The proposed change in early intervention eligibility from a 30% delay to a 50%
delay would make Illinois one of the most restrictive states in the nation! It would
also harm the toddlers with moderate delays who would benefit most from early

Like many of the cuts to human services, the cut of $23 million to early
intervention make no sense.

Story from State Journal Register below. Our friend Amy Zimmerman is quoted.


Early Intervention cut would affect 4K children, not 10K, state official says

By Dean Olsen
Staff Writer

Posted Mar. 22, 2015 at 10:00 PM

Officials from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration say his proposed state budget
cut for a program that serves toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays
wouldn’t be as drastic as first portrayed.

Among the Republican governor’s many suggested cuts in human services for
the fiscal year that begins July 1 — to deal with a multibillion-dollar budget
deficit— is a $23 million general revenue fund cut in Early Intervention services.

Supporters of the program said earlier this month, based on information
presented by Rauner’s aides after his budget speech, that 10,000 fewer children
would be served by Early Intervention in fiscal year 2016 under Rauner’s plan.

If the reduction estimate were accurate, the number of children from birth to age
3 receiving therapy through the program each year — currently more than
21,000 — would be cut almost in half.

But that’s not the case, said Linda Saterfield, associate director of the office of
early childhood at the Illinois Department of Human Services. Rauner’s plan
actually would reduce the caseload by 4,000 in fiscal 2016, putting the total
number served at roughly 17,000, she said last week.

Most children become eligible for the program through tests that indicate the
child has at least a 30 percent delay in development, the current threshold.
Rauner has proposed changing that and restricting eligibility to children with at
least a 50 percent delay.

About 10,000 children in the program now fall between a 30 percent and 50
percent delay.

Private providers of services to these children, as well as other supporters of
the program, told The State Journal-Register in early March that Human
Services officials led them to believe children now in the program would
potentially be dropped after July 1 if the General Assembly went along with

“It was a misunderstanding,” Saterfield said.

The history

Human Services officials didn’t have all of the information right after Rauner’s
speech but now know that the governor proposes to apply the stricter eligibility
criteria only to new children considered for Early Intervention in fiscal 2016, she

Children in the program now who were admitted with a delay between 30
percent and 50 percent wouldn’t be dropped after July 1 if the new standard is
put in place through state law and state rules, Saterfield said.

These children would remain until they reach age 3 or until caseworkers
believe they can exit after successfully completing therapy, she said.
pressures wouldn’t influence the evaluation process for these children, she

Some children stay in the voluntary program longer than a year. A specific time
period for therapy services at home and in child care centers isn’t set when
they are admitted.

Saterfield said she doesn’t expect advocates to be satisfied with her clarification.

“They’re very passionate about the program, and they want to do their best to
defend the program against any reduction, and we certainly understand that,”
she said.

She was right.

The cut “is still penny-wise, pound foolish and misguided,” said Amy
Zimmerman, director of the Chicago Medical-Legal Partnership for Children.

The program, she said, saves the state money in the long run on special
education services and other human services.

The children who no longer would qualify under Rauner’s plan have mild to
moderate delays and have the best chance of benefiting from therapy so that
they don’t need special ed services later, she said.

What’s next?

Reducing the eligibility standard for newly evaluated children may not reduce the
program’s rolls by half in the first year, Zimmerman said.

But a 50 percent reduction in the statewide caseload would happen in a few
years as children currently in the program complete therapy or reach age 3,

Zimmerman said. Saterfield agreed that the situation Zimmerman described
could be a possibility.

Only three states nationwide — Alaska, Arizona and Missouri — and the District
of Columbia restrict Early Intervention services to children with at least a 50
percent delay.

Saterfield said parents of children served by the program are joining forces with
sympathetic legislators to preserve the program.

Rauner and lawmakers are working on potential $12 million supplemental
appropriation for Early Intervention in the current fiscal year, which would put
the program’s total state funding at $87.7 million.

Early Intervention, which also receives federal funds and fees from parents
based on income, has had a total budget of about $160 million annually,
Saterfield said.

— Contact Dean Olsen:, 788-1543,

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)