According to a study done by Texans Care for Children, the state of Texas has spent a significantly less amount of money on children with disabilities than it did six years ago. The study notes that although more children with autism, Down syndrome, speech delays, and other disabilities are in need, the amount of money used to help these toddlers has dropped since 2012. The state of Texas has a program called the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program that aids children with disabilities under the age of three with therapy. This program is designed to help these children get ready for them to start school and is accessible to anyone despite their income. In 2012, Texas spent an average of $484 per child on services that would help them with their disabilities, but that amount has decreased by 15% meaning the amount spent on each child has decreased to just $412. Funding and eligibility for this program has gone down since 2011 and more reductions have been made since 2015. Despite lawmakers increasing funding in 2017, it is not enough. As a result, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is requesting lawmakers to increase funding to aid children in need of this program. The state of Texas is wronging children with disabilities by decreasing the amount of help that these children can receive. Because ECI essentially prepares kids with disabilities to cope with their disabilities in the outside world, it is imperative that every kid that needs this help gets it. When programs such as this one is introduced, we can see that they work to help children adjust to life. According to the study, the program has helped children reduce the challenges that they face with their disabilities and in the long run, reduces the need for special education, so why make it harder for children with disabilities to live a better life? As the number of kids under the age of three increases, there is bound to also be an increase in the number of children who need therapy and cutting spending down does not benefit anyone at all. What is also part of this problem is how toddlers are not always being evaluated for special education services. Due to less kids being evaluated and therefore causing a percentage of children in special education to drop, Texas lawmakers have decreased funding.
Besides increasing funding for ECI, we should also increase our efforts to identify children in communities that are eligible to join this program. Instead of waiting for their child’s symptoms to grow worse in order to be eligible for the program or have families turn to private therapy that can be costly, especially to low income families, by identifying children with disabilities early on, we can help families reduce the cost of getting help and ensure that a child is getting help.
The need for programs that aid children with disabilities is greater than ever, these kids are our future and if we do not help them, if lawmakers do not help them, we will all suffer the consequences. This issue is not about how our state leaders may have politically potentially messed up, it is about how it is their moral duty to help children in need and help them reach their full potential.