Nearly 300 East Texas children with disabilities who are part of the state’s Early Childhood Intervention program have no one to provide them with medically necessary therapies after the region’s lone provider closed its doors this week in response to hefty budget cuts ordered by state lawmakers.
And another 500 children in North Texas are likely to lose their therapy provider at the end of October, also a result of the budget cuts ordered by the legislature in 2015.
The Tyler-based nonprofit Andrews Center told state officials months ago that lower reimbursement rates would force it to stop offering services for infants and toddlers — including speech, physical and occupational therapies and coaching families on caring for high-needs children. The center formally withdrew from the early intervention program Oct. 1, and Texas health officials are now scrambling to plug the gap in services for the children up to three years old who are entitled to early intervention care under federal law. Deep cuts to the amount of money the state pays providers have left officials unable to find a replacement, despite months of advance notice.