ECI Guest Blog: Alice Bufkin

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March 20, 2014
Re-posted November 4, 2014

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is the statewide program serving families with children, age birth to three, with disabilities and developmental delays. Families and professionals work as a team in the family’s natural setting (home or child care, for example) to help plan appropriate services based on the unique needs of the child.

These services can make all the differences for children like Rhys or Jaelynn, whose families worked closely with their ECI teams to develop strategies to help their children reach their potential. Through training and resources, ECI providers empower families to chart their course to success.

One of the biggest recent changes to the ECI system resulted from significant budget cuts in 2011, which led the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to narrow the eligibility criteria for the program. ECI is now serving a smaller pool of children, but a larger proportion of those children remaining have a medical diagnosis or delay in more than one area.

During the 83rd Legislative Session, DARS requested that the Legislature recognize that ECI is now serving a larger percent of children with more complex needs, and additional funding is needed just to maintain services for this narrower population. The Legislature fully funded DARS’ budget request, and added more than $4 million in additional funding over the biennium. These were big wins for ECI, but the budget still puts the state below pre-2011 funding levels. The Legislature also included a budget rider that requires families with an adjusted gross income above 400% of the federal poverty level to cover the full cost of ECI services, up to 5% of the family’s adjusted gross monthly income.

Particularly given the number of changes ECI has been through in recent years, it’s important that policymakers recognize the critical services that Early Childhood Intervention provides, and the ongoing need to support a strong, sustainable ECI system in our state.

There are a number of ways you can share your input and show your support for Early Childhood Intervention (visit the Current Actions page for full details):

ECI remains one of the most effective programs for starting children on the trajectory to lifelong success, and your voice in support of a strong ECI system can help ensure this important resource remains available to families in need of services.


About Alice:

As the Early Opportunities Policy Associate with Texans Care for Children, Alice works to strengthen access to infant and maternal health care, a strong statewide ECI system, and financial security for families in the state. She facilitates the ECI Advocacy Coalition, a network of stakeholders across the state who share information and coordinate advocacy efforts to support a quality ECI system in Texas.

About Texans Care for Children:

Texans Care for Children is a statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated exclusively to improving the wellbeing of Texas children. Texans Care focuses its work in five areas essential to overall child wellbeing, including: child and maternal health, child protection, early opportunities, juvenile justice, and child mental wellbeing.

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