Senator DiDomenico recently announced the inclusion of an additional $1 million in state funding for the Commonwealth’s Early Intervention (EI) programs. This funding was secured by Senator DiDomenico during this year’s budget discussions via an amendment he filed to the Senate budget. Massachusetts Early Intervention programs serve infants and toddlers under the age of three who have developmental delays, who have been diagnosed with certain developmental conditions, or who are at risk of developing developmental delays.
Senator DiDomenico has always been a longtime champion of Early Intervention in the Massachusetts Legislature. It thus came as no surprise when he took the initiative to advocated for expanding funding for these programs.
Early Intervention clinicians provide essential services to support and provide guidance for families and caregivers who are raising an infant or toddler who faces developmental challenges. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 59 EI providers operating across the Commonwealth experienced significant challenges and suffered great losses.
“Like all providers who work directly with children, individuals, and families, Early Intervention providers were hit hard during the pandemic,” said Senator DiDomenico. “EI hours of service to children and families dropped by an alarming rate when COVID-19 began, despite there still being a strong need for these critical services. I am always proud to support our EI providers, but now more than ever, I hope this $1M in state funding will go a long way towards helping these programs rebuild, recover, and thrive soon again.”
Over the course of the pandemic, the hours of EI service to children and families dropped by 40% on average, while service dropped by as much as 50% in some economically-disadvantaged communities, including Everett and Chelsea, which Senator DiDomenico represents. EI service providers were suddenly faced with the challenge of pivoting services to online telehealth formats, often without the equipment and infrastructure to do so. Overall, EI programs lost nearly $50 million as a direct result of slashed service hours, and one third of all EI clinical staff were furloughed or laid off.
The additional funding secured by DiDomenico will be used specifically for pandemic recovery efforts and will provide the vital financial resources needed by EI providers to bounce back.