Posts Tagged ‘ disabilities ’

What If Children Couldn’t Get the Services They Need?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

In watching the coverage last night of the debt ceiling, I bristled at a line in Speaker Boehner’s response to President Obama’s remarks: “If you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it.” Of course. Makes perfect sense. Except that in this context, “spend less of it” may mean cutting crucial programs and services for families, particularly those whose children have disabilities.

I thought of our friends at Easter Seals, the nonprofit health agency dedicated to helping children and adults with disabilities. Some of the staff visited the White House a few weeks back, and they brought a few of the families they’ve worked with. Their goal: to show the administration just how vital it is to invest in Medicaid, which provides health insurance to those with limited income. Medicaid funding is in danger of being severely slashed, and this would mean that millions of children may not receive the services they need to learn, grow, and thrive.

As Easter Seals President and CEO Jim Williams explained on the Easter Seals blog:

Medicaid allows kids with disabilities to be healthy, happy and independent. A girl needs physical therapy to help stave off the retraction of muscles that often accompanies cerebral palsy. It’s not unusual for a child with cerebral palsy to need physical therapy every week. However, too many private health insurance plans have arbitrary limits on physical therapy services, such as limiting a child to 12 sessions per year. After the 12 visits have been exhausted, families will realize that paying out of pocket to continue therapy is something that they simply cannot afford.

Medicaid allows parents of kids with disabilities to work. Yesterday, our families confirmed that as a result of the gains their children have made because of services paid for by Medicaid, parents can work outside the home for pay.

Medicaid is the only health insurance plan that has the comprehensive benefits that meets the needs of each child with a disability. Children with disabilities need access to the specific services currently available under Medicaid. The basic structure of Medicaid must be maintained.

Finally, Medicaid has already been cut and children with disabilities will be harmed by additional cuts to benefits or provider reimbursement rates. States have already cut Medicaid spending, by eliminating benefits and cutting reimbursement to providers. In many communities, the reimbursement rate is so far below the actual cost of a service making it extremely difficult for providers to continue to serve Medicaid enrolled children.

This whole debt ceiling discussion has left me feeling uneasy–helpless, even. But there is something we can all do. Make your voice heard and sign Easter Seals’ petition to Congress urging them not to cut funding for early intervention services. Click here to do it now.

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How To Spot Delays As Quickly As Possible

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

MFFC-White-Paper-CoverEach year, nearly 1.5 million children in the U.S. enter kindergarten with learning or health issues that have been missed.

I learned this staggering fact when speaking with experts from Easter Seals, which provides education, outreach, and advocacy to families affected by autism and other disabilities. It was startling to think of all of the children with unidentified challenges, and upsetting to know that with the right support, many of them could have caught up and entered school needing fewer services, or none at all. It’s a proven fact that early intervention is critical to strengthen a child’s intellectual abilities and communication and social skills.

This is why Easter Seals has created a new campaign called Make the First Five Count. Its goal is to guarantee that all children have access to early detection of possible delays and disabilities as well as access to services. A big part of the program’s success, of course, is based upon proper funding. Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) offers all families the possibility of free or lower-cost early intervention services, but the program has never had enough money to accomplish this. Take a minute to sign this petition urging your representatives and senators to block cuts to funding Part C—and to push for increasing the money that goes toward these services.

And on a more immediate level, if you want your child evaluated for any kind of health or emotional issue, speak to your pediatrician right away. (Not even sure whether your child should be evaluated? Easter Seals has provided a very clear breakdown of potential red flags here.) If you don’t have access to a pediatrician or specialist, call Easter Seals directly at 800-221-6827. They will happily walk you through the process of getting help. In fact, they estimate that they field well over 2,000 such requests each month. They want to hear from you.

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Spankin’ New Headlines

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Sick day! When daycare centers send toddlers with minor illnesses home. Science Daily

How music therapy can help kids who have trouble speaking. Boston Globe

One in five parents would consider spanking, especially for younger kids, finds a new study. Health Day

The challenges disabled parents face, and the remarkable ways they work around them. CNN

Researchers warn that tobacco pellets look too much like candy, and pose a risk to kids. USA Today

When museums take a fieldtrip to visit the classroom. The New York Times

Original image via

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