TRENTON - Approximately 14,000 children with developmental delays
or disabilities and their families will receive needed special services
this fiscal year in New Jersey's Early Intervention Program, Health
and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. announced
million dollars in additional funding raises the total program budget
to $55 million - enough to care for all the children and families
expected to qualify for the program this year. The Early Intervention
Program serves children from birth to age three with delays in social
or emotional development, communication difficulties, and hearing
or vision problems, among other developmental issues.
McGreevey and I are committed to this very important program,"
Commissioner Lacy said. "We must continue to provide care that
helps children progress toward developmental goals and to help families
deal with the challenges of raising a child with special needs."
needs children include those with autism, Down's Syndrome, Cerebral
Palsy, vision impairments, and general developmental delays, such
as those that may be experienced by premature infants. They have,
or may develop, long-term physical, developmental, or behavioral
conditions which require health and related services beyond those
needed by children in general.
are referred to Special Child Health Services Case Management Units
in each county. Teams of experts evaluate the children and design
service plans for eligible families. Service coordinators help link
families with such services as developmental intervention, speech
or physical therapy for children, and emotional support and educational
services for parents. Medical, educational, developmental, social
and economic needs of the child and family are targeted.
Early Intervention Program caseload has grown by at least 15 percent
per year for the last several years. Participating children have
required more intensive services in recent years, leading to higher
program costs. Participating 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.