April 04, 2020

I am writing in regard to LD 1581, An Act to Improve the Child Development Services and Encourage Collaboration in Early Childhood Programs with School Administrative Unit, which if passed as it now reads has the ability to significantly impact the services which children with special needs receive.

This is not someone else’s issue — this directly affects my family, as we have twins with autism. The bill’s title is somewhat deceiving; it allows public school systems to develop their own 0-5 delivery of services system, which to me doesn’t sound like collaboration but a takeover! If the public school system were to take over the delivery of these services, it would entirely change the early intervention services delivery system which now exists. This would affect not only children with special needs, but also private providers of services, private and public agencies.

Currently our children receive many services which are contracted through CDS, such as speech therapy, developmental therapy, preschool services, psychological evaluations and transportation. These services have been a lifesaver for our children and our family. Although no system of services delivery is perfect, the providers of the services which we now receive are professional, highly qualified and very effective. We currently have a choice in who provides services for our children — we are allowed to decide (within reason) how, when and where these services will take pace, which is as it should be.

This delivery method of services is far different than services which are delivered thorugh the public school system. When our children reach the age of 5 we will have to renegotiate their treatment (which is working) with a system that seems to be set up more to provide the least amount of services available at the lowest frequency — it all comes down to money, often the real needs of children are band-aided to save a dollar here and a dollar there. The public school system is not an early intervention system. An early intervention system bleieves that the more services a child receives at the earliest possible age, the greater gains that child will make, and likewise, the less costly it will be in the long run to educate the child.

I encourage all of you, with and without children, to take a close look at exactly what this bill is proposing to legislate. It is far more reaching and far more scary than the title implies. Michelle J. Taylor Bangor

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