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Falk Requests Birth To 3 Assistance

For more information contact:

Dave Carlson, 242-6424
Topf Wells, 266-9069

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 6/29/2004

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive

Today (6/29/04) Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk asked the Joint Finance Committee to support the transfer of funds to the Birth To 3 program in fiscal year 2004-05 in order to protect families and disabled children from unexpected federal cutbacks. The letter supports a proposal advanced by Helene Nelson, Secretary of the Department of Health & Family Services, at the direction of Governor Jim Doyle.

In the letter, Falk notes that counties, which are mandated to operate the program, will face the prospect of cutting services or increasing county funding if the Committee does not support Nelson’s proposal. Currently, because state and federal funding has not kept pace with the continually increasing number of families entitled to Birth To 3 services, Dane County spends $725,000 in levy to support the program.

Falk’s letter is attached.

# # #

Attachments

June 29, 2004 Senator Alberta Darling Representative Dean Kaufert Senate Chairperson Assembly Chairperson Joint Committee on Finance Joint Committee on Finance Room 317, East, State Capitol Room 308, East, State Capitol Madison, Wisconsin 53702 Madison, Wisconsin 53702 Dear Co-Chairpersons Darling and Kaufert: I respectfully ask that you support the request from the Department of Health and Family Services to transfer $419,400 GPR in Birth to 3 funding from state fiscal year 2003-2004 to state fiscal year 2004-2005. Without this transfer, counties will experience a reduction in funding in calendar year 2005 because of unexpected cutbacks in Federal funds. Demand for Birth to 3 services continues to rise and without additional state and federal support, the financial burden for providing these services has increasingly grown for counties. Approving the request by DHFS will not cost the state any additional funds beyond those already budgeted in the 2003-2005 biennial budget. By transferring unspent money from this fiscal year into the next, costly cuts in services may be avoided in counties across the state. Birth to 3 is a wonderful program. There can be no doubt that it is good public policy to provide early intervention services to young children who are experiencing developmental delays and their families. The program helps many children to get back on the road of normal development. In situations where the child’s illness or disability will result in an ongoing impairment, Birth to 3 provides immediate service to minimize the impairment and offers support and training to the family to enable them to better address their child’s current and future needs. Nevertheless, Birth to 3 is a mandated program in which state and federal funding has not kept pace with the services counties are compelled to offer. Here are some key facts about the Birth to 3 program in Dane County that underscore the continuing and growing need for additional funding: · The program served 536 children in 1996. An estimated 959 children will be served in 2004, an increase of 79% in eight years. · There were more than 900 new referrals for Birth to 3 services in Dane County in 2003. · From 1996-2001, Dane County received no increase in state/federal Early Childhood funding for Birth to 3. This meant that Dane County needed to provide all of the funds necessary to cover caseload and inflationary increases during that period. · Dane County’s levy contribution to the Birth to 3 has grown from $223,000 in 1996 to $725,000 in 2004, an increase of $502,000. · Since 2001, our Birth to 3 program census has grown by more than 50% and we expect continued annual growth of 10% or more. Despite some modest state increases in Birth to 3 funding since 2001, state funding has not kept pace with growing demand for these services. Please give your support to this request for transfer of funds to support the Birth to 3 program and to the children and families it serves. Sincerely, Kathleen Falk Dane County Executive cc: Members, Joint Committee on Finance Governor Jim Doyle
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