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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
October 22, 2003

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner
609-984-7160


 
DHSS to Hold Three Public Hearings
on Early Intervention Program for Special-Needs Children


 

            TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services will hold three public hearings in October and November on proposed changes to the state’s Early Intervention Program for young children with special needs.

                Proposed changes to the program include requiring families with incomes above 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($27,600 for a family of four) to make a monthly family cost-share payment for all services they receive.  A sliding fee scale will be used which will be based on the family’s ability to pay.  Currently, families receive up to two hours of service a week at no cost.  Under the current system, for services that exceed the two hours per week, the cost-share begins for families with incomes above 350 percent of the federal poverty level ($64,400 for a family of four).

                For more information on the proposed changes, please visit the department’s web site, www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/eiphome.htm.   The public hearing schedule is as follows:

  • East Windsor, October 29  from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Ramada Inn, National Conference Center, 399 Monmouth Street.
  • Wayne, October 30 – from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Wayne Public Library, 461 Valley Rd.
  • Winslow, November 5 – from 5 to 7 p.m. at the South County Branch Regional Library, 35 Coopers Folly Road.

Each year, the Early Intervention System serves about 14,000 children from birth to age three with developmental delays or disabilities.  This includes children with autism, Down's syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, vision impairments, and general developmental delays, such as those that may be experienced by premature infants.  Eligible children and families are linked with such services as developmental intervention, speech or physical therapy for children, and emotional support and educational services for parents.

                The Early Intervention Program caseload has grown rapidly in recent years, averaging 15 percent growth annually.  Over the past eight years, the state's contribution to the program has increased 280 percent from $14.7 million to $55.9 million. Children have also required more intensive services, leading to higher program costs.  Children and families usually receive several hours of services per week.  In some cases, as appropriate, 20 hours or more of services are provided weekly.

                The EIP budget also was increased by $1.5 million this fiscal year bringing the total state appropriation to almost $43 million in order to help keep pace with the demand for services.

Those wishing to testify at one of the hearings should call the DHSS Early Intervention Program at (609) 777-7734 at least five days before each hearing to schedule a time to testify.  Oral testimony will be limited to five minutes. Please also supply a written copy of testimony at the hearing.

Anyone unable to testify in person may submit written testimony until November 28, 2003, to the DHSS Early Intervention Program, P.O. Box 364, Trenton, NJ 08625-0364.

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