebly.com on Jun 23, 2016

    nice good post. Thanks for this and i need more.

  24. By strona pod pozycjonowanie on Jun 23, 2016

    nice good info. Thanks for that and i wanna more.

  25. By http://5starprofittrend.wordpress.com/ on Jun 23, 2016

    Fantastic blog.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  26. By jual alat bengkel on Jun 23, 2016

    Awesome post. Fantastic.

  27. By Lorrie on Jun 23, 2016

    Our following product on the listing of the very best
    massage office chair reviews is actually the Genuine Beautyhealth Shiatsu automated massager.

  28. By vehicles for children on Jun 24, 2016

    I’m glad to be one of the visitants on this outstanding internet website (:, regards for posting .

  29. By trx suspension trainer pro pack on Jun 24, 2016

    Thanks so much for the blog post.Really thank you! Much obliged.

  30. By nursery rhymes on Jun 24, 2016

    I together with my buddies were identified to be analyzing the wonderful key points from your website while suddenly got a horrible suspicion I had not thanked the blog owner for those secrets. These boys were definitely consequently happy to read via all of them and have in effect really been utilizing these items. Appreciate your genuinely being effectively accommodating and then for obtaining such terrific beneficial guides most people are actually wanting to learn about. Our own sincere regret for not saying thanks to you sooner.

  31. By Plantas electricas on Jun 24, 2016

    Im grateful for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

  32. By cheap portugal property on Jun 24, 2016

    I am so grateful for your article post.Much thanks again.

  33. By event management company on Jun 24, 2016

    I value the article. Much obliged.

  34. By Stacie on Jun 24, 2016

    This unbelievably highly effective massager is your on-the-go prescribed to soothe
    aches and aches.

  35. By Lisbeth Constantin on Jun 24, 2016

    why paydaytermloans uk

  36. By fat diminisher system review on Jun 24, 2016

    I used to be recommended this website by way of my cousin. I am now not certain whether
    or not this publish is written by means of him as no one else realize such certain about my trouble.
    You’re incredible! Thank you!

  37. By Questions and Answers on Jun 24, 2016

    But wanna remark which you have a extremely decent internet internet site , I adore the design it genuinely stands out.

  38. By siehe Beitrag on Jun 25, 2016

    Ina hat wirklich geile .Hier siehst du eine geile sehen.Knebel ins Maul und auf ihre wichsen.Versaute Bilder verschiedenen Ex Freundinnen.Tabulos, Porno ohne Stadtpark fremden Männern die küssen lassen.Sie macht Ihrer verführerischen Reizwäsche eine echt gute Figur, aber als Sie die Hüllen fallen läßt und uns Ihre sehen läßt kann nicht mehr aushalten.

  39. By Software Tourenoptimierung on Jun 25, 2016

    You need to join in a contest 1st with the greatest blogs on the web. I will recommend this internet web site!

  40. By Mot Bay Reading on Jun 25, 2016

    Spot lets start function on this write-up, I actually believe this incredible website requirements additional consideration. I’ll far more likely be once once again you just read additional, thank you that information.

  41. By draftkings promo on Jun 25, 2016

    Hello, the whole thing is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s actually excellent, keep up writing.

  42. By vehicles for children on Jun 25, 2016

    An advanced person you’ll want the latest muscle approach. In the event you place proper arrangement, mature really should folks because of your self-worth business ladies will probably truly feel concerned via your hot design. Even when a lot of males desirable for getting sort of entire physique the majority of commonly are not ready to can do some of those disturbing routines been required to grow their muscle. Form grownup men is really vastly pleased to will probably be aware that now they can offer muscle groups via the process of sipping on a marvelous items referred to Hugely Strength Builders.

  43. By kids animation on Jun 25, 2016

    As I web internet site possessor I believe the content material matter here is rattling magnificent , appreciate it for your hard function. You need to maintain it up forever! Finest of luck.

  44. By coloring on Jun 25, 2016

    Quite fascinating details you might have mentioned , thanks for posting .

  45. By finger family on Jun 25, 2016

    It’s not that I want to duplicate your web site, but I genuinely like the style. Could you tell me which design are you utilizing? Or was it custom created?

  46. By coloring on Jun 25, 2016

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing slightly research on that. And he just bought me lunch since I located it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

  47. By agencia seo barcelona on Jun 26, 2016

    noutati interesante si utile postate pe blogul dumneavoastra. dar ca si o paranteza , ce parere aveti de inchiriere vile vacanta ?.

Post a Comment