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Take Action: Urge the Governor to sign legislation to support young children with developmental delays and disabilities

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with developmental delays and disabilities, leading some children to miss months of crucial services in Preschool Special Education (PSE) and in the Early Intervention (EI) program.

More than 60 preschool special education programs around the State have closed in recent years, including more than 30 in New York City, and many providers cite the State’s low payment rates as the reason. In New York City alone, 1,215 preschoolers with disabilities were waiting for seats in legally mandated preschool special education classes at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

Additionally, during the pandemic children age 0-3 with developmental delays and disabilities struggled to access services through the Early Intervention program. During a 4-week period beginning March 22, there was an 82% decline in referrals from earlier in the year, and the total number of infants and toddlers receiving EI services between July and September 2020 was 15% lower than the same time period in 2019—a difference of nearly 2,900 children.

A major barrier to creating a sustainable Early Intervention system has been the lack of adequate reimbursement from commercial insurance carriers. In New York, commercial insurers reject 85% of EI claims, forcing the state/county to cover the costs. About 12% of the total cost of the Early Intervention program is billed to commercial insurance, yet they pay only 2%.

Fortunately, two key proposals were passed during the legislative session that could help these children and their families, but these bills still await signature from Governor Hochul.

A.8013 (Benedetto) / S.6516A (Mannion) ensures that preschool special education programs receive the same increase in payment rates as school districts to address the significant shortage of seats in preschool special education classes.

Meanwhile, A.5339 (Paulin) /S.5560A (Reichlin-Melnick) would create a Covered Lives assessment to generate revenue from commercial insurance carriers who regularly reject a majority of claims.

Take action today and urge Governor Hochul to sign these bills to help more children and families access the Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education services they need!

Write Gov. Hochul