The Berks County Intermediate Unit, along with intermediate units from across Pennsylvania, is working to advocate for Early Intervention services to raise awareness in Harrisburg about a potential funding shortage for the program.
“The interim budget that was enacted provides less than half of the needed allocation for the year,” said Dr. Jill Hackman. “Since the budget was passed, the BCIU and our partner intermediate units have continued to provide full services to eligible children, trusting that the General Assembly will allocate the remaining funds.”
Pennsylvania’s Preschool Early Intervention program serves more than 50,000 children, ages three to five years, with disabilities and developmental needs. State and federal law requires that these services are provided to all eligible children at no cost to families.
In Berks County, the BCIU’s Early Intervention program serves more than 2,500 children, a 29% increase since 2016. Because of the services they receive, children with disabilities develop and learn to their fullest potential and are able to enter elementary school better prepared for success.
Outreach includes communication with Berks County’s delegates in the Pennsylvania Senate, House of Representatives, and meetings in Harrisburg with state leaders.
“There has been strong bipartisan support for increasing investments in early childhood education,” added Dr. Michelle Reichard-Huff, Director of the Office of Early Childhood and Student Services.
“We are urging our leaders to extend the same commitment to the Early Intervention program for children receiving critical support.”
Additionally, the BCIU has developed a social media campaign to highlight the importance of Early Intervention services to the public. A series of five videos – each showcasing one of the five key areas of Early Intervention – will be shared daily beginning October 19.