TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, said that today’s Health Committee hearing on Early Intervention (EI) services offered to children with developmental disabilities in New Jersey provided a “blueprint for success,” to improve the program.
“In today’s hearing, we heard testimony from those with a genuine stake in making EI the best program in the nation for children with disabilities,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “I think we can take from this constructive criticism and start down that path. The EI program in New Jersey already helps so many children get a head start in managing their disabilities, and with continued support and improvement, we can help so many more.”
Early Intervention refers to the State-operated services provided to children between the ages of 0-3 with developmental disabilities or delays in New Jersey. Health care studies have shown that children who are engaged in their first three years in overcoming their developmental disability show the best results. Currently, EI serves approximately 15,000 children in New Jersey with developmental disabilities.
“EI offers children with disabilities the best chance at overcoming many of the obstacles that they will face throughout their lives at a much earlier age,” said Senator Vitale. “With the full support of the State, and the constructive criticism of those who can best benefit from a successful EI system, we will ensure that their best chance is even better.”
Senator Vitale added that public exposure is key to get kids enrolled who can benefit from EI services. He added that currently, many parents whose children are EI-eligible do not know of the services offered by the State.
“We have to do a better job publicizing EI, so that those who can benefit know what programs are available to them,” said Senator Vitale. “If we can increase the public attention paid to EI, we have a good shot at making New Jersey a leader in the country in terms of serving the needs of children with developmental disabilities.”