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News Release

   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
  August 8, 2002


Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Thomas Slater
(609) 984-7160

Funding for Early Intervention Program Announced

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 today.

Fifteen 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.

"Governor 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."

Special 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.

Children 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.

The 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.

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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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