Friday, February 12, 2010

The Budget is the top issue down at the Capitol, and Family Cost Participation fees are the talk of the AzEIP system. 
First the Budget:
To recap, last year AzEIP received an additional $9 million from the federal government through the stimulus program, in addition, providers received a 10% rate cut and the state began preparing to collect fees from families with a Family Cost Participation plan.  Families with children enrolled in the DDD-state only part of AzEIP will begin to receive bills in April for services received in March.  Families with children enrolled in the AzEIP-only portion of AzEIP will receive letters in the coming weeks informing them that they will receive bills for their Early Intervention services.  The Governor proposed her Budget and the Joint Legislative Budget Commission prepared a menu of options for the budget.   Now is the time when people take a closer look and begin to talk about what may be cut, what new revenues will be raised and what programs will remain intact.  There are a number of options on the table, they include additional rate cuts to providers--we already have a provider shortage in Arizona; Another option is to increase the number of families in the Family Cost Participation program by expanding it to include those enrolled in ALTCS (birth to three and above); and, Another option on the table is to stop providing early intervention services. 
It is important that families speak up now!  Please, call, write and/or email your legislators and the Governor (to find your legislator go here: http://www.azleg. gov/ for the Governor go here: http://www.azgovern Enclose a picture of your child and tell them what the AzEIP system has meant for your child and family.  Ask your family and neighbors to do the same.  Remind the Governor and the Legislature that AzEIP has seen a 19% increase from 2005 to 2009 in the children served each year.  Tell them that providing services and supports to infants and toddlers early and as soon as possible means significant long-term savings as children are more ready to learn when they leave AzEIP.  Tell them that AzEIP has data that proves that children benefit from these services and supports!  Tell them your story and most important tell them that they must continue to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities without any further cuts or fees.  Tell them that infants and toddlers cannot make up for lost time--two or five years from now when the state is in better shape financially will be too late, and will mean higher costs for the state down the road.  If you are concerned about your ability to pay the Family Cost Participation fee, by all means include this in your letter, tell them how much your family will be responsible for and how that will impact your family.  Ask your providers if they are sharing this kind of information with other families--tell them to have families join the listserve: ArizonaEarlyInterve ntionParents_ Caregivers@ yahoogroups. com to stay informed. 
 Second the Family Cost Participation:
If you do not believe you can afford the monthly bills--DO NOT WITHDRAW from AzEIP--please contact your Support Coordinator, you can appeal the decision and provide additional information explaining why you believe you cannot afford the fee, you can also hold an IFSP Team meeting to discuss how you might change your IFSP but still achieve your outcomes for your child.  If you do decide to make changes to your IFSP in an effort to reduce your Family Cost Participation fee keep in mind that you should be meeting with your IFSP team (Service/Support Coordinators, all therapists, and anyone else you feel would be helpful as you work this through)--you can meet in person or have some members teleconferenced; as a last resort you can keep your service coordination- only services.  Please remember that certain services are NOT subject to the fee:  Support Coordination services, IFSP Team Meetings (this includes the time for ALL members of your team to participate) , Assessments/ Evaluations.  If you have concerns or questions please call your Support Coordinator, if they cannot assist you or you still have questions call their Supervisor, call the DDD hotline (602) 364-1379 or the AzEIP office (602) 532-9960.  Remember you can also call the Parent Training and Information Centers (Raising Special Kids or Pilot Parents) or disability-specific Advocacy programs (like Sharing Down Syndrome, EVAN, and the Autism Coalition).  
-Letter I received from the ArizonaEarlyInterventionParents_Caregivers mailing list.

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