Early Childhood Connections faces possible downsizing of services | SummitDaily.com

Early Childhood Connections faces possible downsizing of services

HARRIET HAMILTONsummit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY Early Childhood Connections, a federally mandated program providing support services to children with disabilities between birth and 3 years old, is facing a possible reduction in services, according to local coordinator Georgette Contos.In Colorado, the Department of Education has been responsible for administering the program since the state first participated in 1987. Last December, however, Gov. Bill Owens issued an executive order to designate the state Department of Human Services, through its Division for Developmental Disabilities, as the new lead agency.Money comes from the feds to the state and the state has the ability to choose its lead agency, Summit County director of public health Deb Crook said.Crook and Contos expressed their concern about the change in administration.The program is working now, Crook said. We dont know why they want to change it.In his executive order, Gov. Owens cited the need to eliminate unnecessary administrative costs and duplication of services as rationale for the shift.Contos said it is still unclear whether the new arrangement will provide for service coordination at the local level.We think service coordination is a really important piece of making sure kids get these services, Crook said. The program, required under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.), is coordinated locally through a department of Summit County government. It locates area children with developmental needs, secures funding sources for services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy and provides information and support. Thirty families receive assistance through the local office.Contos said the state will accept public comment about the change in administration throughout this month. Comments can be sent to John Miles, Division for Developmental Disabilities, 3824 W. Princeton Cir., Denver, CO, 80236, or via e-mail to John.Miles@state.co.us.Harriet Hamilton can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13624, or at hhamilton@summitdaily.com.

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